Talk:Alien language

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VFD ResultEdit

The result of the VFD can be found here: Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Alien language -- AllyUnion (talk) 04:22, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)


"cuttlefish and chameleons, which can alter their body color in complex ways as a method of communication, and ants and honey bees, which use pheromones to communicate complex messages": what evidence is there that these messages are complex? Seems to me they're anything but. Mcswell (talk) 22:09, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

See alsoEdit

Does anyone else think that the "See also" section should include Chinese Language? :P nihil (talk) 15:43, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Checking all the characters in Unicode's Basic Multilingual Plane, i see lots that look alien, chinese/asian chars aren't among them. --TiagoTiago (talk) 17:40, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

Pioneer and Voyager messagesEdit

I think the Pioneer plaque in particular deserves a mention as an actual attempt to speak to aliens? It is essentially an "alien" language of our own creation for ease of communication, and presumably any aliens contacting us might have a similar idea and not message us in English/Vulcan/Bokqvt'fst. The hyperfine transition of hydrogen (no, I don't know either) is used to introduce the concept of a binary switch, with binary being the alien "language" used for the rest of the plaque. Many people have proposed that aliens would speak to us in maths or chemistry, not abstract language. This might be original research or in the realm of universal language though. It would be nice to have something other than science ficton to discuss though.

Also, if a lion could speak, we wouldn't understand him? Surely he said "feed me"?GM Pink Elephant (talk) 21:01, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Possible Earlier Use of the Term "Xenolinguistics"Edit

I don't have a searchable copy, but I could have sworn that the term "xenolinguistics" was used prior to 1986 in one of the first three books of the Hitchiker's Guide trilogy, when they are discussing how all languages have phonetically similar words for beverages. I think it was in "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:10, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Possible article move?Edit

I edited the lede in a way that prioritizes the terms for the study of alien languages. This doesn't necessitate an article move, since all three terms redirect here, but if we want to do so, I'm not sure which term is best. Google's Ngram viewer only showed results for exolinguistics, but currently only Xenolinguistics is used in Wikipedia articles. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 17:43, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Science FictionEdit

I believe this section should also include mention of:

  1. Harry Harrison's West of Eden
  2. Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mirelly (talkcontribs) 20:53, 6 September 2012 (UTC)


What are possibilities of alien vocal organs? What organs might be used and what are some ideas of how it might be spoken, signed, etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:05, 7 April 2013 (UTC)


How might alien language grammar differ from human language? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)


The Languages of Pao and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis should definitely be mentioned here. Paradoctor (talk) 00:20, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Go ahead. Be bold.
--Kortoso (talk) 21:18, 3 October 2014 (UTC)


Hypothetical study of alien languages


Study of hypothetical alien languages ?

Kortoso (talk) 16:19, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

The issue if alien language in LINGUISTICSEdit

Hi! I recently added a subsection "Linguistics" to "Alien language", which I reproduce below, but a user kicked it out with the comment "rv original research". Please note that my argumentation is strictly based on existing literature, which is cited in the references. Of course, it raises a series of open issues that indirectly follow from the sources. But they follow from common sense, i.e.:

- If human language is a consequence of intelligence (see references) ==> intelligent aliens probably have a similar language system - If human language is genetic to the human species (see references) ==> aliens may have very different systems - If language and thought are the same (see references)==> It may be similar in aliens, so they are supposed to possess a kind of language if they can think. - If language and thought are different systems (see references) ==> Aliens do not necessarily need a language, which raises the issue of telepathy (see references).

Since I am new to Wikipedia, I need some advice on this issue. Here is the passage at issue:

Human languages (also called natural languages) are symbolic systems that share a number of properties, which have not been shown to exist in animal communication, such as arbitrary mapping between form and meaning, double articulation,[1] existence of ambiguity, context-sensitive rules or hierarchical structuring (on several levels such as phonology, morphology, and syntax). These properties are independent of the channel of transmission (modality, e.g. voice, manual or other signs, graphic symbols). The probability of a potential alien species having been able to develop a similar system depends on which of the multiple theories on the origin of human language one wants to adopt. For example, if these and other properties of human languages developed as a consequence of intelligence by itself or of specific cognitive abilities (such as theory of mind[2]), an alien organism with similar capacities may have developed a similar language system. A different picture emerges if human language is a specific part of the genetic endowment of the human species or even of the subspecies homo sapiens sapiens, as some researchers claim.[3]
Another highly controversial issue in linguistics is the exact relationship between thought and language. The proponents of linguistic relativity hold that a strong relationship exists between the two. An alternative theory is that language and thought are independent from each other, i.e. humans do not think in a specific language but in a kind of “language of thought”.[4] Similarly, theoretical linguists also assume that human abstract ideas (concepts) exist independently from language.[5] Under such views, intelligent beings do not necessarily possess a form of language, and we might ask whether alien organisms can possibly access each other’s (and maybe the humans’) concepts directly, e.g. by telepathy.[6] Note that these considerations make exolinguistics face a double problem: first, the extraterrestrials’ mental representations (concepts) may be different from ours, and, second, if they possess a form of language, it will probably not be of the same type as human languages.

Linguist2017 (talk) 09:54, 14 January 2017 (UTC)

Please keep in mind that writing wikipedia articles is not like writing essays. Please see WP:NOR and WP:SYNTH guidelines. You wrote "my argumentation is strictly based on ..." "Your argumentation" is your original research, which is inadmissible in wikipedia. Any argumentation and conclusions drawn from it must be published in reliable sources, and a wikipedian can only summarize these. Since you say you are beginner, to avoid slipping into original research and other problems, please only add information summarized from sources which directly discuss alien language in general setting. Staszek Lem (talk) 18:04, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
Now, now, let's be a bit more constructive here. What parts of this, exactly, are too far synthesized? A key question would be, I think: how many of the sources used talk about language in entirely general (and therefore are applicable to making claims about alien languages as a special case), vs. how many limit themselves to being necessarily about just human language (and therefore drawing conclusions about alien languages as well would be editor extrapolation)? This might be not always obvious at all, since in most contexts it's possible to talk about "possible languages" and "possible human languages" as just about equal.
There's probably also literature on the topic of non-human languages that's intended to be mainly about other Terran species but is general enough to similarly base an introductory paragraph like this on. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 16:37, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
I highly doubt that there is a sufficiently serious literature about this highly speculative topic to warrant an article. I would want to see some literature that is actually about the topic before deciding what to include in an article.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:03, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
There has been a ton of research regarding terrestrial non-human communications, viz: Animal communication.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Kortoso (talkcontribs)
Of course there has, but non-human animals and aliens are two entirely different things and different topics.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:01, 17 January 2017 (UTC)
Thank you all for the advice and discussion. I got it and, when I have some time, will reformulate the linguistic part, starting by summarizing the literature on exolinguistics/alien language. There is not much, that is true, but some can be found in the references to the paragraph I had written (see references below). I have now understood that the article needs to be written the other way round, e.g.: Chomsky in an an interview [7] explicitely says that he doubts that extraterrestril may have the same type of grammar as humans have. Some of what I explained above about human language/grammar may then be necessary to explain the background of such a statement, which is also found in the same interview and Chomsky's theoretical writing. Linguist2017 (talk) 18:20, 18 January 2017 (UTC)

Some good points are here (a course note linked from [Course notes cited in our article). But these are borderline admissible sources, since they are at personal webpages. Please also beware dwelling into languages from science fiction, they have their own article. Staszek Lem (talk) 18:58, 18 January 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Martinet, André (1960). Eléments de linguistique générale. Paris: Armand Colin.
  2. ^ Bar-Cohen, Simon (1999), "The evolution of a theory of mind.", in Corballis, M.C.; Lea, S.E.G. (eds.), The descent of mind: Psychological perspectives on hominid evolution, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 261–277
  3. ^ Chomsky, Noam (2006). Language and Mind (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521858194. Chomsky, Noam (2005). "Three Factors in Language Design". Linguistic Inquiry. 36: 1–22. For an explicit statement by Chomsky concerning potential alien grammars, see "Things No Amount of Learning Can Teach: Noam Chomsky interviewed by John Gliedman". Omni. 6.11 (November 1983): 113–118, 171–174. Retrieved January 1, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help) For discussion see Warner, Richard. "Exolinguistics: the state of the art" (PDF). Omni. 6.11 (August 1984): 93. Retrieved January 1, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  4. ^ Fodor, Jerry A. (1975). The Language of Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674510305. Pinker, Steven (1994). The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: William Morrow & Company. ISBN 9780688121419.
  5. ^ See, in particular, Chomsky, Noam (2007), “Approaching UG from Below.” In Interfaces + Recursion = Language?: Chomsky’s Minimalism and the View from Syntax-Semantics, edited by Uli Sauerland and Hans- Martin Gartner, 1-29. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007. P. 14. According to Chomsky, language is primarily a biological mental „organ“ responsible for generating an infinity of recursive thought at the conceptual-intentional interface.
  6. ^ For further discussion from an exolinguistic perspective, see Wells-Jensen, Sheri. "Telepathy: Why it's More Trouble than we Thought". ENG 480/580; Extraterrestrial Language. Sheri Wells-Jensen, Bowling Green State University. Retrieved January 3, 2017.The idea that non-earthly beings use telepathy is very old and can already be found, e.g., in Dante Alighieri’s De vulgari eloquentia (Alighieri, Dante. la:De_Vulgari_Eloquentia  – via Wikisource.), written at the beginning of the 14th century, where Dante writes that angels communicate by spiritually entering each other's minds (De vulg. eloqu. III,1). It seems that the alien abduction narrative typically includes telepathy (besides human languages) as the main way of the aliens' communication with the supposed abductees.
  7. ^ "Things No Amount of Learning Can Teach: Noam Chomsky interviewed by John Gliedman". Omni. 6.11 (November 1983): 113–118, 171–174. Retrieved January 1, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)


It may turn out that learning an alien language may not be as hard as we think. Its likely that to visit us, aliens would need to decode our transmissions. We aren't exactly sure how many similarities there would be so "Water" may be a fundamental concept common to all life but a starting point might be the Periodic Table (SG1) or other basic constants no matter what numerical base is used. Base 8 (4 digits) may be as good a start, in which case translation would be very simple. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:12, 5 September 2020 (UTC)

Please keep in mind that wikipedia is not a chat room and our talk pages are for discussions of article improvement. If you have publications in reputable sources which discuss the issues you raised, please bring them here, and we may use them to expand the article. Otherwise, sorry, please use other forums to discuss your ideas. Staszek Lem (talk) 17:44, 5 September 2020 (UTC)

Chomsky's Universal Grammar is now questionedEdit

Chomsky's Universal Grammar is now questioned, and seemingly discredited ? Here it seems to be taken as gospel, and perhaps given too much weight ? Are there no rebuttals of Chomsky's conclusions relating to alien language learning ? - Rod57 (talk) 13:23, 31 October 2020 (UTC)

Who says it is discredited? Not the wp article (which is by the way is chaotic and hard to comprehend by a layman), which says it is criticized, which is normal.
Too much weight? Two sentences? You must be kidding.
No rebuttals? Be our guest, find them and expand the article. In any case, nobody edited this article an an essential way for over two years. It is quite possible new research appeared. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:41, 1 November 2020 (UTC)