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Old October 30 2013, 12:32 AM   #1
FreeSword
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Universal Translator Discrepancy

I know the Transporter and the Universal Translator were ideas to make the show easyer to make, but i have a question about the Universal Translator.

The Universal Translator has come a long way since the show Enterprise. By the time of the Next Generation era the universal translator is built into the intercom system and on their Com-Badge and it works flawlessly, you dont even know its there unless someone asks "you speak english?" or "how do you know my language" and then they go into the whole bit of 'oh we have a universal translator so thats why i am now responding to you in your native language so we can understand eachother blah blah blah', but have you ever noticed it when someone speaks in Klingon....

Seriously! what i mean is... Ok, the klingon is speaking in english but then he says a few phrases in Klingon! What happend? Was there a temporary 'off' switch for the universal translator that they just pressed to say that phrase in Klingon so people hear it in Klingon and not the translated english phrase?

According to my understanding of Star Trek lore, an alien species does not even need to bother to learn english because of the universal translator. It is assumed that the Universal Translator is on when alien species are communicating with Humans.. so how can the Klingon's 'petaQ' insult get past the translator? Is there some invisible button they press to turn it off so they can insult someone in the native language then reactivate it to speak the rest of the sentance in english?
And on the other side of this coin, if you assume the Klingon knows english (like worf) and is actually speaking english, when he goes to say the klingon phrase... why doesnt the universal translator turn on and work?

I understand that without the alien languages the show would be silly with aliens having english as their language but am i missing something here? Or is this just 'well it would sound cool if they spoke Klingon'?
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Old October 30 2013, 03:26 AM   #2
Xhiandra
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Loanwords. The translator doesn't translate PetaQ for the same reason it wouldn't translate "Blitzkrieg" into english, despite being originally a german word.
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Old October 30 2013, 03:46 AM   #3
R. Star
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

The UT is powered by the multiphasic plot convenience field.
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Old October 30 2013, 03:53 AM   #4
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

I never liked the "conceit" of universal translators. Isolated incidents such as in Metamorphosis i can see, but overall it's just easier to go with the idea that everyone's speaking the same language.

It started out simply enough: "How come all the aliens speak english?". One big question in itself. But when introducing the 'solution' of the translator turns one question into twenty, it's probably best just to let it go, in my opinion.
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Old October 30 2013, 04:04 AM   #5
Dr. Sevrin
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Certain Vulcan words and phrases aren't translated either. It's possible some of the untranslated dialogue contains idiomatic expressions in the native language.
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Old October 30 2013, 05:42 AM   #6
MacLeod
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Well as has already been mentioned borrowed words that make it from one language to another. English is notorious for borrwoing words from other languages. Why would the UT translate words it didn't have to?

But things like the UT are a conceit needed for storytelling.
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Old October 30 2013, 07:49 AM   #7
Creepy Critter
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

GoRe Star wrote: View Post
The UT is powered by the multiphasic plot convenience field.
Good one.

DS9 humorously lampshaded the universal translator at least twice. The funniest and most obvious must be in Little Green Men, when the Ferengi think their translators are broken, and they start hitting their heads to try to get them working. But also, in Statistical Probabilities, we learn that it is possible to view recordings in "native language mode."
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Old October 30 2013, 08:12 AM   #8
Lt. Uhura-Brown
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

"Merde."
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Old October 30 2013, 10:07 AM   #9
Metryq
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Melakon wrote: View Post
Certain Vulcan words and phrases aren't translated either.
It's unnecessary since Vulcans always do their own translating. You'd think such a logical people would be more efficient and simply use English words. Speak once.

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Old October 30 2013, 09:03 PM   #10
R. Star
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Metryq wrote: View Post
Melakon wrote: View Post
Certain Vulcan words and phrases aren't translated either.
It's unnecessary since Vulcans always do their own translating. You'd think such a logical people would be more efficient and simply use English words. Speak once.

"He asked you to bring him to us -- and to bring that which he gave you: his Katra. His living spirit."
Picard did that in Sins of the Father when he accepted being Worf's bodyguard. Said the Klingon response, then said the exact same thing in English. It's almost as if he knew someone was listening.
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Old October 30 2013, 09:42 PM   #11
Silvercrest
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Answer: It's a Universal Censor as well as a Universal Translator. Along with skipping translation of any "bad" words, it rephrases things to make them more P.C. You'd be surprised at what some of these folks really said.
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Old October 31 2013, 02:55 AM   #12
The Wormhole
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Xhiandra wrote: View Post
Loanwords. The translator doesn't translate PetaQ for the same reason it wouldn't translate "Blitzkrieg" into english, despite being originally a german word.
That doesn't explain why it doesn't translate words that do have a direct translation. For example, why doesn't the UT translate "success" every time someone says "Qapla"?
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Old October 31 2013, 03:10 AM   #13
Creepy Critter
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

If the translator can operate in "native language mode," then there are probably other modes it can operate in, too. For instance, when Picard assumed command of the Ent-D, maybe one of his first tasks was: "Computer, set shipwide universal translator mode to Picard One." Or, maybe the translator is normally configured to allow curse words to go untranslated, for privacy.

Seriously, though, we could also infer that 24th century English (or whatever the language is) has a loanword structure that truly resembles what we hear on screen. For example, when talking with or about Klingons, perhaps no English substitute for the word Qapla' will really do, and, since the word is commonly understood, nor is one necessary.
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Old October 31 2013, 03:11 AM   #14
C.E. Evans
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Xhiandra wrote: View Post
Loanwords. The translator doesn't translate PetaQ for the same reason it wouldn't translate "Blitzkrieg" into english, despite being originally a german word.
That's how I viewed it. I think the English spoken in Trek now contains a number of alien words and phrases. The UT looks at "raktajino" the same way it does "cappuccino" and doesn't translate either into simply "coffee."
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Old October 31 2013, 10:11 AM   #15
Metryq
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Re: Universal Translator Discrepancy

Does the Universal Translator have a dictionary function if one does not understand a word?
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