Friday, November 18, 2016

The Ling Space: The Linguistics of Arrival

(The Ling Space)

This week's episode was rather different: an interview with several linguists who worked as consultants on the movie Arrival.

(I realize now why the last episode was on alien languages.  It fed into this week's topic perfectly.)

No doubt, I would have gotten much more out of this episode if I had seen Arrival first.  (If I ever do get around to seeing the movie Arrival, I'll have to come back and give this episode another viewing.)

But for the moment, I still enjoyed the episode for what it was.

This episode was as much about how Hollywood works as it was about linguistics.
It turns out that Hollywood actually spent a lot of time and money trying to get the science of linguistics right in this movie.  (Which is funny, because Hollywood is notorious for always getting science wrong.   Do they do this much research for every movie they do?  And if so, why do they routinely get everything wrong all the time.)

There was some interesting discussion on linguistic issues as well.

Much of it, such as the discussion of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and linguistic determinism, the problems the human brain has parsing complex sentences, and Noam Chomsky's universal grammar theories, were discussed in Steven Pinker's book The Language Instinct, which is still after all these years my main point of contact with all these issues.

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