Discussion Forum

Please consider registering
guest

Log In Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —

  

— Match —

   

— Forum Options —

   

Minimum search word length is 4 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

Topic RSS
Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra
Made me wonder what the most metaphoric language (on Earth) is these days.
Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
2013/05/21
3:48pm
New River, AZ, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 776
Member Since:
2010/05/18
Offline

Glenn’s thread Και νεκρός ενίκα and his explanation of that phrase recalled a mythical language spoken by the Tamarian people in an episode of Star Trek. The usually useful “universal translator” failed with this language, since it used almost no specific “words” but was virtually all metaphorical phrases, the meaning of which would require an understanding of Tamarian culture and history, and that wasn’t in the Federation database yet. This was a first encounter between the two races.

For example: “Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra” meant “cooperation” since it alluded to a story of two allies facing a common foe.

If you’re not familiar with the plot line of that Star Trek episode, read this synopsis.

Of course, there are many metaphorical phrases in English with similar cultural origins. For example, “a herculean task.” With no knowledge of our own mythology, that doesn’t mean much to younger generations these days.

So here’s my question, since I have no training in linguistics: Are there any languages (on Earth) that come even close to Tamarian? What’s the language with the greatest number of metaphors in use? My first pure guess was perhaps some of the Aboriginal languages, but Wiki didn’t bear that out. And a Google of “most metaphorical language” got me nowhere.

2013/05/21
5:48pm
Glenn
Admin
Forum Posts: 1593
Member Since:
2009/03/03
Offline
2
0

I loved that episode!

My favorite cultural reference example in English is not an idiom but would have nearly universal meaning: she was Juliet on her balcony.

I’m not sure about the language with the most metaphors, but Chinese has to be up there. Many common words are highly metaphoric: the word for “thing” consists of the two characters for east and west.

Chinese is loaded chock full of these infernal four-character phrases. Encountering a new one, I would recognize or look up each word, and still have no whit of an idea what it meant. One fairly easy one was “play guitar in front of a cow”. Ie. “casting pearls before swine”. They are loaded with cultural references.

2013/05/21
5:54pm
Glenn
Admin
Forum Posts: 1593
Member Since:
2009/03/03
Offline
2013/05/21
7:14pm
New River, AZ, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 776
Member Since:
2010/05/18
Offline
4
0

Glenn said: My favorite cultural reference example in English is not an idiom but would have nearly universal meaning: she was Juliet on her balcony.

Heimhenge, his eyes opened!

2013/05/21
7:15pm
Ron Draney
Member
Forum Posts: 627
Member Since:
2009/03/06
Offline
5
0

Funny you should mention that episode just now. I just picked up Douglas Hofstadter’s newest book Surfaces and Essences, which is all about metaphor in language. (For those who haven’t followed his career, Hofstadter is famous for his work on analogies of all kinds, from the interlinked self-references of Gödel, Escher, Bach to the giveaway title Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies to his tour de force Le Ton beau de Marot about how difficult it is to translate the meaning of a poem along with the actual words.)

Anyway, it struck me as I was making my way through chapter two of the new book that while he’s talking about words that encapsulate metaphors we no longer think of consciously until we try to explain them to someone less familiar with the language, that Darmak and Jalad would have been a great reference for him to make. Checked the index, though: nothing.

2013/05/21
8:59pm
Jackie
Spring Green, WI
Member
Forum Posts: 112
Member Since:
2010/03/14
Offline
6
0

Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel.  Just want to say that is one of my favorite episodes.  I have nothing else to add.  Shaka, when the walls fell.

 

2013/05/22
4:22pm
New River, AZ, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 776
Member Since:
2010/05/18
Offline

Pleased, but not at all surprised, that there are other fans of that Star Trek episode on this forum. On further exploration of that synopsis linked to in my first post, I discovered linguistics teachers are actually using that episode in their course of study. At least this one. [Scroll down to second-last paragraph.]

Other research found that producer Rick Berman at first didn’t like the script … thought it was too esoteric with not enough action. His writers persisted, and it went on in a slightly modified form. Later, Berman was quoted as saying it was one of his favorite episodes ever.

Berman, his eyes opened!

2013/05/22
5:33pm
Ron Draney
Member
Forum Posts: 627
Member Since:
2009/03/06
Offline

So much converted was Berman that about half a dozen episodes later, he has the time traveler Dr Rasmussen (played by Matt Frewer) notice one of the officers behaving in an especially characteristic manner, and utter the observation “Ah, Data at Penthara Four!”

2013/05/23
11:38am
New River, AZ, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 776
Member Since:
2010/05/18
Offline

I recall that episode, but the homage to Tamarian escaped me until you pointed it out, and I know I must have heard that line by Dr. Rasmussen.

In the recent documentary by Roddenberry’s son he interviews Berman about how the series changed when he took over. No mention of the Darmok episode, but I found it interesting how Berman felt he was the “guardian of the mythology” (his words) and sought to maintain the internal consistency Roddenberry was always so adamant about. IMHO, he did a great job with that aspect of his productions. Berman’s cameos by original cast members during several episodes of Next Generation did a lot for continuity. Had a hard time with the balding Patrick Stewart “replacing” Shatner, but his character quickly grew on me.

That documentary ends with an interview of J.J. Abrams on the new cast, and whether he was trying to achieve that same consistency. Roddenberry showed Abrams a video his father had made, where he talks about exactly that type of thing, admitting that if the “show must go on” he hopes future producers and writers will follow his tradition. Haven’t seen Into Darkness yet, but in Star Trek (2009) I thought Abrams did an outstanding job, both in casting and plot line. Thought the choice of making “dark matter” a red liquid was a poor decision, but that was probably done by the special effects people.

Of course, since both these movies were prequels, he didn’t have much choice in terms of internal consistency. The romantic involvement between Spock and Uhuru was a bit of a stretch for me, but I guess Abrams is entitled to some artistic license.

 

2013/05/23
9:38pm
Jackie
Spring Green, WI
Member
Forum Posts: 112
Member Since:
2010/03/14
Offline
10
0

Heimhenge, we really need to talk after you’ve seen Into Darkness.  No spoilers from me–but we should compare notes.

 

2013/05/24
3:32pm
New River, AZ, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 776
Member Since:
2010/05/18
Offline
11
0

Jackie: Hard to avoid spoilers when you surf as much as I do, but all I really know at present is that it’s basically the same theme as Wrath of Khan. Trailers look like it’s got plenty of action. Planning to see it in the next week or two, and will PM you with my comments. Don’t want this thread to diverge from “language” too much more than it already has.  :)

2013/05/25
5:50am
Jackie
Spring Green, WI
Member
Forum Posts: 112
Member Since:
2010/03/14
Offline
12
0

Sounds like a plan!

Forum Timezone: America/Los_Angeles

Most Users Ever Online: 1147

Currently Online:
59 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

Heimhenge: 776

Bob Bridges: 675

Ron Draney: 627

RobertB: 423

Robert: 398

tromboniator: 385

Dick: 374

samaphore: 312

dilettante: 287

deaconB: 240

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 608

Members: 2962

Moderators: 1

Admins: 5

Forum Stats:

Groups: 1

Forums: 1

Topics: 3142

Posts: 16547

Newest Members: ritan1, AKMason, CyberSleep, Sam Iam, SnoringSnotty, Webbie39, kathy_b, isolda_m, michaelyaziji, bug free

Administrators: Martha Barnette: 820, Grant Barrett: 1419, EmmettRedd: 633, Glenn: 1593, timfelten: 0