Arrival – part 2 – Alien Language (feat. Nick Farmer) : Episode 66

Stream the movie:


What: Aliens arrive, and talk communicate with a human linguist. In this second episode on the film,  we cover all of the language stuff!
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Featuring guest co-host
Nick Farmer headshot
Nick Farmer, linguist, creator of The Expanse’s Belter language

Recommended and Related Media

Really, go see this movie. Pause the show, see the movie, and then resume. It was so good!

Everything by Ted Chiang
We’ve recommended The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate for its treatment of time travel, but I’m expanding on that here to recommend everything by friend-of-the-show Ted Chiang.
The story on which the movie is based, Story of Your Life, in this collection iTunes | Amazon
Ted’s guest co-host appearance on decipherSciFi
Ted’s author page at Amazon

Nick Farmer
He’s a linguist! And a conlanger, technically.
His website Nick Farmer Linguist
His Twitter @nfarmerlinguist

Show Notes


AKA linguistic relativity, and why it is a very very wrong thing. A warm and fuzzy idea that turns out, after facing science, not to reflect reality well. Nick really really wants to set the record straight on this matter.

Spoken Alien Language

Considering the possibilities. Different modalities. Language need not be sound-based! ASL. Frequencies of sound.

Written Language

Heptapod B! Bending over backwards to figure out a way for alien languages to break the linearity of time.

Alien Writing System

The complexity of deciphering alien writing systems. Extradimensionality. Stephen Wolfram wrote the software to create the logograms. Human language analogies. Mapping ideas and words and concepts is REALLY complicated.



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