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NicholasLawson
07-17-2011, 08:02 AM
I would like to know and discuss how the incorporation of time travel will affect the english language?

What happens to story telling when after comes before before?

Does the above sentence make sense? It would not have made sense two hundred years ago but post time travel even as a thought it makes sense, does that make sense?

Can you upload a webpage tomorrow and download it yesterday while you write on it today? Is that possible? Is that a valid sentence? What kinds of stories can you derive from real world time travel, normal as airports time travel, normal as cars time travel, normal as television, normal as cell phones, normal as mice, normal as pencils time travel?

The Anderson Institute is an organization that I am hoping to hear from to discuss some of these ideas with but I would like to hear your thoughts first. Quite simply how does real normal time travel affect language patterns?

thothguard51
07-17-2011, 08:32 AM
Language is fluid and subject to change with culture shifts in any time period.

Travel back in time to London of 1000 years ago and more than likely you will have trouble understand what people are talking about and they will also have trouble understanding what you are talking about.

Travel ahead in time by 1000 years and again, the language will have changed again, based on what is relevant at that time.

While it seems that some meanings of words can change over night, the base language itself takes hundred or thousands of years to change before its not recognizable as the same language spoken hundred or thousands of years ago. Hope that makes sense...

What we did yesterday or today will not affect how we understand language.

Bartholomew
07-17-2011, 10:08 AM
Words like Afterfore and Befafter might become words to avoid long, unwieldy constructions.

lastlittlebird
07-17-2011, 10:24 AM
My solution in my yet to be written time travel novel was to have characters use the terms "mi-time" vs "real-time".
Mi-time is linear, and relative to the individual, while real-time is a river you can swim around in.
I haven't worked on it enough to really cement how those terms are used though, as at the moment I'm still collecting ideas on the novel.

NicholasLawson
07-17-2011, 06:38 PM
Then there is work being done to the lanuage in the wake of new possibilities of existence? This is very interesting to me.

Sargentodiaz
07-17-2011, 06:49 PM
The best way to see the differences in language is to check newspapers and periodicals from different times and places.
I'm certain that if one checks them from the 1800's they will see a large difference in words, usage and structure from today.
Then, go back to the 1700's and see more differences.

You referred to the word "before" Here's what Wiktionary says about it:

From Middle English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_English_language) (adverb and preposition), from Old English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_English_language) beforan (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/beforan), itself from be- (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/be-) + foran (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/foran) 'before' (from fore (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fore))
Pronunciation



(RP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Received_Pronunciation)) enPR (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:English_pronunciation_key): bĭf', IPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_chart_for_English): /bɪˈfɔː/, SAMPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAMPA_chart_for_English): /bI"fO:/
(US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_English)) enPR (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:English_pronunciation_key): bĭfr', IPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_chart_for_English): bɪˈfɔːr/, /bəˈfɔːr/, SAMPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAMPA_chart_for_English): /bi"fO:r/
Hyphenation: be‧fore
Audio (US)

(file (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/File:en-us-before.ogg))
Rhymes: -ɔː(r) (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Rhymes:English:-%C9%94%CB%90%28r%29)

Preposition

before


Earlier than (in time).  [quotations ▼]
In front of in space. He stood before me.
Under consideration, judgment, authority of (someone). The case laid before the panel aroused nothing but ridicule.
In store for, in the future of (someone). The period before us looks grim because of the economical crisis.
In front of, according to a formal system of ordering items. In alphabetical order, "cat" comes before "dog", "canine" before feline".
At a higher or greater position in a subjective ranking. An entrepreneur puts market share and profit before quality, an amateur intrinsic qualities before economical considerations.[and there's more!]

American English is probably the best example of how language adapts to cultural influences. Just look at how radio and television has affected regional dialects. Regions also create unique words. It depends upon many factors as to when and if those words enter general usage.

Just don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to somehow "grow" your dialogue to be more factual for your readers. Your job is to tell a story they can enjoy and characters they can empathize with.

lcwrite
07-17-2011, 07:39 PM
You might have to have someone from the time of the story define terms for the time-traveller. I seem to remember a movie in the late 70s or early 80s based on an H.G. Well's story. The H.G. Well's character is in San Francisco and goes to a McDonald's and imitates the order of the person before him in line. Later says something like "Pom Frits? French fries are what I call Pom Frites!"

Would a time-traveller from the 1800s know the term "reboot?" You might have to have a current time character explain something. You can do that a few times in a story but it can't be so often that you irritate the reader by interrupting the story.

Williebee
07-17-2011, 08:13 PM
Can you upload a webpage tomorrow and download it yesterday while you write on it today? Is that possible?
I'd have to say yes and no. In this usage, the webpage is a physical thing, with a date/time stamp and fixed place. You could not do this with a newspaper, for example. So, in the time relative to where you are located, no, you couldn't do this.

In the time stream relative to your own travels, yeah, you could.

"Today I uploaded this website. Yesterday I went a week into the future, to a point after I uploaded the website, and made changes to it. Tomorrow, when I go look at the website, the changes I made next week won't be there... yet."

Now, I would propose a server farm sitting in a "nexus" location that exists in all time/no time. -- everywhen is "now" there. If you could log on to it, you could read message board posts from people posting from any time, relative to the state of their own technology.

It would still be bound the limitations of the world the writer defines, and I'm not sure what's there in the idea.

It's been done, but thanks bunches. Now I have to go ponder this for awhile.

"If I was standing on the grassy knoll with my iPad 46, the one with the new interstitial wifi adapter, I could post up to the board photos of the second gunmen. Back in 2005 other forum members would then look at it, refute it, question it's source and authenticity, and prove their doubts by recreating it in Photoshop. Some would believe, some would not. And then the alien, who drove the second gunman's time travel getaway vehicle, would post from the year 2525 that he was there and the gunman is now living in hiding from the international CIA/Mafia on a beach in New Newark."

Dawnstorm
07-20-2011, 03:52 AM
English expresses time mainly through two methods:

Grammatically, through the tense-aspect system, and lexically through words and phrases (mainly prepositional phrases). Note, that there already is no 1:1 relation between tense and time. Present tense usually refers to present time, but it can refer to the future or past as well. The reference point is already the point-of-view of the speaker. Thus dramatic present (historic present) seems to involve imagining things as happening now before the inner eye. Also, future events that have the ring of a fact, are often presented in present tense, not because the event happens now, but because it is now a fact that the event will happen in the future: "The train leaves at 12:00 o'clock." (Fact because of the schedule. Of course, the statement can be wrong.)

There are constellations that just don't happen now:
I've done that tomorrow.Nobody says that because it is currently impossible to have done things in the future. This sort of sentence will be increasingly common, and it will irk the hell out of some grammar nazis, who will insist on some alternative for tomorrow, or some on "will have done".

"Will have done" will probably also be used in the context where you've done something in personal time but it hasn't happened in real time yet, making the construction more context dependent than it is now. (And I suspect that this doubling of meaning will be more invisible than the mismatch of present perfect and "tomorrow", so that the grammar police will not jump on that as much.)

The passive voice will now have an additional usage point: when you wish to express that an action has occured but has no subjective agent (yet):

A: Thanks for taking out the trash.
B: Huh? I didn't take out the trash.
A: Well, it's been done.
B: Oh, maybe I'll use the time machine later. Or will you?
A: *Shrugs* It's an odd situation. That the trash's been taken out reminds us that we have yet to do it. But we can't do it, because it's already out there, isn't it. So, some time in the future, one of us must have realised that we both forgot, then went back in time to take it out.
B: Wait, you're right. It can't have been either of the current usses. It must have been one of our previous future selves. I mean, how would we know when to take out the trash? I mean, time travel's a tad too expensive tp go back only to find you arrive too late and you have to make another jump. Are we really that wasteful?
A: "Previous future selves"? Man, we're living in strange times.
B: Yeah, but it's quite nice, isn't it? I mean neither of us has to take out the trash. It's been taken care of.
A: Wanna go back and wait by the bins to thank yourself? Or me?
B: Oh, shut up.

Manuel Royal
08-28-2011, 04:57 PM
Frankly remarkable no one has mentioned L. Sprague de Camp's famous essay on the subject, "Language for Time Travelers". Recommended; available here for 99 cents. (http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook950.htm)

Mac H.
08-29-2011, 04:16 PM
The English language has coped with it before.

When trains started being used across the USA it was bizarre - someone could board a train at noon, travel for 3 hours and then get off the train at 2:30pm.

It was time travel! Whose '3 pm' was it? Yours or mine? They are out of sync.

Time zones were invented to simplify things - before that almost every single town basically kept their own concept of 'noon' !

One thing people often got wrong before we invented time travel - they got 'upstream' and 'downstream' wrong.

When I travel to the future it is travelling DOWN STREAM - because it is the way the flow naturally works. So travelling to the past is upstream and the future is downstream.

Pedants have pointed out that since The Bend occurred in 2049 there is no natural flow of time anymore - but they will be proved wrong by Einstein last week.

Not my last week of course - his. My last week isn't due to happen until next month.

See - isn't it easy?

Mac

Angela
09-23-2011, 08:42 AM
*Tiptoes out of thread to get Tylenol* :D

RichardFlea
11-04-2011, 03:43 PM
Dear Nicolas,

If time travel was as regular in society as catching a bus or walking through a door, the English language would evolve beyond our current understanding.

Our current understanding of time is based on the three basic types of time and how they effect language. They are;

1) Past
2) Present
3) Future

As you would already know, there is a neat and expansive set of tenses that match each of these time periods. Of course they could be expanded into near past and near future, but I digress. Let us keep it simple.

Now if time travel were frequent and possible there would be additional tenses, such as;

4) Future Past
5) Past Future
6) Past Present
7) Future Present

These would encompass such eventualities as arriving before you departed (future past), leaving before you arrived (past future), leaving while you are still here (Past present) and arriving while you are still here (Future present). There would then need to be a whole series of words (tenses) created to deal with these situations. For instance;

1) had
2) have
3) will have

And the new ones;

4) will had
5) 2will have (or will will have)
6) had have
7) wold have (note new word)

I am probably not describing myself well here, but having come from the future, I often run into this difficulty. Something to do with crossing the international date line and arriving before I left.

Good luck! :)

QuantumIguana
01-19-2012, 08:21 PM
There was an episode of Red Dwarf where they used some odd tenses to talk about time travel. The person who travels in time has a different perspective from the person who does not travel in time. If I go back 100 years ago, and I talk to King George the V about World War I, that war is my past, and his future. It has happened, from my perspective, and will happen from his. You could say that it "will has happened" if you wanted to. Now, if he takes the information I present to him, and manages to prevent WWI, then we have things "unhappening".

As far as language change, it would be interesting to pop back decade by decade to hear how different speech was. It wouldn't take too long before differences in speech began to be noticeable. The older the books that I read, the more peculiar the language seems. It may seem stiff and formal to me, but it would seem perfectly natural to people native to that time period.

Kehengto
03-05-2012, 04:30 AM
It comes down to whether the language is dead or living. Living languages adapt and change over time by influences that come in contact with the language.

For example: you have Old English, in which olde was written as it was the second time in this sentance. So if someone from this point in time were to travel to an earlier point in time. Then the language could be ancient or hard to understand. Read an original Shakespearian play in the original text.

Likewise if the person were to travel forward in time, it would be equal to someone of elxibethian time stepping into the 20th century. Word meanings will have changed and new words would have been added (i.e. explode & texting respectfully) Explode orginally meant "to drive from the stage by a noisy expression of dislike."

So the sentance "The car exploded" would make no sense to someone who was Shakespeare's contemporary.

If that wasn't the angle you were hoping for, the was a great short story (I can not remember the title or author) that dealt with the effects of time travel. Quick synopsis; a man goes back in time to hunt a dinosaur. He freaks out steps off a floating path and crushes a butterfly (unrelated note: butterfly was once called a flutterby). When he returns that tiny change in history caused a domino effect changing the winner of a recent presidential (sp?) election and how time was written (tyme replaced time).

Also there is a theory with time travel that you can go backwards in time, but never return to your original time. That is, upon trying to return you travel into an alternative timeline that is at the exact same point in time. So it will also depend on which theory of time travel your work accepts.

As far as writting goes stick with the commonly accept tense from the perspective of the MC. (I.E. 'He looked at the man with a confused look.')

My best suggestion would be to read H.G. Wells' The Time Machine.

Does this help?

victoriakmartin
05-21-2012, 06:31 PM
For example: you have Old English, in which olde was written as it was the second time in this sentance. So if someone from this point in time were to travel to an earlier point in time. Then the language could be ancient or hard to understand. Read an original Shakespearian play in the original text.

Actually, that wouldn't be Old English, it's Middle English. Old English almost completely different from Modern English.

As an example, here is an excerpt from Beowulf: "ot him ghwylc r ymbsittendra ofer hronrade hyran scolde". This translates to: "till before him the folk, both far and near, who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate"

As you can see, it really doesn't resemble anything in Modern English, except for the word "him." So if an English-speaker went back far enough in time have people speaking Old English, they wouldn't understand almost anything people were saying (unless they spoke German because apparently it's not too hard to pick up Old English then, since it was (and English still is) a Germanic language).

The same thing would be true of people time travelling in France before the Revolution, since there was no standard language until then and the dialects varied significantly between regions. And no doubt all other languages would be the same, though I admit I do not know their histories as well as I do for English and French.

Once!
05-23-2012, 02:59 PM
I hate to be a nitpicking son of a nitpickery nitpicker, but I was taught that Beowulf was old English, Chaucer was middle English and Shakespeare was right at the beginning of modern English.

Admittedly, Shakespeare might not sound very modern to someone who hasn't read Chaucer or the Anglo Saxon chronicles in the original. But you could just about have a conversation with Shakespeare, if we were able to go back in time.

Ken
05-23-2012, 03:19 PM
... one thing I've noticed when reading books from the past is that catch phrases and whatnot which are popular and chic now aren't really new but were used then too. So time traveling would make us aware that our language isn't quite as fresh as we'd like to think. As a result, we might use catch phrases less and not be as enthused about them, which would be a good thing imo.

victoriakmartin
05-30-2012, 07:10 PM
I hate to be a nitpicking son of a nitpickery nitpicker, but I was taught that Beowulf was old English, Chaucer was middle English and Shakespeare was right at the beginning of modern English.

Admittedly, Shakespeare might not sound very modern to someone who hasn't read Chaucer or the Anglo Saxon chronicles in the original. But you could just about have a conversation with Shakespeare, if we were able to go back in time.

I have a feeling you might be right about that. Certainly, Chaucer's language is a lot more difficult to understand than Shakespeare's. That said, the exact move from Middle to Modern isn't quite as clearcut as the Old to Middle was (which was pretty dramatic, IIRC, as there is some old record book that was written in using Old English and then they stopped for 70 years and picked back up again in Middle English).

Sargentodiaz
05-30-2012, 10:20 PM
I have a feeling you might be right about that. Certainly, Chaucer's language is a lot more difficult to understand than Shakespeare's. That said, the exact move from Middle to Modern isn't quite as clearcut as the Old to Middle was (which was pretty dramatic, IIRC, as there is some old record book that was written in using Old English and then they stopped for 70 years and picked back up again in Middle English).

I think one of the neatest things is to go to Wiktionary and find a word, then reading the etymology of the word:

Etymology of "adjective"


From Old French adjectif (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/adjectif), from Latin adiectīvum (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/adiectivus#Latin), from ad (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ad#Latin) (next to) + -iect- (http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=iectus&action=edit&redlink=1), perfect passive participle of iaciō (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/iacio#Latin) (throw) + -īvus (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ivus#Latin), adjective ending; hence, a word "thrown next to" a noun, modifying it.




;)

victoriakmartin
05-31-2012, 09:05 PM
Etymology is great. In my writing class in high school we all had to take a word that had a literal meaning and a more slang-y one (to use the technical term). A friend of mine had a very interesting report on how "sinister" went from meaning someone who was left-handed to the more negative meaning it currently has.

Yet another effect of time on language!

QuantumIguana
06-18-2012, 08:37 PM
Time travel would change the language for those it directly affected. The language pf specialists doesn't always bleed into the language used by the general public. The terminology used by the doctor, lawyer or engineer doesn't always filter down. Most people just don't often used them. Things like "has will have happened" might be of use to the time traveller, but might not be used much my the general public.

I read a short story about people who travel to the past, and if they go back more than 25 years, they just can't function in that past society. The farther we go back in time, the harder it would be to communicate. Subtle differences begin to accumulate. There's the humorous, like "ejaculate" being used quite differently than it is used today. Shakespeare is considered to be Early Modern English. We could communicate with him, but it might be very slow going. Many of our words wouldn't be understood, and some of the words that he might have used would have faded to obscurity. In addition, pronounciation drifts over time.

If we went back further, and studied ancient languages to communicate, we'd be treated like barbarians, stumbling with the language.

fivetoesten
06-19-2012, 06:25 PM
I like these.
Corpus of Historical American English (http://corpus.byu.edu/coha/)
Corpus of Contemporary American English (http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/)

Sargentodiaz
06-20-2012, 10:50 PM
I like these.
Corpus of Historical American English (http://corpus.byu.edu/coha/)
Corpus of Contemporary American English (http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/)


Wow! Thanks for the links. Awesome. :)

JJLindsell
08-09-2012, 03:00 AM
I would like to know and discuss how the incorporation of time travel will affect the english language?

What happens to story telling when after comes before before?

Does the above sentence make sense? It would not have made sense two hundred years ago but post time travel even as a thought it makes sense, does that make sense?

Can you upload a webpage tomorrow and download it yesterday while you write on it today? Is that possible? Is that a valid sentence? What kinds of stories can you derive from real world time travel, normal as airports time travel, normal as cars time travel, normal as television, normal as cell phones, normal as mice, normal as pencils time travel?

The Anderson Institute is an organization that I am hoping to hear from to discuss some of these ideas with but I would like to hear your thoughts first. Quite simply how does real normal time travel affect language patterns?

Hi Nicholas. Can you give us a bit more of an idea what 'mechanism' you are using for time travel, and what is possible within it? Because I think that would tend to dictate how people speak about time.
For most sci-fi (and many of the examples above) it seems normal for a speaking character to use two time tags, one explaining an event relative to themselves (A) and one relative to non-time-travellers (B):

"I have (A) put out the trash tomorrow (B)"

It's perfectly possible that speakers will also use normal tags combined with circumstantial data to make things clear.

"(I used the Magic Amulet and ) I killed Hitler in 1932"
"(I have used or completely intend to use the Magic amulet and) I will win the lottery next June"


Real/normal time travel doesn't really cause too many problems, since it's a different kind of relativism. What is now "8 hours in the future" for me in central England is also "8 hours in the future" for people in Vanuatu, Phoenix and Guangzhou. Since I can now communicate with those places almost-instantaneously, there are no real future/present/past mixups* but only mixums as to what time-of-day it is [morning, night time, Pimms-o'clock**]

*Assuming the languages tackle time-phaseology the same; see other forum posts on Sapir Whorf etc.

** If there is ever any question as to whether the current time is Pimms-o'clock, then it is Pimms-o'clock.


In my WIP when I do "time-travel" I come to the conclusion that the linear model some sci-fi takes is impossible to resolve; instead I basically say each time 'jump' is creating a parallel universe, and my MC is inhabiting it, differently. The MC's original universe is unchanged (except the MC is no longer in it.)

Another interesting aspect to time-travel is that it involves space too. Unless you travel forwards/backwards Exactly a year (to the millisecond) then you will end up in space, since earth is both spinning very fast, and orbiting the sun very fast.

Hope that helps.

kuwisdelu
08-09-2012, 03:52 AM
Well, we'd probably end up with a dedicated future tense, as well as a plethora of other tenses.

Maybe we'd end up with some conjugation system where nouns were given their own tense as well, too.

RichardGarfinkle
08-09-2012, 04:57 AM
It's also possible to have what amounts to a purely relativistic set of tenses where each tense is relative to the life of a particular person. So when I use the past I'm referring to my past.

There would also probably need to be a mood wherein one explicitly uses the past present and future of another person.

Stevewritesbooks
02-26-2013, 04:44 PM
I'll just leave this here. It's from "The Resturant at the End of the Universe" by Douglas Adams.

"The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is one of the most extraordinary ventures in the history of catering. It has been built on the fragmented remains of… it will be built on the fragmented… that is to say it will have been built by this time, and indeed has been—

One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can't cope with. There is no problem with changing the course of history—the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

The major problem is simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you, for instance, how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be descibed differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is futher complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations while you are actually traveling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own mother or father.

Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later aditions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term "Future Perfect" has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be."