In Star Trek Beyond, an alien is recovered drifting towards the Yorktown. Her language isn't understandable, so they put her in a large round device, take a while to figure out the language, and attach a translator device. Which delays translation. And has a huge red light.

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Considering The Original Series didn't require that, and the Kelvin-Timeline is supposed to diverge from the TOS era due to time travel, why is this? Worse, Enterprise shows that the then being developed universal translator works without a device and seamlessly as well, predating the TOS era. As Enterprise era ships like the Franklin are shown in Beyond, they should have similar technology.

Why has the technology taken a step back in the movie? Both in-universe and out-of-universe. Not like the 2009 movie set a few years earlier required a universal translator that sounded like a badly synced Japanese dub vis-a-vis the Romulans.

  • 2
    Especially bizarre is that given what we later discover about this alien, it's not clear why she needs translation at all; what language is she speaking?
    – Arclite
    Aug 8, 2016 at 8:52
  • (I've re-asked my above comment as a separate question.)
    – Arclite
    Aug 8, 2016 at 9:01
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    @arclite that's easier to explain. It's a ploy to lure starfleet, and it's also because the inhuman aspects they absorbed makes talking in English harder to do. Look at Krall, slowly getting easier to understand as he absorbs more red shirts.
    – cde
    Aug 8, 2016 at 14:08
  • The writers have explained, while explaining how Sulu is gay in this timeline and not in the old timeline, that not everything in the universe will be the same prior to the time-travel event. Changes have happened further back in time. Don't expect the universes to be identical. Aug 16, 2016 at 20:15
  • It served her purposes to speak a previously unknown language. See here: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/58901/…
    – Dave
    Oct 10, 2016 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


The Deep Space Nine episode Sanctuary (S2 E10) has a race which comes through the wormhole and cannot be immediately understood. It takes some time for the Universal Translator to work out the language.

This is explained in-episode (using technobabble) as their language being unusually different from common language structures.

So it's probable that in Beyond the language being spoken was sufficiently complex or different that the translator had to think about it for a while.

This is speculative. I'm sure there's a better explanation somewhere.

  • And let's not forget the whole Darmok and Jalad bit. The UT was able to make perfect sense of the language, but couldn't make heads or tails of the semantics. Oct 23, 2017 at 7:15

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