I’m a translator, and all translators are wannabe linguists (except for the exalted few of us who actually are linguists). I dream of diving deep into the study of language and mastering the tool I use in my profession. This means that “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang is about the adventure I want to have:
Aliens arrive at Earth. Someone has to learn to talk to them. Let me do it! Me! Me, me!
Ted Chiang often writes stories that dramatize a concept. “Liking What You See: A Documentary” examines beauty, and “Exhalation” examines artificial life. “Story of Your Life” examines the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, also called linguistic relativity. It contends that the structure of a language influences and possibly determines thought and decisions.
Since ancient times, the idea that language affects our understanding of the physical world has been contentious. Plato argued against the idea, ...