During the two-part episode "Basics" the crew of Voyager get stranded on a remote planet and have all technology (including tricorders and comm badges) confiscated from them.

Assuming that they no longer have universal translators, how do the crew communicate with Neelix and Kes?

Have Neelix and Kes learnt English whilst on-board Voyager?

  • 8
    Or each other, even? Do the feds learn a common "Federation" language, or even the Earthers learn a common "Earth" language or do they all rely on the universal translators?
    – komodosp
    Jan 5, 2017 at 9:13
  • 1
    @colmde That is an excellent point
    – Fishcake
    Jan 5, 2017 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


Considering that they could not understand the language of the natives of that planet the only logical conclusion is that Neelix and Kes at some point learned English.

The Trek writers seemed to forget the universal translator was a piece of technology fairly often though.

  • 8
    To be honest, the whole tackling of the language barrier in Trek is lacklustre at best and nonsensical at worst. The only way it could be made to make sense to me now is if they all have Babelfish ;)
    – Muzer
    Jan 5, 2017 at 13:18
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    I thought the Universal Translators were implants? Glad to think I wasn't the only one to catch BBCA ST:VOY Marathon!
    – PhasedOut
    Jan 5, 2017 at 14:12
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    The UT is a pretty ridiculous piece of tech, if you think about it. It can translate (almost) any language, including those of species the Federation has literally never met before immediately, in real-time. That means it can somehow deduce the meaning of words it has never heard before and convert them into a language the Feds understand. If you consider that alien sentence structure is not the same as ours, that also means it's deducing words the alien hasn't spoken yet in order to generate a grammatically correct English sentence. It basically needs to be reading their minds.
    – Steve-O
    Jan 5, 2017 at 15:05
  • 5
    @Steve-O It's something I'm willing to overlook though, because treating it realistically would make the stories unbearably impractical. Jan 5, 2017 at 15:07
  • 3
    True it's a plot device, but sometimes the UT not working is a plot device (e.g. DS9's "Little Green Men") so the original question is fair. I believe in "The 37s" it was established that they are in the comm badges though that's a memory from long ago so I could be wrong.
    – komodosp
    Jan 5, 2017 at 15:09

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