I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by TroiFan4ever, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    ^As you say it might be down to the script writter using a contraction. Which of course the actor just reads.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Spiner has claimed that some of the cases where it sounds like he used contractions were really just the result of talking quickly. But whatever the rationalization, the point is that there are far more instances where he did use contractions than there are instances where it was claimed to be beyond his ability. So I choose to go with the preponderance of evidence, especially since there's no logical explanation for why he'd be incapable of doing it. The most reasonable interpretation is that he can do it but has to think about it, that it doesn't come automatically like it did for Lal. Probably what he was impressed by was not that she used a contraction at all, but that she did it without realizing, that it happened spontaneously rather than being a conscious affectation as it would be for Data.
     
  3. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No matter what explanation you chose to believe, this contraction thing still sounds ridiculous.
     
  4. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @Christopher

    I definitely see the connection between people with Aspergers, especially if you look at the episode Data's Day. But Data is not a human with Aspergers even if some of the language issues are the same. There's a whole lot bigger difference in complexity between being able to use slang and being able to use contractions. Slang requires an emotionally intuitive grasp of metaphors. It doesn't sound as aesthetically clean and discrete as saying 'can not', but contractions are literally a search and replace. There's no aesthetic comfort issue with Data, and he has shown a full grasp of far more complicated grammatical rules than contractions.

    I would guess the only reason Data does not use contractions is that the producers thought it would make him sound less robotic.

    Also, even though Data has trouble understanding or predicting emotions, I've seen no indication that he has trouble looking at somebody's face and guessing which emotion they're displaying.
     
  5. Tom

    Tom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Nah... your just part Vulcan. :)
     
  6. GalaxyX

    GalaxyX Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm starting to dislike the whole "Asperger's Syndrome" classification.

    It seems that any nerd with little social skills is attaching that "syndrome" to themselves. I'm guilty of doing the same, but I realized that there's a difference between what most people see as "nerd" and what an actual Asperger's Syndrome suffered actually is and experiences.

    I'm sure we all on this board have some degree of "nerdness", which is one of the reasons we are here. At the same time I don't think there's anything nerdy about enjoying the Sci-Fi world that Star Trek provides. Other people enjoy their own fictional words, like The Sopranos, and The Walking Dead (which is bordering on Sci-Fi), and those people aren't considered nerds.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And that's a very insensitive thing to say, considering that it's something that really does happen with people in real life. You might as well say it's ridiculous that some people can't walk or can't hear, or that someone with brain damage is unable to perceive the left side of their body.


    But like I said, it really happens. So there must be a reason why it does. Contractions are not concrete or literal. They're essentially a form of substitution, one word taking the place of two words. That puts them in the same category as metaphors or slang, which also use one word or concept as a substitute for another. It's not about the rules of grammar or how complicated they are. That's beside the point. It's about meaning, and the ability to understand how a meaning can be expressed in a non-literal way.

    When we're talking about different types of cognition and neurology, you just can't assume that something that's easy for you will be easy for everyone. Your mind works a certain way, and other people's minds can work in unexpectedly different ways. Take someone with perfect pitch, for example. Most of us, if we hear a musical phrase transposed into a different key, will recognize it as the same phrase. But people with perfect pitch are unable to perceive that equivalence, because to them, a given note is exactly that given note, and a different note is always going to be different. Transposing the melody is analogous to using a contraction or an idiom -- it's substituting one thing with something else that conveys the equivalent meaning. Most people's brains can make the leap, recognize the analogy, and understand that they're the same thing. But people with perfect pitch are too exact, too literal in how they hear music, so they're deaf to the equivalence. They can't hear them as the same thing. So it's not unbelievable that a mind that processes language in a very precise and literal way might have a similar trouble with the idea of "can't" representing the same concept as "can not," or "fired up" representing the same concept as "angry."


    Mainly it's because the writers of "Datalore" needed a gimmick to clue Wesley in to the fact that Lore was impersonating Data. In previous episodes -- and even earlier in the same episode -- Data used contractions routinely. It was just one bit of the sloppy writing that characterized the first season, a conseqeunce of the turbulence in the writing staff. But later writers decided to stick with it for whatever reason.


    Now, that is implausible. In reality, people who are emotionally impaired aren't even able to perceive other people's emotions, to understand what their changes of expression mean. Empathy is a function of the mirror neurons of the brain, the part that lets us experience other people's reactions and perceptions as though they were our own. So if we don't have the capacity to experience an emotion for ourselves, we can't recognize it in other people.

    But it's something that can be learned to a degree, the deficiency compensated for with practice. I assume that Data gradually learned how to recognize emotional expressions in others and wrote subroutines into his program telling him what they meant. Of course, he could do the same with contractions, but as I said, it's an affectation -- I choose to believe he can do it, but only if he makes the effort, and he generally doesn't. (Which fits the evidence, because he routinely uses contractions when quoting other people, delivering play dialogue, and the like.)


    Well, it might not exist much longer. Under the proposed revisions to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders scheduled for publication this May, Asperger syndrome would no longer be defined as a distinct disorder, but would be folded in under autistic spectrum disorders. There have been protests to this from the Asperger community, though.
     
  8. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah yeah. Data is a machine. Machines can use contractions. Really, it's simple.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, Data is not a machine. He's a sentient being with a neural network analogous to a human brain. An amoeba is a biological machine acting out a simple series of preprogrammed behaviors. A human being is also a biological machine, but that doesn't mean we can be validly compared to an amoeba or a housefly or some other vastly simpler organism. What matters isn't whether his physical substrate is naturally evolved or artificially constructed; what matters is the structure of his brain and the nature of the processes that go on within it. Cognitively speaking, Data is far more analogous to a human being than to a PC or an iWhatever.

    What's fundamentally inept about your analogy is that your computer can't use contractions. It can spit out contractions when programmed to do so, but it can't decide to use a contraction or understand what it means. It's just processing numbers that correspond to patterns on a screen that our brains can recognize as letters that spell out a word we understand as a contraction. There's no actual cognition involved, no choice. The decision-making was done by the human beings who programmed it to follow certain algorithms. Data, by contrast, is actually thinking, choosing words with awareness of their meaning. That entails layers of cognitive processing, comprehension, analogy, and abstraction of the sort I've been discussing. It's a completely unrelated thing.
     
  10. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm sorry, you obviously feel very passionate about this. Data being a fictional character first and foremost, I think your rationale works, but so does mine.
     
  11. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

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    I suspect that in all likelihood, Data is simply under the false impression that he's incapable of forming contractions, much like he mistakenly accepts that he was created completely without emotion, when they constantly flirted with the contrary.

    Once they introduced the fact that Data can dream, but was entirely unaware of it, I came to accept that he is simply a being who's unaware of his true potential, & as a result he has mistakenly presumed a few things based on whatever evidence or instruction he had.

    Ultimately, it's not a mechanical problem. If he can say its or cant, then he can certainly say it's or can't. No, his problem is that when forming a sentence he accepts that he's incapable of forming a contraction within it, & therefore prevents himself from doing so. Heck, it wouldn't even be too hard to substitute cant for can't in his programming, if he so desired

    Nope, his development is such that he levels in achievements like a game, & unlocks abilities, like he did with dreaming, will eventually do with contractions, & would have done with emotion, had Soong not developed the chip upgrade. Sometimes I think that emotion chip was a weak idea. It short changed a very cool potentially natural development of him coming to find emotion within himself all along

    After all, that's what happened to the Tin Man
     
  12. Nacluv

    Nacluv Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm an Aspergian, so I do know what you're talking about, but I just want to elucidate that it's the exact same thing with extraversion vs introversion. And now I'm rigidly talking about true, introverted minds which has absolutely nothing to do shyness or antisociality. In fact, almost a century after Jung introduced the terms, we have now been able to secernate physiological divergences in the dopamine system of introverts, most prominently the lower fluid and the oversensitivity of dopamine (while extraverts nearly can't get enough of it) but also some minor but yet cardinal aberrations in the design of the receptors.

    Actually, this is the reason why introversion is often a side effect of Asperger's since such anomalies in the dopamine system is about the only real etiological fundament that has been corroborated today, while ADHD often emanates (among many other factors) from an overproduction of dopamine. But that's another story.

    Back to introversion, I often have experienced (and also read others' experiences) that most extroverts unfortunately, even on the most rudimentary level, often seem unable to digest introversion as pure concept and natural function when being enlightened on why these differences instigates other needs and makes them function differently.

    All this is because it's such a different mind framework (eventually antonymous to their own), that it's hard to even think about how something other than what's so natural for them, maybe something they postulate as part of being a living creature, being human. Of course, almost the only exception in which the existence of such is not antinomical, is that something must be REALLY, REALLY wrong with that person. :lol:


    The essential ratiocination among most of the rational and general protestors is simple; to ignore the individual differences between Aspergers and all the different variations of ASD will result in detrimental obstruction of all future science and understanding regarding these syndromes.
     
  13. Nacluv

    Nacluv Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I just remembered that I actually once had a story idea some few years ago (TOS characters in mind) in which the plot allegorically depicts the differences in energy expenditure betweene xtroverted brains and introverted brains.

    The planet was called Trevortex. :cool:
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not about passion, it's about understanding the subject and being concerned for accuracy. You're making oversimplified assumptions that do not track with the facts.

    Obviously your rationale doesn't work to explain the fiction, because it contradicts what's in the fiction. You can say all you want that it should be easy for Data to use contractions, but the evidence before us is that it isn't. Therefore your opinion doesn't work as an explanation for the evidence. It's just wishful thinking.
     
  15. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Data was obviously capable of very simple, less broad, emotions. He may not have been capable of feeling love, humor or sadness but he had curiosity. Which can be an emotion, he had desires and wants. Both can be emotions. He had some degree of "affection" for Spot, he attachment to his friends and even "missed" them when absent. So while he may not have been able to "feel sad" or "feel happy" he had "emotion" in some manner or another.

    What's even odder Data seemed to have a built-in system to NOT improve himself or achieve goals. When he thinks Q is going to grant him with humanity at the end of (Deja Q?) Data is pretty quick to dismiss it. Same with when Riker -with the power of the Q, was going to give Data that gift. Data turned it down simply because he didn't want to have to "thank" Q for it. What kind of logic is that? Something in Data wanted to be as human as possible so he strived to achieve as much as possible but innately within him he DIDN'T want to be human!
     
  16. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That contraction idea was extremely silly. It's one of the easiest things to do. There are just so many combinations of words that can be contracted, and since he knows grammar, he knows where to put the contractions. Was that really the best they could come up with? Is he REALLY incapable of using "ISN'T" instead of "IS NOT"? Is he really that stupid? I wouldn't trust such a machine with anything.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's not odd at all. In both cases, it would've been something just handed to him rather than something he achieved through his own efforts. It's perfectly understandable why he would've rejected that kind of an artificial leg up. He didn't just want to have humanity handed to him, he wanted to be worthy of the achievement. He had a sense of inadequacy and incompleteness, and if he were just made human by some outside agency, he wouldn't feel that he deserved it, that he'd earned it. It would feel like a sham to him, a constant reminder of his inadequacy to achieve the goal on his own. So of course he rejected it.
     
  18. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Skimming over this thread.... sometimes I just think people over complicate things.
     
  19. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Such a way of thinking is rather... Emotional isn't it? (Or should I say "is it not." ;))
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Exactly. As someone remarked earlier, Data definitely had emotions even if he didn't have specifically human emotions. He may not have laughed or cried or thrown temper tantrums, but he definitely had aspirations and insecurities.

    A thinking being can't not have emotion, because emotion is simply motivation (both words come from the Latin for "to move"). A being that's capable of choice rather than simply acting on instinct or reflex must have some kind of incentive for favoring one choice over another, for preferring one outcome to another. Data (or rather, the show's writers) always defined emotion too narrowly by assuming that only human emotion counted.
     

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