Extraterrestrial linguistics

Sheri Wells Jensen swellsj at BGNET.BGSU.EDU
Fri Nov 3 20:43:59 UTC 2000

Dear Colleagues,

This summer, I have the wonderful opportunity to teach a graduate seminar
called "Extraterrestrial Language'.  My plan is to provide a survey of what
linguistics, literature and the natural sciences have to tell us about the
possible structure of a truly alien language.  As you may imagine, I'm
having a wonderful time collecting material from everywhere (science
fiction, the SETI folks, phonetics...)

I don't want to miss  anything important here.  I'd be grateful for any
suggestions for readings anyone might care to pass along.  In particular,
I'm looking for:

1.  An accessible reading in typology  for nonlinguists (we must know
what's terrestrial before thinking about what is extraterrestrial...)

2.  Philosophy of language or cognition readings on what concept that
underly language might be present across species.

3. An intro to what we know about complex animal communication systems on
earth (something about dolphin communication perhaps).

4.  Musings on whether a non-human language would even be learnable by humans.

5. Anything else?  Imaginative suggestions appreciated!

Thanks much, and I'll post a summary.

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen
423 East Hall
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
(419) 372-8935
swellsj at bgnet.bgsu.edu

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