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Communication and First Contact

Communication and First Contact

Is it reasonable to presume that all languages, even those created by aliens are naturally divergent as is the case in human languages? By divergent, I mean that given time and lack of contact between two languages used by the same species, the two languages will drift as new words and new grammatical rules are created. Even within a society there is sufficient evidence for divergence of language by age, culture and location.

Personally I think that this is a reasonable presumption which is why I believe that any advanced culture capable of going to the stars will have developed some form or Rapid Assimilation of Communication Protocols (RACP). At its highest development it would be a squirt of data with the structure of the language along with a dictionary in various simple forms such as binary.
This would start with fundamental progressions in order to establish key concepts such as counting and then standards including pi and e. From there it would move into establishing other basic mathematical functions leading onto data storing protocols. Once these are established, it is only a small step to coding sound and tagging it. This leads onto language, from simple words up to phraseology and grammar in general.


Concepts such as past, present and future (if all three perceptions are actually used) are configured along with ownership and gender as applicable (e.g. ‘this was his first contact with an alien species’). Finally there needs to be some form of feedback and interpretation system, allowing for translation.

Whether the system extends beyond verbal communication will come down to the specific species, or more likely how the system is expanded and upgraded as new species are encountered. These would presumably extend into non-verbal cues (symbolic gestures of aggression, pigmentation changes etc), chemical emissions (pheromones), emf (telepathic species), subsonic and ultrasonic ranges and even tactile behaviours.

Probable Future Development
What we presumed in Phoenix is humanity developed smart headsets with realtime translation technology by the mid twenty-first century. Many of these relied on the conversations being picked up by the headset, based on where the eyes of the wearer were trained, uploaded to a server, processed and then transmitted back.

The programs running on the servers were continuously updated and became ever more sophisticated with overlays to indicate probable non-verbal cues (very useful for meeting people from different cultures).

As technology advanced what once ran on vast server arrays became localised. When humans went to the stars they took the technology with them as those colonising new worlds quickly started creating new words to describe their surroundings.

The software had to develop further to allow for on-the-spot translation from previously unknown words. This was either through data-dumps of everything, where time allowed or more often the realtime updating of words and their etymological roots as they occurred until the two systems (speaker/listener) agreed.

Even when one side was without a translator, it can be presumed that a single translator would be able to pick-up words and give a probable translation, presumably with some visual overlay of subtitles with emphasis on words that were potentially wrong. Incongruous words appearing in the subtitles/voice over would cause the listener to request clarification. As the speaker explained again using different words and actions, these would be correlated with the previous statements in order to produce a more coherent translation, if not necessarily a direct translation. It is probable that the software would also pick up cues from the person trying to understand and even guide them.

What is fundamentally clear however is that no magic is involved. The intrepid explorer does not land on a world, point a device at a some cave-dwelling aliens and gets to chat to them about the benefits of economical housing.

First Contact
Since humanity reached the stars it has encountered dozens of sentient species. While virtually all of these communicate through vocal mechanics, there are a few that don’t, namely the aquaphids. Even the hive have a primitive range of vocal signals that allows them to order Rubis Beer and a side of fungus at most starports. As such there are a few basic protocols that are followed unless otherwise specified when making first contact.

The technological level of the encountered species is first evaluated remotely, either from off-world if the size and technology of the species is observable, else from a discrete distance on the surface. If the species has media technology that utilises remote communications (global networks or at least some form of broadcasting such as radio), assembling a language database and RACP is straightforward and it is quickly on to determining who to speak to and where to begin negotiations. It is presumed that some degree of investigation of the social nature of the natives has occurred and that the team will not be blundering into a xeno-chainsaw fest.

Where a civilisation has not reached this point there are more options based on the speed of communication and the size of the native communities. A planet spanning nation based on written words couriered between locations allows for contact to be attempted at any level from landing in the grounds of the movers and shakers right down to finding a few scouts of a nation on a distant frontier to meet with first (isn’t it strange that dog-headed people always seemed to live just beyond the next hill). Without a pre-loaded library of culture to review, the latter may prove useful in avoiding general panic.



Going Native
Where the native species bares some passing resemblance to the contacting species, there is always the option of first getting to know the natives by blending in. This is a three step process consisting of remote observation to determine their xenophobia and likely reaction to dealing with a ‘foreigner’. The reason for this is that no matter how good the explorer, they will never be perfect and as such, posing as an outsider that it likely to be accepted is the only realistic alternative. A peddler or trader from a distant land makes for a good cover (and how are the natives to know the luxury foods and other trade goods are from off-world). The second step is to prepare the cover story and ‘get in-character’ and approach with fingers crossed. This may be anything from approaching the walled gates of a medieval city through to shouting up into the canopy from a safe distance. An old-Earth tactic was to pull the boat up onto the shore and spread out goods to trade along the beach and wait for the natives to get first curious then bold. The final step is to come back alive having gained a better understanding of the native culture and language. This should include some form of escape/extraction plan should things go pear-shaped.

The Alternative Approaches
Of course all this assumes that the purpose of first contact is to achieve some sort of amicable relationship, possibly leading to trade, tourism, cultural education and a mutually beneficial future. If first contact is purely for the benefit of the off-worlders, whips, shouting and blowing things up is all that is required – just ask any Flagritz. Playing at being gods on the other hand tend to end somewhat messily (recipe for apotheosis, add one god to a large stockpot with various root crops, cook slowly, stir, season and eat).




 
News
Is open for business...
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.

    The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.

    The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.

    DEN continue to strike at the Empire

    Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.

    AFT turn to piracy

    The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
    Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.

    The AFT remain silent over the attack.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Combat Special Edition

    Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.

    Felini strike back at Dewiek

    Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!

    GTT get sucked into the war

    A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”

    Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules

    A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.

    The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.

    DOM make a choice

    After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.

    DOM positions share out

    Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.

    *** Affiliations ***


    AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
    CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
    DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
    DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
    DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Urd
    DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
    FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
    FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
    FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
    FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
    GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
    GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
    GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
    HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
    IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
    KRL Krell (30) - Namica
    KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
    KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
    MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
    MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
    MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
    NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
    RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
    RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
    SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
    USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
    WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

    * Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
    ** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact

    NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS

    Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

    Deceased: CAL

    *** Submission ***

    By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

    Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

    No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

    In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****


    DEN continue to shoot innocents

    The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

    This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Return of the LiQuans

    A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

    Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


     

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    I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

    Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
    -Zigic