A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Universal Translator, Babelfish Possible
The universal translator is a classic Star Trek plot device that makes encounters with alien civilizations much less awkward. Alienese goes in - American English comes out.
(Star Trek Universal Translator)
But that's just television. Now, when a Professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics starts talking about it, that's something worth understanding.
Terrence Deacon of the University of California, Berkeley, posits that all language has a universal structure. Regardless of whether the aliens communicate with sounds, pictures or even odors, there must be a set of rules that govern the communication.
One common way to denote an object, for example, involves pointing to it and then emitting an expression. Whether you use an index finger, a tentacle or antennae, you've just directly referenced the object.
Professor Deacon argues that even abstract symbols can be understood as referencing words that point directly to real objects in the physical world we all share. If that is true, it should be possible to have a device that uses software to tease apart the symbols of a completely alien language and then determine how they reference the world - a universal translator.
Other references to this idea include the famous Babel Fish from Douglas Adams' 1979 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the translator discs from Larry Niven's 1970 novel Ringworld.
Consider these real-life (if Earth-bound) translators:
Via Universal 'babelfish' could translate alien tongues.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/24/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
Zoom Adds Real-Time, Live Translation
'He immediately turned the small shining disc of the Language Rectifier..' - Hugo Gernsback, 1911.
Will The Super Bowl Go To Pay Per View?
'...this afternoon’s football game cost each person who had one of the television screens one dollar for the privilege.' - Dr. David H. Keller, 1929.
SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.' - Harry Gore Bishop, 1907.
Drones Communicate With Each Other Using Quantum Encryption
'the curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits...' - Frederik Pohl, 1954.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Omni Hoverboard Envy Of Green Goblin
'I brought it back to the ship, charged it up, reprogrammed the inertia chips and voila!'
Jetson ONE Speeds Through The Forest
'Over there! Two more of them!'
Facebook's Algorithmic News Feed Knows Better Than You Do
'Their playmates were not “real,” but they were a lot realer than, say, a Betsy-Wetsy doll.'
Tselina Spacecraft Platform Destroyed In Russian Anti-Satellite Test
'pirate three-vee satellites sanded out of orbit...'
Burro Robot Follows You And Gets Smarter
'Oh, there you are! the balloon piped at the amorphous mass of living tissue...'
Tiangong Space Station! Exercise Like It's 1953
'He couldn't imitate actual gravity, of course...'
Facebook Unexpectedly Turns Away From Sfnal Face Recognition
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
Taihang Solar Farm Accurately Pictured In 1911
'The entire expanse, twenty kilometers square, was covered ... the photo-electric elements which transformed the solar heat direct into electric energy.'
Galaxy Z Fold 3 Perfect For William Gibson's 'Control-Face'
'Chia recognized the square as the control-face of the computer she'd seen in his room.'
Amazon Automatic Packaging Catches Up With Gernsback's 1911 Book
'The automatic packing machine could pack anything from a small package a few inches square up to a box two feet high by three feet long.'
Your Car Will Be Watching You!
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive...'
Orbital Reef: Bezos' High Orbit Archipelago
'Tessier-Ashpool ascended to high orbit's archipelago to find the ecliptic sparsely marked with military stations and the first automated factories of the cartels.'
Best Space Tacos Made From ISS-Grown Chilis
That's some spicy tacos.
Poor Humans. Miami Herald Bot Writes Great Real Estate Articles.
'Nothing of news-interest escape it...'
International Space Mission Never Leaves Earth
'That gives it complete isolation.'
Seriously, Was Our Universe Created In A Lab?
'It is an instrument with which I am going to create a microcosm.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories