Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Evolutionary linguists employed by Aliens

As I slowly weave my way deeper into the underworld of Evolutionary Linguistics, I can't help thinking there's an alien conspiracy going on ...

Walking around the basements of Edinburgh Universtiy, signs can be seen inviting you to 'Participate in an Alien Language Experiment'. Indeed, Kirby, Cornish and Smith (2008) tested whether humans could "learn an alien language". In a recent Horizon program, Prof. Kirby can be seen extending his encounters of the third kind in what appears to be a bombed-out Victorian Prison - clearly a secret base for some dark organistation:

Gary Lupyan, recently seen giving a talk in Edinburgh, has run experiments which test whether humans can tell the difference between "approachable" and "dangerous aliens.

Further, in Ichinco, Frank and Saxe (2009)'s study, "participants were told that they had been kidnapped by aliens who were trying to teach them their language through two episodes of alien television". I was under the impression no signals had been received from other planets, never mind double-features.

It also emerged that Evolutionary Linguist Gareth Roberts, had been asking participants to imagine themselves competing for resources on an alien planet.

From this, I can only deduce one thing: Aliens have been employing evolutionary linguists to decide which humans to kidnap and bring back to their planet as slaves. So, the next time you find yourself asked to imagine that you're learning how to mine heavy metals on a distant planet or quizzed about whether you would be likely to oppose oppressors with green tentacles, feign incompetence.

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