Sunday, November 6, 2011

Conversation with an Alien

>U Dice ko Planeta Xeno-pe

The following is a conversation from STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK. Following the conversation is my linguistic analysis of the alien's grammar.
> U seqe ra es un inter-dice ex filma ASTRO-VIAGIA III: U CERKA DE SPOCK. Po inter-dice es mi lingua-skience lisi de gramatika de planeta xeno-pe.

* * *

(Dr. McCoy sits alone at a table in a bar inside a space station. A suspicious-looking alien with large ears approaches.)
> (Iatri McCoy sedi solo topo tabla in alkoholi-lo in spaci statio. U suspekti planeta xeno-pe ko bi mega oti kine ad an.)

A: Your planet (1) welcome.
> Tu planeta boni veni.

M: I think that's my line, stranger.
> Mi doxo; mi debi dice a tu u-la.

A: Oh, forgive. I here am new. But you are known being McCoy from ENTERPRISE.
> O, pardo. Mi ci es neo. Anti-co tu es ge-ski; es McCoy ex ENTERPRISE.

M: You have me at a disadvantage, sir.
> Tu ski mi, sed mi ne ski tu, sinior.

A: Oh, my name (1) not important. You seek I. Message received. Available ship stands by.
> O, mi nomina ne importa. Tu cerka mi. Bali-ra ge-gene. Ge-prepara navi atende (2).

M: How much and how soon?
> Qo preci e qo kron?

A: How soon, is (1) now. How much, is (1) where.
> Qo kron es nu. Qo preci es topo.

M: Somewhere in the Mutara Sector.
> Uno-lo in lisi-lo Mutara.

A: Oh, Mutara restricted. Take permits many. Money more.
> O, Mutara sub-veto. Nece plu lice poli. Valuta ma mega.

M: There aren't going to be any @#$%&@ (3) permits. How can you get a permit to do a #$%& (3) illegal thing? Look. Price you name, money I got.
> Fu es zero lice. Tu sio pote gene u lice de akti u veto ra per qo mode? Tu deklara u preci, mi habe u valuta.

A: Place you name, money I name, otherwise bargain no.
> U topo tu deklara, u valuta mi deklara, alo-co un akorda no.

M: All right, @#$% (3) it. It's Genesis. The name of the place we're going to is Genesis.
> Fini-co, es Genesis. U nomina de topo; na kine a, es Genesis.

A: Genesis!
> Genesis! 

M: Yes, Genesis. How can you be deaf with ears like that?
> Ja, Genesis. Tu pote es non-audi-pote per qo mode ko bi oti homo mu?

A: Genesis allowed, is (1) not. Is planet forbidden.
> Genesis lice es no. Es u planeta veto.

M: Look, my backwards friend, Genesis may be planet forbidden, but I'm &@#$ (3) well-
> Sti logi, mi no-tekno ami, Genesis posi es "planeta veto," (4) anti-co mi forti- 

(Dr.McCoy is arrested by Star Fleet for talking about a what was supposed to be secret.)
> (Iatri McCoy gene rapi ex Astro Navi-fa kausa dice de ofici kripti ra.)

* * *

First a general note: The alien tends to put the most important word last in his sentences. I have often noticed that highly inflected languages (for example, Russian) do this. The reason? Let's face it: We humans like to hear ourselves talk, and we like to get people to pay attention to us. This alien must be as conceited as we are. 
> Proto u generali nota: U xeno-pe more moti u maxi importa verba u fini in frase. Mi freqe nota; plu forti verba-muta lingua (exempla: Rosija) akti u-ci. Kausa qo? Na debi ski: Na homi hedo audi auto dice, plus-co na hedo sti; plu hetero homi sti atenta a na. U xeno-pe debi es iso auto-fili de na. 

(1) The verb BE tends to be missing, except in expressing impersonal statements, that is, where it means "there is" or "it is." I have noticed people with Russian accents speaking English do the same. Many Earth languages skip the word IS when its meaning is obvious. 
> U verba ES ne more es la, excepti in plu no-persona frase; u-ci es, topo u signifi es "il es." Mi pa nota; plu homi ko Rosija dice-soni; qi dice England lingua, akti iso. Poli Geo lingua du linqi u verba ES, kron u signifi es klari. 

(2) Here the alien uses terms that are part of the technology of communication. Seemingly he is used to such talk, as a ship's captain would be.
> Ci u xeno-pe uti plu frase; qi es plu mero de tekno komunika. Feno, an este more de tali dice, iso u kapitano de navi debi es.

(3) I do try to keep this a family site. STAR TREK IV stated that using such language is "illogical." I wish other STAR TREK episodes had conformed.
> Mi tenta tena; u-ci inter-reti-lo es pro famili. ASTRO VIAGIA IV deklara; uti tali dice es no-logika. Mi desira; plu hetero monstra de ASTRO VIAGIA pa sio monstra akorda.

(4) Dr.McCoy resorts to using the alien's sentence order here. Note that although the alien does not use good English sentence order (SUBJECT, VERB, OBJECT), I don't think any English speaker has a difficult time understanding him.
> Iatri McCoy tenta uti u verba taxo de xeno-pe ci. Sti nota; anti u xeno-pe ne boni uti u sistema de plu England-lingua verba (NOMINA-VERBA, AKTI-VERBA, BUTA-VERBA), mi ne doxo; ali England-lingua-pe este no-facili de logi an.


If this really were the 23rd century, I would say that the alien's own language is an inflected one. He is intelligent enough to realize that inflection is not absolutely important to communication, judging by the lack of inflections he uses in English.
> Si u-ci sio reali es un hekto-anua 23, mi dice; u nati lingua de xeno-planeta-pe habe verba-muta. An es sufici intelige de ski; verba-muta ne es holo nece de komunika, judika per u minus de gramatika; an uti in England lingua.

Realizing that this is just acting, the actor did well with his technique of saving the most important word for the end of the sentence. This produced a feeling of suspense.
> Ski; u-ci es simpli drama: U drama-pe boni akti per mode de tena u maxi importa verba topo fini de frase. U-ci sti un este de excite atende.

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