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Author Topic: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers*  (Read 87517 times)
Art
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #270 on: August 08, 2004, 06:34:44 am »

I've always been skeptical about the idea of "universal translators" in general; if one has to exist, I'd prefer it be an artifact of the super-powerful Precursor computer and not something you can buy at any Spathi hardware store. After all, as you say, the existence of universal translators as technology make the Talking Pets a lot less necessary or interesting. Moreover, UTs are just such a *powerful* technology -- they bespeak either an incredible ability to process huge amounts of data (from spying on radio transmissions and computer networks) to write a dictionary in a relatively short time, or else some sort of hand-wavy ability to read different aliens' "brainwaves" and make a dictionary from that (which is really too silly an idea for words, but Star Trek likes it).

Even if there were such a thing as a universal translator I doubt it would be as effective as actually learning another language, since unless the computer is *itself* as smart as a human translator who knows and fully understands both languages something will always be lost in translation. And being able to fully communicate in something as fuzzy and intuitive as a human natural language makes a computer awfully close to being truly sentient, and we don't get the impression that truly sentient machines are common desktop items in Star Control 2. I'll admit maybe the Precursor ship computer could have that capability, or at least the ability to cleverly simulate such a capability (since Precursors are supposed to be miracle workers), but c'mon, not every standard Cruiser shipboard computer.

Also, it makes more sense for several of the aliens if they aren't talking through a translator; why on Earth would a translator give an alien an accent in the translation? Do real-life interpreters speak their English translations in French accents to add "flavor", or to remind you that the original speaker is French? Is there any reason why one should?

Furthermore, should wordplay (like changing the word "worship" to "warship") carry over in a translation? How the hell could it?

You tell the Ilwrath to say "yuubuu" instead of "you"; this is funny and sort of makes sense because yuubuu rhymes with "you". So if the Ilwrath word for you is "druk", what does the computer tell the Ilwrath to say? "Drukbuu"? "Drukbruk"? What if "drukbruk" is a word that means something while in English "yuubuu" means nothing? Then the computer's changed the meaning of the original alteration of the word, hasn't it? The computer would have to *think* to come up with the best way way to translate the pun to make sense, and no answer is exactly right because the Ilwrath language wouldn't have the same sets of homonyms as English -- same with puns like "worship" and "warship", or the Spathi "huge-glands" for "humans". These things are highly, highly unlikely to be the same across languages, and a computer would have to be actively creative to preserve them in a way that stretches believability. At the very least the process of doing so would be more complex than just talking normally and assuming everything will get through translation okay. Also troublesome is the ability of aliens to speak "untranslated" and then give the translation to make a point -- the Supox, for instance, call their world Earth, the translation of Vlik, and then tell you that Vlik means Earth. Well, in what language, if the translator by default translates the word into English? How does the translator know when to translate and when not to? Is the Supox flipping the translator switch off and on quickly when he's saying that? C'mon.

I can buy the existence of a UT for plot purposes just to communicate with races that have been previously completely undiscovered, like the Orz (though bear in mind that that translation is still highly choppy and vague, and it may not be just because the Orz's language is "unorthodox" -- after all, Earth human languages are so different from each other you can't point to a single model for what an "orthodox" *human* language would be, much less alien languages). It may also be necessary to talk to races that probably can't physically speak our language, like the Mycon or the Chmmr or the Probes or the Slylandro, though notice all of these conversations are utterly lacking in the artifacts of natural speech -- accents, wordplay, and so on -- and both sound and feel like you'd expect a computerized translation to sound and feel, a bit too perfect, a bit too polished, a little uninteresting, even if in different ways each time based on the underlying personality of the speaker.

Though even then I wouldn't say these people *need* to be translated by UT; Chmmr and Probes may be able to communicate with your computer directly in a way that the computer translates to human speech, Mycon may create specialized forms for the purpose of communication -- a good explanation for having humanoid Mycon at all, and the Slylandro are talking to you through a Precursor broadcasting satellite to a Precursor ship, so the translation may be entirely through known, preprogrammed dictionaries of Slylandro-to-Precursor-to-Human. It'd explain why they have a name derived from Greek, a human language ("Sky-Man"); Farnsworth or Zelnick may have found a reference to "Sky-Men" when originally testing the computer and chosen a poetic Greek name for that mysterious race.

The Slylandro in every way are a lot less like us and a lot less ordinary than, say, the Yehat, yet the sound of their voices and the sentence structures they use are a lot more everyday and ordinary than the Yehat's, probably because the Slylandro's communication has been piped through programs that make neat little translations and the Yehat's haven't.

After all, we don't *need* to assume the existence of a truly universal translator in every situation. This isn't like Star Trek where we're constantly landing on planets that have never been explored before. These are mostly races that have lived in the same part of the galaxy all their lives, many of which have just participated in a decades-long war where there were many opportunities to communicate with each other. Learning the languages of one's enemies would be a priority, and remember that the Human race is unique because it's only recently made first contact, and learned about Hyperwave transmissions and how to shield them; for its entire industrial history it's been throwing huge numbers of unguarded radio transmissions into space, and the Star Control 1 manual specifically tells us that most of the neighboring aliens were monitoring their transmissions closely and with great interest.

We're told the VUX had already learned to speak English, and the Humans were surprised that they did, a blow against the idea that truly universal translators are a common device in this part of space (or else Rand would never have thought that he was "safe" while the transmitter was on, since anyone could hear anything he was saying just by turning on a universal translator).

Sure, a UT on the surface of things looks like it makes things easy in science fiction, since it makes it look like everyone's speaking English without explaining why, but in reality it creates a lot more problems than it solves, and in many situations it's simpler to just say that people are speaking English and come up with an explanation for why. Here it's not all that farfetched; you're the inexperienced boy thrust into command without formal training, so you haven't learned anyone else's languages, but the majority of the people you talk to are ambassadors, PR reps, or else just grizzled veterans who have spent a lot of time fighting for or against your race, with its tendency to send random transmissions into the ether. In any case claiming that the UT is a panacea rather than a powerful but flawed device to only be used when necessary. The only point in the game when we're sure we're using a translating computer is talking to the Orz, and even then we don't know what's going on -- the computer says "translation computer", not "universal translation computer", and there's no reason the Orz can't be speaking an extremely garbled version of a known language from nearby space like Androsynth or VUX (which would make "unorthodox structure" a much more sensible comment). Certainly there's no good explanation for why a species that was originally a single entity in a nonphysical dimension would have a "native language" at all.

More on this later, as this is one of my pet peeves -- my sister is a linguist who really likes fantasy and sci-fi languages like Elvish or Klingon, and universal translation computers are basically the ultimate slap in the face to linguistics as a science -- a statement by sf writers that the problems of language aren't really interesting to them and that in their imaginary worlds alien languages are just English in a secret code.

There's a lot more that can be said about the Ilwrath and the Spathi and other stuff (the whole Dogar and Kazon exchange has a hard time making sense whether you decide there was a translator computer or not), but I'll leave that for another post.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #271 on: August 08, 2004, 08:59:52 am »

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Space is 3D, how do we know that because we are looking at it from a VERY different angle to hyperspace, it just appears to be messed up?


No go. Time and distance are measurable in SC2, and that stars that are close together on the map are close together in reality (take a short time to go to, take little fuel to go to) means that the 2D map projection we're using accurately represents the stars' actual relationships to each other in distance. Unless the ship is perversely taking some paths that are much, much longer than they need to be to simplify the map, there's no way you can make sense of QS portals' position in QS that matches the distances in HS -- if there's no bending and twisting involved, then portals that are closer together in HS will *still* be closer together in QS.

It's better to ignore the third dimension entirely anyway, since you can't really make sense of anything in SC2 otherwise; in real life there's no meaningful justification for moving in a plane when you could save time moving in 3D in space, so we should assume that in the "real" SC2 universe the Hyperspace map we see is just the only way we, the players, have of understanding the "real", 3D Hyperspace map. Otherwise we'd also take the game literally about such things as a Shofixti Scout being a fifth of the width across of a planet, or laser beams making sounds when they fire in space.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #272 on: August 08, 2004, 10:40:09 am »

How incredibly freaking boring would this game be without all of its 'nagging' little inaccuracies?

Heres my idea.

Most races, before achieving hyperwave broadcast, sent out many many radio signals, These radio signals were collected and stored by the Mhnnrhmn, the only ones i think could have.
After exploring all of known space, the Mhnnrhrhrm built translator devices, and with the cross referancing of the multitude of words, and a lengthy study of this, they were able to produce a workable UTD. The Orz are garbled because they're new, and from a different dimension.
The Slylandro use a Precursor satellite, which i assume translates extremely well.
The Ur-Quan both use Talking pets, which translate thought to speech in any language. ( If your gonna slam Talking pets communicating, then just think how ridiculous an idea Telepathy really is.)
No matter their differences, all races immediately realised the enormous importance of communication, regardless of their opinion of the Mhrhrnm.

Now, Accents.
The UTD has been built after a huge length of time, and the Mhrhmmmnm have no knowledge of any type of accent, because theyre machines. So, any translations would carry over the original accent, because they can't distinguish between say, an umgah accent, and a texan accent.

As for sound traveling in space, I always assumed the ships computer simulated the sounds for the benefit of the pilot. That way he can use more than his sight to fly.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #273 on: August 09, 2004, 07:58:42 pm »

Hyperspace is not necessarily 3D. We know that true space has at least three dimensions + time. The in-game map of Hyperspace has to be adjusted so that humans can read it, so if Hyperspace has three dimensions, it is flattened into two dimensions, making it inaccurate. If hyperspace has more than three dimensions, the 2D map is most likely even more inaccurate.

The starmap in SC3 was a True Space map, which showed the actual positions of stars. Hyperspace can twist true space in ways we can only guess, or maybe even can't guess, because it involves physics too alien for us. Human imagination is not limitless - for example we can't think of more than three dimensions.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #274 on: August 09, 2004, 09:46:45 pm »

Of course we cant.

Also, almost anything we know about space is theoretical at this stage.

Any atronomical star locations known today would be irrelevent to SC2 Hyperspace, because the stars are the same names as we have now, assigned at random (though, in constellations).

BTW, are you sure this is the right thread?
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #275 on: August 12, 2004, 04:06:39 am »

Quasispace >= Space Mutable by Thought:
That's a great theory and it does solve a lot of those nagging questions about QS.  Some of them were already mentioned, but I'll list three more:

1)  Why do the arilou only have a sphere of influence in TS, why no skiffs in QS?
The arilou, upon entering QS, realize they don't need their ships, and in fact can travel instantaneously in QS by imagining themselves wherever they need to be.  Freakishly powerfull, but fitting.

2)  Why do you always start in the same location in QS, no matter where you use your spawner/natural portal?
The Arilou said it was so; and it was good.

3)  Why do QS portals drop you in plot-important points, and only in this sector of space;  why are they so dense in the center of QS?
Again, the Arilou decided that this arrangement would benefit you the best.  Supposedly, these could be the easiest portals for them to imagine/create too, and they only happen to be close to usefull places (an explaination for the portal that leads to the lower-right corner of the map).


Universal translators:
The VUX do have a UT; their tech in that field is above anyone else's current tech.  That's why Rand got caught.  Presumably, earthlings have limited UT (mostly for the U.N.), or something they got from another race.
The Precursor ship does have a UT, and it only hiccups with the Orz and (sort-of) Arilou.  I say sort-of with the arilou, because they seem to be putting in the lingual best-fits themselves, in your language instead of making the computer do it.
The Ur-Quan don't care about learning other languages; it's the act of communicating itself that the find distasteful, no matter the language.  I doubt a UT would help with that aversion, so despite what some people say, the Dnyarri may have a job even after SC2. *shrug*
« Last Edit: August 12, 2004, 04:12:14 am by Culture20 » Logged
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #276 on: August 12, 2004, 09:15:46 am »

Hyperspace:

Hyperspace pretty much has to, itself, be an ordinary 3D space (or 4D space-time). People can navigate within it even withut use of the autopilot, and can draw intelligible maps of it, and know where things in it are relative to each other. This would be impossible for an average person if Hyperspace somehow itself contained more than three spatial dimensions.

Since perceiving extra spatial dimensions is impossible for our bodies -- we're made in three dimensions, we don't have anything to see an extra dimension *with* -- if we could travel along an extra spatial dimension every step along the way would be perceived by us as a separate 3D space, just like a Flatlander moving around through 3D space would probably see himself as moving through a series of separate 2D planes. (Read the book _Flatland_ if you haven't; it's one of the best ways to get some grasp on what the idea of "higher dimensions" really means, by examining our 3D space from the perspective of a 2D being.) The most natural explanation for "interdimensional travel" is just that we live in a giant universe of lots of spatial dimensions, and every time we change our orientation within it we perceive the new "slice" of space-time as a 3D universe; in fact it's hard to imagine how we could *not* do so, how a human being could actually stop perceiving a 3D universe and start perceiving a 4D or 5D one.

This also means that just because the Hyperspace map in the *game* is 2D doesn't mean that a "real-life" Hyperspace map in the "real" SC2 universe is 2D. It's preposterous to think that either Hyperspace itself is 2D; any space a 3D person occupies is by definition a 3D space. And there's no reason why it'd be more natural for humans to read a 2D map than a 3D map; Hyperspace is a *space*, not the surface of some planet, and leaving out the dimension of depth in such a situation would make a 2D map nearly useless except as a very abstract form of representation. We have devices that can project 3D images now, either stereoscopically (3D glasses) or holographically -- we don't use them now because they're expensive and we don't need them for anything important, but could a ship designed for moving through huge spaces from star to star have any reason for *not* having one?

In any real universe Hyperspace navigation must be 3D or it's meaningless, just as in any real universe the relationship between how well a ship's armor absorbs damage, how much the ship's systems are damaged and how many crew actually die in a fight would be very complex. In SC2 both are grossly simplified for *game-playing* purposes. The real SC2 Hyperspace isn't meant to be 2D; it's just shown to us in 2D.

We assume it's a simplification of the relative distances between close-by stars, removing many key points where the direction of travel is *into* or *out of* the map rather than over its surface; this would be roughly possible since on the large scale the galaxy is arranged as a disc much wider and longer than it is thick, though there'd still be plenty of distance separating stars across the Z axis on the small scale. It's a game-representation, just like the real SC2 ships probably don't lose exactly four crew members with every shot then suddenly explode when all the crew are dead. Just like playing Counterstrike is not a perfect simulation, and real-life counterterrorists don't have one minute to purchase all their equipment before a mission, or are able to instantly measure their health as a percentage of their HP, and so on.

Languages will be on a separate thread because this one is already insanely long.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #277 on: August 12, 2004, 09:19:15 pm »

So... you're saying that a 3D0 game can't have Doom III graphics?  Wink

I agree completely that hyperspace isn't 2D. That was just the limit of gaming systems back then. You couldn't have an expansive 3D hyperspace area, because the computers simply couldn't handle it. A 2D hyperspace area works perfectly with the rest of the game, and it allowed the best graphics and experience possible.

Of course... they could've done a vector graphic hyperspace, but I don't think you'd enjoy it too much. You'd be flying around a Vindicatior made of twigs, in a big black twiggy space.  Smiley

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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #278 on: August 13, 2004, 01:51:17 am »

On the other hand, HS and QS could have two large extensive dimensions and one smaller one which wraps around quickly. There is no point in navigating in the third dimension, since you would quickly wrap around to your initial position. Also, General Relativity suggests a mechanism by which the 'natural' width of this dimension could be very small and grow to accommodate masses which suddenly appeared within it.

Secondly, it is well-established that the Hyperspace coordinates do not have a nice correspondence to the relation of the stars in normal space. However, TS, HS and QS could be different projections of the higher-dimensional manifold in which all are embedded.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #279 on: August 13, 2004, 06:34:26 pm »

Quote

This would also explain why all of the verbs in Orz communications are in the present tense. It is shown that the Orz have a concept of time. They say things like "Six or nine *pieces* ago..." and such. And yet all of the verbs are in the present tense. Why? Although the Orz can obviously remember and think about things that have happened in the past, it does this thinking and remembering in the present so that's how it is communicated. It's as though the Orz is replaying the memories in its mind and so communicating as though these things are happening in the present.


My explaination is simpler, they just do not have the other tense. Ask your Chinese friends about what they think about English tense. http://uqm.stack.nl/yabb/images/wink.gif

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Well this would naturally bring about questions relating to how the Orz communicate with beings in its native dimension. My answer to such questions is that either those other beings share similar knowledge and assumptions and can just intuitively pick up the contexts of the information communicated or that there simply are no other beings in the Orz's native dimension it can communicate with. Either such beings do not have the capacity to communicate with the Orz or simply do not exist.

China has neighbors such as Japan and Korea which has much more complex tenses and completely different syntaxs, but it doesn't affect the way that Chinese speaking. :-)

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I have a tendency to lean more towards the latter. I believe the Orz is the only being to exist in its dimension. I believe this because the Orz doesn't seem to pick up on the concept that other beings may have different views and opinions of things than it does. It assumes that you will want a *party* and that you want to be *connected* in order for them to share other *levels* with you because that's how it views things. Such a being my have some trouble picking up on the nuance that there are other ways of thinking, which may be why the Orz react with such violent frustration whenever something happens contrary to what they think should happen. After all, what other point of view is there?

There is also a statement that would tend to support that the Orz are used to existing alone:

Orz cannot be strange. Orz is Orz. Strange is other thing.

This shows a tendency to view reality as being only one of two things: Orz and everything else. And as everything else, by definition, isn't Orz, everything else is strange.

I prefer the view:"Everything uncommon is strange."
If you have never heard of marsupials, when you see one, of course you will think that it is strange.

Suppose Orz said:" You are so strange."

What do you have in mind? Of course you will think: "You are strange, not me."

It doesn't support that Orz is the only sentience being in their home dimension.

Quote

This is further supported by the fact that the Orz doesn't seem to differentiate between other beings beyond its ability to tell individuals or certain groups from one another. For example, consider the Orz's take on the Androsynth and humans from one of my previous quotes:


You are not the same too much like Androsynth. You are *happy campers*.

Uh... humans aren't very similar to the Androsynth? Genetically, they are nigh identical but the Orz either doesn't recognize that or doesn't view it as being important. The Orz does differentiate between humans and Androsynth, but this differentiation is based on the attitude of the Captain towards the Orz as compared to the attitude of the Androsynth in general towards it. It seems to ignore or to be unaware of the physical similarities between Androsynth and humans.


Thanks, Arilou! :-)
In our senses, we recognize that human and Androsynth are similar in the level of genes. But beyond that we can not recognize what's difference. Orz however, recognize objects in difference aspects. They *smell* objects. If what Arilou said is true, then Orz will not realize the similarity between human and Androsynth because they have different *smell*.

Human make (what the damn tense I should use?) perfect copies of themselves  to make Androsynth in genic level, but probably nothing else. Consider a photocopier, it can perfectly copy the image and text, but it can not copy the smell (literally) of original document.

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Alright, to sum up: the Orz language causes so many problems because it is not a "language" so much as the direct inner ramblings of the Orz entity. This method of communication is the result of the Orz being the only entity able to communicate in its native dimension, or perhaps of the Orz being the only being in its native dimension. The latter would tend to be supported by the Orz's inability to understand why other things have a different point of view, and also its tendency to view all things in existence as ultimately being either Orz or not Orz. An example of the Orz's inexperience in classification is demonstrated by the Androsynth/human example.


Apperently Orz have its own language. And it is trying to learn. Because:


*Campers* like to say `hello' when they *smell* the Orz.
We have learned this. It is *no function* but Orz want to make *campers* happy everyday.
Okay... Hello!! Now you are happy I am sure.


All the misunderstanding is because we (and they) do not have time to get enough training set to build a desirable translator.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #280 on: August 15, 2004, 05:53:39 pm »

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My explaination is simpler, they just do not have the other tense. Ask your Chinese friends about what they think about English tense. http://uqm.stack.nl/yabb/images/wink.gif



Well, not just being tenseless but lacking any context with which to judge time. Chinese by nature doesn't contain any way to inflect a verb to give it a place in past, present or future but to infer anything from this about a Chinese attitude toward time is premature. In ordinary conversation Chinese speakers use plenty of cues to locate a particular action in time when it's important to the conversation -- time-words form an integral part of the sentence, and take the place of Indo-European tensed verbs. Sure, in Chinese you *can* leave out time when it's clearly implied or you want to be purposely ambiguous or general. But the Orz seem to make all sorts of statements in the present tense (or what the struggling translator translates as the present tense to us) with zero clarification or indication of time. No "First the Taalo are here long before now, then the Taalo leave 77 time units later". The difference is one of attitude and culture, not just language; the Orz are blantantly blase about the whole business of when things happened and in what order.

This is especially disturbing when you think that Orzese is probably not a totally new language, both because the translator, even a really smart translator, prolly couldn't make a dent in a totally new language that quickly, and also because the Orz don't seem like they had language or culture as we know it pre-Androsynth-disappearance since they were just one being -- "just Orz" -- before pushing in their *fingers* into our world. The translator's complaints, in my interpretation, probably come from the fact that they're speaking some mixture of known languages that *do* normally have tense, but perversely refuse to use tenses and keep everything in present tense by choice, reflecting their worldview.

Quote
China has neighbors such as Japan and Korea which has much more complex tenses and completely different syntaxs, but it doesn't affect the way that Chinese speaking. :-)


Yes and no. In real life you can only tell so much from how "strange" a language sounds, but the clear impression that the makers of the game wanted to make by having so much of the basic word base of the language translated and yet having the langauge still sound so stilted and weird was to make us feel that the cultural assumptions of the Orz were very different from our own. Language systems may remain separate, but cultures that interact for a long time will begin to share basic assumptions about the world, and diverge greatly from the cultures of other parts of the world. China, Japan and Korea are all very different from each other, yet they considered each other much alike compared to the Indians, or to the Europeans. That's the real problem with postulating that *Pretty Space* is populated with humanlike creatures; it's very hard to imagine that a place where Orz is the dominant life form would be hospitable to creatures like us; we'd either become more like them quickly or die.

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I prefer the view:"Everything uncommon is strange."
If you have never heard of marsupials, when you see one, of course you will think that it is strange.

Suppose Orz said:" You are so strange."

What do you have in mind? Of course you will think: "You are strange, not me."

It doesn't support that Orz is the only sentience being in their home dimension.


Well, yes, but the way it's stated is meant to give it weight. (Yes, I'm arguing this from the fact that it's in a game and we're meant to pay attention to it, even though it'd be weaker evidence in real life. Sometimes you have to do that, particularly in an often unrealistic game like SC2.)

The Orz have a generalized word that the translator interprets as *other*, and are convinced that *other* -- not just you, but the general concept of "other" -- is *strange*, by definition, and *Orz* can never be strange, by definition.

It may be true that Americans think everyone else in the world is strange, but they don't believe it's a natural law that one is either American or strange, no exceptions. (Not most Americans, anyway.) Americans live their whole lives with each other and recognize that even fellow Americans, fellow New Yorkers, fellow Manhattanites, fellow members of one neighborhood, fellow members of one *family* -- that people can be strange and hard to understand to each other. If one person asks another "Why are you so strange?" (assuming they're friendly enough for this not to immediately lead to hostility) the other person will hopefully try to consider what's *different* about the two people and explore that difference. They won't adopt the egocentric viewpoint that strangeness does not depend on point of view, that by definition I Am Not Strange -- I am what the universe bases its definition of normality on -- and therefore The Other is always strange. That's the attitude of a child, or a sociopath.

So it's a bit clumsy of the Captain (he's only a kid, remember!) to put his foot in his mouth and flat-out ask why the Orz are strange, but it's more disturbing that the Orz don't answer the question, or think the question worth answering. They don't try to explore what makes human life different from Orz life -- they just laugh at you, basically, and flat-out contradict you and insist that the strangeness is all on you.

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Thanks, Arilou! :-)
In our senses, we recognize that human and Androsynth are similar in the level of genes. But beyond that we can not recognize what's difference. Orz however, recognize objects in difference aspects. They *smell* objects. If what Arilou said is true, then Orz will not realize the similarity between human and Androsynth because they have different *smell*.

Human make (what the damn tense I should use?) perfect copies of themselves  to make Androsynth in genic level, but probably nothing else. Consider a photocopier, it can perfectly copy the image and text, but it can not copy the smell (literally) of original document.


An apt analogy, but a flawed one, since human beings are all "photocopies" of each other anyway; our actual body mass is just made out of all the random food we eat and air we breathe. A human being born from a mother's womb is just a bunch of random organic crap the mother ate rearranged according to the data in a few strands of DNA. An Androsynth is just the same way, even if the DNA was poked around in a petri dish rather than being made by the random shaking and mixing of sex. In fact we don't know what Ho's process was, but I doubt Androsynth were significantly genetically distinct from "real" humans; the way they're described they're pretty much the same as what you'd get if you did a talent search for intelligence, athleticism, physical beauty etc. (as well as various medical conditions that lead to sterility) and picked the absolute best "natural" specimens in the world. It's like saying there's a difference between a pair of dice that comes up sevens when you roll it and a pair of dice that you carefully arrange into sevens with your fingers. They're physically identical; the only difference is origin.

Since They, or the original Orz-entity, or whatever ate the Androsynth seems to be an entity of spirit and not matter, I doubt that the "smell" the Arilou talk about is some literal chemical difference between Androsynth genes and our genes, or the quality of food you get in Vulpeculae as opposed to Sol, or whatever. I think it's partly mental and cultural conditioning as well; humans have some block put in place by the Arilou that keeps them from messing with Dimensional Fatigue research, psionics, and other dangerous fields, but the Arilou did nothing to stop the Androsynth from trying the same stuff. Whether it was the actual experiments themselves or something deeper -- some racial "spirit" of the Androsynth, like in Interbellum, that seeks out other worlds while the human spirit doesn't -- it's something caused by the Androsynth's cultural separation from humans, not their physical nature; I doubt Androsynth would even be considered a separate race were it not for humans' original prejudice, and its aftermath.

This is an important real-life issue to me, by the way, since there actually is a lot of blind hysteria about genetic engineering and cloning of humans out there, and some maniacs who go on about how human clones will not be actual human beings. I fear that real-life Androsynth will suffer very similar problems to the SC2 ones, at least at first.

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Apperently Orz have its own language. And it is trying to learn. Because:


*Campers* like to say `hello' when they *smell* the Orz.
We have learned this. It is *no function* but Orz want to make *campers* happy everyday.
Okay... Hello!! Now you are happy I am sure.


All the misunderstanding is because we (and they) do not have time to get enough training set to build a desirable translator.


See... this little passage is disturbing because it actually goes against the evidence that the Orz are just like us and the translator's just screwy. At least we see that the idea of greeting or hailing a stranger whom one has met -- something that all other SC2 races we meet do, and something that the Orz seem to confirm is common among normal races, with their use of the general *campers* rather than "you" -- is utterly alien to the Orz, and they only do it because they think it makes us happy. To them it has no function -- they're not used to having to be alerted or have their attention drawn to others' presence, interestingly, and they don't go through social rituals to initiate contact with others. They *still* don't understand the concept of greeting to establish friendly intent as a social ritual -- they think greeting-words like "Hello" are magic words, that they can use to automatically alter humans' mood, like pressing a button. They don't understand how we think, nor do they seem to really care to; they figure out what makes us happy -- what keeps us from making trouble -- and they just do it because it suits them, and they expect it to work on us mechanically rather than thinking about our point of view as thinking beings.

Maybe that's a lot to take from this, but I do think it's what we're *meant* to take from this by Paul and Fred. The Orz are sinister, and they're meant to be not just 'cause they're different from us but 'cause they're just different from our whole kind, sentient individuals.

I don't think the case is closed that the Orz-entity is unique. I do think it's silly to claim that the Orz are just ordinary guys with really good telepathy, or that the Orz are all remote telepresence units and the "man behind the curtain" is a sentient being just like us. The Orz-entity obviously doesn't deal with difference and with interaction the way we do; whatever "others" there are, it doesn't have the same forced relationship with them as we do with our physical neighbors. The idea of Orz and their unnamed *cousins* as separate floating mind-gods in empty dimensions is a compelling one, and one that I think is very likely -- Orz might have cousins that are similar to it but it's never really had to talk to them or share with them or whatever, since they all think like it anyway, and none of them physically impinge on each other, need anything from each other, or whatever. They might mindlessly share thought (if they didn't then Orz might not even be able to function at the level of using language at all) but they don't need to communicate functionally the way humans do.

And yes, I do think having Orz christen the Eternal Ones as *friends* was one of the few good ideas in SC3. (The Precursor thing was sort of a good idea... and the Eternal Ones themselves... could've been good with a little work... but yeah, it's a short list.)
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #281 on: August 18, 2004, 08:00:28 pm »

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Well, not just being tenseless but lacking any context with which to judge time. Chinese by nature doesn't contain any way to inflect a verb to give it a place in past, present or future but to infer anything from this about a Chinese attitude toward time is premature.
In ordinary conversation Chinese speakers use plenty of cues to locate a particular action in time when it's important to the conversation -- time-words form an integral part of the sentence, and take the place of Indo-European tensed verbs. Sure, in Chinese you *can* leave out time when it's clearly implied or you want to be purposely ambiguous or general. But the Orz seem to make all sorts of statements in the present tense (or what the struggling translator translates as the present tense to us) with zero clarification or indication of time.


Actually Chinese does have tenses, but using present tense is still Ok. By the way, if you consider that orz is learning English, and you are his teacher, how do you correct his grammar?

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Yes and no. In real life you can only tell so much from how "strange" a language sounds, but the clear impression that the makers of the game wanted to make by having so much of the basic word base of the language translated and yet having the langauge still sound so stilted and weird was to make us feel that the cultural assumptions of the Orz were very different from our own.

Yep, but do you agree that some people talking strangely means that they have no neighbors? I don't think so. I use that as example to object Matticus's points.

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The Orz have a generalized word that the translator interprets as *other*, and are convinced that *other* -- not just you, but the general concept of "other" -- is *strange*, by definition, and *Orz* can never be strange, by definition.

We, and other life forms in this sector are unfamiliar to Orz. But apparently they are familiar to themselves. If we define that "unfamiliar" as strange, then the life forms in this area, including you, are strange. Orz is familiar to him/herself, of course they are not strange.

We can not expect every alien replies the "You're strange" comment positively.

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An apt analogy, but a flawed one, since human beings are all "photocopies" of each other anyway; our actual body mass is just made out of all the random food we eat and air we breathe. A human being born from a mother's womb is just a bunch of random organic crap the mother ate rearranged according to the data in a few strands of DNA. An Androsynth is just the same way, even if the DNA was poked around in a petri dish rather than being made by the random shaking and mixing of sex.


You totally miss my point.
If Orz identifies a life form by DNA or genes only, it can immediately recognize you and do the same thing to you.
But it didn't do that to you, because it notices something different. DNA is not the major feature for Orz to classify the life forms.

For example, scientist used to apply some perfume on worker ants, and those ants were attack by others when they returned their nest. Does perfume change their DNA? No.
Why were they attacked? They smelled different.

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See... this little passage is disturbing because it actually goes against the evidence that the Orz are just like us and the translator's just screwy. At least we see that the idea of greeting or hailing a stranger whom one has met -- something that all other SC2 races we meet do, and something that the Orz seem to confirm is common among normal races, with their use of the general *campers* rather than "you" -- is utterly alien to the Orz, and they only do it because they think it makes us happy. To them it has no function -- they're not used to having to be alerted or have their attention drawn to others' presence, interestingly, and they don't go through social rituals to initiate contact with others.

They *still* don't understand the concept of greeting to establish friendly intent as a social ritual -- they think greeting-words like "Hello" are magic words, that they can use to automatically alter humans' mood, like pressing a button. They don't understand how we think, nor do they seem to really care to; they figure out what makes us happy -- what keeps us from making trouble -- and they just do it because it suits them, and they expect it to work on us mechanically rather than thinking about our point of view as thinking beings.


1. Translator is screwy doen't means it will make mistake all the time.
2. IMHO, if translator is not screwy, it should translate "no function" to "useless".
3. What I am trying to claim is:
  a. Orz doesn't not much about human.
  b. Orz tries to understand human.
4. Orz might not consider that "hello" is the magic word as you described. You said "Hello", a few minutes later you have a peaceful ending. They might conclude that "hello" is a positive word which is good to say.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #282 on: August 19, 2004, 03:27:23 am »

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Actually Chinese does have tenses, but using present tense is still Ok. By the way, if you consider that orz is learning English, and you are his teacher, how do you correct his grammar?


Chinese doesn't have tensed verbs that change their form based on time. It does, however, have many ways to tell us the time frame a sentence takes place in. The Orz language as we have it presented to us contains no such indications; either their time-indicators are impossible for the translating computer to figure out, or the Orz don't use them. The former may be more likely, but the latter is more interesting in the game's context and is probably how the creators wanted us to view it. Remember that this is, after all, a game; the Orz are not real people but fictional characters whom the creators want us to see a certain way, so we should probably take odd things that we notice about them with more credence than how we'd view them in real life.

And the Orz aren't learning English -- they aren't even speaking in English in the first place, they're being translated by a computer. There are two possibilities that I see: the Precursor computer is able to magically translate the Orz's language as they speak, but the weirdness of the Orz's thought processes makes the translation inaccurate, or the Precursor computer can translate Orzese because Orzese is based on a different language, and the weirdness of Orzese is *introduced* into that language by the Orz's mindset. The argument that Orzese is just a language that randomly happened to evolve with a certain structure that made it seem weird to us is least compelling to me, since the language thing is clearly meant to be part of an overall presentation of the Orz as more alien than all the other (very non-human) aliens we've met.

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Yep, but do you agree that some people talking strangely means that they have no neighbors? I don't think so. I use that as example to object Matticus's points.


The way they talk strangely might point to the fact that they have neighbors in the sense you mean, or that they don't deal with their neighbors in the way that we're used to. There is hard and fast evidence that the Orz are a single entity with many projections that can exist on a higher dimensional level than human beings -- this is both the obvious reading of many, many of their lines and also something that has been commented on and confirmed by the creators outside the game, so no matter what they will not -- *cannot* -- think of their sentient neighbors the way we do, any more than we could understand what it was like to be an ant, or a desktop PC. For us being someone's neighbor involves some concept of physical proximity, competition for resources, etc., and from their words and actions the Orz don't seem to truly get these concepts, because, as they say, they are not *many bubbles*. They are alone in a sense that human beings are never alone, even if they aren't alone in every sense.

I do think there are other Orz-like entities separate from the Orz-entity, and I think the lines about *cousins* support the idea that there are. But the Orz are not neighbors with anyone the way we are neighbors with anyone, just like they're not neighbors with each other, and several lines of their dialogue seem explicitly constructed to make that point.

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We, and other life forms in this sector are unfamiliar to Orz. But apparently they are familiar to themselves. If we define that "unfamiliar" as strange, then the life forms in this area, including you, are strange. Orz is familiar to him/herself, of course they are not strange.

We can not expect every alien replies the "You're strange" comment positively.


Sure, but they don't reply to it so dismissively, either. The VUX's response to an attack on their appearance is tinged with all kinds of things -- defensiveness, a judgment of our character, territoriality, aesthetic appreciation. The VUX even acknowledge that their reaction to us is irrational but they can't help it because of their instincts and such.

The Orz don't react this way at all; they don't get hostile or attack you at this point, or even seem to understand that being called strange is meant to be insulting. The idea of strangeness is so *simple* compared to our idea of "strange" (note that their *strange* is a best-fit word) that they seem to treat it as very odd that anyone would even try to call them strange -- as silly an idea as telling them "You are over here, not over there" or "You are not you, you are me". They *equate* the idea of "strange" with "non-Orz", which means that no Orz ever finds "another" Orz strange and no Orz can understand how any non-Orz might find Orz strange (can switch points of view with his non-Orz counterpart). Both of those are unlikely traits to find among adult human beings, at least openly expressed.

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You totally miss my point.
If Orz identifies a life form by DNA or genes only, it can immediately recognize you and do the same thing to you.
But it didn't do that to you, because it notices something different. DNA is not the major feature for Orz to classify the life forms.

For example, scientist used to apply some perfume on worker ants, and those ants were attack by others when they returned their nest. Does perfume change their DNA? No.
Why were they attacked? They smelled different.


Oh sure, I don't think we necessarily disagree. The difference between Humans and Androsynth is there, and is *very* strong for the Orz -- so strong that they don't even notice we and the Androsynth are similar at all, much less confuse us for each other.

I would argue that the difference is not physical, however, as you seem to be implying. The difference is one between humans' and Androsynth's "upbringings", their culture, their national spirit, something of that nature. Physically, Androsynth and humans *would* be identical, or at least extremely similar, so much so that anyone who judged by appearances would notice it. Your original point was that the Androsynth were imperfect copies made out of different essential "stuff" from human beings, which is a common misunderstanding that I objected to -- all human beings are imperfect copies of other human beings made from new organic stuff; it's that principle that makes cloning possible, and clones would not in any way be physically different or physically less human than a natural-born human being. Androsynth would only be slightly odd human beings physically; it's their bizarre and traumatic history, leading to a certain cultural mindset and psychology, that would make them unique.

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1. Translator is screwy doen't means it will make mistake all the time.
2. IMHO, if translator is not screwy, it should translate "no function" to "useless".
3. What I am trying to claim is:
  a. Orz doesn't not much about human.
  b. Orz tries to understand human.
4. Orz might not consider that "hello" is the magic word as you described. You said "Hello", a few minutes later you have a peaceful ending. They might conclude that "hello" is a positive word which is good to say.


See, what you overall seem to be trying to say is that we shouldn't draw conclusions about the Orz at all because they're just different from us, we've just met them, and we may misinterpret things.

I'd be all for this in real life, but 1) that'd be totally boring, and 2) it *is* a game written by human beings who probably did have a purpose in mind when making the Orz the way they are. Most of the aliens you talk to in the game are not humans, but they saw fit to make it so that you can communicate with them in more or less plain English without the kind of deliberate obscurity there is in Orz-talk. It's pretty clear that they *do* want the Orz to seem more weird than everybody else, and that they probably want us to draw conclusions from the way they wrote the Orz dialogue about *how* the Orz are more weird than everyone else.

So yes, the translator is screwy, but it's not randomly screwy -- as the translator tells you, it's trying to give English words that carry some set of connotations that roughly match what the Orz is saying ("best-fits").The creators want us to get some ideas from the sorts of best-fits they use.  *No function* is different from *useless*, since useless is more pejorative than no function (you say a tool that's broken is useless, while a rock that's just sitting there has no function), and the grammar of "It is *no function*" implies that a function might be something an object is, not just something an object has -- implying a stricter classification between objectively functional things and objectively nonfunctional ones than humans see (perhaps self-centeredness), referring to the mathematical definition of a "function" as an expression that predictably returns one dependent value for every independent value -- perhaps referring to "hello" as a word with no clear definition or a variable, emotion-based definition... and so on. None of these are definitive or meant to be, but they all convey *ideas* that the word "useless" doesn't, just like the use of *party* instead of "battle" conveys certain emotions and ideas, or the use of *fingers* instead of "representatives", or *squeeze* the *juice* instead of... whatever *squeeze* the *juice* might mean.

That said, point 3, also, is disputable; we don't know much about the Orz's thought processes at all, obviously, but most of the time they really seem to be going along their merry way without much concern for understanding you, your motivations or your needs. If we take the "hello" exchange as meaning to give us real information rather than just saying "Orz don't understand the Earth custom of greeting", then it's an example; the Orz don't actually ever ask you why you say hello or what greetings are (they don't ever actually ask you *anything*), but they tell you hello because it makes you happy, and say it multiple times so that you will be happier. Say what you will but this shows that, at the very least, they are content with a very limited understanding of human customs (and at most they have a frighteningly detached attitude toward our customs and toward us in general).
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #283 on: August 19, 2004, 03:29:37 am »

Correction: Upon rechecking, "strange" is one of the words the translator is sure about, not a best-fit. I think the point still holds however.
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Re: Arilou and the Orz: What's the Deal? *spoilers
« Reply #284 on: August 19, 2004, 06:45:38 am »

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The idea of Orz and their unnamed *cousins* as separate floating mind-gods in empty dimensions is a compelling one, and one that I think is very likely -- Orz might have cousins that are similar to it but it's never really had to talk to them or share with them or whatever, since they all think like it anyway, and none of them physically impinge on each other, need anything from each other, or whatever.


By this statement, I am reminded of Xorinia from the Ultima series.  Xonrinia is the name of the Dimension that the Wil 'o the Wisps come from, and each Wil 'o the Wisp is just a projection of Xorinia; the Dimension and the Entity are one in the same.  Its "purpose" (supposedly self-appointed) is to act as a communications conduit between other dimensions.  I bring this up because every time you initiate conversation with a Wisp, it says (paraphrased): "Greetings Britainia [the fantasy earth-like dimension in Ultima; -C20], I know that you wish to act as if this is our first meeting on occasion, so I state that I am Xorinia.  By what name do you wish to be called during this conversation?"  It is a font of usefull info, but it clearly doesn't understand the concept of more than one intelligent being existing within one dimension.  Side note:  Its "free gift" to you in Ultima6 is the spell armegeddon, which kills everything in a dimension.  It doesn't do it out of any sinister intent, instead it realizes that the spell is worthless, and therefore should not have a price attached to it. Smiley
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