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The near-ubiquity of English in the Federation

Dendodge

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Report this Oct. 30 2010, 9:47 am

Do all the aliens in Star Trek speak fluent English?


I can understand the universal translator argument, but that does not account for clever puns and rhymes that make sense in English as well as whatever the original language was, or for the aliens' familiarity with English literature (I've seen Klingons quoting Shakespeare on more than one occasion).


Therefore, I conjecture that the Federation has made English its official language—it probably upset the Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, etc., but it makes sense: The Federation is headquartered on Earth and was the brainchild of American Jonathan Archer, and English may be easier for other humanoids to learn/pronounce than some alien languages.


Was there ever a canon explanation?


UNTRugby

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Report this Oct. 30 2010, 10:08 am

english might be the earths official language but there is no official federation language

Dendodge

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Report this Oct. 30 2010, 10:14 am

I didn't think there was (canonically, at least), but it seems like the best explanation for the alien puns and regular quoting of Shakespeare.

UNTRugby

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Report this Oct. 30 2010, 10:18 am

Quote: Dendodge @ Oct. 30 2010, 10:14 am

I didn't think there was (canonically, at least), but it seems like the best explanation for the alien puns and regular quoting of Shakespeare.


It would just mean that earths language was english and the other species picked up english puns from humans speaking english. As for shakespeare hes the most well known author of earth and he wrote in english.

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 31 2010, 10:27 am

Even phrases and coloquelisms can be translated.
Just like modern-day translations of books. When translating a book from French to English, for instance, the translator might come across the phrase "my little cockroach" (a common French term of endearment) that would sound weird to English readers and translate the feeling of the phrase (into something like "my deer") vice the exact words of the phrase.
Even within the same language, words and phrases change meaning over time and need to be translated. Even Shakespear is often "translated" into modern phrasology when they remake Shakespear plays for modern audiences (like West Side Story). People can get confused with "wherefore art thou Romeo". Juliett's not asking where Romeo is, but why his name is Romeo.

Still, I agree with the principle of this thread. We didn't hear too many unique "alien" phrases being batted around.
In "Lower Decks" we learn the Bajoran phrase "spider under the table" means the same as the English phrase "fly on the wall".
And there were a few times when they used metaphores that were slightly altered to make they sound more alien, like "Blind as a Tiberian bat"

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 31 2010, 10:49 am

I understand that making up a truly unique culture and society takes considerable work. Especially if you want to develop an entire language. You can understand why only a few Star Trek races have been so well developed.

Star Trek stories are generally about deeper, more important things. The story-tellers don't always want to get bogged down in the weeds with our characters (or audience) trying to wade through alien languages, etc. So we have very sophisticated, almost-magical universal translators that translate into colloquial English.

Only rarely is "language translation" important enough to include as a part of the plot, like in TNG Darmok, or DS9 Sanctuary, or ENT Fight or Flight

Dendodge

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Report this Oct. 31 2010, 11:11 am

I know how that works, but I doubt the UT would be able to take the original phrase, turn it into something that means the same thing and has the same rhyme/rhythm in English, and spit it back out the other end instantaneously.

Dendodge

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Report this Nov. 01 2010, 1:38 am

I thought of that as well, and it appears to be a sticking point in the theory.
However, one could attempt to rationalise it by assuming that the ease with which language is transmitted (compared to the days of Shakespeare and Chaucer) mean language would change little.

TyrThunor

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 2:07 pm

Shakespear is an Ironic example. As germans love shakespear more than the english. It can translated into many languages, it's actually makes more sense in german as the grammar is much closer together. Also it wasn't until enterprise that english was even regularly mentioned.

Anyhow the art of war written in chinese is quoted by many culture around the world, same with the words of mohammed, cicero, etcera.

TheDoctorIsEpic

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 2:19 pm

They have universal translators... but that doesn't explain why all their lips look like they are speaking english...

TyrThunor

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 3:07 pm

Quote: TheDoctorIsEpic @ Feb. 09 2011, 2:19 pm

They have universal translators... but that doesn't explain why all their lips look like they are speaking english...
They don't your brain simply fills in the gaps without your realization.

Valoy

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 3:18 pm

It's obvious that all aliens speak English ^^ but I wonder how they understand sayings, hidden meanings, phrasals, idioms, etc? Everybody should feel like Data and take things literally! It's also interesting that aliens speak fluent English with correct accent, but Chekov still looks for nuclear wessels, even after many years spent with English-speaking people. Btw, some of his V-W swappings are just impossible - trust me, I'm native Slavic speaker.


Worf should speak like Chekov too, because he spent most of his life in Belarus.


God, give a little love, bring me back a Borg in the next life! || All aliens speak English, but not every does it native. Correct me, if neccessary.

wissa

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 3:24 pm

I thought it was mentioned in Undiscovered Country that shakespeare had been translated into klingon btw, did you know there was a klingon hamlet?


 


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Klingon_Hamlet


We welcome st.com refugees! click on the image

Trekwolf164

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 3:24 pm

Here in the states you can push a button on the TV remote and everyone speaks perfect spanish.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcdZla4gKk0

tribblenator999

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 3:28 pm

universal translators tund to english. duh

"take us out"...

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