April 14, 2004

The sci.lang FAQ

Originally written by Michael Covington, and now maintained by Mark Rosenfelder, the sci.lang FAQ is well worth consulting. Because it emerged in the late Cretaceous, when giant newsgroups roamed the earth, some may regard it as a sort of living fossil, and may even be surprised to find that it is still very much alive. Recently-evolved denizens of the blogosphere may not even have heard of it. Here's some evidence, both of its relevance and its neglect.

Semantic Compositions asked (on 4/10/2004) for help in figuring out where linguists can be found in popular culture. Ryan Gabbard contributed The Sparrow; Bill Poser cited Digital Fortress and The Iceman; that's all that technorati knows about, but Uncle Jazzbeau adds several movies (Forbidden Planet, Sherman's March, Stargate, Atlantis) and links to the 1975 book Linguistics in Science Fiction.

The comments on SC's site add a few other examples: "Dr Ransom, the hero of C.S. Lewis's interplanetary trilogy", "Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book", "Star Trek: Enterprise and Hoshi Sato", :the ... Suzette Haden Elgin books: Native Tongue and its sequels".

Nobody seems to have thought to link to sci.lang FAQ 15, which answers the question "What are some stories and novels that involve linguistics?"

Wandering the corridors over the sci.lang FAQ, you might run across other little treasures, such as this page explaining how to estimate the probability of chance resemblances between words in unrelated languages (written by Mark Rosenfelder, the current maintainer of the sci.lang FAQ site). Check it out!

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 14, 2004 09:55 AM