Friday, 22 July 2016

Amulet And Diaglossa

In The Merman's Children, Book Four, Chapter VI, Tauno recalls the story of Herr Aage and Lady Else. I had never heard of it before.

Let's take a closer look at Panigpak's amulet. It is:

a bone disc;
an inch and a half in diameter;
slightly inward-curving;
hanging on a sealskin loop that passes through a hole at one edge;
yellowish white;
graven in the hollow with a blackened image of a bird and the moon;
able to -

- let its wearer understand any speech and reply in the same language;
draw in a soul, then let that soul enter its wearer;
give its wearer knowledge of the local environment.

The diaglossa, fitting into an ear, lets its wearer understand and speak any language with which it has been programmed and also bestows local knowledge. Thus, magical amulet and technological diaglossa have strong similarities.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Anything like a scientifically designed and made diaglossa, small enough to fit comfortably in an ear, and with enough computer power to be programmed with any number of languages, etc, would need technology far beyond what we have now. A device I don't see becoming practical any time soon!


  2. Paul and Sean:
    "You'll need to have this fish in your ear."

    1. Hi, David!

      I thought the idea of inserting a fish into my ear was amusing, even tho I'm not familiar with this line or its context!


    2. Sean,
      THE Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy.

    3. Kaor, Paul!

      Gotcha! Thanks. Of course any serious SF fan would have seen mention of this book, but I've never read THE HITCH HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.


  3. Sean:
    Specifically, the fish is a Babel fish, a naturally occurring "universal translator." Let it wriggle into your ear, and from then on you understand anything spoken within your hearing.

    "Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could evolve purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NON-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

    'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' [David Birr comment: A false proposition to start with.]
    'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'
    'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic."

    1. Kaor, Dave!

      An amusing story and interpretation. As you said, a false proposition. Because the Aristotelian/scholastic arguments for the existence of an Unmoved Mover or God shows that proofs for His existence does not contradict faith in God.