6
$\begingroup$

How would a species be able to communicate using colors, flashing, and images on their skin (like some deeper water fish) with someone who speaks verbally, like a human? Is a translation devise even plausible in this case? Especially with a water based species (technology and water issues)

I should specify that, given the nature of the relationship, these two beings would need a quick and direct means of communicating. Writing isn't quite as split second of a communication as shouting is.

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

If you're talking about split-second communication, like shouting, I think touch is your best bet - it is immediate, while something like writing or visual signs or gestures require the other person to be looking in the right direction, at the right time. Tapping at or thumping someone will get their attention immediately - the direct equivalent of shouting, since it actively draws the attention, not waits to be noticed. if someone needs to pay attention, being twapped will draw attention from the most distracted, if they need to move, being dragged out of the way is better than being run over. Most basic, urgent communication will have a touch translation anyway, since basic, urgent communication is very likely to have equivalents in every method of communication we can find, create, or imagine - the better to survive in any situation where they might be needed.

If someone's outside of physical range, slapping at something else, like a wall, or water surface, or instrument, will create sound to alert your humans, and create waves/motion/disturbance in the water or whatever the equivalent sense is that your other people use to alert themselves to non-obvious motion. Or use a flashlight or something, for communicating pay attention across the distance... it will be needed to grab attention in case someone is looking the other way when they really need to be listening.

For less urgent communication, some combination of sign language or gestures would probably be more versatile (and again, touch bridges that gap between what a person is looking at and what they need to "hear" right away). You can also involve writing or better yet, drawing for precise details once there's time for explaining. translation passbooks, machines, pidgin, or anything else can be developed or used at their leisure.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

You would need to communicate within an overlapping sense area.

A creature who can communicate with visible displays and is unable to hear sounds would need to communicate in the common sense area of visual displays.

Both species could likely learn to use a gestural/pictographic language to communicate with one another, building from basic images and body language, moving on to more complex concepts similar to Earth's pictographic languages (Egyptian, Chinese etc.)

This method wouldn't require any more technology than a desire by both species to communicate and the concept of a written language. Contact between the species might actually spur the development of written language.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

The grammar and vocabulary would be so different as to make direct transliteration unhelpful without learning the language. That is, the colors, patterns, dynamics, etc. can be converted to a code so we can sense it. But the meaning will involve ways of manipulating the codes that are unlike anything in our verbal languages.

The coding process might be something the natives have developed anyway: we call it writing. Note that writing has nothing to do with frequency modulated sound waves, so someone without a sense of hearing can make use of it. Some sonic features are replaced by punctuation marks.

A computer might translate native chroma speech into coded form based on their writing system, instantly, even though translating that is beyond its ability. The team can program it using writing and examples provided by the alien half of the team, to speed up work on actually learning each other’s languages as they won’t have to write everything but will get it displayed instantly. They will see us doing that on our end: speech to writing on a screen with a permanant printed log for them to take with them and annotate with their observations. So even before serious detail is done on learning their language, they will get the idea of using the machine to transcode their chroma-speech.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

It is possible. In fact there are several ways. For example, the communication could be coded as a binary system with two colors. But every base is possible if each letter is distinguishable from the others. Or they speak via changing frequencies (like the morse alphabet).

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Well, if the alien "speaks" in colors and patterns, and changes in lighting, Humans already can recognize and translate this language as the visual range is not something we don't use.

Additionally, Sign Languages exist in human cultures around the world as languages used to converse with deaf and mute peoples. I know that you are considered bi-lingual in the United States if you also "speak" American Sign Language and translators are typically provided at live events that will be publicly viewed by those hard of hearing (such as Governor's Press Conference). You do not need Star Trek Universal Translators for this as we've used hands for speaking for years.

One problem you might encounter is that an aquatic species would likely not have a lot of red in their language as red light does not travel well in water and their visible light spectrum is could be different than ours... Consider the knowledge gap that could happen if there is no Ultra Violet light.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.