User:Xkcdreader/Interpretation of the movie title Star Trek Into Darkness

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Interpretation of the movie title Star Trek Into Darkness[edit]

Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Produced by J. J. Abrams
Bryan Burk
Damon Lindelof
Alex Kurtzman
Roberto Orci
Written by Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman
Damon Lindelof
Based on Star Trek
by Gene Roddenberry

A discussion of its orthography and grammar including the implications its morphology and syntax led to various interpretation of the movie title Star Trek Into Darkness (also once styled by Wikipedia as Star Trek into Darkness). The resulting discussion revolving around apparent grammatical ambiguities and the implementation of Wikipedia's Manual of Style came under examination worldwide.[1][2][3][4]

History of the Movie Title[edit]

On September 10th, 2012, Paramount confirmed the film's title as Star Trek Into Darkness.[1][5][6] J. J. Abrams indicated that unlike the The Original Series films and yet in line with The Next Generation film series, his second Star Trek film would not include a number in the title.[7] The decision was made to avoid repeating the sequel numbering that started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or making a confusing jump from Star Trek to Star Trek 12.[7] Writer and producer Damon Lindelof addressed his team's struggle to settle upon a title, stating "there have been more conversations about what we're going to call it than went into actually shooting it."[8] "There’s no word that comes after the colon after Star Trek that’s cool, ... not that Star Trek: Insurrection or First Contact aren’t good titles, it’s just that everything that people are turned off about when it comes to Trek is represented by the colon."[8] Of the email chain co-writers kept containing every potential title, including many joke titles, Lindelof preferred Star Trek: Transformers 4 best "because it's technically available."[8]

Public Reaction[edit]

The title's grammatical ambiguity when compared to traditional use of the series title Star Trek, along with the lack of demarcating colon, raises questions concerning the stylistic intent of the title's authors with respect to possible interpretations of the title's orthography and constituent structure.[1][9][10][11][12][4] Trek can now function as verb and Into Darkness may no longer imply a subtitle to the series title Star Trek but instead be part of the noun phrase Trek Into Darkness.[1][9][10][11][12][4] In reference to prior film's titles, star Simon Pegg dictated "How do you get past the curse of the ":"? You get rid of it altogether. Trek ain't a noun, it's a verb. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS MAY 2013"[13]

Paramount's initial marketing synopsis uses Star Trek Into Darkness as a declarative phrase and begins: In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness.[14][15] In reference to a webcomic lampooning a debate over the title's orthography[16], The Daily Dot writer Kevin Morris recognized director J.J. Abrams' propensity for clever marketing tactics and speculated that "perhaps Abrams knew what he was getting into when he gave his film such a grammatically bizarre title."[4]

Comparisons were drawn between the unique grammatical structure of Star Trek Into Darkness and The Empire Strikes Back.[1] Jen Yamato of Movieline added that "it sounds like Step Into Liquid and Step Up 2 The Streets, which makes me think Chris Pine and Co. are headed for a dance-off with outer space surfers to the music of a British glam rock band. On top of that, dropping the colon forces us to comprehend "Trek" as both a noun and a verb, which makes my brain hurt. Who wants to go Star Trekkin' with J.J. Abrams?"[10]

Jeff Carter of noted "J. J. Abrams may have come under fire yet again for manipulating the grammar and syntax of the film's title" and believed "the title functions as one statement: Star Trek Into Darkness." Carter humorously surmised "JJ ABRAMS HATES COLONS, WILL ‘STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS'" and concluded "there’s something…off-putting about the way this title rolls of the tongue. It feels silly somehow, gimmicky. I can’t really put my finger on why, though. Perhaps it removes the grandeur or the importance of “Star Trek” as an identifier? Having the words “Star Trek – colon – subtitle” feels more traditional and immediately tells you that the film is part of the Star Trek brand/franchise, whereas the colon-less, singular statement Star Trek Into Darkness sounds like it could be a generic horror film set in space. It’s just weird, man. And why does JJ want to “go into darkness,” anyway? I don’t want a dark Star Trek, I like my bright, shiny Star Trek, dammit! You can’t have lens flares, in the darkness, JJ! You might want to re-think this, sir."[17]

Grammatical and Orthographical Interpretations[edit]

Linguistically into is a compound directional spatial adposition. Directional spatial adposition can only combine with verbs that involve motion. Darkness is a noun. Star Trek is a noun phrase. Star can be a noun, adjective or verb. Trek can be a noun or a verb that involves motion. Thus Trek Into becomes a verb phrase. Because Star is not an adverb it cannot modify the verb phrase Trek Into. Thus Trek Into combines with Darkness to become the noun phrase Trek Into Darkness. Now Star can be used as an modify the the noun phrase. Star modifies the noun phrase in way similar to its synonym in the phrase Trek in Space. By substituting in a more common adjective, such as wildly, the title construction becomes clearer. Wildly Trek Into Darkness. Simple prepositions can combine with verbs, but compound prepositions cannot.[18]

The aforementioned rules leave the following contradiction.

  • Into is a compound preposition and cannot combine with a verb
  • Into is a directional spatial preposition and must combine with a verb

Public Debate Concerning Title Interpretation & Reaction to the Debate[edit]

The verbosity of a debate revolving around the orthography of the movie title became the satirized target of author and former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe.[19] Evidence of confusion regarding the syntax, morphology, and orthography of the title was present on immediately after they published the unconfirmed title on September 7th, thus dating the birth of the conversation to nearly six months prior to Randall Munroe's comical parody.[1][19] In his webcomic xkcd titled 'Star Trek into Darkness', he lampooned the fact that various interpretations of the movie title had spawned over forty thousand words of futile deliberation on Wikipedia alone.[19] The comic's hovertext read "Of course, factions immediately sprang up in favor of '~~sTaR tReK iNtO dArKnEsS~~', 'xX_StAr TrEk InTo DaRkNess_Xx', and 'Star Trek lnto Darkness' (that's a lowercase 'L')." A pedantic Reddit user questioned "No one has mentioned that "magnificent" is misspelled in this comic..? Surprising." This comment was not surprising.

One Wikipedia user even commented on absurdity of the resulting situation by stating it had become "a discussion about whether to include mention in the article about the discussion on Wikipedia, about whether to capitalize the letter 'i' in the title of the article. Is that not sheer madness?"[20] Another user commented on the ironic similarities between the Star Trek Into Darkness writing team's difficulty when choosing to go without demarcating colon, and their own difficulty deciding on whether or not reporting mention of the testimony concerning the discussion to withhold the colon was notable. It is currently unknown whether Wikipedians and their decision to capitalize the letter 'I' took more or less human effort than the actual naming of the movie itself.

In response to the proposed compromises, a Reddit user responded to the now implemented compromise "Star Trek into Darkness (usually written as Star Trek Into Darkness)" with "Wow, they've found a hilariously stupid compromise at the moment." A Wikipedia user likened the unfathomable suggestion to style the title as Star Trek: Into Darkness with a colon against J. J. Abrams, to the idea of stylizing the second George Lucas Star Wars movie title as "The Empire: Strikes Back". A Reddit user added "Ho. ly. Shit. I've found my people!"

In an attempt to be helpful, one Reddit user chimed in with "The teaser poster provided spells it as: S T A R T R E K INTO DARKNESS So that's my vote."

The continuing confusion resulting from the title's grammatical ambiguity was further covered by news organizations worldwide.[1][2][3][4] The Daily Dot writer Kevin Morris noted the debate over the title's semantic interpretation spanned months and had become "a swirling maelstrom of anal retention from which no common sense can escape." Morris recognized director J.J. Abrams' propensity for clever marketing tactics and speculated that "perhaps Abrams knew what he was getting into when he gave his film such a grammatically bizarre title."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Pascale, Anthony. "Exclusive: Star Trek Sequel Title Confirmed". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference x1fantascienzawikitrek was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference x1independentwikitrek was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ a b c d e f Morris, Kevin. "Wikipedians wage war over a capital "I" in a "Star Trek" film". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  5. ^ HitFix Staff. "Paramount confirms 'Star Trek Into Darkness' as official sequel title". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Wales, George. "Star Trek 2 gets an official title". TotalFilm. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "J. J. Abrams y la reinvención de 'Star Trek'" (in Spanish). 12:49, June 4, 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ a b c Sullivan, Kevin P. "'Star Trek' Sequel Title A Struggle For Damon Lindelof". MTV News. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Carter, Jeff. "JJ ABRAMS HATES COLONS, WILL 'STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS'". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Yamato, Jen. "Star Trek 2 Gets A Title: Where Does It Rank In The Franchise?". Movieline. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Melrose, Kevin. "Star Trek Sequel May Have a Title, But Nobody Knows What It Means". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Kaye, Don. "J.J. Abrams' Star Trek sequel gets an officially weird title". blastr. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Pegg, Simon. "How do you get past the curse of the ":"? You get rid of it altogether. Trek ain't a noun, it's a verb. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS MAY 2013". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Pascale, Anthony. "BREAKING: Official Synopsis For Star Trek Into Darkness Revealed". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  15. ^ Legarreta, Matthew. "The Official Plot Synopsis For Star Trek Into Darkness Is Here, And Is Surprisingly Detailed". Geek Binge. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  16. ^ Munroe, Randall. "Star Trek into Darkness". webcomic. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  17. ^ Carter, Jeff. "JJ ABRAMS HATES COLONS, WILL ‘STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS'". Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  18. ^ Berry, Brizee, Angeli, Chris, Allen, Elizabeth. "Prepositions of Direction: To, On (to), In (to)". Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c Munroe, Randall. "Star Trek into Darkness". webcomic. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  20. ^ Cite error: The named reference en.wikipedia was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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