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Don't forget Starfire's ability to absorb language through lip contact. That should fit right after Hawkman's reference. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk • contribs) 16:52, 9 February 2007
To Add: PendragonEdit
Is there any basis for the statement that "a universal translator is a somewhat improbable technology." Where does this information come from, and how can you be so sure? Tell someone 100 years ago about today's technology and they would think you were insane. Who's to say what is possible and not possible 100 years or more from now? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 16:59, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
- Probably experts in the field. There's a magazine for Star Trek fans with a monthly column called "Building Treknology." To my knowledge they've looked at the feasibility of the holodeck, they've probably done one about the UT. Cromulent Kwyjibo 16:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
- Considering the fact that the UT must depend somehow on telepathy, I'd say it should be considered improbable. The UT is very old school, if you think about; the UT depends on a Platonic realism or at least an empirical understanding of language as potentially transparent, but, especially post-Wittgenstein, this seems unlikely. A UT might work in basic transactions (as with voice recognition software), but in fluent communication it seems improbable. --Junius49 04:07, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
I am willing to suspend my disbelief only when the UT is ignoredEdit
Bear with me, my point might be a little hard to communicate clearly. I think the UT is an absolutely essential plot device, it would be impossible to write Star Trek without it. However, it would be very difficult to write science fiction with a UT that is internally consistent, and it would be even harder to make it plausible. In Star Trek, the UT is both inconsistent and implausible, but that is alright most of the time. Where is the UT located, in the comm badge, or an implant? I don't care. How does it translate everything correctly, considering how ambiguous language is? I don't care.
However, I get really annoyed whenever Star Trek draws attention to the UT. I am willing to suspend my disbelief and ignore the UT, so long as the writers ignore it too. Here is a prime example of the writers drawing unnecessary attention to the inconsistencies of the UT: In the episode Civilization (Enterprise), the universal translator is working as usual, and allowing Captain Archer to mingle among pre-warp aliens without them realizing he is from another planet and cannot speak their language. Then his UT malfunctions temporarily, and he cannot comprehend or speak the local language. Why did the writers put that in? It brings up all the questions I wanted to ignore, such as: What did his lip movements look like while the UT was working, and what would they have looked like while it malfunctioned? Clearly, if he was successfully impersonating the locals, the UT not only changed the sounds the others heard coming from his mouth but also changed the appearance of his lips to match.
The UT creates numerous inconsistencies which cannot be explained gracefully, and the explanations themselves are often completely improbable. Using my previous example: the UT in this episode of Enterprise is clearly a hand held device that Archer carries, and he covertly tweaks this device when it malfunctions. This single device enables him and any other humans in the room to hear English and see English lip movements, while at the same time any aliens in the room will hear alien language and see corresponding alien lip movements. This means that the device is telepathically communicating with the aliens to change their perception of the sounds AND visuals surrounding them, because that was required for successful infiltration. This change in perception is probably telepathic and illusory, because it would be very difficult to change the physical sound waves and photons. The sound waves and photons could only be changed if they were changed into multiple forms - English sound waves and photons for the humans in the room, others for each set of aliens also in the room. That is conceivable, you could target one hologram to the left and a different one to the right, but then what about echoes? What if a camera records someone speaking with a UT, and then the video tape is played back without a UT to an audience of multiple species? Can all of the audience members understand the speaker? Or just one species? How does the camera know which lip movements to record, or will the visual be modified, months or years later, between the screen and the eyes of the viewers? If they have UTs that are so skilled at deception (either telepathic or holographic), then how come they can't use those technologies for other purposes?
These are all the questions that I start asking myself after just one mention of the UT. The answers are not graceful, they are not clever, they are just kludges. In science fiction, you should focus on a piece of technology if it is cool, clever, or graceful. If it was just a plot device, IGNORE IT LIKE THE PLAGUE!
The exception to this is Little Green Men (DS9), in which the Ferengis' UTs malfunction because of the nuclear bombs on Earth. That is just hilarious. The writers were clearly poking fun at the awkward and inconsistent nature of UTs.Fluoborate (talk) 03:59, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Use in Online WorldsEdit
In some online worlds, namely Second Life, there are several devices which fit the description of a Universal Translator or are named the same, providing real-time text chat translation for the world's residents. Should they be included as a similar device provided for Skype is included in the article. Flipper9 (talk) 22:11, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Star trek languages not translatedEdit
The part about Star trek ends with a question I've often wondered, how can we hear languages cited, rather than interpreted by the device? In my opinion the translator leaves parts in the original form when the speaker desires to do so. Since the UT functions (as explained by Kirk in TOS:Metamorphosis) by recognizing thought patterns and concepts, it most certainly is able to recognize a person's wish to "quote". —Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 02:33, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
I understand the need to cite the sources, but aren't the sources of the fictional representations the shows themselves? Would not the heading be considered the reference cited, and one would only need to actually watch the program? WikiWilliamP (talk) 14:29, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
- See WP:PRIMARY. This article requires the interpretation of fictional content as representing a particular subset of the article subject, and as such we really need secondary analysis. Requiring secondary sources also acts as a guard against people adding trivia; articles on fictional subjects are supposed to explain their wider impact on popular culture, not be ways for people to feel good about themselves by contributing their personal analysis of TV shows to. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 15:31, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
It does not matter to me: 1. the UT has to respect all languages as they evolve. 2. people will intentionally mis-use languages to encode their personal message. 3. English is as close as we get, considering. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 23:21, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Hybrid Language ?Edit
Using Star Trek as an example: If have a group of people living together in a colony and they had UT tech than after a number of generations shouldn't there be on one language? Because I thought that with each generation the children will pick up the languages spoken by the adults until after so many generations there will be on a few or only one (new) language spoken on the colony. Am I wrong? Scotius (talk) 13:31, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
- I would think the opposite. Given that there is no need to use a Language of Wider Communication, children would be more likely to carry on using the language of their parents (if they both speak the same language). In addition, since a couple have no need to make themselves understood outside the home, then they might develop their own two-person language, much as couples have their own in-jokes and secret vocabulary now.
- If a couple don't speak the same language, and use a universal translator in to make themselves understood between each other, then a child would grow up bilingual, possibly choosing their own borrowings from their parents' languages for their own idiolect. Since a universal translator is used, the borrowings they choose do not get shared with other speakers of the host language.
- To take it another step further - given a universally used psychic universal translator (i.e. even in the home, when talking to or around babies), everyone might end up speaking their own, personal language, as the translator would convert anything that one person means to say into whatever noises that might represent for the hearer(s). PRB (talk) 14:23, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Star Trek: Spectre Of The GunEdit
Right in the beginning of this episode the Enterprise crew is told by an alien (Melkot) voice to turn back immediately from their space and that this is the only warning they will receive. And this is the reaction of the crew:
SPOCK: Vulcan, Captain. KIRK: English. CHEKOV: It was Russian, sir. Every word. UHURA: No, Captain. It was Swahili. KIRK: Interesting. Telepathy.
- Actually, it makes perfect sense, as that is what the UT does. 184.108.40.206 (talk) 19:35, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
The only possible explanation for this confusion on the bridge would be that the translators have been switched off and everone is talking English - which would then also be the logical reason why Chekov keeps his Russian accent.220.127.116.11 (talk) 16:45, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
First Description of a Universal TranslatorEdit
Although the article claims that it was first described in 1945, I'd like to point to December 1938's Detective Comics #23, where in the Slam Bradley story (written by Siegel and Schuster, creators of Superman) there is the use of what is clearly a universal translator, looking like a wrist-watch, described as such: "Though the lips of the plant-man had voiced an entirely different word, the wrist-thought translators cause Slam and Shorty to hear it in English." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 22:30, 29 May 2012 (UTC)