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Foreign languages ​​may not be so different from ours



It could be after all a Star Trek or Star Wars universe . One in which a multitude of intelligent extraterrestrial species from all galaxies can easily communicate despite some rather dramatic biological differences.

Some of the world's leading linguists argue that human languages ​​are linked by a common "universal grammar". And now some, including perhaps the most well-known linguist, say that they are optimistic that the connection could be extended to extraterrestrial languages.

  noam-chomsky-portrait-2015

Noam Chomsky in 2015


Argentina Ministry of Culture

"To be funny, the marching language may not be so different from human language," Noam Chomsky and Jeffrey Watumull said Saturday in a presentation at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles [196592002] Chomsky is a well-known author in both linguistics and global politics and is often referred to as the "father of modern linguistics" who developed the idea of ​​a universal grammar.

"Chomsky has often said that when a Martian visits Earth, he thinks we speak dialects of the same language because all of the Earth languages ​​share a common framework," said Douglas Vakoch, president of METI (short for Messaging Extra – Terrestrial Intelligence ), which organized a daily language in the Cosmos workshop at the ISDC. "But if aliens have a language, would it be similar to ours? That's the big question."


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The linguists Bridget Samuels of the University of Southern California and Jeffrey Punske of the Southern Illinois University argued in a separate presentation at the workshop that some universal factors of language bridge major gaps in alien biology For example, there are not many ways a signal can be transmitted, especially over long distances, "they told me in an email. "In addition, we can expect extraterrestrial languages ​​… to have a vocabulary made up of building blocks that can be combined to create more complex meanings."

The idea here is that there are aspects of the universe that are good, universal. While hypothetical aliens have evolved very differently from us on very different worlds, all species – and thus all languages ​​- must emerge from essentially the same primordial soup.

"While the possibility of human contact with extraterrestrials seems remote and the ability to successfully communicate with them seems even further removed, the laws of physics, information theory, logic, and mathematics could provide a common starting point." Samuels and Punske

METI tries to find out what kind of message is most understandable to extraterrestrials. The idea that a universal grammar that connects human languages ​​could also underlie extraterrestrial dialects is changing things.

"This is a radical change for SETI scientists, who mocked the idea of ​​interstellar messages inspired by natural languages," Vakoch said.

In the past, messages sent into space were typically encoded in math and science rather than speech. More recently, we have sent music:

Yet, the idea of ​​universal grammar for the entire universe is not accepted by anyone interested in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Also at the workshop, Professor Emeritus Gonzalo Munevar from The Lawrence Technological University presented his argument that there is more reason for pessimism when it comes to communicating with ET. He argues that there are many examples of different species on Earth that develop different brains that work in very different ways.

Lunamats can see ultraviolet light, some snakes can see heat and certain fish perceive electric fields just as appetizers.

"An intelligent creature whose mainstream modality is more electrical than visual would have thought patterns that are completely alien to us," he said, adding that "no similar scientific languages ​​or mathematics" could arise on distant exoplanets. 19659002] Whether or not there is any hope that extraterrestrials could ever understand the messages we're sending into space, Vakoch and METI will not stop trying. Beyond the obvious language barrier, Vakoch says, another challenge is the time it takes to send and receive messages about interstellar space. A two-way conversation between Earth and the next planet beyond our solar system, Proxima Centauri would take eight years just to send a "hello" and get an answer.

Unfortunately, Latest Research Results Suggest Proxima Centauri Sends Sterilizing Torches Toward His Lonely Earth-Like Planet. METI has already addressed a message to another nearby world but an answer would not arrive until 2042 at the earliest.

"The biggest change in thinking that we need to succeed in a reciprocal conversation with ET is to think in multiple generations," Vakoch said. "The scientists starting an experiment with active SETI today are unlikely to be near when any answers come back to Earth."

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