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This place matters

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More fun with word association

Procrastinate - from the Latin pro meaning for and cras, meaning tomorrow. To make something for tomorrow. Love it.
The Spanish word manana is related to the word cras as well, sort of. Manana actually means early, and is a shortening of cras manana, meaning tomorrow early. Manana, when used with an article actually means morning in Spanish, according to Babel Fish.
The name Babel Fish is a reference to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe; in his books, the Babel Fish is a critter that you shove into your ear, and it translates stuff from other languages directly into your brain. It's such a perfect symbiotic relationship, according to Adams, that it proves the existence of of God... except that it doesn't, as this interchange explains. I copied this from Wikipedia:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing".
"But," says man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It proves you exist and so therefore you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says man.
The Babel Fish rather conveniently solves a problem common in sci-fi. How do all of these people from different star systems, galaxies, or dimensions all understand each other. Many series have adopted the rather generic "universal translator." Star Trek doesn't dwell a great deal on how the thing works, it just works. We know it's a computer program, and we know that in Next Generation and later, the translator is located in the communicator. Original series, it's never dealt with. It's magic.
In one of my top five Next Generation episodes (the others being Locutus, Data's daugher, the one where Picard gets psychicly linked to the dead planet, and possibly the one where they all get drunk), the crew meet a race that they can't understand, even with translators. Turns out that they speak in this crazy series of cultural allusions. If they're lonely, they say "Darmoc on the water," in reference to a story from myth in which a man called Darmoc is all alone on the ocean. It's a really sweet episode and you should watch it... it's called Darmoc. It reminds me of the language my Jean and I speak. We say "Remember the time with the thing and the thing?" and of course, the other does and nobody around us has any idea what they hell we're talking about. Sometimes the whole talking thing isn't really necessary. There's just glancing, eyebrow raising, and then laughter. In which case, we're probably talking about you behind your back in front of your face. Well not so much now, but in high school, oh yeah.
"Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"
Brigid and Andy covered in paint
apropos of nothing.


UCDenny16 said...

Can't get the reply from an lj account thing to work, so here's hoping I can remember my blogger info...

I hadn't even really noticed the fact that it's just kindof accepted in most situations where language would be involved in Star Trek that the translator is working. But also funny that the it even bleeds over into The Next Generation too that even when the translator isn't working people understand each other. Like in First Contact where the first words that any Vulcan says to a human sounds like perfect English to us.

Things To Do said...

I just started watching Dr. Who and there's a universal translator there too. However, if google can finally crack how to get around regional dialects, perhaps the Universal Translator isn't as far off as we thought.