The Arrival

Movie nite at Chris P’s last night. The Arrival, which I dug muchly, though at the nerdiest part of the whole picture the characters were discussing the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and I realized to my silent dismay that not only was I familiar with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis but I know who (as opposed to what) Sapir-Whorf were (the former was the only other person in the world who could converse with Ishi in his native tongue, the latter was in the insurance business, like a linguistic Wallace Stevens). Even worse on the nerd scale, the book I’m completely absorbed in currently also discusses the much maligned but recently revived in some circles Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, making Noam Chomsky so mad you wouldn’t believe it. Basically, do not get stuck sitting next to me at a dinner party. As the film went on it was obvious that neither the story’s author nor the screenwriters were Chomskyan, and Chomsky himself would have gone transformationally grammatically/ideologically apeshit at the vaguely hippieish blend of linguistic relativism and Sino-fascism. Not that he would ever bother to see the film. He’d send some grad students.

Personally, though, I dug it. The last time I saw linguistics in science fiction it was a cookbook.


One thought on “The Arrival

  1. You might want to check out the award-winning novella “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang on which this film is based. Chiang writes very little but almost every one of his stories has won major awards.


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