0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

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JudeMorrigan
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby JudeMorrigan » Mon May 23, 2011 8:55 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard and a Setesh Guard, on a neutral planet.

A Setesh guard, with nose dripping.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby colovelo » Mon May 23, 2011 8:59 pm UTC

I wonder if Randall got the inspiration for this comic from a recent forum post:

http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=70870&start=40#p2602055

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby philip1201 » Mon May 23, 2011 9:18 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
Zylon wrote:Anyone who's never watched Star Trek has no right to be reading XKCD. That's just... incomprehensible.


Nerd culture is sort of like the Borg. You can't be an individual and merely identify with it, you must be assimilated.

Dare to think differently from the group and you're NOT A TRUE NERD.

... and then people don't understand why blogs like xkcd sucks exist.


And then you become a tragic villain as you are incapable of controlling yourself as you are forced to use all your secrets and expertise to murder thousands, many of whom friends and colleagues, until you are finally captured by your friends and freed from the collective. Then you go to your parents' house in the south of France and have a nervous breakdown as you realize the horrors of what you have done, but were unable to stop.

Wait, what?

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby BioTurboNick » Mon May 23, 2011 9:49 pm UTC

KingofMadCows wrote:Pretty much all forms of communication is done through metaphors. The words I write only have meaning in their association with something else.


True, but it isn't impossible to figure it out. Though it is quite likely that the UT would need some sort of training period for every new language to acquire the basics. Figuring out grammar and sentence structure would be fairly trivial. It would probably still need to rely on hand-gestures, props, or mind-reading to figure out the content.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Vnend » Mon May 23, 2011 10:53 pm 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.


This episode came up on io9 recently, and here was what I posted there regarding someone's gripe much like yours:

The first way to explain it that comes to mind is to remind you that you were hearing the English translation of what he said, and that the UT was building those references and fragments based on an older, related or ancestral language that the UT knew. So the alien Captain might be saying what he thought of as one word, but the UT could only translate it as several English words, now divorced of any obvious meaning (until Picard figured it out).

Consider how some Chinese characters are made up of multiple other characters (some modernly much simplified from their original form) that don't always have a clear relation to the meaning of the combo-character. The classic, and probably erroneous and appocriphal, example being the supposed character for 'discord', which was described when I heard it as 'two women under one roof'. If that character came into being after someone's universal translator (or even their Chinese dictionary) was made you would get something like 'And there was much two women under one roof'. Sound familiar?

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby cerrita » Mon May 23, 2011 11:33 pm UTC

madock345 wrote:Sing with me!
"If you're wondering how he eats and breathes
and other science facts (la-la-la),
Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a show,
I should really just relax..."

A wild MSTie appears!

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby KingofMadCows » Mon May 23, 2011 11:45 pm UTC

BioTurboNick wrote:
KingofMadCows wrote:Pretty much all forms of communication is done through metaphors. The words I write only have meaning in their association with something else.


True, but it isn't impossible to figure it out. Though it is quite likely that the UT would need some sort of training period for every new language to acquire the basics. Figuring out grammar and sentence structure would be fairly trivial. It would probably still need to rely on hand-gestures, props, or mind-reading to figure out the content.


The Tamarian language would probably be much easier to decipher using a Skinnerian approach. Instead of having specific words for abstract concepts, the Tamarians describe a physical event that's associated with that concept. So instead of saying that you "know" something, you describe the action that defines "knowing." For example, when someone says that their child "knows" the word "monkey," what exactly do they mean? They mean that the child behaves in a certain way when they see the word "monkey" or the child is able to use the word "monkey" in a certain way. So if a child is shown a picture of a monkey and then a list of words, and the child points to the word "monkey" in that list and says "monkey" then you would say that the child "knows" the word "monkey." The Tamarians, instead of saying that their child "knows" something, would replace the word "know" with a specific event in their history that represents the concept of "knowing."

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Eternal Density » Mon May 23, 2011 11:52 pm UTC

Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet, in the billiard room.
With the rope. And the candelstick.

JudeMorrigan wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard and a Setesh Guard, on a neutral planet.

A Setesh guard, with nose dripping.
Teal'c roaring with laughter.
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boom de yada

Postby aik » Tue May 24, 2011 12:20 am UTC

+1 to understanding "Darmok" at the first word of the first panel
+1 to understanding "Shaka" at the first word of the first post on this thread
+1 to nearly throwing a fit when I thought Randall had confused Kalenda for Tanagra

I love xkcd!

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue May 24, 2011 12:21 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard and a Setesh Guard, on a neutral planet.

I agree, you do really need to be in on the reference in order to find this strip funny.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Randomizer » Tue May 24, 2011 1:29 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)

Feh, that's nothing. For me the Picard song started playing in my head the second I saw this.

And I can't get it ooooouuuuut! :x
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Eternal Density » Tue May 24, 2011 1:57 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard and a Setesh Guard, on a neutral planet.

I agree, you do really need to be in on the reference in order to find this strip funny.
Kevin McDonald in his Mr. Medulla costume in the DVD bonus features of Sky High.
Spoiler:
You can find the answer to this on TVTropes if you haven't already.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby scottyb » Tue May 24, 2011 1:58 am UTC

RevengencerAlf wrote:I feel like a monumental super nerd for even bringing this up (not that it's a bad thing) but I'm not so sure production costs were really it. I mean they were part of it, but wasn't the shuttle prop not ready when they started filming TOS?
From Wikipedia:
According to The Making of Star Trek, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's original plan did not include transporters, instead calling for characters to land the starship itself. However, this would have required unfeasible and unaffordable sets and model filming, as well as episode running time spent while landing, taking off, etc. The shuttlecraft was the next idea, but when filming began, the full-sized shooting model was not ready. Transporters were devised as a less expensive alternative, achieved by a simple fade-out/fade-in of the subject.
I think that this book is the source mentioned.

So we're both right! (And doesn't change my original point - that it came about because the writers/crew needed to accomplish something, rather than it being an intentional part of the Star Trek universe.) It's why shuttles didn't see much use unless it was an awesome episode (The Doomsday Machine) or an episode where the shuttle is part of the plot (that awful one where Spock has to consider "illogical" actions like burning their remaining fuel in the hopes that it attracts someone's attention - hey, it's not enough fuel to take off, so the logical thing would be to use it in another way!)

Addendum: I wanted to bring up "children on the Enterprise" as a point to TNG's not-making-sense-ness, but then I realized, crazy as it was, I did enjoy the episode "Disaster", where the ship loses power to most systems (all except life support and artificial gravity, I guess?) while Picard is trapped on a turbolift with a broken ankle and some children, and has to get them out before the lift's emergency breaks fail. And Worf is trapped in Ten Forward with a woman giving birth.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Cyberchihuahua » Tue May 24, 2011 2:23 am UTC

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2792/4422697819_97c3d4cc8f.jpg

I always did like this episode. Seeing Patrick Stewart play Picard in a tough situation always let Picard's character shine.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby jackie1776 » Tue May 24, 2011 3:45 am UTC

My husband and I already speak to each other so much in internet memes and other references that we're semi-seriously worried that any children we raise might grow up technically not speaking English as their first language! :shock:

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Eternal Density » Tue May 24, 2011 4:24 am UTC

jackie1776 wrote:My husband and I already speak to each other so much in internet memes and other references that we're semi-seriously worried that any children we raise might grow up technically not speaking English as their first language! :shock:
This burns me with molten cheese.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby DarthMarth » Tue May 24, 2011 4:39 am UTC

What language did they originally tell the myths in?

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Brian-M » Tue May 24, 2011 6:13 am UTC

outworlder wrote:The universal translator does work by analyzing speech patterns.

That is not only backed up by the ST Technical Manual, but also by the mentioned DS9 episode. But if you really want validation, all one has to do is to watch any StarTrek: Enterprise episodes which have first encounters. They go to great lengths to show the translator figuring out words, then sentences, then the whole speech. There is even one episode where the captain kisses an alien so that he can twerk the translator, after it stops functioning, without her seeing it.

I haven't seen any episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, but look at the other series' where they encounter previously unknown races. It's been years since I last saw an episode of ST:TNG, but I don't seem to remember many episodes where the translator takes hours, or even days, to build up a complete vocabulary. After all, if it works solely by analyzing speech, then it can't possibly translate words that it hasn't heard used by the alien race before, unless the meaning is made clear by context. So it would need hours, or even days, before it could even begin to develop a working vocabulary. And even then, it would still be incapable of translating things like units of measurements.

More recently (a year or so ago) I watched Voyager all the way through on DVD. On almost every episode where the encounter a new species (which is most episodes) they can communicate instantly. Hailed by an alien ship of an unknown race? No problem, translator works fine instantly. Visiting an alien planet and passing yourself off as a native? No worry, the aliens won't even notice you're not speaking their language.

Maybe I'll get around to watching the Star Trek: Enterprise series someday.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Evil Midnight Lurker » Tue May 24, 2011 6:23 am UTC

gargletheape wrote:Language in Darmok:
http://tenser.typepad.com/tenser_said_t ... armok.html

Basically, 'metaphors all the way down' makes no sense, childhood language acquisition becomes impossible, and the universal translator doesn't work with this plot.

Thank you. That's a much more detailed and convincing manner of communicating my problem with the episode than I was able to manage. (Irony. :P )

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Randomizer » Tue May 24, 2011 6:27 am UTC

But who's to say the new alien contacts don't send over a copy of their video-dictionary and other such translation help with their initial hails? I'd assume the computers in Star Trek are fast enough to process a new language in a few seconds at most.

For alien-inhabited worlds without such things, just drop a few microphones in crowded locations that can distinguish dozens of conversations at once and in a few hours you'll have enough samples to beam down and start talking.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby dr pepper » Tue May 24, 2011 6:40 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.


Kaymu, when the grant was cancelled.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby dr pepper » Tue May 24, 2011 6:44 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard and a Setesh Guard, on a neutral planet.


*SNORT*

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby dr pepper » Tue May 24, 2011 7:29 am UTC

_gb wrote:Aren't there single-word "metaphors" for common concepts even in the english language?


According to one show i heard, the word "metaphor", which come from greek, originally meant only "carry/move/transport", refering to purely physical action, and that in fact, it's still used that way in modern greek. But at some point it acquired the additional meaning of moving concepts. Hence "metaphor" is itself a metaphor.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby dr pepper » Tue May 24, 2011 7:31 am UTC

melladh wrote:
Vaskafdt wrote:also.. Randell is overdue for a Doctor who Joke. (or was there already a who strip that I somehow missed?)


The fanboi (fangrrl?) in me agrees


If you aren't sure which you are, it's time to write some fanfic.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby ijuin » Tue May 24, 2011 8:21 am UTC

gargletheape wrote:Language in Darmok:
Basically, 'metaphors all the way down' makes no sense, childhood language acquisition becomes impossible, and the universal translator doesn't work with this plot.

The phrase does not necessarily need to be parsed into individual sub-components for a child to grasp its overall meaning. For example, you can know what an "automobile" is without knowing the separate meanings of "auto" and "mobile"--the word/phrase is a compound that can be comprehended independently of any awareness of the meanings of its sub-components.

To use an example similar to the automobile one above, what would you think if an automatic translation program gave you the phrase "self-revolving cart"? (the literal translation of the Japanese word for "bicycle") Without a visual aid for explanation, it would be difficult to discern what was being spoken of.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby philip1201 » Tue May 24, 2011 10:05 am UTC

DarthMarth wrote:What language did they originally tell the myths in?

The entire species is very "direct observation" oriented. They don't try to talk with Picard, they actively transport him to the planet in order to explain friendship. Not by symbols like shaking hands, but by acting it out.
I think the "aural tradition" of the Tamarians is far more based on theater than ours. People are taught not just moral lessons, but words and concepts. A new concept would be explained by acting them out. If no name for it exists, then a name is given. Communication between tribes is established through common shared history. New concepts are acted out and titled. If Darmok and Jalad were actually the first people to become Fire Forged Friends, then they wouldn't be able to formulate the concept, no more than a 18th century human would understand quantum mechanics until it's explained to them with words. Afterwards they would come home and act out what happened (or tell it with much simpler parts), and then the new event would be named after them.

The old and cynical would of course have a metaphor for everything, while young excitable folk would constantly attempt to renew phrases. (Jalad, that's the sweetest ride I've ever seen! [later] Whoa, that car is so Jalad's car on my driveway).
^ "wheelbarrow", by the way, is "cat cart".

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Andrusi » Tue May 24, 2011 1:20 pm UTC

Randomizer wrote:
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)

Feh, that's nothing. For me the Picard song started playing in my head the second I saw this.

And I can't get it ooooouuuuut! :x

Randomizer, reading the strip.
Not named Dennis Miller.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Zylon » Tue May 24, 2011 2:48 pm UTC

philip1201 wrote:The entire species is very "direct observation" oriented. They don't try to talk with Picard, they actively transport him to the planet in order to explain friendship. Not by symbols like shaking hands, but by acting it out.

Ah, no. They brought Picard down to a dangerous planet because they'd been repeatedly unsuccessful in communicating with other species, so determined that being in a life-or-death situation would force effective communications. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

This episode is also notable for being the one in which the FX team has the Enterprise firing phasers out of its torpedo ports.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby dcollins » Tue May 24, 2011 2:49 pm UTC

Related news -- US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity announces plans to build a repository of stories and metaphors in English, Spanish, Russian, Farsi, etc. "... metaphors have been shown to be pervasive in everyday language and to reveal how people in a culture define and understand the world around them"

http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/apple-my-eye-us-fancies-huge-metaphor-reposit

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby bmonk » Tue May 24, 2011 3:58 pm UTC

dr pepper wrote:
_gb wrote:Aren't there single-word "metaphors" for common concepts even in the english language?


According to one show i heard, the word "metaphor", which come from greek, originally meant only "carry/move/transport", refering to purely physical action, and that in fact, it's still used that way in modern greek. But at some point it acquired the additional meaning of moving concepts. Hence "metaphor" is itself a metaphor.

I recall a column on just this topic--perhaps in Natural History mag some years back--in Greece, they have "Stasis" (stop) signs, and the airport has "metaphoro" luggage carts.
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Stanistani » Tue May 24, 2011 6:26 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
Zylon wrote:Anyone who's never watched Star Trek has no right to be reading XKCD. That's just... incomprehensible.


Nerd culture is sort of like the Borg. You can't be an individual and merely identify with it, you must be assimilated.

Dare to think differently from the group and you're NOT A TRUE NERD.

... and then people don't understand why blogs like xkcd sucks exist.

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Re: Darmok and Jalad

Postby Aelfyre » Tue May 24, 2011 7:07 pm 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...


probably because much like most of Star Treks premises there is absolutely no logical way that such a convoluted language could arise in an intelligent advanced society.

You cannot speak in analogies to stories and parables if you have no basic way of communicating those stories and parables to someone who has never heard them before so they can have a base of reference. The only way you could even remotely handwave that whole thing away was if the alien in question was brain-damaged or had some sort of other mental speech impediment that forced him to speak that way. Similar to when someone has a stroke or something and loses the ability to speak but they *can* sing..

that being said.. *funny* comic :)

EDIT: And yeah I also said to myself "I thought it was at Tanagra?" LOL
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby jetsam » Tue May 24, 2011 7:26 pm UTC

This made up to me for all the references I don't get in the strips. That was my favorite episode in all of Star Trek.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Caffeine » Tue May 24, 2011 11:26 pm UTC

mooncow wrote: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.

mooncow


Ok, let me clarify. I've never finished watching a star trek movie / TV episode etc. Plenty of partial viewings, enough to confirm that it's not my cup of tea.
As for the mystery movie, the cinema advertised ahead of the show, the 4 movies that it might be, one of which was the trek one. So we took our chance, it didn't end up being something in which we were interested, so we left, and used our refund to purchase tickets to another movie.

In that year, we saw 136 films at the cinema, many of which were truly terrible, some of which were great, and plenty of which were forgettable. The only one we didn't bother staying to watch was the trek one.

The problem I have with star trek, is that it is written to appeal to star trek fans. If you're not a fan, you most likely never will be.

I should also point out I've never read or watched any harry potter content, or anything by Dan Brown :D

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Parry_Lost » Wed May 25, 2011 12:26 am UTC

Image

http://chainsawsuit.com/2008/05/07/strip-362

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby gastrolith » Wed May 25, 2011 1:41 am UTC

Greetings,

When I was prepping my laptop for my deployment to Afghanistan (in two weeks!!), I loaded two ST:TNG episodes. This was one of them. I'm kinda sappy and love the episode. FWIW, the other was Inner Light.

Cheers,
g

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby CiDhed » Wed May 25, 2011 2:04 am UTC

Awesome comic. Got the reference from the title.

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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby Eternal Density » Wed May 25, 2011 2:30 am UTC

dr pepper, quoting my post.
Spoiler:
which is to say, *SNORT*
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Re: 0902: "Darmok and Jalad"

Postby mooncow » Wed May 25, 2011 1:53 pm UTC

Caffeine wrote:The problem I have with star trek, is that it is written to appeal to star trek fans. If you're not a fan, you most likely never will be.


I'm not sure I'm a star trek "fan". I've watched a fair few star trek episodes and some of the films. I've enjoyed some, not enjoyed others. I find sufficient variety *within* star trek to make generalisations seem difficult to support and most likely intellectual prejudice. I have, for example, watched "Star Trek: Insurrection" (all the way through). And, as it happens, I didn't especially rate it. But there you go.

Caffeine wrote:I should also point out I've never read or watched any harry potter content, or anything by Dan Brown :D


Somehow, this doesn't surprise me. I, in contrast, have. If I'm going to criticise Dan Brown then I wish to do so from a position of knowing whereof I speak. And actually, if you are able/willing to overlook the glaring errors and misunderstandings, and if you don't make the mistake of trying to believe that any of it is even vaguely *true*, he does write good simple page-turners that are a very easy read and can make a refreshing change after tackling something that is rather harder work. And, for me, any movie with Audrey Tautou in it has at least one reason to be worth watching... :-)

mooncow

mooncow
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Re: Darmok and Jalad

Postby mooncow » Wed May 25, 2011 2:09 pm UTC

Aelfyre wrote:You cannot speak in analogies to stories and parables if you have no basic way of communicating those stories and parables to someone who has never heard them before so they can have a base of reference.


Several people have said things like this on this thread. It is quite wrong. How do you think language is initially learned? When a child has NO language, there is no basic way of communicating to them anything so they can have a base of reference. Yet somehow we do mostly seem to manage to learn language. How do you think we have learned all the metaphors and euphemisms that we are aware of in our own language? If a child follows their parent around and every time something goes badly wrong the parent says "Shaka, when the walls fell", the child will pretty soon figure out what is going on. When they drop their own ice cream onto the path they will say "Shaka, when the walls fell". Bingo.

Like all Star Trek scenarios, this scenario is caricatured: it has to be -- they are 40-minute-long episodes for goodness sake, and have to fit the whole plot in, and the subtleties of the language/philosophy issues may be fascinating to some of us but are unlikely to appeal to their entire television audience. But as has been remarked before, it is not actually that this episode is UNrealistic: on the contrary, the type of problem that is emphasised as being overwhelming in this scenario would in practice be a problem with EVERY new language and culture encountered. This episode dealt with the issue head-on in an extreme form, while virtually all the other episodes ignore the "problem" because it's not relevant and would be boring and use up too much precious episode time. That's all.

mooncow


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