Languages ​​will change profoundly with interstellar flights, study says

Portuguese spoken in Brazil, Mozambique, Timor-Leste and, of course, Portugal. However, if you are not accustomed to accent and regional vocabulary differences, an inhabitant of either country may have difficulty understanding the resident of another. And we are only talking about an ocean away and some centuries of colonization. Now, imagine this on a cosmic scale.

A study, conducted by linguistics researchers at the University of Kansas and Southern Illinois University, and published in the journal Acta Futura – affiliated with the European Space Agency (ESA) – explores the consequences that language change can trigger in the languages ​​of crew members during a long journey through space or in interplanetary settlements.

“Languages ​​differ as communities become more isolated from one another, so the long isolation of a traveling community can lead to enough differences to make their language unintelligible to the original community he left,” explain linguists Andrew McKenzie and Jeffrey Punske, co-authors of the study.

The researchers compare historical cases involving some of these aspects, such as the Polynesian settlement of the Pacific islands and the development of dialects in relatively isolated European colonies. Another issue raised by scientists is the effect of “multilingualism” on a crew made up of people of various nationalities (with or without a common lingua franca in use).

“If crew members stay on a ship for ten generations, new concepts will arise, new social problems will arise and people will create ways to talk about them,” explains McKenzie. “And that is the specific vocabulary of that ship. People on Earth may never know those words. And the further you travel, the less you will talk to people on the planet. And finally, perhaps, we will reach the point where there is no contact. with the Earth, except to send occasional updates “, believes the linguist.

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In order for communication between the Earth and space colonies to be maintained, for example, in English, the colonists will have to learn some of the Earth’s English to send messages or read the ship’s original instruction manuals. “Furthermore, I must remember that the language of the Earth also changes during this period. Therefore, people will talk as if they use Latin – communicating with a version of the language that no one else uses,” adds McKenzie.

Via: University of Kansas

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