lingu log

The alien life mystery


What comes first into the mind of the reader when they hear the word “alien” is an ill formed human shaped with less or more fingers and green body color. But c’mon! What are the chances?! What I mean is How is it likely that other creatures are living in another galaxy that is like humans?

Aliens and extraterrestrial life forms are not the way we think they are. They aren’t necessarily intelligent. Actually the point is that the term intelligent life form is often confused with alien. SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence), for example is an institute founded by Carl Sagan. SETI researchers are looking for intelligent life forms. But what an intelligent life form would be? What I mean is how would they look like? How would they talk?

What is life?

The first thing is that we should think a little bit outside the box now. An alien could be anything. A plankton living in a planet could be a life form. A tree, A cockroach, or even a peptide. Hold on to peptide we need that. As K. Severin et. al. mentioned in their paper a simple peptide could be 32 amino acids long. Give the number of Amino Acids (20) we can calculate the probability of occurrence of this phenomenon.

(1/20)^32 which is equal to 2.3283064365386962890625e-42 which give us the chance of 1 in a (4.29) x 10^40 This number is really big. Actually not that big but still really big. You see a Googol is 10^100 there are, however, 10^80 atoms in the observable universe! But still this is a probability. You may reach this in the first trial. For example someone may get 10 sixes in a ow when rolling a dice! It’s not improbable, but it’s less likely. Another example is us! You see the chances of us living here is very very astounding. You and me are the wonders! Let’s get to our discussion will there be an intelligent life form? or Will there be any aliens at all? the short answer, we can’t say. BUT we can assume some some stuff. First of all we still don’t know how big is the universe. The universe is approximately 13.8 billion years. That being said what we see from the edge of the universe (or as we call it observable universe because we can’t see what is further) is for 13.8 billion years ago. This is staggering. Considering these three factors a) The universe is so huge b) The universe is unknown c) We can’t see the current light from the observable universe we can’t say that the alien life exist for sure but there is a chance that there is. How do they speak?

Well the science of studying how alien forms and alien life would communicate is called Xenolinguistcs. We’re not sure if they even speak so that we would have something called xenophonetics or xenophonolgy. Or even if they use our methods of writing, or even do they write?!

Humans have created a thing called language because this is our only way of communication the sounds we produce is constrained by our speech organs. but would they even produce speech? If they had a capability in their mind that they could transmit their neuron pulses with their hands or even with their foreheads they probably won’t need to communicate verbally.

How about writing?

Writing is rather different. Writing was not necessary at first. You can talk and communicate easily. How about them? Well we use writing for two major reasons:

1) speech fades quickly and we will forget

2) communication with later generations

Aliens might be good at remembering, they might be good at communicating with other generations as well.

How About other aspects of language like our syntax?

Human languages differ in terms of word order. SOV (Subject, Object, Verb) language like Kurdish, Armenian, Korean and Hungarian exist. Other languages like Polish exist in which the basic word order is SVO but speakers can move words around the sentence (it might change the emphatic meaning). So how would the languages of aliens differ from us? Again the concept of Experiencer, Instrument, Agent etc. (As in Theta role in Government and Binding Theory) are social constraints. For example what if alien life forms don’t have any Subject or Agent? What if they don’t cooperate with each other? They live alone. Or what if their perspective of world different?


To conclude the probability of alien life form is really high. The probability of intelligent life form is lower but still likely due to the fact that we are still not sure about the size of the universe! If they are intelligent and if they are living in a planet like us with atmosphere and gravity force of 9.8 m/s^2 chances are high that they will evolve to be sort of like us. Or will they? our physiological shape is constrained by a lot of factors and plus it’s not at it’s best. we’re so weak. We even need shoes to walk but our Homo ancestors can walk and wander easily. There was a really complex process that led to humans in this form. We can say probably if the place aliens live is similar to us they might incorporate our tools in language. Using writing, using double articulation etc. but it might differ in some senses. For example our perception of sun might be different from theirs. They might even have two moons and therefore invent two words. OR dualism might not work on their side. They may have 3 genders. Well not in the sense that we are thinking for example during evolution there may be a group of Hominids still living and have incorporated language but only their males lived because they were the only gender who were physically tough. So an imaginary language would be:

/bvav/ = He

/bv/ = She

/bvai/ = It

Or maybe their cognitive view is different. For instance humans tend to name things in similar classes similar names. For example Who said that the plural form a noun should be the same as it's singular form?

Further Reading:






  • Severin, K., Lee, D.H., Kennan, A.J. and Ghadiri, M.R., 1997. A synthetic peptide ligase. Nature, 389(6652), pp.706-709.