0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

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0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby WolfieMario » Mon May 23, 2011 4:20 am UTC

Image
Alt Text: I wonder how often Patrick Stewart has Darmok flashbacks when talking to Star Trek fans.

I was waiting for a topic to be posted, then decided to post my own. Anyways, I'm not quite sure I get this one; I don't watch Star Trek often.

EDIT: Sorry, I forgot to put 0902 in the title. I also merged the link with the image; before I had linked the text "902".
EDIT: And quotes around the title. Sorry, this is my first time posting the thread... :oops:
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Re: Darmok and Jalad

Postby Mynameisonic » Mon May 23, 2011 4:24 am UTC

Shaka, when the walls fell. At the risk of sounding like the Star Trek fanboy that I am, it's "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" not Kalenda's. I always wondered why it took them so long to catch on to the metaphor thing...

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Re: 0902: Darmok and Jalad

Postby mania » Mon May 23, 2011 4:26 am UTC

I needed the wiki article :oops:..

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby HonoreDB » Mon May 23, 2011 4:32 am UTC

tvtropes will ruin the vocabulary of entire civilizations.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Radical Pi » Mon May 23, 2011 4:33 am UTC

I can't tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I identified the reference at the first word of the first panel 8)

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby suomynona » Mon May 23, 2011 4:35 am UTC

Radical Pi wrote:I can't tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I identified the reference at the first word of the first panel 8)


Yeah. I'm in the same boat, and I registered just to wonder about that.

I'm inclined to go with good thing, but there are people in my life who would disagree.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Eseell » Mon May 23, 2011 4:36 am UTC

The pants fell!
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby dcollins » Mon May 23, 2011 4:38 am UTC

To me, this was one of most irritating of all Star Trek episodes. I mean, isn't every language intrinsically built on referents and idioms? The whole premise that a universal translator exists but doesn't work because of this makes no sense at all. Bothers me to this day.

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Re: 0902: Darmok and Jalad

Postby Deaths Proxy » Mon May 23, 2011 4:40 am UTC

mania wrote:I needed the wiki article :oops:..


Sadly, I didn't.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby nat1192 » Mon May 23, 2011 4:40 am UTC

This sits on the bumper of my car.
http://media.photobucket.com/image/Darmok%20and%20jalad%20at%20tanagra/eber322/duh.jpg

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Caffeine » Mon May 23, 2011 4:44 am UTC

Having never watched an episode of star trek, or even one of the movies*, this completely missed me...

*we went to a 'Mystery Movie' night at our local cinema complex late last century. When the movie started, and turned out to be star trek something or other, 90% of the cinema goers (including us) walked out and received a refund...

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Vaskafdt » Mon May 23, 2011 4:50 am UTC

Caffeine wrote:*we went to a 'Mystery Movie' night at our local cinema complex late last century. When the movie started, and turned out to be star trek something or other, 90% of the cinema goers (including us) walked out and received a refund...


was the ST movie even or odd numbered?

also. I didn't see this particular episode..

maybe I'll watch it when I'll have the time...

also.. Randell is overdue for a Doctor who Joke. (or was there already a who strip that I somehow missed?)
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby madock345 » Mon May 23, 2011 4:52 am UTC

Radical Pi wrote:I can't tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I identified the reference at the first word of the first panel 8)

Lol, me too. though now I can't tell if it is a good or bad thing that I immediatly thought it was a good thing, I was very proud of myself, and that probably just makes it worse.
dcollins wrote:To me, this was one of most irritating of all Star Trek episodes. I mean, isn't every language intrinsically built on referents and idioms? The whole premise that a universal translator exists but doesn't work because of this makes no sense at all. Bothers me to this day.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Ragashingo » Mon May 23, 2011 4:53 am UTC

I just always thought that those aliens would never have actually been able to develop a warp capable society with a language where trying to describe even the most basic concept took a fifteen minute story, at best. Electric circuits, mater/anti-mater reactors, warp fields, yeah right. They'd be lucky to be able to describe fire or the wheel to each other.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Fixblor » Mon May 23, 2011 4:57 am UTC

Tarmac and Picard at Tatonka ... or at Gibraltar, is how I remembers it.
Classic episode though, one of the best of TNG if you watch for the socio-"anthropologic" (xenopologic?) content.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby ulnagar » Mon May 23, 2011 4:58 am UTC

"Shaka, when the walls fell"

I got this one straight away, what does that say about me? :(

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon May 23, 2011 4:59 am UTC

Ragashingo wrote:I just always thought that those aliens would never have actually been able to develop a warp capable society with a language where trying to describe even the most basic concept took a fifteen minute story, at best. Electric circuits, mater/anti-mater reactors, warp fields, yeah right. They'd be lucky to be able to describe fire or the wheel to each other.


What the hell's a Kalenda? Shouldn't that be another story, too?
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby rcox1 » Mon May 23, 2011 5:00 am UTC

This was one of the best ST:TNG episodes made. It was simple and the plot device was elegant. In so many episodes the technology of the star trek universe was so great in order to get any tension or feeling of jeopardy some lame situation had to be created to neutralize the technology, or some vastly superior technology had to be introduced which would then be easily defeated in the magical denouement.

It is possible to translate vocabulary. It is possible to translate grammer and idioms. What is difficult to translate is poetry. Just look at the problem we have because people think a literal translation of the bible is possible. Those of us way too familiar with the star trek universe know how compact the communication can be when speaking to another familiar, and how difficult it is to communicate with those not familiar. How many of use knew what was going on in the first panel only? So the jeopardy in this episode was genuine and palpable.

Here is another thought. ST:TOS was a story about kirk, bones, and spock. They were all about equal, although Kelly was certainly the superior actor. In ST:TNG the story was Picard. Any episode where he was separated and the focus was him, these were the remarkable episode. Stewart is just that far and above everyone else.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby A_of_s_t » Mon May 23, 2011 5:12 am UTC

I... I don't think I quite understand the joke here.

EDIT: So, is this some sort of Star Trek reference? Because I never really got into that show.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Fixblor » Mon May 23, 2011 5:13 am UTC

Sinnlos Im Weltraum - Darmok "In Space No Sense" aus dem Deutsch, watch it again for the first time ...
Memory-Alpha: Darmok article
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Shiyiya » Mon May 23, 2011 5:34 am UTC

A_of_s_t wrote:I... I don't think I quite understand the joke here.

EDIT: So, is this some sort of Star Trek reference? Because I never really got into that show.


Because it's not like it says "Star Trek" right there in the alt text?
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby scottyb » Mon May 23, 2011 5:45 am UTC

Mynameisonic wrote:Shaka, when the walls fell. At the risk of sounding like the Star Trek fanboy that I am, it's "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" not Kalenda's. I always wondered why it took them so long to catch on to the metaphor thing...
Tamarians give context: Darmok and Jalad on the ocean (part of the episode) for example, refers to them, former strangers, leaving together. Darmok and Jalad at Kalenda's is part of Randall's joke setup - the computer explains it as an after-party they had. The Tamarian saying "Darmok and Jalad at Kalenda's" to Picard and Troi is him saying he wants to get totally wasted and hook up, hence the "Wiiiiiink!"

Ragashingo wrote:I just always thought that those aliens would never have actually been able to develop a warp capable society with a language where trying to describe even the most basic concept took a fifteen minute story, at best. Electric circuits, mater/anti-mater reactors, warp fields, yeah right. They'd be lucky to be able to describe fire or the wheel to each other.
I was thinking that, too, although when they wanted to get the Federation's attention they sent out a Fibonacci sequence instead of dialog. (Probably because it couldn't be misinterpreted. Just a "hey, notice us". I think our satellites do that when they complete their missions and leave the system, beaming signal patterns out.)

I think some episode explained that the Universal Translator works by interpreting brainwaves and finding relate-able concepts. The UT would probably just need adjustment for Tamarians to be more discerning with proper nouns (ie, tell apart "when I'm talking about someone in particular" vs. "when I'm talking about a concept that they personify"). If I say "a herculean task" then I'm clearly not thinking about Hercules, but if I just comment on a task by saying "like Hercules and the hydra" then even though I'm thinking about Hercules, I'm thinking about him in the context of a difficult task.

Makes you wonder if the UT could be used as a dictionary/thesaurus. Two people speaking the same language, but the UT "translating" words that one of them isn't familiar with.

Imagine if the UT didn't skip proper nouns ever... then it would translate them into descriptions of what the person thinks of another person! "Hello, Ensign Crusher" would become "Hello, Ensign Wish-you-were-like-all-the-other-red-shirt-wearing-ensigns."

Wait... couldn't that kind of technology be adapted into a lie detector? (Or at least, a sarcasm detector?)

Wait... how did the Federation acquire Tamarian history if they haven't been able to talk to the Tamarians?

The episode is fun as long as you can enjoy the idea of a civilization that speaks in named tropes. (Actually, didn't TV Tropes change their policy to avoid naming new tropes after characters/shows unless it was really well-known like Shakespeare, out of fear that the trope name would be incomprehensible to anyone not familiar with the work it was named after?)

Ok, enough rambling! Some fun stuff to think about.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby cptjeff » Mon May 23, 2011 6:04 am UTC

rcox1 wrote:This was one of the best ST:TNG episodes made. It was simple and the plot device was elegant. In so many episodes the technology of the star trek universe was so great in order to get any tension or feeling of jeopardy some lame situation had to be created to neutralize the technology, or some vastly superior technology had to be introduced which would then be easily defeated in the magical denouement.

...


Here is another thought. ST:TOS was a story about kirk, bones, and spock. They were all about equal, although Kelly was certainly the superior actor. In ST:TNG the story was Picard. Any episode where he was separated and the focus was him, these were the remarkable episode. Stewart is just that far and above everyone else.


You would like DS9. A lot. The show is characters, galactic politics, and religion. In fact, it's one of the best TV series ever at making use of 'minor' characters and subplots, because the format isn't so much alien of the week as it is variations on the same evolving long term issues. The only trouble is that a lot of episodes, especially later ones, don't work all that well as stand alones.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Eternal Density » Mon May 23, 2011 6:07 am UTC

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Plasma Mongoose » Mon May 23, 2011 6:08 am UTC

HonoreDB wrote:tvtropes will ruin the vocabulary of entire civilizations.


A few other WMG Theorists came to the same conclusion.

Just scroll down about 1/5 of the way down
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon May 23, 2011 6:15 am UTC

Radical Pi wrote:I can't tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I identified the reference at the first word of the first panel 8)

I got it from the title.

I often listen to tv shows without watching them (especially if I've seen them before) so I can do something else at the same time, like fall asleep, or grade math homework, or paint miniatures. This works decently well for a lot of Star Trek, especially if you've already seen them before, but Darmok really doesn't work well for this. :P
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Caffeine » Mon May 23, 2011 6:37 am UTC

Vaskafdt wrote:
Caffeine wrote:*we went to a 'Mystery Movie' night at our local cinema complex late last century. When the movie started, and turned out to be star trek something or other, 90% of the cinema goers (including us) walked out and received a refund...


was the ST movie even or odd numbered?


I have no idea!

From marrying up release dates on IMDB, it is most likely that Star Trek: Insurrection was the culprit. Not 100% certain though, we didn't hang around long enough to see much...

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby kalakuja » Mon May 23, 2011 6:57 am UTC

"Temba, his arms wide/open" . Just watched this episode like week ago :lol:

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby apophis42 » Mon May 23, 2011 7:11 am UTC

Wait, wasn't it Data and Troi who were working on the language? This comic lacks all accuracy! I DEMAND MY MONEY BACK!

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Irishwolf » Mon May 23, 2011 7:38 am UTC

Eh guys I don't think the comic was meant to be a representation of the star trek episode. The comic isn't wrong or inaccurate it's just a different situation. I.e. This comic is about what would happen if the aliens weren't looking for a cultural exchange instead they just wanted to have sex with some aliens.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Glade » Mon May 23, 2011 7:52 am UTC

What's worse- catching the Star Trek reference at the comic's title or pinging Kalenda as a character from the Star Wars expanded universe?

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Evil Midnight Lurker » Mon May 23, 2011 8:14 am UTC

Ragashingo wrote:I just always thought that those aliens would never have actually been able to develop a warp capable society with a language where trying to describe even the most basic concept took a fifteen minute story, at best. Electric circuits, mater/anti-mater reactors, warp fields, yeah right. They'd be lucky to be able to describe fire or the wheel to each other.


How would they even tell each other, or their children, who "Darmok" was, or what and where Tanagra is, or what a freaking TREE is? If they can teach their children language, their language CANNOT work this way! :evil:

This episode enraged me more than any other Trek plot with the sole exception of the second episode of Voyager. (Which turned me off watching any Trek at all for approx. nine years.)

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Paulmichael » Mon May 23, 2011 9:05 am UTC

I was completely, utterly confused. I got what the guy on the TV was saying, but I also thought it odd that Randall drew in hair and some facial details. Then the alt-text came in, and I knew why I was mostly clueless, having never seen a single episode or movie of anything Star Trek.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby jozwa » Mon May 23, 2011 9:12 am UTC

This comic was completely lost on me too. Had to read the Wiki article, and then I was just "ok, so that's it".

I thought that was Dathon's mustache.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby KingofMadCows » Mon May 23, 2011 9:54 am UTC

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Ragashingo wrote:I just always thought that those aliens would never have actually been able to develop a warp capable society with a language where trying to describe even the most basic concept took a fifteen minute story, at best. Electric circuits, mater/anti-mater reactors, warp fields, yeah right. They'd be lucky to be able to describe fire or the wheel to each other.


How would they even tell each other, or their children, who "Darmok" was, or what and where Tanagra is, or what a freaking TREE is? If they can teach their children language, their language CANNOT work this way! :evil:

This episode enraged me more than any other Trek plot with the sole exception of the second episode of Voyager. (Which turned me off watching any Trek at all for approx. nine years.)


I'm guessing that they have words for concrete ideas but use metaphors to describe abstract concepts like emotions, justice, peace, etc.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby mooncow » Mon May 23, 2011 10:36 am UTC

Caffeine wrote:
Vaskafdt wrote:
Caffeine wrote:*we went to a 'Mystery Movie' night at our local cinema complex late last century. When the movie started, and turned out to be star trek something or other, 90% of the cinema goers (including us) walked out and received a refund...


was the ST movie even or odd numbered?


I have no idea!

From marrying up release dates on IMDB, it is most likely that Star Trek: Insurrection was the culprit. Not 100% certain though, we didn't hang around long enough to see much...


I think this is so terribly sad. Surely the whole point of a 'Mystery Movie' night is to take pot luck, to end up seeing a movie you might not normally have selected, and perhaps you'll enjoy it or appreciate it or perhaps you won't but either way you will have learnt something. To walk out when you discover what the movie is accomplishes nothing. OK, maybe Star Trek isn't your thing, but if you'd stayed to watch it you might have enjoyed it to your great surprise, or you may have hated it, or you may have been left largely unmoved, who knows? That is part of the joy and challenge of cultural broadening of the mind. And yes, even Star Trek can have a place in a cultural broadening of the mind! A lot of people seem to rate it quite highly: have you never wondered why, and what they see in it? Why not try to find out, if only for your own intellectual curiosity? Go on, get 'Star Trek: Insurrection' out of your local video store, or rent it on-line, or buy it from iTunes, or whatever your favourite mechanism is, and watch it. It'll cost you a couple of dollars and couple of hours. Why not watch it with a friend who also hates Star Trek, or thinks they do? And if you really don't like it, try to think why other people might enjoy it so much more than you. And then repeat the experiment with other movies you've always assumed you wouldn't like. It could be a mind-opening experience, and you never know, you might just get a real surprise.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby mooncow » Mon May 23, 2011 10:42 am UTC

dcollins wrote:To me, this was one of most irritating of all Star Trek episodes. I mean, isn't every language intrinsically built on referents and idioms? The whole premise that a universal translator exists but doesn't work because of this makes no sense at all. Bothers me to this day.


I look at it the other way around. Yes, every language is intrinsically built on references and idioms, and this is why a universal translator cannot ever work unless it has some way of getting insight into the cultural heritage of the speaker. It is all the other Star Trek episodes that should be irritating for assuming that something so infeasible has become an everyday occurrence, and this episode that should be a refreshing change for tackling the problem more-or-less head on.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Technical Ben » Mon May 23, 2011 11:08 am UTC

As soon as you make a warp drive, invent Basic!
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby _gb » Mon May 23, 2011 11:22 am UTC

KingofMadCows wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Ragashingo wrote:I just always thought that those aliens would never have actually been able to develop a warp capable society with a language where trying to describe even the most basic concept took a fifteen minute story, at best. Electric circuits, mater/anti-mater reactors, warp fields, yeah right. They'd be lucky to be able to describe fire or the wheel to each other.


How would they even tell each other, or their children, who "Darmok" was, or what and where Tanagra is, or what a freaking TREE is? If they can teach their children language, their language CANNOT work this way! :evil:

This episode enraged me more than any other Trek plot with the sole exception of the second episode of Voyager. (Which turned me off watching any Trek at all for approx. nine years.)


I'm guessing that they have words for concrete ideas but use metaphors to describe abstract concepts like emotions, justice, peace, etc.


Aren't there single-word "metaphors" for common concepts even in the english language?
For example "homerun" or "strike" or, as was used in some recent comic, "nth-base". I'm european and although I have known expressions like those from consuming american media, I still have no real grasp on the rules of baseball .oO( Futurama: "MULTIBALL" ).
And "how would they tell each other who "Darmok" was, or what and where Tanagra is?" Why wouldn't they do it in exactly the way Picard gets told that story?

Anyway, I have often talked to people who thought that particular TNG episode was ridiculous, but I think they missed the point somewhat. There were a lot of episodes discussing real life problems through metaphors, for example, and please forgive me for not looking up the episode numbers, one about having to limit space travel to lower warp factors to protect space (a metaphor for global warming); an early episode about the relationship between drug dealers and drug users ("symbiosis"), etc.

So, I think Tanagra is actually all around us. Going through high school, college or work can be going to Tanagra. And hopefully, you find a Jalad there to deal with the Beast.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Brian-M » Mon May 23, 2011 11:24 am UTC

scottyb wrote:I think some episode explained that the Universal Translator works by interpreting brainwaves and finding relate-able concepts. The UT would probably just need adjustment for Tamarians to be more discerning with proper nouns (ie, tell apart "when I'm talking about someone in particular" vs. "when I'm talking about a concept that they personify").

But if it works by reading peoples thoughts (which is essentially what "interpreting brainwaves" boils down to), then why would it have difficulty with any language? Surely then it'd be interpreting the meaning of entire statements, and not just interpreting the meaning of specific words within those statements, otherwise everyone would be constantly tripping over each-other's idiomatic expressions and grammatical structure.

In the Sanctuary episode of Deep Space 9, the Universal translator has difficulty interpreting the Skrreea's language until it hears enough samples of the language to figure it out. If it was reading brainwaves, it wouldn't have that problem.

And if it was reading brainwaves, it couldn't possibly work for ship-to-ship transmission with previously unknown species, or with recorded messages in previously unknown languages, which it does all the time.

Unless, for some unknown reason, they were transmitting their brainwaves along with their speech, even though they can't possibly be familiar with this technology. But even then, that would be useless without a highly detailed model of their species' brain for the computer to compare with the brainwaves from which to interpret meaning.

So it can't be working from brainwaves.

But it can (normally) translate language of previously unknown species instantly and flawlessly, without any prior examples of the language to work with, so it can't be deducing their language by analysis either.

There's no possible way it could actually work.
So there's only one possible answer...

Magic.

Looking it up (on Wikipedia), apparently the Deep Space 9 episode was a Cardassian Universal Translator, not a federation one. But according to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (quote taken from Wikipedia)...

The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual says that the Universal Translator is an "extremely sophisticated computer program" which functions by "analyzing the patterns" of an unknown foreign language, starting from a speech sample of two or more speakers in conversation. The more extensive the conversational sample, the more accurate and reliable is the "translation matrix," enabling instantaneous conversion of verbal utterances or written text between the alien language and American English / Federation Standard.

So apparently it figures it out by analysis of speech samples. But in that case it would take hours, or even days, to figure out a new language instead of resolving it instantly as it does in the shows.

But Wikipedia's description of the Metamorphosis episode says...
Based on a suggestion by McCoy, Kirk decides to communicate directly with the entity and Spock modifies their universal translator (which translates brainwave emissions into spoken language) after fetching it from the shuttle. Hoping it will work on the incorporeal creature, Kirk begins to talk to it, asking why it is keeping everyone prisoner.

So apparently it figures it out by brainwaves and not speech samples. But in that case it would be useless for written text, recoded messages and transmitted communication with previously unknown species.

So in short, the only possible way for it to work is to read thoughts, but it's logically impossible for it to work by reading thoughts.


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