Was Uhura a linguist?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by King Daniel Beyond, May 5, 2010.

  1. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    She wore the gold uniform in "Corbomite Maneuver" and "Mudd's Women".

    http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/File:Nyota_Uhura,_2266.jpg
     
  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Yep, but thats one of those oddities you over look to make sense of the show. ;)

    Did any woman look good in Command Gold? :shifty:
     
  3. I am not Spock

    I am not Spock Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think there was any mention of her being a linguist in TOS, TAS, or in the original movies. They did Hoshi-ify Uhura in the new film. I actually didn't mind that. It gave Uhura more depth, more to do as a character.
     
  4. greenguy

    greenguy Commander Red Shirt

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    Oh, please. Don't come after me and my credentials and then play the off-topic card. If you read my post, the entire point was how translation is not linguistics and linguistics is not translation, no matter how hard you or Star Trek tries to imply this or make this the case. There is absolutely no evidence given that what Uhura does is actual linguistics, hence my assumption that she isn't a linguist. All the evidence, terminology, and information is lacking in this assertion.

    So my argument is invalid because we might be using the wrong word? I am not insisting on anything specialized; I am talking about linguistics. You are misusing some blanket term. I am sorry if it's so damning for my post that I am assuming what the field might actually entail, given that I hold a degree in the topic.

    Because this is all 100% speculative and extrapolative and still has nothing to do with linguistics. You are still operating under the assumption that proficiency in another language somehow necessitates or infers knowledge of actual linguistics, which is not the case whatsoever and has been the entire point of my participation in this thread.

    You are right in that it's not outrageous to think that a comm officer would be able to speak languages, but this isn't real linguistics, and real linguistics has never been mentioned in TOS or the movies before. You are extrapolating that just because someone speaks languages, there is some greater linguistic understanding or framework happening. Please cite the "linguistic theory" mentioned in any context where Uhura was working on communications. I want quotes and evidence. Until then, my point stands that Uhura is not a linguist and we have received no evidence that she knows anything about models of language, acquisition, theories of grammar, phonology, syntax, semantics, or any other legitimate field of linguistics.

    Yes, and I would hope the science officer at least studied something legitimately scientific, just like how I would hope that someone who calls themselves a linguist would actually study real linguistics. This consists of many classes, none of which have anything to do with foreign languages, but rather, the formal study of language and its origins, production, and formations.
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If anything TOS's Uhura was the more competent officer of the two characters. And they are two separate characters, despite the similarity of the names. ST Eleven's Uhura was a linguist, there is evidence that's all she was, she wasn't actual a communications officer.
     
  6. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Except STXI Uhura was Spock's top student. From the dialogue "...ability to indentify sonic anomalies in subspace transmission tests" (thank you, Read a Movie site) and since Spock obviously didn't tech her linguistics, nuUhura was obviously more than a walking translator.
    By contrast (and if you insist on canon-only-ness), TOS Uhura had zero qualifications and was a button-pushing redskirt.

    And calling them different people entirely undermines the whole point of the movie (intentional on your part, I know - but still rather silly)
     
  7. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Uhura Prime wore engineering red, and was depicted as proficient in handling and repairing the communications equipment (see "Who Mourns for Adonais?").

    NuUhura also wears red, and is explicitly described as a knowledgeable linguist. If linguistics is more of a science, then why isn't NuUhura (Nuhura, should we say?) wearing sciences blue?
     
  8. Shazam!

    Shazam! Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I tried that ages ago and it never caught on.
     
  9. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Because she can do everything TOS Uhura can as well?

    Or perhaps they both have the same skillset? All this "we never saw her translate so she must be incapable of it" stuff is a little silly (also because she was doing it in novels decades ago!). By that token we could argue just about anything: We never saw a toilet on the ship, so maybe people don't shit in the future? What if there's a toilet in the next nuTrek film? Does that make it a changed premise?
     
  10. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not even remotely true. We saw her performing hands-on repairs to the communications equipment - and Spock noting that there was no one more qualified to do so. We also saw her take over the navigator's station, indicating that she is indeed a qualified bridge officer, cross-trained on some - if not all - of the other bridge positions.

    And if your assertion that she is just a "button-pushing" minion is based on the fact that we most often see her working at her bridge console, then the same could be said of Sulu, Chekov and anyone else working a bridge station.

    And if your "canon-only-ness" is meant to imply that we should accept the novels or Nichelle Nichols' memoirs as any kind of persuasive argument, I'm afraid not. Unless...maybe if Martin Luther King told Nichelle that Uhura was a linguist... ;)
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2010
  11. maryh

    maryh Commander Red Shirt

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    I have to admit to liking what this guy said about NuUhura:

    I've read reviews which suggest that the Uhura in this film represents a progressive reworking of the character from classic Trek. I'm not convinced yet, even though I very much liked the actress who played the part. However limited her role might be ("hailing frequencies are open, Captain"), the original Uhura was defined first and foremost by her contributions as a member of the Enterprise Crew. Whatever subtext there was suggesting a Kirk/Uhura romance, it was just that -- a subtext -- left for fans to infer from a few telling moments in the trajectory of the series, among them, the first interracial kiss on American television -- albeit executed under mind control -- albeit an implied projection of one or both of the character's actual desires.

    In the new film, Uhura asserts her professional competence but she never really demonstrates it. How does that make her different from many of the female professionals in classic Trek who are introduced in terms of their professional abilities and then reduced to being the girlfriend of the week for one of the primary characters? Here, more screen time is devoted to her but she's ultimately a love object in some kind of still to be explored romantic triangle between Kirk and Spock. Basically, she's been inserted into the story to discourage fans from writing slash stories, though most of us won't have any trouble figuring out how the exchange of women facilitates an expression of homosocial/homoerotic desire.


    The classic definition of a Mary Sue is someone who is claimed to have extraordinary mental abilities, who manages to gain the romantic interests of multiple members of the crew, and who manages to have the information needed to save the ship. In way sense, then, is the new Uhura anything other than a Mary Sue figure in the body of an established character? Surely after forty plus years, Trek can imagine a more compelling female character.


    http://henryjenkins.org/2009/05/five_ways_to_start_a_conversat.html


    If NuUhura was a linguist her job was pretty superfluous since everyone spoke English. And if they weren't speaking English why wasn't she recording everything the Romulans said, analyzing it, translating it, updating the universal translator etc. As the author says, we HEAR about her greatness, and everything she has accomplished, yet we saw her do nothing.


    I still think the communication systems manager would be an extremely tough job in the 23/24th century. Even now, the systems manager anywhere is a top-notch, high pay, high security, high skilled, powerful position.
     
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Okay, by canon, she was his top student in what? She is displayed on screen as a linguistics expert, that's all. If Spock didn't teach her her only observable skill, then what did he teach her please?

    (besides Vulcan sex tricks)

    Would you like to post the long and extensive list of on screen "more."

    Prime Uhura was at least a bridge officer. Until nuKirk brought (dragged) her to the bridge, nuUhura wasn't. She was stationed down in the bowels of the ship, it not even clear if Pike really knew who she was at first.

    The movie had a point?

    Look, don't get me wrong, I like Zoe Saldana as an actress. Since seeing her in ST Eleven I've looked up and watched several of her movies and she is skilled. TPTB woud be foolish not to give her a more prominate role in the next movie

    :)
     
  13. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Saying STXI's Uhura is inferior because she had to be "dragged onto the bridge" is unfair. TOS Uhura wasn't born a bridge officer. I seriously doubt she was sitting at the Enterprise bridge comm station in 2258, about six years earlier than prime-Trek's first season.

    I would conjecture that Spock was teaching Uhura (aside from freaky mind-meld sex) the code-breaking and other tasks we've seen her do with Spock in TOS. She did monitor the escape of the Nerada from the Klingon prison planet, as well as the destruction of 40something Klingon ships. Intercepting and decoding alien transmissions would appear to be something she does in both timelines.

    Also: For nuUhura to be a Mary Sue, she'd have to 1. Be an outsider teaming up with the crew and 2. Save the day. She didn't save the day and wasn't an outsider gratuitously added to the cast.
     
  14. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Pike didnt know any of the "regulars" with the exceptions of McCoy,Spock and Kirk. Sulu is a last minute replacement for the regular helmsman and Pike can't even get Chekov's name right. Scotty isn't even on board. None seem to be in the spots they would occupy in TOS. That Uhura ( who is fresh out of the academy) isn't the Alpha shift comm officer doesn't seem out of place.
     
  15. jamestkirkfan

    jamestkirkfan Ensign

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    Nu Uhura was ok but she needs to be professional a little bit more instead of being all lovey dovey not that I'm against romance.
     
  16. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't recall Uhura ever doing any code-breaking in TOS. The closest thing I can recall is Captain Kirk once instructing her to patch a coded message she had intercepted to Spock's computer station so that he could decode it.

    I'm pretty sure any known languages or codes would be translated or decoded by the ship's computers. No linguistic abilities would be required of the operator for that. And, as stated above, the only time I recall them encountering an unknown code, it was given to Spock to handle.
     
  17. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    ^I never said linguistic skills were required for it. I merely pointed out that nuUhura can do more than speak Romulan. She can (and did) intercept the Klingon message about the destroyed warbirds and the Romulan escape.

    I'm probably wrong, but wasn't it Uhura who intercepted the Romulan transmission in "Balance of Terror" and gave the TOS crew their first look at the Romulans? Let me guess: Spock did that too! :lol:
     
  18. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :rolleyes: You really need to get over yourself.
     
  19. boobatuba

    boobatuba Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What, specifically, are you referring to in the original series? It was very rare for Uhura to be all "lovey dovey" and not professional.

    Or is all this changing of usernames making your brain confused?

    startrekrcks-startrekk-chriskirkgeek-jamestkirkfan...did I miss any???
     
  20. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not disputing whatever you say nuUhura is or can do. I haven't even seen STXI. I'm only debating your OP, which I thought contended that TOS Uhura was a linguist. (Which, I'll say again, is fine if that's what you want to believe, but there's no evidence for it in TOS.)

    Yes, that's right. Spock did that, not Uhura.