The Language of Family

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by T'Girl, May 12, 2013.

  1. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the episode Family, Picard take leave and goes to stay with his brother Robert and Robert's wife and son. I think that the entire time Picard is in France that he and his family are all speaking French, and not English. Yes, we the audience hear the dialog in English, but it is in fact French.

    Does this make sense to you?

    :)
     
  2. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    Makes perfect sense to me. It's pretty much the same as when we see a scene where two Romulans or two Klingons are talking to each other and we hear English.
     
  3. GameOn

    GameOn Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Or England conquered France at some point which explains why they're speaking with English accents.
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So given how old fashioned Robert was, one wonders if he even had a universal translator.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We also see Picard study graphics with English text - yet sometimes it seems our UT-equipped heroes can't translate the written word very well. Might of course be that Jean-Luc studies an English document out of habit while speaking French (I could ask for a Finnish-translated online version of National Geographic, but I seldom bother, even though the translation is fairly good), or then he studies a French document and the UTs in our receivers are better than average. :vulcan:

    FWIW, we often hear all-Klingon conversations in English while watching Klingon graphics that remain written in the Klingon language, though.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Didn't TNG's Code of Honour" refer to French as an obscure language?
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Certainly. Doesn't mean it would have been a dead language, though. If it only had, say, a billion speakers at most, it wouldn't amount to anything much in the Federation context...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    What I find more strange them seeming to speak English, is that it's 20th century English.

    I'm aslo pretty sure the UT works with at least some written languages. How many times has a human starfleet officer been on some alien ship or station and immediately knew how to work a control panel?
     
  9. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As often as the plot requires. Enterprise at least tried to do it right... for a little bit, exploring this difficulty that would arise. Though even they either couldn't understand anyone at all, or instantaneously were able to translate and learn their language. Not much middle ground.
     
  10. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    Well I think the way the UT works is either it understands nothing, or it gets a foothold on a language and figures out all of it. Once it figures out a little vocabulary and syntax, the rest is easy. At least for the translators of the 24th century, which are probably far superior to what Sato had.
     
  11. bbailey861

    bbailey861 Admiral Premium Member

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    Ya, it makes sense to me.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Why? Surely the setting in our UTs should be 20th (or, nowadays, 21st) century English, even if the setting in Picard's UT is for 24th century English output and possibly 17th century French input.

    That is, it's unlikely that any of the language we hear is untranslated. Most often it's probably twice translated - first for the benefit of the heroes, then for the benefit of the audience. Sometimes the heroes don't use translators (say, VOY "Basics") but the audience still does...

    Indeed, I have a hard time believing in the concept of "language" in the 24th century setting any more. What possible motivation would Picard, Worf or even Riker have for learning English when they can simply decide to speak Picardian, Worfian, and Rikerian, respectively?

    Another problem I have is with the explicit limitations in the application of the UT. Why not translate things like whale speech in ST4? Why doesn't Data ask Spot what sort of food he/she really likes? Can't Crusher tell the microbes to piss off and leave poor O'Brien's brain alone?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because the UT is a very plot conscious device. :p
     
  14. Captain McBain

    Captain McBain Captain Captain

    Est-ce que Picard parle francais bien ou mal?
     
  15. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Languages change much more slowly in literate societies than in nonliterate societies. A written standard acts as a slowing force against change. We still learn that splitting an infitive is wrong, even thought infinitives have been splitting unabated for centuries. The interconnectedness of our modern life is acting as another standardizing force which may slow change even further. It's not a totally absurd assumption that English will change very little in the next few centuries.
    It's possible. My own idea is that the English language in France simply represents a cultural shift, similar to Anglo-Saxon language and culture infiltrating the Celts in Britain. Picard going home to France and speaking English to his family would be nor more strange than a modern Irishman going home to his family in Ireland and speaking English.
     
  16. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    English has changed in the 23 years since that episode.

    Even if grammar is set in stone, pronunciation changes over time. Idiomatic expressions come into being, or go into disuse. A word can be born, make its way into general usage, fall out of favor, and die in the course of a few decades.

    It's true the highest registers of a language change more slowly than informal language, but they do change. I wouldn't expect a language with as many speakers as English or French to be stagnant for four centuries.