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  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

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Tim R. Mortiss

As Wittgenstein once said, "If xenomorphs with acid for blood could talk, we wouldn't understand them".

However, I'm of the opinion that all intelligent species must share some mental common ground by the mere fact of having evolved by darwininan selection. The number of brain configurations that grant some chance at survival must be a tiny fraction of the number of possible brain configurations.

Stanislaw Lem played with the impossibility of communication in several of his novels, most notably Solaris.

I'm also reminded of the following dialogue from Jack Vance's The Dragon Masters:

"He hears you, but there is no meeting of ideas between you. His thought-structure is derived from that of his masters. It is incommensurable with yours. As to how you must deal with him, I cannot say." [..] The sacerdote reflected. "He speaks not nonsense, but rather a language you fail to understand. You can make him understand your language by erasing all knowledge and training from his mind, and replacing it with patterns of your own."

The blog Tenser, said the Tensor has a good number of articles about linguistics in science fiction.


My only contribution is to point out that there is a name for "the study of what alien languages might (not) be like." It is "exolinguistics."

There's an interest write-up from about the only person I know of who might call himself an "exolinguist" here:

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