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Author Topic: Precursor Universal Translator  (Read 4463 times)
Valaggar
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Precursor Universal Translator
« on: June 09, 2007, 03:13:58 pm »

ITT we are posting on the internet... no, I'm joking.

So, the Precursor translation device that The Captain has aboard the Flagship... it is a very advanced device capable of generating fonts, music and a voice for aliens, as well as translating what they say in the most accurate degree (see Umgah grammar mistakes, some wordplay - which are meant by the device to suggest the nuances of their speech patterns; there's also the "we"/"dwe", "Ilwrath"/"Dill-Rat" etc. thingy, where the translator probably transforms the "dwe" into a variation of the Ilwrath word for "we" which bears a similar relation to the correct word as it does in English; the Ilwrath cease using the modified words afterwards because they are focused on more evil orders from Dogar and Kazon, not because the translator incorporates them into its dictionary - it wouldn't do so, since this would kill the nuances in their speech, just as it doesn't fix the Umgah grammar, because doing so would kill the nuances implied by their speech patterns (a humorous nuance, in the Umgah's case).

However, the extradimensional Orz is not used to speech patterns of our dimension, using instead seemingly out of place words (denoted by asterisks) which don't seem to bear any link with the rest of the sentence, so the translator can only catch a minute glimpse of their meaning; his grammar mistakes suggest his incapability of using the thinking/speech patterns of our dimension.

What are your opinions?

PS: I have a feeling that this will be one of my notorious no-reply topics.
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Shiver
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2007, 04:50:33 am »

Star Control is science fiction, but not the kind of science fiction that opts to cling as close to total realism as it possibly can. Various alien races can understand each other's form of communication but the intricacies of how this has been achieved are unknown.

Quote
PS: I have a feeling that this will be one of my notorious no-reply topics.

Even crap threads can usually get a few replies, don't be so pessimistic.
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Valaggar
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2007, 08:52:45 am »

Quote
PS: I have a feeling that this will be one of my notorious no-reply topics.

Even crap threads can usually get a few replies, don't be so pessimistic.
In fact, it's not the quality of a thread which determines the quantity of replies; it's the amount of thinking required to reply to it; see The Prekkies.

Star Control is science fiction, but not the kind of science fiction that opts to cling as close to total realism as it possibly can. Various alien races can understand each other's form of communication but the intricacies of how this has been achieved are unknown.
Of course, but this doesn't mean that we can't imagine a way that the device works (and which is in line with canon, too).
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Shiver
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2007, 10:24:12 am »

In fact, it's not the quality of a thread which determines the quantity of replies; it's the amount of thinking required to reply to it; see The Prekkies.

There is such a thing as making a blunder by thinking too much or trying too hard. That topic has a bizarre title and needlessly verbose introduction. It dove straight into a large amount of minutiae that other people won't normally be interested in reading. If you had posted something to the effect of "What do you think the Precursors look like?", I guarantee there would have been responses in less than a day.
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guesst
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2007, 05:53:53 pm »

I was not going to be the first one to respond to this thread. But now that the ice is broken...

The universal translator is the same one used by Star Trek and Babylon 5.
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Valaggar
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2007, 06:48:23 pm »

Which doesn't explain how it works.
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Lukipela
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2007, 09:19:00 pm »

I'm not sure what you're looking for here Val, a technical explanation, a linguistic one, or what? Fair enough, here goes:

The Universal Translator is actually an advanced form of linguistic hypercomprehension linked with a Chinese Room. When a set of signals is input,  the linguistic software runs through it's extensive database of indexed language-forms (it's a Prec device, meaning it has a lot of old languages stored). After selecting the best fits, everything is run through advanced optimization circuits, which helps construe English (or whatever) syntax for your reading pleasure. The Chinese Room is also given the same input, and as it's pretty damn smart it produces a suitable set of answers in the alien language. Because the Precursors where great believers in the power of randomness, it will also generate some extra replies that may or may not be helpful. Some may even be detrimental to your cause.

The same advanced linguistic format then translates these replies into English, and presents them on-screen for the captain. The captain then chooses the reply he deems best. It is a common misconception that you actually get to formulate different responses yourself. You may only choose between the presented alternatives.

The system is not without flaws. IF the language encountered is too alien, the translator cannot translate. This means that the Chinese room can only make a limited attempt at communication, such as when Orz are abound. What you say and what the Orz hear is not necessarily the same thing, the replies generated by the Chinese Room cannot necessarily be translated correctly. For instance, the phrase "What happened to the Androsynth is grossly deformed into "*Smelly* *Bubblegum* eat my *shorts*, which is a mortal insult.

In other cases, the fact that the Chinese room lacks a cross-quantificable solid-matter state memory can cause trouble. For instance, if the Captain orders a race to start mispronouncing a word (we (Ilwrath :Kehr) becomes dwe (Ilwrath: Kehra) it will show up correctly during the present conversation. However, any new encounter with the race is likely to reset the slide nodules, thus triggering a complete new session of interpretation. Because the change in the word is so small, it will be correctly identified and translated to the correct english term.. The nuances of their language formation will still be preserved, just as when the Umgah speak.

Because the translator is advanced, it can also correctly identify words that are mispronounced in their native language, and will then attempt to carry the mistranslation onward. This is the case when words, rather than basic grammar is used. Therefore human can become hunam, and so forth.

There, problem neatly explained.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2007, 09:21:27 pm by Lukipela » Logged

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Valaggar
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2007, 09:29:20 pm »

Except the technobabble, it was my explanation, in fact. I wasn't looking for a technical explanation, but simply a basic explanation of its functionality.
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Lukipela
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Re: Precursor Universal Translator
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2007, 02:35:39 pm »

No it wasn't. We differ on the ilwrath (cease to use/translator corrects). i also didn't see you mention the fact that you aren't actually talking, but rather just picking one of the presented options.

Also, a basic explanation of it's functionality is : "It translates things, though not always perfectly". If that's all you wanted, then the topic is slightly useless.
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