Lincos (language)

related topics
{theory, work, human}
{language, word, form}
{math, number, function}
{system, computer, user}
{film, series, show}
{math, energy, light}
{work, book, publish}

Lincos (an abbreviation of the Latin phrase lingua cosmica) is an artificial language first described in 1960 by Dr. Hans Freudenthal in his book Lincos: Design of a Language for Cosmic Intercourse, Part 1. It is a language designed to be understandable by any possible intelligent extraterrestrial life form, for use in interstellar radio transmissions. Freudenthal considered that such a language should be easily understood by beings not acquainted with any Earthling syntax or language. Lincos was designed to be capable of encapsulating "the whole bulk of our knowledge."

Contents

Concepts and range

The Lincos "dictionary", intended to be transmitted first before any additional messages, begins with a simple pattern of pulses intended to establish the terminology for natural numbers and basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) in base two. The concepts of equality, comparison, variables and constants are also illustrated by a series of examples, and then finally propositional logic, set theory and first-order logic. The next section of the Lincos dictionary establishes vocabulary for describing time, introducing means for measuring durations, referring to moments in time, and talking about past and future events. The third section is perhaps the most complex, and attempts to convey the concepts and language necessary to describe behavior and conversation between individuals. It uses examples to introduce actors speaking to each other, asking questions, disapproving, quoting other people, knowing and wanting things, promising, and playing. Finally, the fourth section describes the concepts and language relating to mass, space, and motion. This last section goes so far as to describe physical features of human beings and of the Solar system.

A second book was planned but never written that would have added four more sections to the dictionary: "Matter", "Earth", "Life" and "Behavior 2". Other researchers have since extended the language somewhat on their own (see, for example, CosmicOS).

No actual transmissions have been made using Lincos; it remains largely a theoretical exercise in Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Examples

An example of Lincos from section 3 of Freudenthal's book, showing one individual asking another individual questions:

Note the difference between "good" and "bad" as compared to "true" and "false"; 10/4 is a true answer to the question, so Ver ("true") would be a valid response, but since it wasn't reduced to lowest terms, it wasn't what Hb wanted and so he responded Mal ("bad") instead.

Another example, showing meta-conversation:

Full article ▸

related documents
Functional theories of grammar
Equivocation
Argument form
Ordinary language
Affection
Shoma Morita
David Deutsch
Educational essentialism
Harold Lasswell
Externalization
Topic outline of critical theory
Theoretical ecology
World History
William Schutz
Damned knowledge
FM-2030
Christoph Gottfried Bardili
Affirming the consequent
Chindōgu
Neutral monism
Agrarianism
Clarke's three laws
Jacob Anatoli
Emic and etic
Thoughtcrime
In the Beginning... was the Command Line
Particular
Painting style
David Gauthier
Absurdist fiction