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Sunday, February 19, 2006

So, Your Utopia Needs a Language...
By Tristan Davenport
24 October 2005


"The limits of my language stand for the limits of my world."

Ludwig Wittgenstein was overstating his case when he wrote the famous sentence above, but that has not prevented science fiction writers from taking this concept and running with it. Ever since George Orwell, SF authors have been inventing languages to explain or illustrate the alien psychologies of their characters. If Eskimos have fifty or a hundred words for snow, they reason, how many words will future man have for spaceships? If Klingons love only war, will they have even a single word for "love"? Such questions make sense to us because we have swallowed the extreme notion that our language limits, even determines, our way of thinking. This concept is called linguistic determinism. It comes in a strong form—Wittgenstein's absolutism—which science has largely rejected, and a weak form, which has won some acceptance. But it is the strong form that has quietly taken residence in SF, to the point that today no fictional society is complete without a matching language.

rest can be found here if your so inclined....<-more things I spend my time reading!

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