The Atlantic article on "Shaka, When the Walls Fell"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by JT Perfecthair, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. JT Perfecthair

    JT Perfecthair Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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  2. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    Ugh. They couldn't bother to get a screencap from the Blu-Ray, could they?
     
  3. ClassicTrekkie

    ClassicTrekkie Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    "Intern Bob, when the HD failed; his job lost."
     
  4. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    A very good and interesting article, Darmok is one of those TNG episodes I highly enjoy.

    As for the finer details of Tamarian language, like how they communicate things that cannot be so easily relayed in the abstract, it's possible they have some other method of communication beyond the verbal, and a level of telepathic communication beyond what Troi, or any other telepath, can pick up on. Maybe not so strongly words as just impressions, ideas, general thoughts, etc. Their verbal communication being for more mundane tasks. I guess sort of like a group of bees or ants working together to build a hive or nest. They have no verbal means of communication, and very certainly no telepathic means, yet they're all somehow able to work together to build a unified structure and complete tasks.

    The Tamarians can just "somehow" work together to build and develop society and technology without having to verbally communicate it.

    This episode wonderfully also shows, in a manner, how the Universal Translator works.

    First of all, the Universal Translator is working, working perfectly in fact. As it IS taking the alien language and turning it into words in the Federation Standard Language (English, to us.) The Tamarians aren't literally saying "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" they're saying something very different in their native tongue.

    It's just that what they're saying is turned into "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra", which doesn't make any sense for the reasons outlined in the episode. A lack of understanding of mythology, legends and stories behind these figures.

    We ALSO see int he episode as Data and Troi work together that the Tamarians aren't even saying "Darmok" or "Jalad" or likely even "Tanagra" as the computer names the two figures as being mythological beings on another planet. So the UT is taking the Tamarian language words of "Darmok" and "Tanagra" and interpreting those words to similar uses of words on other planets to form a conclusion and providing "Darmok and Jalad."

    So even the COMPUTER is able to somehow know "who" the real names are is able to present them. So the computer is doing it's job perfectly well. It's taking the words said by the Tamarians and is providing a very good translation.

    It's just that the translation doesn't make sense without having a very good understanding of all of the mythology the computer is able to pull from in order to provide the translation. (As is demonstrated by the "Juliet on her balcony" example in the ObLounge discussion.)

    This is an episode I really, really enjoy because it is an interesting look at language and seeing two people trying to find a way to communicate with one another.
     
  5. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    All I know is, is that this was the only episode for Picard to wear that cool jacket. Every other appearance featured the jacket with the toned-down black material on the shoulders. What was a snappy new piece of wardrobe, became just a jacket, one that made Picard look like a chilly old man. :thumbdown:
     
  6. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    ...man enough to admit re-reading the dialogue brought a tear to my eye...but, golly, gee wilikers, how deeply Star Trek continues to be engrained in so many different aspects of our society and civilization...
     
  7. gaghyogi49

    gaghyogi49 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Simply enough: Trekcore hasn't uploaded the "Darmok" HD screenshots so far. Where else would they get their HD screenshot? ;-)
     
  8. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    Trekcore...when the ball dropped...their fans with fists closed...
     
  9. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A few years back, I was watching some political/issue-type show, and I almost feel out of my chair when one of the participants mentioned "Shaka, when the walls fell", :wtf: without explanation or context. It made me think that many, many more people were watching this show (Trek, I mean) than would generally be admitted to!
     
  10. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    ...this is the thing...incroyable...!!!
     
  11. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I used to know this one fellow who was commenting about how a guy he knew was "too into" Star Trek. It was amusingly ironic, when fleshing out his comments, that he himself referenced a Gorn and a Horta! :lol:
     
  12. JesterFace

    JesterFace Commander Red Shirt

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    I might as well bring this up since we're talking about 'Darmok'.

    I find it a bit annoying that Riker, as he puts it in his log, is ready to go into war just to get Picard back. War over one man? C'mon Riker... Of course we don't know the force of the Tamarians, as far as we know that ship they're travelling to meet the Enterprise might be the only one they have but still...
     
  13. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I just watched this episode on the Blu-Ray (Hooray! No more phaser beams coming out of the torpedo tube!) and, man, this is just a great, great and fantastic episode. The best part of the episode for me is the fireside "story time" between Picard and Dathon (the Tamarian captain.)

    This episode really is, for me, Trek at its finest.
     
  14. Salinga

    Salinga Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My problem with "Darmok" is, that the viewer is smarter than the chracters in the story. How their language works is pretty obvious for everyone watching the episode, but not for 24th century people. It always frustated me, how Picard & Co. were massively dumbed down to make the story work, because in real life, even today for most people it would only take 5 minutes to understand what is going on.
     
  15. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    I've always been fascinated with one particular aspect (or at least an implication) of a Darmok-style language: would it be true that "different languages" on their world might correspond one-to-one with different religions?

    On Earth, a Christian or a Jew might use the phrase, "Noah, when the Rains came", as a reference to taking refuge from a storm or natural disaster. But that same phrase would be meaningless to a Buddhist, without some form of cross-cultural communication ("language training" for lack of a better term.)

    Tamarian culture might take an entirely different form, but I could see a roughly human equivalent: say, Methodists, Baptists and Catholics might speak different dialects of the same language, reflecting their different denominational understandings of the same common stories.

    Likewise: Christians, Muslims and Jews might speak different languages entirely, but related through the same family (in the same way as English, Russian and Greek are related but different.) Buddhists and Hindus, by contrast, might be "speaking" from a different language family entirely.

    TL;DR -- "Language = religion" is a fascinating implication of this episode's premise.
     
  16. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I suspect those who had encountered the Tamarians before had some idea what the "structure" of their language was, but that doesn't mean they could be understood. It took the context of the "hunting trip" for Picard to put it together.

    For all we know other encounters had the ship crews assuming the language was baffling the UT to the point it was spewing out nonsense.

    And, as it discussed in the Juliet example, knowing what they're doing in their communication doesn't translate to being able to understand them, know their motivations, or being able to establish any kind of relationship with them.

    But, even setting all of that aside and going meta... That's not the point of the episode. The very idea of a Universal Translator pretty much defies any and all logic and common sense (it just "can" hear and completely new language, compile it, and translate it perfectly into the language of listener, and vice-versa for the benefit of those without a translator on them. And it also can, somehow, manipulate the appearance of the speaker's lips to make it look as if they're speaking the correct tongue. The UT just "can" do this.)

    So, yeah, when it boils down to it it should have been obvious to anyone encountering the Tamarians that they're speaking in metaphors, or citing examples for their means of communication and that communication was impossible out of not knowing the references they are making. (Though Troi and Data were able to figure it out pretty easily. Seems one more step in reading the myth about Darmok and Jilad they would've known more about what was going on.) But communication between two people who cannot communicate was sort of the point of the episode. The Tamarian captain and Picard were able to find some means of communication, work together and bond in spite of their linguistic hurdles.
     
  17. borgboy

    borgboy Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I never thought their language made any sense. How could a language based on stories work? Wouldn't they have to have a language already in order for those stories to be told? I suppose they could have had a "normal" language in the past and it adapted into this bizarre story structure.
    This episode always annoys me.
     

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