Blog de traducción
Blog di traduzione
Blog de traduction
Blog de tradução
Vertaal Blog
Блог на тему перевода
مدونة الترجمة
번역 블로그

Arrival: A Circle of Meaning and Understanding


At the beginning there was the circle…


So, following up on our previous post, I’ll have to say I’m still quite inspired by some of the ideas portrayed in the movie “Arrival”, recently nominated by The Academy for best Feature Film.

This time I want to focus on the fictional alien lingo and emphasize on the idea of how language structures the way we think and perceive the world around us. In a way, the movie presents us with a new form of communication that somehow enhances our cognitive apparatus.

Even if we persist in our preconfigured way of perceiving things in a one way stream, we would still be able to arrive at the conclusion that our language could evolve, given the proper conditions, into an ideal form of communication as the one used by our extraterrestrial visitors.  

And perhaps, that journey has already been set in motion by the many tools technology has put within our reach.

As we can see in the film, the alien language is governed by the endless structure of the circle, in which direction becomes meaningless and meaning becomes as simultaneous as time itself.

Bare with me here, because this is where the idea starts getting interesting:

Think about machine translation, specifically Zero-Shot Translation as a specific type of technology, where some engines have become able to translate into new “unknown” language pairs based on other known language pairs by simple triangulation.

We have already evolved our mindset from a simple line to a triangular structure, closed (as the mighty circle) but still too stiff and linear for what we wish to attain.

We’ve already mentioned in the past how these machine translation engines (through Neural Net Technology) are able create a sort of “meta-language” or “interlingua” in the process of translation that help them fill previously unknown gaps, and give them a consistent meaning.

So, what could happen if we apply this circular, multidirectional approach to this linear-structured technology?  Well, as these chains of meaning between the different known language pairs link among each other into a single circle, this interlingua could become, in a practical sense, the evolution of language from a linear based structure to circular morphology, becoming the ultimate universal “lingua franca” once the circle is complete.

I know it might sound absurd, but try thinking out of the box for a change. In other words: Don’t be a square…

The way we structure and understand traditional languages follows the same limited patterns imposed by them. It is perhaps those same incomplete structures that have narrowed our view in the first place, since language defines the way communities think and perceive reality itself.

So, if we were to force our language to “evolve” in a sense, into this idea of a multidirectional circularity, where all languages connect in an organic pluri-dimensional flow, would we, it’s users, “evolve” ourselves in turn?

It all brings us back to the endless structure of the circle. Pi… 3.14… everything is engulfed by it. Nothing can escape it. It creates us, it contains us, it entraps us. There is nothing but the circle. And within it, various concentric other circles fading away in an endless spiral.

We are nothing but prisoners of the Fibonacci sequence, destined to wander in circles for eternity, without knowing our purpose or place (if we even have one). But if we can decode this secret language that technology has put within our grasp, understanding could suddenly becomes a gift.

We live trapped, running endlessly in a moebius strip, where time is not linear, but circular and simultaneous.

There is no before or after. There is perpetual now. Lineality is only a limited perspective through which we choose to perceive reality. One that limits us to perceive it in a particular way which is by no means absolute.

But circularity, it seems, provides a whole new interesting dimension of possibilities…

At the beginning there was the circle…