Recently a friend pointed out the Cardassian styling of the consoles in the Ops Center (and other consoles) on Deep Space 9. I've seen no evidence that the consoles have been switched out with LCARS-style interfaces, so how did Startfleet personnel use these consoles?

Was knowledge of written Cardassian a pre-requisite for being stationed on DS9? Or were the consoles translated in some way to English but the Cardassian stylings were kept? Or was the operations of the space station easy and intuitive enough to figure out that you didn't need a translation?

DS9 Ops Center from Memory Alpha

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    As a programmer, I could offer a hypothesis - a simple language parser could translate Cardassian into English. It may run into some trouble with the Cardassian Alphabet, but given the existence of universal translators that work perfectly across nearly every species, a program to translate text universally doesn't sound too farfetched.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 19:35
  • I agree with Nate Watson. I can change the display language from Windows 98 up to Windows 8. I'm sure the Cardassian OS could handle it.
    – Mykewlname
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:56
  • Also a programmer - there would be more than one language of "Cardassian" that an OS would have to support, so the ability to support multiple languages, multiple alphabets, everything (this is called Localization) would be baked in. English would just be an add-on pack to the OS. It would, in all likelihood, already exist for the OS, given how big the Federation is. Commented May 28, 2015 at 17:35
  • Honestly, I can't see a space faring, subspace messaging capable society having the isolation to maintain separate languages or even too much regional differences in a social setting, much less a military setting.
    – user16696
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


Probably not the actual language - for example, in the season 1 episode Babel, the screens are rendered in English (the second screen is nonsense because Bashir had become infected with the aphasia virus):

enter image description here (from http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Babel_(episode) )

But they would have had to have learned a whole new interface - think of it like transitioning from Windows to OSX or Ubuntu.

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    I wonder what the Cardassian spinning beach ball of death looks like :)
    – CamelBlues
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 5:47
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    Probably a series of four lights, with a message saying “There are five lights”. Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 11:08
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    I think they have just re-localized the systems, and kept the main computer software intact. Can't prove it though, there's nothing on that subject re: DS9's computers on Memory Alpha...
    – Maverick
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 21:46
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    Chief O'Brien often made comments about the computer being Cardassian, thinking like a Cardassian, etc. This would appear to indicate that the system was the original with only minor changes.
    – Omegacron
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:22
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    You know, it depends. What's easier, interfacing an alien display or rewriting one?
    – user16696
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 18:30

There's no reason the Cardasian computers couldn't support multiple language packs. They probably just changed the default. Also, we see that the promenade directory is published in at least 8 languages "English, Bajoran, and Ferengi being some of the recognizable ones." That list appeared to be a monitor, so the Cardasian computers almost certainly support language switching.

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    Assuming of course that they didn't just plug the monitor into a federation pc...
    – user16696
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 18:19
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    They mentioned at various points that they used a Cardasian main computer. Commented May 29, 2015 at 3:18
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    There's mention in the DS9 technical manual of adding Federation FTL computer cores to DS9 as well. It's one of the things they have to destroy when they abandon the station.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 18:34

I believe at the time period of DS9, it's plausible that the Universal Translator implants had the ability to translate written forms of language too. Also as seen in the episode where the Ferengi caused the Roswell incident, most if not all of people on would DS9 have a Universal Translator implant.

  • Whilst a nice theory do you have any evidence for this that you could edit in to back it up?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 0:36

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