1. Josh says:

    July 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    When I first saw this episode, I scoffed at Tamarian language. It seemed so restrictive. Strangely, a Tamarian-esque language doesn’t feel quite so bleak anymore. Thank you for your article.

    • says:

      August 4, 2012 at 1:27 am

      I think you’re right. The origins of the meanings we associate with words are arbitrary. Hence, there can be no “universal translator” which does not already know all of the “meanings” of all words in all languages and their mappings to all other words.

  2. anon says:

    July 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    good article-i agree with the concept totally-i am guilty of this process too. Linguistics and its evolution, adaptation, the vernacular, processing language, semiotics, mimetics, all very interesting fields

  3. Dustin says:

    July 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Welp, I’m a Star Trek convert now. Thanks a LOT for giving me something else to eat up my time with.

  4. rex chirot says:

    July 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve been struggling with these ideas for a long time as well. Written and spoken language are only the primary forms of communication because they are the most efficient and the easiest to teach and utilize. Technology will change this. Advice animal memes are a fantastic way of creating and iconographic touchstone that communicates a wealth of information, and towards a wider audience, more efficiently than video, or spoken language, or text alone are able to do. That is solely for these types of situations: universal concepts which occur in highly specific episodes.

    I imagine that the next great evolutionary leap in communication will be in brain computer interfaces that allow us to communicate from one consciousness to another, or to many simultaneously. Trying to imagine how this would work is difficult because I can only envision it through the brain I have now, and the technology I use. I would assume that it would be akin to assembling a sort of powerpoint presentation in my own mind. This would consist of text, video, and images which I would then broadcast to another consciousness.

    This is almost certainly not how such communication would occur. When computers communicate they don’t type out text to be read by one another. When I recall information my brain doesn’t have to replay a video in my minds eye. Direct brain-to-brain communication is impossible for me to imagine because I have no examples to compare it to. I only know that it would be entirely unlike our current ways of communicating.

    The way that my mind works now, I can conceive a large amount of information that is neither visual, auditory, or linguistic and I can do so nearly instantly. But I have to translate this information using systems and technology that degrade the information and take a very long time to communicate, relative that is to the amount of time it takes me to recall and assemble the information in my own mind. Imagine if we were able to communicate more like computers, with bursts of code that contain this information without degrading it, or reinterpeting it, and which transmit instantaneously. If this were possible, then would written or spoken language, as we use it now, even survive?

  5. Bloodfist says:

    July 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Love that episode, and I think you are totally right. I have been saying for a while that memes are the seeds of a very unique international language. Fry meme means the same in English as it does in Chinese. The words may be different but the feeling is the same. Hadn’t made the darmok leap, but it is very similar. Once we have a large enough lexicon of memes, we can begin breaking language barriers easily with nothing but pictures of emotions.

  6. Ólavur Mortensen says:

    July 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Sometimes, I will write “firstworldproblems.jpg”, or “motherofgod.jpg”, refering to a meme, and all that it implies, in a given surcumstance.

  7. says:

    July 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    You should listen in on a conversation between two Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis. They speak to each other in fragments of quotations of Talmudic scholars, usually in a mixture of English, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Aramaic. They allude to plot points in stories from the Midrash, to 10th century commentaries on 6th century commentaries on these stories and on relevant passages from ancient legal codes, and so on. Unless you are one of them, you will have no earthly idea what they are talking about–assuming you speak all of these languages in the first place. They are speaking a Tamarian of deep sophistication and subtlety, and they’ve been doing it for centuries.

    Reddit memes? Meh, kids.

  8. says:

    July 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    In anthropology, they talk about high-context and low-context cultures. High-context cultures assume a high degree of shared experiences and expectations. Shorthand can be deployed because the context evokes similar inferences for the participants: the Tamarians know the story of Tanagra, the blog readers have seen Pongo and Roger. Low-context cultures do more explaining through words rather than references to context; these are frequently societies with high migration.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how some of this material ages: when we no longer remember the context of the meme, what will we get from the piece?

    • Scott says:

      August 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Some of them are already to that point. For example, your average meme user these days has no idea wherethis particular gif comes from (I’m at the upper end of the “meme gnereation” and I have only the barest understanding of its source), and yet it still sees regular usage for begrudgingly congratulating someone.

  9. Scuba says:

    July 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    My friends and I regularly engage in this verbally. If something bad happens or we make a tough decision that leaves us feeling crummy we might just say ‘feelsbadman.jpg’ or if something was really enjoyable ‘megusta.jpg’. Instantly conjuring the picture of the corresponding meme and therefore the meaning of the feeling/situation.

  10. Volsted Gridban says:

    July 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I made much the same observation a month or so ago, which prompted me to make the following comic: http://i.imgur.com/BReYC.gif

    I chose that particular image because you frequently see it used without any accompanying text in the image. The image is used by itself to convey meaning. And that’s pretty close to Tamarian in my book.

  11. L.B. Gale says:

    July 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks for all of the insightful comments. I’ve learned so much from your knowledge! Overall, I think that, if anything, this demonstrates how popular culture is far more than entertainment–it gives us insight into complex collegial ideas that I would not have explored purely on my own, but now, because of my investment in the entertainment am completely intrigued by.

    I’d like to point you all to this reddit thread, where I see a number of more comments have been made on the topic: http://www.reddit.com/r/scifi/comments/xc8vi/the_tamarian_takeover_scifi_memes_and_language/

    Some experts (or seeming experts) on linguistics dispute what I have to say here, and it is worth noting where they disagree with the ideas I propose.

    • Steve Wida says:

      July 31, 2012 at 12:06 am

      This has been part of English for centuries. We use the terms like “A fly in the ointment”, “That’s the sticky wicket” or “Shut up!”; they were very likely started in the same manner as the meme based terms you used.

  12. Dustin says:

    July 30, 2012 at 12:35 am

    My friends and I (who use reddit) use a variety of memes in our everyday communication. A short list of the trigger phrases and memes are

    “Don’t know if…” Futurama Fry.

    “I don’t always do X” The most interesting man in the world.

    “Why you no!” Why you no guy

    “X is bad and you should feel bad.” Zoidberg

    “Why not X?” other Zoidberg

    “If you X, you’re gonna have a bad time.” South Park ski resort instructor.

    So, as you can see from these examples, your Tamarian translations are too clunky for us earthlings. We are already incorperating memes into our language, but the shorthand is shorter.

    • says:

      August 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      I’m gonna comment on site cgehnas too. I love the new site and think that the layout and navigation is great but there are a few things that are a bother. I miss being able to navigate more than one page at a time. I rather enjoyed hitting the last page button and then scrolling through the pages of lolz made forever and a day ago. Also when i go to page 2 at any time for any cheezburger site now it wont load any of the buttons. I can no longer add anything to my favorites. It doesn’t even load the next page button, so any lolz I missed the day before are forever out of reach to me. I think it might be something on my computer that is doing this but I have attempted every solution to this and still have no success so I will assume I’m not the only one with this problem. The pages take forever to load now. I don’t know what it is but it is so much slower than ever before.

    • says:

      August 13, 2014 at 9:58 am

      my account has been tmaeinrted! I’m like what who-huh? When did that happen? I spazzed out. I thinking about switching to WordPress because I’m just tired of it. New follower :)!Have a happy new year! :)-Roxy

    • says:

      August 10, 2014 at 2:15 am

      New follower from weeeknd hop. (I am just catching up! You blog design is great! I don’t know what it looked like before, the the after is very nicely done!Huge green hugs,Pat

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  17. says:

    May 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    You’ve got some great observations here. I remember thinking the same thing about the Tamarian language, but it’s fascinating to think we’re moving closer to that. A previous commenter noted that we do the same thing with idioms, and I think there’s some validity to that observation, but I’d say memes and reaction gifs are the next step toward Tamarian after idioms.

    I also watched “Darmok” in a HS English class…Good teachers, we had.

  18. Samuel McConnell says:

    July 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

    This is best demonstrated with the most popular gifs that can simply be referenced by filename.


    and the like.

  19. Brett Ludwig says:

    August 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Heyo! I have no idea if you’ll get this message, but I just finished a picture conversation with my girlfriend over a messenger, and then replied with “ThisIsWhatHappensWhenWeDisagreeAboutSalad.jpg” and realized that grouping of ideas in a picture like a metaphor. So I thought – hey, memes are basically just metaphorical communication.

    You know, that’s probably like that Star Trek episode I saw….(googles “star trek metaphor episode”)…Darmok…hrm.

    I wonder if anyone else has thought of this?

    *googles memes darmok*

    Finds this page.


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  23. says:

    June 29, 2015 at 11:16 am

    not only was this written terribly with no understanding of what a meme is, you just look like a child who made a giant scrap book of random popular animated gifs.

    but good on you for viralling your shitty article enough for a bunch of liberals SJWs to pick it up.

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