April 12, 2004

Linguists in Pop Culture

Semantic Compositions and The Audhumlan Conspiracy have been discussing linguists in pop culture. I talked about one example that they haven't mentioned a while back, the techno-thriller Digital Fortress. Another is the 1984 movie The Iceman, which is still available. The Iceman is a Neanderthal, whose frozen body is discovered by explorers. When they thaw him out, he proves to be still alive. A "linguist from MIT" is brought in to study his language, which of course, after 40,000 years, is unfamiliar. The linguist is shown keeping an eye on a device labelled a "pitch/stress meter" as she analyzes the Iceman's speech. Curiously, she looked a lot like Professor Judith Thomson, a philosopher at MIT, where Linguistics and Philosophy are branches of the same department. As it happens, her work is in ethics and metaphysics, areas that have little to do with linguistics.

Posted by Bill Poser at April 12, 2004 12:12 AM