The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has the following to say about the universal translator:
The universal translator (as seen in the TOS episode “Metamorphosis”) has the size and appearance of a long silver dildo, and is probably the most implausible thing in the universe. In DS9’s “Little Green Men,” it was apparently small enough to fit inside a Ferengi’s ear, but this would not necessarily require a reduction in size. It is not known in what part of their body Starfleet officers conceal their universal translators.
The universal translator works by instantly converting all languages into English (except certain words in the Klingon vocabulary), while at the same time refracting the visual aspect of the universe in order to make the communicator’s mouth appear to be forming those very same words.
Now it is so bizarrely improbable that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could ever be invented that The Powers That Be have chosen to use this as final and clinching proof of the total irrelevance of continuity.
The argument goes something like this:
“It is completely impossible for Voyager to constantly prevail against the Borg Collective,” says Rabid Star Trek Fan, “When a single cube was enough to wipe out the entire Starfleet armada at Wolf 359.”
“But,” says Brannon Braga, “one of the core premises of the Star Trek universe is the existence of the universal translator. If you accept that, you have to accept that nothing makes sense in the Star Trek universe anyway and therefore I can write whatever the hell I want. QED.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that!” says Rabid Star Trek Fan, and promptly vanishes to write some more fanfiction.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Braga, and goes off to have sex with Jeri Ryan while the rest of us gnash our teeth in envy.
Some people have said this argument is a load of phage-ridden Vidiian kidneys, but that has not stopped Braga from wiping out what little continuity is left in the Star Trek universe in Enterprise.
Meanwhile, the Universal Translator, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, will be responsible for putting women’s lib back several hundred years, as then the only purpose of T’Pol and Hoshi would be to walk round in a miniskirt and knee-high boots and be leered at by the rest of the crew.