[Ads-l] semasiographic; xenolinguist

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 20 09:06:30 EST 2017


On Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 1:20 AM, Jeff Prucher <000000b93183dc86-dmarc-
request at listserv.uga.edu> wrote:

> > On Sunday, February 19, 2017 4:47 PM, Jonathan Lighter <
> wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> > I'd have preferred "exolinguist," BTW.
>
> "Xenolinguist" is the standard term in SF; the original story is too long
> for me to tell whether Chiang used "xenolinguist" in it or not in the time
> I'm willing to spend on it.
>

Chiang used neither "xenolinguist" nor "exolinguist" in "Story of Your
Life," though there is a mention of "xenobiology" ("Truthfully, I wished
the heptapods had given another xenobiology lecture...").


> I have a hypothesis that the prefix xeno-, denoting extraterrestrial
> stuff, is used exclusively in SF, whereas exo- (and occasionally astro-,
> although I think that might be a bit dated) is primarily used outside of
> fiction. (I have seen uses of exo- in works of SF, which is unsurprising,
> since most SF is set in an ostensible version of the real world, so
> terminology that's in current use does slip in.) I've never attempted to
> test this hypothesis, however -- it's just my impression.
>

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