Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Inter-Species Communication

Poul Anderson, World Without Stars (New York, 1966), Chapter IX, p. 59.

The Meteor entered an extragalactic planetary system in order to visit a race of hydrogen-breathers but instead crashlanded on another, terrestroid, planet. Captain Argens, with some knowledge of the hydrogen-breathers' language, meets a native who also has some knowledge of that language which comprises gestures as well as sounds.


neither has a large vocabulary;
their common vocabulary is even less;
they know dialects from different periods;
the language of a race different from either of theirs is now filtered through different body types, cultural patterns and even instincts.

This makes communication difficult. I venture that it would make it impossible. The British sf writer, Bob Shaw, once criticized American authors for making aliens speak like Harvard professors, adding that he never presented inter-species conversations in any of his own works.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

As described, it would be almost impossible for humans and nonhumans to develop a language they could use.

But see Anderson's "The Word To Space," for another take on humans and nonhumans colonizing our Earth. And note how the story has a very Holmesian cahracter!


Sean M. Brooks said...

Second paragraph, second sentence, I meant to write "But see Anderson's "The Word To Space" for another take on humans and non humans COMMUNICATING WITH our Earth." Drat!