LINGUIST List 2.469

Sat 07 Sep 1991

Disc: Linguistic novels, films

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Paul Saka, RE: science fiction novels
  2. Ralf Thiede, Linguistic Novels
  3. Phil Bralich, Linguistics in titles.

Message 1: RE: science fiction novels

Date: Wed, 4 Sep 91 17:35:10 -0700
From: Paul Saka <saka%cogsci.Berkeley.EDURICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: RE: science fiction novels
	Philip Jose Farmer is a prolific sf writer whose
output has ranged from pure hack work to the near-genius.
He himself is not a linguist, but many of his books
reflect an educated interest in Lx.
	_Time's Last Gift_ is about a team of anthropologists
and linguists who travel back to the last ice age, when
PIE was a living language. The protagonist, it turns out,
is Lord Greystoke. If you like Tarzan, you will surely like
this book; but if you are like me, you will want to stay
away from this one. (Even as a little kid, I thought Tarzan
was hokey.)
	_Tongues of the Moon_ is interesting because it was
one of the few sf novels that paid attention to multi-
lingualism and lg contact. (In more recent years, cyberpunk
has been depicting English under the massive influence of
Spanish and Japanese.)
	Farmer's best known work, for which he won the Hugo
award, is _To Your Scattered Bodies Go_. This is part of the
Riverworld series, which is based on the supposition:
What if everyone who ever lived were resurrected and put on
a single planet? Farmer follows the adventures of Mark Twain,
Hermann Goering, Lewis Carroll's real-life Alice, and above all
the Victorian Sir Richard Burton. Burton was a polyglot who
explored the peoples and languages of the upper Nile, who
penetrated Moslem areas disguised as an Arab, and who
translated the 1001 Nights and other Near Eastern erotica...
In Farmer's series, Esperanto quickly becomes the lingua
franca of Riverworld.
	Farmer has a fondness for puns, which reaches a height
in his joycean story "Riders of the Purple Wage". This story
has been reprinted in several places, including, I believe,
_The Classic Philip Jose Farmer_ and the justly titled
_The Purple Book_.
	In my opinion, Farmer is at his best in the collection
_Strange Relations_ and in the novel _The Lovers_.
	Finally, I should note that _Venus on the Half Shell_,
written under the pseudonym "Kilgore Trout", is not really
by Kurt Vonnegut, as many believe; it is by Farmer.
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Message 2: Linguistic Novels

Date: Wed, 04 Sep 91 23:12:09 EST
Subject: Linguistic Novels
In response to Lee Hartman, who mentioned _Babel 17_ but couldn't remem-
ber the exact reference:
Delany, S. R. 1967. Babel 17. London: Gollancz.
I found the reference in Neil Smith's _The Twitter Machine: Reflections
on Language_ (Blackwell 1989) pp. 24, 36. [I checked it out and was un-
derwhelmed, by the way]. In a footnote on pp. 36-37, Smith makes ment-
ion of other novels "which deal interestingly, if not always very real-
istically, with problems of language and linguistics":
Elgin, S. H. 1984. Native Tongue. New York: DAW Books.
Golding, W. 1955. The Inheritors. London: Faber.
Vance, J. 1974. The Languages of Pao. St. Albans: Mayflower.
Watson, I. 1975. The Embedding. London: Quartet Books.
 Ralf Thiede
 UNCC Dept. of English
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Message 3: Linguistics in titles.

Date: Wed, 4 Sep 91 18:30:15 -1000
From: Phil Bralich <bralichuhccux.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Linguistics in titles.
Some readers might remember the last cut on the second side of one of the
"Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Blues Band" albums called "Labio-dental" fricative. It
was nothing more than two minutes of hissing, but it was a title on an
Phil Bralich
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