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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Straw Poll

What would you call a scientist whose area of study is interpsecies communication?

EDIT: *species*, dammit. Hey, it's early.


Something cleverer?

(Yes, this is a Worldwired question how did you guess?)


Xenolinguist would make sense to me. But I'm not good at coming up with the clever words. :)
I think 'xenolinguist' is a good choice, because it doesn't require an explanation as to what it means. Anything more accurate or cleverer probably wouldn't be clearer :)
Yeah, I think I'd go with xenolinguist. It makes sense and my muddled head can't come up with something better or more clever that would also be equally intuitive.
Were's what I'm wondering -- What specifically is the scientist studying and how is the study being carried out?

"linguist" implies its root -- tongue language. So, is the communication being studied by the expert strictly limited to a style of communication that may not exist in a non-human species? Or does the expert only study lingual communication?

Perhaps, however, the scientist is more of a semiotics expert - redefined to mean an expert in analyzing all forms of communication between alternate species. The choice of profession titles would lean more toward how the study is carried out rather than what's being studied. Semioticist and Xenosemioticist doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. However, semioticians are technical defined as linguist scientists.

Yes, semiotician ecompasses more of what I was going for, but I'm not sure people will know what that is at a glance.
Well if they went to school, you can always have them pretentiously recite their list of minors and concentrations. Why stop at one good word?
People who study the structure of signed languages (ASL, etc.) are also called "linguists", and the field when I was contemplating it was called "deaf linguistics".

My vote is for xenolinguist rather than xenosemiotician.
There actually is such a thing. I'd suggest looking up the ape language studies that were conducted primarily in the late 70s and 80s. Or find Penny Patterson and Koko the gorilla --- Patterson is still doing language studies with gorillas (Koko and others) and probably has a site on the internet.

The ape language studies may also help you think through the concept and reinterpret it for your book.

If you have other comm questions, email me privately. I also teach a course presently called Mediated Communication ---about the impact of new media and new tech on everyday life.

(the Communication Professor :) )
Thanks! I might just take you up on that...

I've done some research on the ape language studies. Also Alex the African Grey and the dolphin communication research--there's been some on elephant communication, too. They apparently have an extraordinarily rich language, most of it subsonic by our standards... but most of these guys seem to be biologists or linguists who went off in this particular direction, and I need to figure out what it's called when it's all you do, and not focused on a specific species/individual.

The joys of science fiction. A lot of the time, you just make something up. *g* The trick is getting it to sound real....
I like xenolinguist - it's descriptive, and a cool word too. :)
I've got to go with Xenolinguist. It has an air of "dead language authority" to it, as if the Romans had truly invented the word themselves.

Hmmm. I have to go with shesingsnow. Xenosemiologist conveys more, I think, and can encompass non-verbal communication as well.

Interestingly, in an old Science Fiction RPG that I once played, a person in this field was referred to as a 'Patternist', for their ability to discern and come to an understanding of 'patterns' in alien communications.


That's fun to type....
That's exactly what the word means, as far as I know.

I like the preciseness of Xenosemiologist, but it just doesn't sound good. When I run into a problem like this, I hit the thesaurus, so I did--how about Xenosemantics? Xenosemanticist falls out of your mouth much more easily.
Xenosemiotician is better than xenoxemioticist (according to my Oxford-Desk, semioticist is wrong, in any case) I think...

Problem with xenosemanticist is that 'semantics' has a very precise usage in most people's minds, and it will confuse them, I think.
On a dictionary note, Merriam-Webster specifically lists semioticist as a noun alternative to semiotician, although I too prefer the latter.

But, people will either glaze over the "semiotic" part of the word or head to their dictionary, although chances are if they were dictionary-types, they'd already know what the word meant.

And Xeno's cool for "strange" and "foreign" with a pop-culture bit of fear mixed in seeing as how most folks only know the word 'xenophobic' when it comes to xeno-words.

What about 'ethnolinguist'? And there's the 'linguistic profiler' idea.
except 'ethnolinguist' is something specific, and I already have one of those. *g*

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols.

Linguistics the study of languages.

So, it depends upon what you want your researcher character to actually focus on:

How about a biolinguist? Or someone who studies Biosemiotics.

The problem with xeno- for me is that it carries the meaning of "other." In normal science fiction use xeno- refers to all things extraterrestrial and consequently alien. In most cases it has a distinctly earthcentric feel. It would not be appropriate for the study of communication between humans and other species; and for the study of communications between two alien species it has, for me, the faintest whiff of distance and separation from things human. It's like the division between English and all the other miscellaneous "Foreign Languages" in a University curriculum.

What would I suggest as an alternative. I dunno. Why does there need to be a one-word compound with a classical prefix? Why not "interspecies communication"? It's clear and carries no baggage.

Just my own amateur opinion on an intriguing question.
But other cultures do this, too. The study of Japanese in Japan is "kokugo" (the national language) whereas all other languages fall into the "non-kokugo" rubric, just as in English there's "English" and "foreign languages".

A non-terrahuman studying terrahuman languages is engaging in xenolinguistics, as well, just from that being's perspective.