This is a drum I’ve been beating for some time, but it’s a pretty huge flaw in Trek, at least to me.
What languages are being spoken? Why don’t we hear more of them? How can they read or write English if they speak different languages? Does Kira translate everything on the monitors from Cardassian into Bajoran? Why does everything seem to be in English? Why can’t they show Kira looking at a station report in Bajoran just once?
I guess it’s not that big a deal, but it’s definitely a missed opportunity. Remember Darmok? Remember that episode of ‘Enterprise’ where Scott Bakula’s translator broke down and he couldn’t understand the human-looking alien woman?
I like this kind of drama and, really, I wish there had been more of it. As well as more explanations given about how the universal translator actually works.
I mean, let’s look at this logically.
The Universal Translator is accessible to everyone on Earth, it seems. That means it’s unnecessary to learn another language except your native tongue.
Why do people learn English as a second language?
Some might do it for fun or because they love the culture, but I know from personal experience of teaching in Japan and Hong Kong that most of my students learn it because it’s useful. Not just useful, it’s vital, assuming you want to travel to other countries in the world.
Why are people queuing up to learn Mandarin now?
Same reason, mostly.
So if, in the Trek Universe, the universal translator makes second language learning irrelevant, what languages are all the characters speaking to each other?
Let’s take DS9 as an example:
The guy’s American so he speaks English, so there’s nothing much weird about that. He’s learning Bajoran, or how to read and write it so he can decipher those ancient prophecies, but we never hear him say any. Read more…
Two short poems about Star Trek, juxtaposed with no thought or intent whatsoever, honest.
(FROM: David Marcus TO: Unknown Dad)
I wish I knew who you were.
When you impregnated Mom,
Did you even love her?
Am I just a mistake?
Like a clerical error?
Did your condom break?
I know …
I didn’t come from a beaker
Or an unclean toilet seat
Mom thought me a keeper.
Not you …
One look, and you had to flee
Got in your car, sped out of town
doing a hundred and fifty.
Other kids know their dads.
I didn’t even get cards
for the birthdays I’ve had.
Made me a Momma’s Boy.
Another crazy torpedo
that she wants to deploy. Read more…
What is it? The Transporter
What does it do? Transports, beams, breaks down a lot
How does it work?
Far as I can tell, the Transporter takes all your molecules/atoms, puts them into a holding pattern, chooses a new place to put you…either the nearest planet or starship…or Q’onos if you find yourself in that universe…and then puts all your molecules back together again. In the exact same order. With no interruption to the routine operation of your body, and no need to look at someone’s fingers and say a number. It seems to be based on the principle that humans are merely biological machines, not spiritual beings [I think]. I mean, I don’t think your soul can be taken apart and re-assembled…can it?
Which episodes is it used in?
Pretty much all of them, except ‘Enterprise’ because it’s only just been invented in that series.
Most of them are fairly obvious…
1] You can get somewhere faster [without needing to fly over Ukraine].
2] You can escape from awkward situations before they become impossible to survive e.g. talking shit to Klingons, being lectured by Picard, waking up next to Neelix
3] You can eliminate diseases from people.
Actually, I don’t know if this one is viable or not. For example, would cancer be excisable using this method? Theoretically, it must be as you could just beam out the cancerous cells, but would there be side effects if a chunk of you is missing when you rematerialize?
I really don’t know for sure how cancer works. Maybe someone else could answer this?
4] You can rescue that Chinese Nobel Prize winner from prison. And, to be completely objective, all those poor bastards having their balls whipped in Guantanamo Bay. Read more…
Another one by Two Takes Frakes, this time breaking his trend of writing about sex [except for the part about Data, Spot and Ensign Kellogg]
The problem I have with Living Holodeck Characters, from a viewer perspective – and writer’s perspective, frankly – is that there’s really no point to them. Until the EMH got his mobile emitter, those rare few characters were sort of tragic, in all that they had was fantasy. Even Vina from The Cage had known all of reality before her accident. And once The Doctor did get his emitter, outside of his innocent fascination with the real world and his invulnerability, he was just learning about The Human Condition. He didn’t even have to be a hologram for that.
But all of these characters are at the mercy of the limitations of a writer’s imagination. They can’t evolve to a perspective that’s truly alien to us, otherwise no one could write for it. So, they ALL plateau at the realization and acquisition of Human sentiments and they never evolve, uniquely. They end up being portrayed just as ordinary people who haven’t lost their sense of wonder. In that sense, the Holodeck is very evil, because it’s not a better or even different song to sing. It just acts as a redress for standard television tropes.
The EMH character in STAR TREK: VOYAGER lost something by handing him so much autonomy, with the mobile emitter. When writers take away the limitations of these special characters, like Data, or The Doctor, these characters turn out not being much different than any ordinary crew member. Apparently realizing this, TNG writers eventually had Data CHOOSE to be limited in the movies after his emotion chip was activated. To keep him interesting, in other words, Data had to revert to acting how he did BEFORE the chip. Otherwise, he just acted like everyone else and only looked different because of his make-up and contacts. Characters like the android Data of TNG and the Hologram Doctor of VOYAGER have incredible story-telling potential. And yet, these inhuman characters are reduced to being overly concerned with the Human Condition. Clumsily, they “explore” such ill-studied phenomenon such as the value of friendship, and dead-end “relationships,” with wide-eyed wonder and innocent fascination. Read more…