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What would a foreign language sound like?



Projects like SETI and Breakthrough Listen are designed to detect the signals aliens can send into the universe. But there is an extra side to the story – if E.T. contacted us, could we even understand him? That was the subject of a recent gathering of linguists that took place on the weekend of Memorial Day in Los Angeles, California. The one-day workshop "Language in the Cosmos" was organized by METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and took place on May 26 as part of the National Space Society 2018 International Space Development Conference (ISDC). It was the third such workshop held by METI at the ISDC on the topic of extraterrestrial contact and communication.

According to linguist Noam Chomsky, there is a kind of "universal grammar" on earth that connects our languages, no matter how diverse they are: "Chomsky has often said that when a Martian visits Earth, he thinks we speak dialects of the same language because all terrestrial languages ​​share a common underlying structure, "said Douglas Vakoch, president of METI, in a statement on the workshop issued by the organization. "But if extraterrestrials have a language, it would be similar to ours? That's the big question."

While some of the workshop presentations provided a positive vision of future communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, others suggested misunderstandings and misunderstandings in particular, due to the fact that assumptions of humans and extraterrestrial civilizations were possible was wildly different. The closing lecture of the workshop was given by David Peterson, who invented the Dothraki language spoken in HBO's Game of Thrones.

Although we have not yet received a definitive signal from a foreign civilization, researchers will seek to improve detection techniques and linguists will think about how a message will look and sound when it comes. Looking back at past messages such as Voyager's Golden Record and improving our understanding of the evolution of language on Earth, humanity can continue to refine the way in which we can access and speak to other planet beings [1

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