Alien language

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Alien languages, i.e., languages of extraterrestrial beings, are a hypothetical subject since none have been encountered so far. The research in these hypothetical languages is variously called exolinguistics, xenolinguistics[1] or astrolinguistics.[2][3]

The question of what form alien languages might take and the possibility for humans to recognize and translate them has been part of the linguistics and language studies courses, e.g., at the Bowling Green State University (2001).[4]

Inherent difficulties[edit]

Noam Chomsky (1983), basing on his theory of the existence of a genetically-predetermined universal grammar of human languages, holds that it would be impossible for a human to naturally learn an alien language because it would most probably violate the universal grammar inborn in humans. Humans would have to study an alien language by the slow way of discovery, the same way as scientists do research in, say, physics.[5]

Alien language use in film[edit]

In 2016, McGill University Linguistics Professor, Jessica Coon, spoke with Business Insider about how 2016 sci-fi blockbuster, Arrival, properly portrayed how humans might actually communicate with aliens[6]. To achieve this, movie creators consulted with Wolfram Research Founder and CEO, Stephen Wolfram - creator of Mathematica and the computer programming language known as the Wolfram Language - and his son, Christopher Wolfram. Together, they helped analyze approximately 100 symbols known as logograms that served as the basis for the alien language utilized throughout the film, this work, along with many other thoughts with regard to Artificial Intelligence communication has been documented in an interview published by[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ An early use of the term "xenolinguistics" in science fiction occurred in 1986, in the novel "Triad" by Sheila Finch (Finch, Sheila (1986). Triad. New York: Spectra. ISBN 9780553257922.  New edition: Finch, Sheila (2012). Triad. Rockville, Maryland: Wildside Press. ISBN 9781434447913. .
  2. ^ Daniels, Peter T. "Aliens And Linguists (Book Review)." Library Journal 105.13 (1980): 1516. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 June 2012.
  3. ^ Schirber, Michael. "Use Grammar To Decipher Alien Tongues." New Scientist 199.2678 (2008): 12. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 June 2012.
  4. ^ Course notes by assistant professor Sheri Wells-Jensen, Bowling Green State University (retrieved June 19, 2017)
  5. ^ "Things No Amount of Learning Can Teach", Noam Chomsky interviewed by John Gliedman, Omni, 6:11, November 1983 (retrieved June 19, 2017)
  6. ^ "'Arrival' nails how humans might actually talk to aliens, a linguist says". Buisiness Insider. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  7. ^ "'Arrival', AI and Alien Math: Q&A with Stephen Wolfram". Retrieved 2018-01-19. 

Further reading[edit]