Saturday, 17 December 2016


See Inter-Species Communication II and the posts linked from it. Discussions by Poul Anderson and Carl Sagan are a sound basis for critiquing other sf.

In Superman: The Movie, Superman, played by Christopher Reeve, tells Lois Lane that the correct spelling for the name of his home planet is K, R, Y etc, not C, R, I etc, whereas there cannot be any correct spelling for an extraterrestrial word in the Roman alphabet.

In Smallville, Second Season, "Rosetta," Dr Virgil Swann, played by Christopher Reeve, tells Clark Kent that he has been able to translate alien symbols because they have a mathematical basis. Here is a recognition that mathematics would provide a basis for universal communication whereas mere linguistic symbols would not. (In one comic strip version, a scientist did interpret Kryptonese without any help from mathematics.) However, we need a lot more explanation as to how maths could help with linguistic translation and even with pronunciation. Swann addresses Clark as "Kal-El."

Superman fans should read Poul Anderson for more plausible and better conceptualized accounts of human-alien communication.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I can think of two examples from the works of Poul Anderson touching on the problems to be faced in human/alien communications: "The Word To Space" and THE BYWORLDER. "Word" also shows us some speculations about what some non human religious ideas might be like.

Merry Christmas! Sean