On CNET (not usually a place to find anything about linguistics) coverage of the International Space Development conference and Messaging for Extra-terrestrial intelligence (METI).
Chomsky is quoted in the article as quipping, "To put it whimsically, the Martian language might not be so different from human language after all."
Bridget Samuels also made a presentation at the METI session. Bridget, maybe you can make a brief comment or two?
It was quite an event! I think it's an interesting thought exercise to ponder whether we could expect any commonalities, and can be illuminating about what is truly "virtually conceptually necessary" and what isn't. There's a volume on xenolinguistics in prep featuring several of the same folks: http://www.wikicfp.com/cfp/servlet/event.showcfp?eventid=74877ReplyDelete
Thanks! Maybe I need to set up a Google scholar alert for "xenolinguistics".Delete
I hosted George Lakoff for a visit at Bryn Mawr College a long time ago... I don't remember why this came up but while I was driving him somewhere he off handedly said something along the lines of "... I don't understand why people are looking for aliens... there is no way we would be able to understand each other's languages...". My interpretation of Lakoff's view was that an alien CS would be alien and not interpretable by us... who knows? YMMVReplyDelete
David Peterson (of Dothraki fame) gave a lot of airtime to Lakoff in his talk, the idea being that we speak in metaphor all the time and therefore wouldn't be able to communicate with species that don't share our metaphors. Or something like that.Delete
Yep, that's it. On the nose...Delete
"At the workshop, a presentation by Chomsky (of MIT), Ian Roberts (University of Cambridge), and Jeffrey Watumull (Oceanit) argued that 'the overwhelming likelihood is that ET Universal Grammar would be also be based on Merge.' They said grammar would probably not be the greatest barrier in communicating with aliens; rather, understanding their 'externalization system,' or whatever channel they're using to communicate, could be the greatest challenge."
And in Discover:ReplyDelete