Speaking Klingon

Sunday, March 29, 2009 - 17:00

Ever try talking to an alien? In the movies, they always speak perfect English. But what if we really made contact? Could we just whip out a universal translator - or even a babelfish - to understand one another?

Let's say we do learn to communicate: what to say, what to say? We'll hear the protocol for just how to reply to ET. And, from Klingon to Esperanto: the recipe for creating a language from scratch.

Plus, get ready to babble with your Blackberry: how computers are learning to recognize - and respond - to human speech.

Q1=B4t'.f:t'.ql. P4&=tr'w.k*.k*n.=D5^Q5=P4^B5 P4&=D1>s'.t*.ql.=B5

What does this mean? Listen to the show to find out!


  • Terrence Deacon - Professor of anthropology and neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley
  • Douglas Vakoch - Director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute
  • Donald Boozer - Librarian, Coordinator of Cleveland Public Library's recent exhibit "Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond...The World of Constructed Languages"
  • Jim Glass - Director of the Spoken Language Systems Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Systems.

    Ask MIT's Jupiter about the weather!