I remember in the first New Trek film she's hears someone mouth breathing under her roommates bed.

Later her astute 'hearing' picked up the dialect difference between two alien species (I forget which). She is doubted at this point but Kirk (perhaps remembering the previous incident) believes her. This feels like a classic example of Chekhov's gun.

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.

In this analogy, Uhura's hearing is the rifle. I don't think there's a clear connection between the bed scene, and the dialect scene. It feels like they hung the wrong rifle, to follow the analogy.

I understand both feats have something to do with hearing, but I don't understand how one implies the other.

  • Are you talking about the scene I referenced?
    – Adamant
    May 1 '16 at 21:49
  • @Jonah yes I am. Feel free to edit it in
    – AncientSwordRage
    May 1 '16 at 21:57
  • Acceptable....?
    – Adamant
    May 2 '16 at 3:47


It would be an asset, but it's not relevant to the scene in question

Uhura certainly does have exceptional hearing:

UHURA: -- and did I not, on multiple occasions, demonstrate exceptional aural sensitivity and, I quote, "unparalleled ability to identify sonic anomalies" in subspace transmission tests?!

As the questioner indicated, this may also be demonstrated by her hearing Kirk hiding under her roommate's bed. Of course, it is also possible that Kirk merely breathes noisily, as Uhura indeed implies.

I don't think this is described as relevant to any translation she makes in the course of the movie, though.

In the scene you describe:

PIKE (to Comm Officer) Scan Vulcan space, check if any transmissions are being made in Romulan.

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER Sir, I'm-- not sure I could distinguish the Romulan language from Vulcan.

PIKE (to Uhura) How about you -- you speak Romulan, Cadet...?

UHURA Uhura, Sir. All three dialects.

Here the relevant qualification that Uhura has is that she speaks all three dialects of Romulan, and thus can distinguish Romulan from Vulcan, not that she can distinguish two languages she does not know through her sensitive hearing.

That said, a sensitive ear would be an extraordinary asset in learning alien languages, since such languages might depend on subtle gradations of pitch, timbre, or volume that the average human would have trouble with, simply due to the physical difficulty in hearing the difference, but the average non-human speaker would grasp with ease.

This is much less the case with human languages, of course, since any human language must by definition be spoken by the average human, with correspondingly average aural sensitivity.

  • 1
    I still think that the bed scene is meant to clue the viewer in early on that Uhura is all about sound. Regardless that doesn't fully tie in with knowing dialects, or sonic anomalies...
    – AncientSwordRage
    May 1 '16 at 21:52
  • @AncientSwordRage - Perhaps.
    – Adamant
    May 1 '16 at 21:53
  • 1
    I always heard it as "oral sensitivity." snicker. May 1 '16 at 23:52
  • 1
    @ApproachingDarknessFish - Well, oral sensitivity might be useful in determining whether alien food was poison.
    – Adamant
    May 1 '16 at 23:53

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