We come in peacescreening the speaking alien 172.338 Mediated communication in a transcultural world
The classical age of the UFO• Post war phenomenon• Roswell incident 1947,• Focus on flying saucers• 1951 Classic movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.• Much later came the idea of the ‘greys’ a distinctive idea of what aliens look like• Later still the alien abduction phenomenon
They are here• Even if we don’t believe in UFOs or aliens, they are here as a cultural phenomenon• Perspectives on aliens can be provided by• Scientists• Abductees• Hollywood/popular culture
The scientists• The Fermi Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the high probability extraterrestrial civilizations existence and the lack of contact with such civilizations.• ‘Where are they?’
The emergence ofThe experiencers the ‘grey’ as the standard representation of the alien• The abduction phenomenon arrived in the 50s but remained relatively ‘under the radar’ until the 80s• People made claims that they were abducted and experimented on by aliens• Stories of their abduction experience emerged under hypnosis• Communication achieved via telepathy• Elaborate stories emerge about aliens, alien-US govt coverups etc
Aliens in Hollywood• Aliens have been represented on the screen for over 50 years
Aliens invade Hollywood• From the dawn of the golden age of UFOs entertainment media have been fascinated by aliens• War of the Worlds phenomenon• (1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still• first movie with a speaking Alien• How and why does Hollywood voice or give language to Aliens?• What does it say about beliefs and attitudes to language?• What does it say about beliefs about humans and communication?
Gort barada nikto• no translation was ever offered.• but passed into the movie language hall of fame• has been widely quoted and referenced in other movies.• What does it mean?• It is not clear whether it is a sentence a code word to stop Gort the Robot
Representing alien-ness ET English Yoda English• ET as language learner • Yoda speaks English with• He acquires English. an unusual syntax, i.e.• sources, TV a children’s word order toy and Gertie a very young human female • Help you, I will• His English reflects patterns reflecting young English mother tongue learners• ET
Yoda English vs Terrestrial English• Probably choose english as well aware the english speakers are not comfortable with subtitling/dubbing• Also youthful audience• The film maker has a problem with English speaking aliens.• How to make their speech indexical of their non-human- ness• We can see in Yoda syntax that his English is marked in specific ways to show the audience that he is not a native speaker of Standard American English – the language of the majority of the major characters
Examples• YE: Found someone, you have, I would say.• SE: I would say you have found someone.• YE: My home this is.• SE: This is my home• YE: Take you to him, I will• SE: I will take you to him.• This fronting of material styles Yoda as a non- native speaker of Neutral American
Yoda is a fronter• Only a proportion of Yoda’s lines have this strange word order• Too much would have been a burden on the audience• However this syntactic pattern becomes more predominant in the movies over time as the audience clearly related to it.• This means that it is possible to argue that underlyingly YE has the same structure as SE• On occasion, Yoda fronts constituents of sentences• Rootleaf I cook
• For those of you who have done 235 linguistic analysis you might see a pattern. The node which is the sister to a head can be targetted by Yoda for this fronting. S This NP is in the appropriate position for Yoda to target it for fronting. It is the sister to the head of the VP. That is they NP the node on the tree immediately above VP this node is also immediately above the V, the head of the phrase. V NP I cook rootleaf
• For those of you who have done 235 linguistic analysis you might see a pattern. The node which is the sister to a head can be targeted by Yoda for this fronting. A new branch is used to attach to the moved S material. Then the original material is deleted. NP VP NP V NP I rootleaf cook rootleaf
Alien Tongues• Two extremely interesting and popular phenomena representing alien communication in the media are:• Klingon from the Star Trek franchise• Na’vi from Avatar (Cameron, 2009)• These languages are very different from each other• The creators have different things to say about aliens• The Klingon language otherises Klingon, reinforces their otherness – makes them seem inhuman• Na’vi makes aliens very like us. This language could be spoken in the Philippines or in the Pacific Northwest of the US.
constructing the exotic• use a mixture of features found in human languages but in new ways• they also contrast in some different ways• mix language universals and some rare elements• Rare language elements = not usually parts of European languages, and definitely not standard parts of American English• Glottal stop aʔa is a very common consonant outside European languages but appears in almost every constructed alien language• Polynesians are aliens?
constructing an ‘alien language’Klingon for Star Trek,devised by Marc Okrand• The sounds of Klingon individually occur in existing ‘Terran’ languages, but no single language uses the entire collection. Paramount wanted the language to be gutteral and harsh, and Okrand wanted it to be unusual, so he selected sounds that combined in ways not typically found in other languages
Constructing an alien languageNa’vi designed by Paul • I really love the film, theFrommer for Avatar story, the incredible• “To create some interest, realistic pictures of the I included a group of Pandora scenery and its sounds not often found in residents, the beautiful western languages … Navi race, • Navi is a beautiful language but definitely hard to learn
Origins of the features• Klingon creator Marc Okrand and Paul Frommer for Navi are linguists – they deliberately developed some ‘alien features’• Okrand and Frommer both specialise in languages of the Americas and some of the features of these languages appear in their constructed languages
Na’vi ejective consonants• Similar to English /p t and k/ px tx kx• But air is trapped in the throat and expelled with a kind of pop• skxawng! "moron!“pxasìk "screw that!” Kaltxì “greetings”• Common features of Northwest America and South America• Not found in European languages• http://wals.info/feature/7?tg_format=map&v1=a000&v2=c00d& z2=2994&z1=2993
The sounds of Klingon as described for learners• ph as in pat • b as in bat • b as in bat• th as in tap • kh as in cap • kh as in cap• v as in vat • m, n ng as in • w, r, l• ch as in chop English • j as in yes ɖ these two sounds are nearly like English s,d but with the tongue curled towards the back ʂ ʔ Cockney English t in bottle Samoan fa’a of the throat x Scottish ‘loch γ a voiced version of loch
More Sounds• more complex • Vowels sounds • a as in part• tlh say t and l at the • e as in dress same time IPA [t͡ɬ] • I as in bid not beat• q followed by throat • o as in or clearing, [qχ] a rare • u as in boot africate found only • Very similar to the 5 classic in Bardi a Caucasian vowels of Polynesia, the BID language vowel is the odd one out
Languages like patterns: English velarlabials Interdental glottal -alveolar
Languages like patterns: Klingon? retroflex Velar uvular glottallabials alveolar
Languages like patterns:Na’vilabials alveolar velar glottal
Word ordering• Most languages have a relatively set neutral word order• The dog bit the man• SUBJ verb objectEnglish is SVO - as is Chinese and many othersAnother major order is SOV Japanese, HindiNext most common is VSO like Polynesian and Celtic languagesThe rarest word orders are OVS and OSV
Sentence structure• Both languages exhibit interesting sentence structure• Klingon is a OVS language• If the statement The dog bit the man was said in Klingon the order would be• The man bit the dog.• Extremely rare word order in human language, until 1970s thought it would not be possible ...until• Hixkaryana – small culture of the Amazon were encountered.
Constructed word orders• Hixkaryana, a Language of the Amazon• Klingon is OVS• Thlingan Hol ghoj tera’ngan• Klingon language learn earthling
Na’vi morphosyntax• Na’vi has SVO – far more common, mainstream• Has features that are unusual for European languages• Words change shape to make grammatical forms by inserting material inside a word.• Tense• taron ‘hunt’• tìmaron ‘just now hunted’• tayaron ‘will hunt’• This use of infixing is a feature of languages of Southeast Asia
What is the effect of these choices?• Klingon sounds very foreign and harsh to English speaking ears.• The complexity and rarity of the grammar defies typical patterns, presenting them as not human. A Chomskyian view of this language would suggest that it might be unlearnable for humans because it does not follow UG patterns• Na’vi, spoken by aliens we are meant to identify with, is regular and deemed beautiful by fans of the movie• Looking back at the pictures of the Klingons and the Pandorans, the blue aliens are intended to be more beautiful too
Alien languages are human languages• Tell us something about our fascination with our ability to communicate?• Our desire to communicate with another language-using species• Tell us something about how human languages work• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HekpXSI-N_o• http://www.wapt.com/video/24967422/detail.html