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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old May 20 2013, 12:46 PM   #1
I am not Spock
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In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

Exceptional episode of TNG, and of TV in general. It has me almost in tears every time, and I don't cry easily. I was watching it today on my Blu ray season three set. A very good hour of TV, but my only nitpick is that they make it clear in the dialogue that Data cannot use contractions.

At the end of this episode, he integrates Lal's programs into his own, so in future episodes, he can use contractions in his speech.

The problem is, that in several episodes prior to The Offspring, Data contracts sentences. In The Naked Now, for example, he says 'Correction sir, that's blown out'.

Other than this little nitpick, it's a great episode IMO
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Old May 20 2013, 12:51 PM   #2
LOKAI of CHERON
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

I've always found the Data can't use contractions thing to be completely nonsensical. Are we seriously expected to believe an advanced android of this nature is not capable of writing a subroutine to incorporate human speech contractions?
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Old May 20 2013, 12:55 PM   #3
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?
Luckily, they don't.

That is, Data himself says he hasn't "mastered" them yet, but he's just being modest. He claims he hasn't mastered emotions or humor yet, either, but generally excels in those. He's a master actor as well, despite always expressing self-doubt when Picard coaches him.

Of course Data can use contractions. He's just surprised that Lal uses them with much greater ease than he ever did, learning the art at an early age when Data struggled with basic figures of speech even after thirty years of experience and exposure.

(The writers of "Offspring" obviously thought Data could not use contradictions - unlike the writers of previous episodes, or the original creators of the character. Thankfully, the writers here failed to explicate Data's supposed inability.)

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Old May 20 2013, 12:59 PM   #4
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

Timo wrote: View Post
In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?
Luckily, they don't.

That is, Data himself says he hasn't "mastered" them yet, but he's just being modest.
Data: "There do seem to be some variations on the quantum level. She can use contractions. I cannot."
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Old May 20 2013, 03:04 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

Damn.

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Old May 20 2013, 03:25 PM   #6
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

Goofy idea anyway, which they screwed up too many times to count.
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Old May 20 2013, 03:33 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

Apparently, they didn't have the idea until "The Offspring", though. Or perhaps until "Future Imperfect". So they couldn't have known they were screwing it up.

Somebody just misunderstood what was being said in "Datalore" about Data using language more formally than his brother... And took it to ridiculous heights.

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Old May 20 2013, 04:21 PM   #8
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

The way I understand it, he was programmed not to speak like normal people just so that he didn't cross into Uncanny Valley like Lore.
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Old May 20 2013, 04:43 PM   #9
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

Timo wrote: View Post
Apparently, they didn't have the idea until "The Offspring", though. Or perhaps until "Future Imperfect". So they couldn't have known they were screwing it up.

Somebody just misunderstood what was being said in "Datalore" about Data using language more formally than his brother... And took it to ridiculous heights.

Timo Saloniemi
He even used a contraction at the end of Datalore...
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Old May 20 2013, 05:07 PM   #10
Timo
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Re: In 'The Offspring', how come they say Data can't use contractions?

...And during it, and before it, and after it. Apparently, Spiner wasn't told to avoid contractions as such, only to speak out his lines in as stilted a manner as possible, meaning he generally didn't take shortcuts but sometimes allowed them to happen.

In "Future Imperfect", Riker ridicules the fake Data for his use of contractions, but it's pretty much a story point that he knows Data is a fake at that point already. He's just trying to confuse the phony into contradicting itself even worse when he takes it up on its contraction issues. So Spiner would not necessarily have gotten the impression that Data is unable to contract in this episode, either. It's only the script of "The Offspring" that pays special attention to this, creating a brief lull in Data's contraction use.

The way I understand it, he was programmed not to speak like normal people just so that he didn't cross into Uncanny Valley like Lore.
Agreed. Or, perhaps more accurately, he was programmed with inhibitions and aversions towards natural speech, but obviously not an outright ban: he can "pretend to be normal" whenever the situation really calls for it. He's an expert liar, probably more accomplished in the art than any other E-D crew member, as seen in the many episodes where he assumes a false persona and fools various adversaries or bystanders. And he acts for fun.

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