extraterrestrial ...

Esa Itkonen eitkonen at UTU.FI
Tue Nov 7 14:01:48 UTC 2000

In his book 'LINCOS. Design of a language for cosmic intercourse'
(Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1960), Hans Freudenthal constructs in a stepwise
fashion a language that might be understood in a zero context. Starting
from the (outdated?) assumption that pictures cannot be sent through space,
he is confined to a strongly ICONIC notion of language: one beep means
'one', two beeps mean 'two' etc. Pauses play the role that parentheses and
brackets play in formal logic: shortness of pauses correlates with
conceptual closeness. Then there are sounds whose meaning just has to be
LEARNED, on the basis of repeated and varied examples. First, 'equality'
and 'plus', thus: 1 ยง 1   *    11  . OK, what does mean? Of course, it
means 1 + 1 = 2. Starting from these humble beginnings, Freudenthal arrives
at Relativity Theory. Maybe this is implausible, but (in the absense of
pictures), nothing else works.
Esa     Itkonen

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