Sydney is entirely too fit on this page. I got distracted trying to do a decent looking back, but she’s supposed to really be a bit more nerd soft, and like ~15 lbs overweight.

This page has one of those sci-fi show situations that we’re all supposed to politely ignore when it comes up, and it’s the selective universal translator. It happens all the time. Worf says qapla’, and the UT doesn’t change it to “success”? Well, fine, it’s an easy argument that Worf is in fact a native English speaker, so the UT isn’t watching for it, but are we supposed to believe that every Klingon captain and crew member they meet also speaks English, or that there’s some translation going on? If that’s the case, why does the UT translate everything they say, except qapla’?

Presumably Frix doesn’t natively speak modern English, so he’s using a universal translator, but then “human” and “flurbleblox” and “zipoo” all mean things in his native language. So why isn’t it translating them? When Frix says “human,” Sydney should hear “nose cheese” or whatever human means in his native language.

The solution is kind of built into the science behind a really good UT. You can’t just do a word for word translation of what’s being said. Language has context. Any good UT would have to have a massively sophisticated VI that is constantly monitoring for context. When an English speaker uses the word “you,” context determines if the “you” is singular or plural, but many languages have separate words for a singular “you” and a plural “you.” (Actually English does as well, but only if you count “y’all.”) This is a big part of the reason that translating text from one language to another then back again can result in a bunch of crazy results. Meaning is lost. A really good UT would not only have to have comprehensive dictionaries of all languages involved, including slang, but also be able to tag words and sentences with context metadata that wouldn’t be lost even if something was translated through 29 different languages.

Double res version will be posted over at Patreon. $1 and up, but feel free to contribute as much as you like.