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I enjoyed the movie, qua movie. It was a decent scifi drama and the
linguistics was portrayed not *toooo* horribly, relative to what we
can otherwise expect.

I much more enjoyed the original short story.

The coffee-stain pseudo-language is pretty bullshit,
conlinguistically. It reflects a lack of even elementary thinking
about what features a two-dimensional language would have β€” including
explicitly stated and plot-central features like needing to know the
full utterance in order to draw parts that are part of multiple
~morphemes. This is especially bad in that one scene where they spit
out an extreme amount of info… by means of a ton of little
coffee-stains. Lolwut, no. It would surely be in _one_ fully connected
utterance, and not produced in some spray of bits.

It did give me an inspiration _visually_, based only on the
cross-section, for a different sort of approach to a NLF2DWS graphemic
design (using gradations of shade and something like a hidden lower
layer giving rise to water currents). So it's not all bad.. But the
rings are dumb.

I heard back from Chiang mid-way through the film's production β€” I'd
offered to make it β€” but IIRC he had nothing to do with it and it was
already being done by their art people. FWIW, he'd told me several
years ago that he never actually had any visual concept, sketch, or
further elaboration of Hetapod B.

Sincerely,
Sai
Founder, Language Creation Society


On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 9:19 PM, David Peterson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The ending of the film disgusted me. It was so comically cruel (the actions
> of the father) that it broke the realism for me. I can't see a human being
> (even an unsympathetic one like Renner's character) behaving like that
> unless they're an outright villain. I thought Amy Adams portrayed a good
> linguist, but otherwise I thought anything having to do with language in
> the film was a bit silly. They should have hired Sai and Alex. I started
> laughing out loud when all the little circles popped up on the screen. It
> was precious.
>
> -David
>
> On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 2:04 PM, Dirk Elzinga <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
>> I actually thought the movie was a pretty good representation of
>> what field linguists do, given the constraints film-makers have put
>> on themselves.
>>
>> The Whorfian thinking didn't bother me a bit. For some perspective,
>> talk to a physicist sometime about time- / faster-than-light travel to
>> see how SF can get stuff intentionally and spectacularly wrong for
>> the sake of telling an interesting story.[1]
>>
>> AND THE MAIN CHARACTER IS A WOMAN WHO DOESN'T HAVE
>> TO ACT LIKE A MAN IN ORDER TO GET THINGS DONE.
>>
>> So I think that there's a lot to love about Arrival. But if what you're
>> interested in is linguistic realism, go take a linguistics course or do
>> your own fieldwork.
>>
>> Dirk
>>
>> [1] Whether you found the story of Arrival interesting or not is another
>> matter. I found it to be quite moving; it's a story of a mother's love for
>> her child, not first contact with aliens and saving the world.
>>
>>
>> On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 2:34 PM, Asher Jaffe <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> > The film does treat the audience like idiots who know nothing about
>> > language whatsoever, so Forrest Whitaker is a complete idiot.  The rest
>> of
>> > it was a little lame.  It took the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis too goddamn
>> far.
>> > I hate the S-W hypothesis.  It's fine in small doses but NO!  Time does
>> not
>> > work that way!  Language doesn't allow you to make a paradox!  Overall,
>> > it's a linguistically uninteresting and inaccurate rehash of Christopher
>> > Nolan's* The Prestige* or* Memento*.
>> >
>> > On Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 4:27 PM, A Walker Scott <[log in to unmask]>
>> > wrote:
>> >
>> > > LOL There was a thread right about the time of the release. It seems
>> like
>> > > Alex, or maybe Sai, was involved, or maybe even started it. I don't
>> > > remember much about the content, and may have been putting of reading
>> the
>> > > thread until I saw the movie, which I did after it came out on video. I
>> > > felt much like you. I wanted to strangle SOMEbody. Not another
>> > Sapir-Whorf
>> > > rehash. It's been done. It's not fresh. It's not cutting edge. It isn't
>> > > even valid.
>> > >
>> > > Adam
>> > >
>> > > On Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 7:01 AM, Krista D. Casada <[log in to unmask]>
>> > > wrote:
>> > >
>> > > > Hello all,
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > > > Has there been any discussion of the 2016 film "The Arrival,"
>> starring
>> > > Amy
>> > > > Adams and Jeremy Renner, on this list--on a thread I might have
>> missed?
>> > > > Watched it and wanted to strangle someone, but have not yet decided
>> > whom.
>> > > > πŸ˜‰ Would be very interested in others' opinions, especially of the
>> > > > linguistic aspects. ("You translated Farsi videos in, like, ten
>> > minutes.
>> > > > Whaddya mean you can't *translate* this unknown alien language?!?")
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > > > Krista C.
>> > > >
>> > >
>> >
>>