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As Myra Edwards Barnes notes in Linguistics and Languages in Science Fiction-Fantasy (1971), linguistics is a late comer to science fiction (175). And it is generally said that like other hard or physical sciences such as physics, meteorology, astrology, or chemistry, linguistics is often not so professionally treated in SF(Science Fiction). Although some SF writers such as Samuel Delany or Joanna Russ display specific linguistic knowledge, “the knowledge about language change” that SF writers usually show us is, as Walter E. Meyer says in Aliens and Linguistics (1980), indeed “a paltry amount” (37). What Meyer rather expects from SF writers’ language use is rather “the sane and tolerant responses to the most unexpected and frightened situations”:

The pioneers of the American pulps saw science fiction as a means of teaching science. Although science fiction seldom achieves that goal, and although we have no right to demand anything more than art from its writers, the possibility is always there. And the possibility includes the chance to say something about language, something liberating and tolerant and entertaining. (209)

Considering that animal language, telepathic language, newly invented language, alien language, or other use of linguistic theory often appear as “unexpected and frightened situations” in SF, the relationship between science fiction and linguistics, especially in terms of the futuristic study of linguistics, is closer than we thought. Above all, the “sane and tolerant responses” found in SF are experimental and inspiring enough to make SF instruction book for language study. If so, how about the influence of linguistics upon science fiction?
Literary stylists often argue that the solution of delicate language usage is rather found in literature instead of in linguistics itself simply because it is through contextual interactions of language and reality that literature offers a deeper insight into the human being. According to Jonathan Culler, literature becomes a tantalizing enterprise of semiological study because literary works are continually violating codes. Namely, literature rests on other systems, particularly that of language, and thus becomes “a second order system” which consistently focuses on “the necessity of creative interpretation” and “a network of differences.” Because meaning emerges from the interpersonal system (‘Otherness of meaning’), the violation of conventional codes in literature requires hard interpreting work for us to extend ourselves and to discover new resources in the self.1)  As the relational values became the primary constituents of the work of Modernist art, the language of AI in science fiction reflects this linguistic move from object to structure or to systems of relation.
In fact, more than other SF topics, Artificial Intelligence in science fiction is the result of modern linguistic theories of which generative phonetics, information theory and mechanical translations take a great part. Although recent AI technology is said to reach only a four-year-old-level intelligence in its autonomous level, the expert system in specific intelligence development already substitutes well-educated human experts with intelligent machines. For example, the rapid advancement of mechanical translation, as in the case of ‘the E-translator’ recently developed for interpreting English into Korean, already reached a very high percent accuracy. Considering its speed and quantity of translation within limited time, the E-translator machine will take the place of a professional translator in a little while. If the target language is structurally similar to the original language such as the translation of Japanese into Korean, or the translation of French into English, it is not an exaggeration to say that the AI machines are already established experts in terms of the specific area of multi-language use.
This kind of new linguistic development plays an important role in structuring new modes of perception in SF (which is always ahead of present science) such as AI machines with emotions. For common people, the fragmented discourses (especially in television’s mixed news of various flickering cut-up data) and MUD (Multi-User-Domain) type role-playing in the internet provide a new, distinct and heterogeneous vision about humans and machines. As Scott Bukatman notes, the terminal identity “situates the human and the technology as coexistive, codependent, and mutually defining” (22). Similarly, J. David Bolter in Turing’s Man writes, “a defining technology defines or redefines man’s role in relation to nature” (13). In other words, the computer as the defining technology in the electronic age, by promising (or threatening) to replace man, is giving us a new definition of man as an “information processor,” and of nature, as “information to be processed.”2)
Also, Bolter says in Writing Space that “writing itself is not merely influenced by technology, but rather is technology,” and our ways of thinking in written language are now becoming the programmable process (239). As “an ideal writing space for our networked society,” a computer permits every form of reading and writing (as the projection of mind in culture) from the most passive to the most active (238). The multifaceted mode of expression created by interrelated lexia (or blocks of text) encourages interdisciplinary study and continuity between fields. As a medium of communication as well as a scientific tool, the computer now brings a process of cross-fertilization and bridges the gap between humanism and science through its rich blending of the artificial and natural language.3)
In the world where complexity is increased by social organization and by technological activity, people feel that interpretations of meanings are more bewildering and confused.  It is no wonder that aspiring to the perfect artificial language is common in many SF settings. In fact, our natural language is full of defects, if we look carefully.4) Although natural language gives us some stable understandings about rapid changes in the world through new classifications or categories (El NIÑO, posthuman, 24 black holes, hypertext, etc.,) theories offered by language are not always satisfying because language itself as a tool is in essence defective.
Even if defined by scientific criteria, the systems of nature are often interpreted in social contexts. Thus, seemingly objective concepts such as color and number have different connotations accorded them by each culture. Thus, red, the general warning sign in Western culture is rather a good omen to most Asians and the lucky number seven in the West is infrequently preferred to the number nine in the East.  Languages change over a specific time and it is now very hard for moderns to guess that the contemporary word “women” came from the Old English word “warrior.”  Also, because most languages have limited written signs, it is not possible to match a sound with a corresponding letter particularly in English:  /k/ can be pronounced by various ways of spelling such as c (as in cat), k (in kit), q (in quite).  About this, Bernard Shaw once humorously said that ghoti can be a spelling for fish in American English: (gh as /f/ sound in tough, o as /i/ sound in women, ti as /sh/ in initiate).
Beyond all these vulnerable characteristics of human language, what makes language a tool not enough to be trustworthy for communication is that human language is so symbolic a signifier that it lacks correspondence with the objects or ideas it signifies. This arbitrariness between language and reality was, as Ferdinand de Saussure showed, the great watershed to modern thoughts.  For Saussure, parole refers to only a particular utterance within the system of differentiations while it is the langue (the entire system of a language, its rule of combination and its system of differentiations) that makes all individual utterances possible. Thus, rejecting the idea that language is a word-heap gradually accumulated over time, Saussure’s emphasized language as parts of systems of relations, a distinction within a system of opposites and contrasts (“in a system of language. . .there are only differences, with no positive terms”).5)  This understanding of language as a system was one step toward AI.  Another came from Noam Chomsky’s revision of it:

As a structuralist (in the broad sense), Chomsky has always been insisted on the validity of the distinction between langue and parole, which by 1965 he had come to call “competence” and “performance” respectively. Chomsky chose to coin new terms rather than retain Saussure’s since he wished to underscore two important differences between competence and langue: competence encompasses all syntactic relations in language, while langue does not, and competence is characterized by a set of generative rules, rather than by an inventory of elements.  (Newmeyer 1988, 72)

As Frederick Newmeyer notes, “the computer revolution, too, has begun to boost generativist fortunes” (93).6) Chomsky’s “command and control” system in generative rules of competence appeared as the most “friendly” way to interact with a computer.  Making breakthrough in the nature of universal grammar, Chomsky’s minimalist program broadens the field of linguistics to include both the biological limits of human beings and the fundamental questions of human existence in both science and humanities. It is not hard to suppose that as a social product, the computer-mediated language has given a great impact upon modern thought and appeared as a popular topic in SF.

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