alien linguistics – sons of pioneers
November 11, 2009 § 2 Comments
Linguists are primary interested in human language, communication and interaction, it is true. Most linguists would say that language is very much a part of what makes us human. Behind this, perhaps, is the idea that we humans are the crowning achievement of evolution, the cleverest, smartest life-form on earth. On earth! No one in late modern societies can be unaware however of the debate regarding life elsewhere in the cosmos. Are we alone? Are we being watched? Are they among us? For linguists doesn’t this suggest a need to enquire into alien linguistics? How would aliens communicate with each other? How would they communicate with us?
This first post will examine the pictorial message that has been sent into space on the Pioneer.
From the NASA Website:
It is designed to show scientifically educated inhabitants of some other star system, who might intercept it millions of years from now, when Pioneer was launched, from where, and by what kind of beings. (With the hope that they would not invade Earth.)
So we have figures of naked White humans, though the female human is without genitalia. Presumably behind them the schematised pioneer probe thing gives some indication of their height.
Below them is a schematised rendition of our galaxy and indication from which planet the probe was sent from. Above that, that spiky ray business is supposed to locate our sun and above that a representation of hydrogen,
Of course, the man is waving or as NASA puts it: [t]he man’s hand is raised in a gesture of good will. So Aliens are apparently already family with this meaning of a raised hand. It might presume previous exposure to humans? (Is NASA accidently letting a cat of the bag conspiracy theory, anyone?) It certainly is ethnocentric too. Not all human cultures wave the same way with the same attention. Waving is not unambiguous. Here’s a wikipedia author interpretation: Man in Pioneer plaque raising hand to (non-verbally) say “hello”.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_gestures
So scientifically-minded aliens are the target of this plaque; aliens who somehow know about waving, and know that this is not a welcome-to-invade-now sign.