Online čitanka četvrtkom: Strani jezici. Vrlo strani.

Vanzemaljci su jedan od temeljnih motiva znanstvene fantastike. Dok se aktualni filmovi uglavnom natječu u kretivnim metodama kojima se alieni i mi uzajamno razaramo, tu i tamo se ipak spomene i nekakav miroljubiviji kontakt. A da bi takav susret bio potpun, valja sa svemircem malo i popričati. Ali na kojem jeziku?

Problematika stranog jezika je poznata svakome tko je barem jednom mrdnuo iz udobnosti svog vlastitog govornog područja. Pri tome čak nije potrebno otići na drugi kontinent ili u drugu državu. Ponekad je dovoljno otići do trećeg ili četvrtog sela i ostati izgubljen u dodiru s ljubaznim intonacijama lokalnog dijalekta, vama razumljivog poput swahilija.

Što tek možemo očekivati od susreta s vanzemaljcima? Činjenica je da ljudi oblikuju jezik, ali i da jezik oblikuje ljude. Kako onda shvatiti nekoga ili nešto što se od nas ne razlikuje samo kulturno, nego i biološki, po kemijskom sastavu, a vjerojatno i po vrsti signala kojima komunicira. Naravno, neki su problem riješili na jednostavan način, Babilonskom ribicom1, no drugi su se uhvatili u koštac s jezičnim petljancem. Sveukupno gledajući,  SF se često bavio problematikom jezika i komunikacije i mnoge priče su ozbiljni lingvistički radovi koji se i danas analiziraju.

Matematika je univerzalni jezik i pretpostavlja se da ćemo baš pomoću matematike ostvariti prvo razumijevanje s vanzemaljcima i temelje za prijevod jezika. U novije vrijeme, primjer uspostavljanja ključa za prevođenje preko matematičkih jednadžbi dao je Carl Sagan u Konaktu , dok se 1957. sličnim metodama poslužio H. Beam Piper u priči Omnilingual. Kako prevesti zapise izumrlih Marsovaca bez ključa? Umjesto prim brojeva, ovdje se koristi periodni sustav elemenata…

Sachiko took off the loup and leaned back in her chair, her palms cupped over her eyes.

“No, I like doing this. I call it micro-jigsaw puzzles. This book, here, really is a mess. Selim found it lying open, with some heavy stuff on top of it; the pages were simply crushed. She hesitated briefly. “If only it would mean something, after I did it.”

There could be a faintly critical overtone to that. As she replied, Martha realized that she was being defensive.

“It will, some day. Look how long it took to read Egyptian hieroglyphics, even after they had the Rosetta Stone.”

Sachiko smiled. “Yes. I know. But they did have the Rosetta Stone.”

“And we don’t. There is no Rosetta Stone, not anywhere on Mars. A whole race, a whole species, died while the first Crò-Magnon cave-artist was daubing pictures of reindeer and bison, and across fifty thousand years and fifty million miles there was no bridge of understanding.”

Jezik oblikuje govornika. Neki jezici se toliko razlikuju, da njihovo učenje zahtijeva i učenje novog načina razmišljanja. No, kako čovjek može naučiti razmišljati kao biće čije je poimanje vremenskog kontinuuma potpuno drugačije od našeg ? U noveli Story of Your Life Teda Chianga lingvisti otkrivaju zanimljive nuspojave ne-kauzalnog razmišljanja. Story of Your Life je osvojila Sturgeon Award 1999. i Nebulu za najbolju novelu 2000.

I spotted them waiting in the hallway, outside my office. They made an odd couple; one wore a military uniform and a crew- cut, and carried an aluminum briefcase. He seemed to be assessing his surroundings with a critical eye. The other one was easily identifiable as an academic: full beard and mustache, wearing corduroy. He was browsing through the overlapping sheets stapled to a bulletin board nearby.

“Colonel Weber, I presume?” I shook hands with the soldier. “Louise Banks.”

“Dr. Banks. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us,” he said.

“Not at all; any excuse to avoid the faculty meeting.”

Colonel Weber indicated his companion. “This is Dr. Gary Donnelly, the physicist I mentioned when we spoke on the phone.”

“Call me Gary,” he said as we shook hands. “I’m anxious to hear what you have to say.”

We entered my office. I moved a couple of stacks of books off the second guest chair, and we all sat down. “You said you wanted me to listen to a recording. I presume this has something to do with the aliens?”

“All I can offer is the recording,” said Colonel Weber.

“Okay, let’s hear it.”

Colonel Weber took a tape machine out of his briefcase and pressed PLAY. The recording sounded vaguely like that of a wet dog shaking the water out of its fur.

“What do you make of that?” he asked.

I withheld my comparison to a wet dog.

Sa sličnim problemmom se suočava i trgovački putnik svjetlosnim godinama daleko od Zemlje, u priči Tk’tk’tk Davida D. Levinea, dobitnika Huga 2006. za najbolju kratku priču. S obzirom da je riječ o gotovo neizgovorljivom jeziku, bit će vam zanimljivo priču, osim čitanja, i poslušati.

Walker’s voice recorder was a beautiful thing of aluminum and plastic, hard and crisp and rectangular. It sat on the waxy countertop, surrounded by the lumpy excreted-looking products of the local technology. Unique selling proposition, he thought, and clutched the leather handle of his grandfather’s briefcase as though it were a talisman.

Shkthh pth kstphst, the shopkeeper said, and Walker’s hypno-implanted vocabulary provided a translation: “What a delightful object.” Chitinous fingers picked up the recorder, scrabbling against the aluminum case with a sound that Walker found deeply disturbing. “What does it do?”

It took him a moment to formulate a reply. Even with hypno, Thfshpfth was a formidably complex language. “It listens and repeats,” he said. “You talk all day, it remembers all. Earth technology. Nothing like it for light-years.” The word for “light-year” was hkshkhthskht, difficult to pronounce. He hoped he’d gotten it right.

Za kraj smo ostavili starog majstora Rogera Zelaznya i njegovu priču A Rose for Ecclesiastes, nominiranu za Huga 1964. godine. Priča prati izvrsnog lingvista Gallingera, prvog Zemljanina kojem Marsovci dozvoljavaju pristup svetim tekstovima i njihovo prevođenje. No, vješto baratanje riječima, čini se, privlači i nezemaljske žene, a to će zakomplicirati situaciju na matrijarhalnom Marsu.

“Mr. Gallinger, the Matriarch is waiting inside to be introduced. She has consented to open the Temple records for your study.” She paused here to pat her hair and squirm a little. Did my gaze make her nervous?

‘They are religious documents, as well as their only history,” she continued, “sort of like the Mahabharata. She expects you to observe certain rituals in handling them, like repeating the sacred words when you turn pages–she will teach you the system.”

I nodded quickly, several times.

“Fine, let’s go in.”

‘”Uh–” she paused. “Do not forget their Eleven Forms of Politeness and Degree. They take matters of form quite seriously–and do not get into any discussions over the equality of the sexes–”

“I know all about their taboos,” l broke in. “Don’t worry. l’ve lived in the Orient, remember?”

She dropped her eyes and seized my hand. I almost jerked it away.

‘It will look better if I enter leading you.”

I swallowed my comments and followed her, like Samson in Gaza.


Mirko Karas je zamjenik glavne urednice NOSF-a, pisac u pokušaju, obožavatelj svih sportova na vodi u bilo kojem agregatnom stanju i predsjednik društva SFera. Ne piše blog, ignorira Twitter, a Facebook još i više.

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  1. Ili nečim sličnim – prevoditeljski virusi u Farscapeu, univerzalni komunikator u Zvjezdanim stazama. Iako, i Zvjezdane staze imaju epizode u kojoj kontakt moraju riješiti bez komunikatora (Darmok).[]
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