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Extraterrestrial

What would an alien language sound like ?

By T.K. Randall
June 3, 2018 · Comment icon 19 comments

Would communication be possible ? Image Credit: Alpharetta Department of Public Safety / Facebook
If we ever do make contact with intelligent aliens, would we have any chance of understanding them ?
While astronomers have been scouring the skies for years in search of extraterrestrial signals, comparatively little research has been done on the matter of interpreting an alien message.

To help address this, a group of linguists recently got together in Los Angeles in an effort to discuss the challenges of translating an extraterrestrial language.

Entitled 'Language of the Cosmos', the workshop was attended by several high-profile language experts including David Peterson who invented the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones.

According to linguist Noam Chomsky, there is a 'universal grammar' that connects all languages.
"Chomsky has often said that if a Martian visited Earth, it would think we all speak dialects of the same language, because all terrestrial languages share a common underlying structure," said Douglas Vakoch, president of METI ( Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence ).

"But if aliens have language, would it be similar to ours? That's the big question."

While some of the presentations at the conference offered a positive vision of a future where contact with extraterrestrials would be possible, others were less optimistic, instead suggesting that the potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding would be too high.

Ultimately however, until such a scenario occurs for real, we will never truly know for sure.

Source: Astronomy Magazine | Comments (19)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by cyclopes500 6 years ago
Life on earth began in the oceans and sound travels well in water. Its why we have ears I presume. One way of having a rough idea of an alien language is just to listen to the various sounds sea creatures make. Also we can look at our fossil records to get a rough idea. Remember the Raptor voice box in the film jurassic park? Also electronic equipment can pick up signals from the electric currents some animals produce, and if I remember rightly I think some plants if wired up to equipment can generate some signals too. The thing is plants also talk to each other using chemical signals. If bein... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by The Narcisse 6 years ago
I've seen HUNDREDS of movies about aliens...most of them speak English.
Comment icon #12 Posted by cyclopes500 6 years ago
In reality we're limited to examples that have evolved on Earth. Space is indescribably huge. We humans haven't even left the cot when it comes to space exploration. The more we use our crazy impossible imagination to picture smell and hear an alien world, the more likely we are "right" when it comes to at least one world.
Comment icon #13 Posted by cyclopes500 6 years ago
We might be lucky you know. We hear an alien language but with it comes telepathic English subtitles.
Comment icon #14 Posted by moonman 6 years ago
They might not even breath oxygen, or any gas for that matter. They might breath liquid. We might not hear it, it might deafen us, they may not communicate with sound waves. What are the chances of them having spoken language using vocal cords and not something completely and utterly alien? We probably can't even begin to imagine what it would "sound" like.  
Comment icon #15 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
We'll be fine.  We just need Uhura's universal translator.
Comment icon #16 Posted by MissJatti 6 years ago
errrr the same way how Artificial Intelligence communicate with us. 10011100100010010010111 Rendlesham Forest
Comment icon #17 Posted by John from Lowell 6 years ago
Hi, Ha Ha. You actually make a good point. Language, as we understand it, is a verbal representation of our thoughts. We even represent our thinking in one or more languages. So naturallly we attribute interpersonal communication with a verbal language. So how do ETs communicate with others. What is the universal language which all evolved races of beings use for commuication with those that do not speak their language? That answer is Telepathy. It is also the way that spirits, who have no verbal languge, communicate with those that still use a verbal language for communication. So yes there... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by fred_mc 6 years ago
Considering that we have been trying to understand what dolphins are saying for a long time without success, I think it might be difficult to understand what aliens are saying.
Comment icon #19 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
I'll go you one better.   


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