Stanislaw Lem

Verstrand’s
EXTELOPEDIA

in 44 Magnetomes

Verstrand Books Co.

New York—London—Melboune
MMXI


Proffertinc

[. . . . ]

xiii

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Nevertheless, in order to submit the results obtained by the Suplex Method to a certain controlled madness (Conmad), and regardless of the Great Expense, we have applied another COMPLETELY new method—FUTULINGUISTIC Extrapolation.

Basing themselves on an analysis of developmental tendencies—trends with an indeterministic gradient (Trendenderents)—twenty-six of our LINGCOMPS (Linguistic Computers, interdependently linked, i.e., interlinked) created TWO THOUSAND dialects, idioms, onomastics, slangs, nomenclatures, and grammars of the future.

What was the significance of this achievement? It signified the creation of a LINGUISTIC BASIS OF THE WORLD AFTER THE YEAR 2020. In short, our COMURBIA—that is, our Computer City, numbering 1,720 Intelligence units per cubic millimeter of PSYSYM (Psychical-Synthetic Mass)—constructed the words, sentences, syntax, and grammar (as well as the meanings) of the Languages which mankind will be using in the FUTURE.

Naturally, knowing MERELY THE LANGUAGE in which people will be communicating with one another and with machines ten, twenty, or thirty years hence does not mean knowing WHAT THEY WILL THEN most readily and most often be saying. And it is precisely THAT which we shall know, because as a rule people speak FIRST, and think and act LATER. The fundamental defects in all previous attempts at constructing a LINGUISTIC FUTUROLOGY, or PROGNOLINGUA, resulted from a FALSE RATIONALITY of procedure. Scholars have tacitly assumed that people will say ONLY REASONABLE THINGS in the Future and thus will have progressed.

xiv

Meanwhile, studies have shown that people LARGELY say SILLY THINGS. Therefore, in order to simulate

a typically human mode of expression

in an Extrapolation of more than a quarter of a century, we have constructed IDIOMATS and COMDEBILS (COMBUNGLES)—that is, Idiomatic Antomats and bungling Computers Débiles—and it is they that have just created the PARAGENAGRAM, the paralogical generative grammar of the Language of the Future.

Thanks to this, Controlled Profuters, Langlings, and Premnestoschizoplegiators have composed 118 Sublanguages (dialects, idioms, slangs) such as GOSSIPTEX, NONSTEX, GAB, GIBBER, BUGHUM, BLABLEX, AGRAM, and CRETINAX. These ultimately served as a basis for CRETILANGUISTICS, which made the CONFAB program feasible. In particular, it made it possible to carry out Intimate Prognoses relating to Futerotics (including details of human intercourse with artogs and cimogs, as well as sensuals and devials in the field of gravitationless orbital, venereal, and Martian sexonautics). This was successful thanks to such programming languages as EROTIGLOM, PANTUSEX, and BYWAY.

But that is still not all! Our CONTROFUTERS (Controlled Futurologiters) adopted the results of the CRETILANG and SUPLEX methods, and only after collating three hundred Gigabits of Information did COREX—the Complex Corrector of the EMBRYO of the Extelopedia—emerge.

Why the EMBRYO? Because that was how we got a VERSION of the Extelopedia entirely INCOMPREHENSIBLE to every living person, Nobel prizewinners included.

xv

Why INCOMPREHENSIBLE? Because it consisted of TEXTS articulated in a language which NOBODY AS YET SPEAKS, and which NOBODY IS therefore IN A POSITION TO COMPREHEND. And it took eighty of our RETROLINTERS to retranslate—into a contemporary language known to us—the sensational data expressed in a language that has not yet come into being.

[. . . . ]


Verstrand’s
EXTELOPEDIA

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VESTRAND BOOKS
New York—London—Melboune


[. . . . ]

[PROGNODOXES cont’d]

805

side himself, i.e., something else, hence his name. Autostratus, on the other hand, is someone who destroys himself (self-ruinously). Unfortunately, this is the only part of the GOLEM paradox that has been successfully translated into comprehensible language to date. The remainder of the GOLEM paradox, in the form:

Xi·viplu (a + ququ O,O)
e·L + m·el + edu‑d·qi

is fundamentally untranslatable into ethnic languages or into any formalisms of a mathematical or logical type. (This untranslatability is precisely the basis of the GOLEM p.) (See also METALANGS and PROGNOLINGUISTICS.) There are several hundred different interpretations of the GOLEM p.; according to T. Vroedel, one of the greatest living mathematicians, the GOLEM p. is based on the fact that it is not a paradox to GOLEM, but only to humans. This is the first paradox discovered to be relativized (related) to the intellectual power of the subjects seeking knowledge. All the issues connected with the GOLEM p. are covered by Vroedel’s work Die allgemeine Relativitätslehre des Golemschen Paradoxons (Göttingen, 2075).

PROGNOLINGUISTICS, a discipline dealing with the prognostic construction of languages of the future. Future languages may be constructed on the basis of the infosemic gradients revealed in them, and also thanks to the generative grammars and word makers of the Zwiebulin-Tschossnietz school (v. GENAGRAMMAR and WORDMAKERS). Humans are incapable of predicting languages of the future independently; this is undertaken within the framework of the PROLINGEV (prognostication of linguistic evolution) project by TERATERS (q.v.) and PANTERS (q.v.), which are HYPERTERIERS (q.v.), or computers of the eighty-second generation connected to a GLOBOTER (q.v.), or a terrestrial exformatic network together with its INTERPLANS (from Interfacies planetaris, q.v.) as bridgeheads on inner planets and as satellite memory (q.v.). Thus neither the theory of prognolinguistics nor its fruits, the METALANGS (q.v.), are intelligible to humans. All the same, the results of the PROLINGEV project permit the generation of any statements of one’s choice in languages of a future no matter how distant; with the help of RETROLINTERS, a part of them can be translated into languages intelligible to us and practical use made of the contents thus obtained. According to the Zwiebulin-Tschossnietz school (returning to the course marked out by N. Chomsky in the twentieth century), a fundamental law of lin-

806

PROGNOLINGUISTICS

guo-evolution is the Amblyon effect—the shrinking of whole articulatory sentences into newly emerging concepts and their names. Hence, in the development of the language, the following definition, for example—“A commercial, service, or administrative institution or establishment into which one can drive a car or any other conveyance and use its services without leaving the vehicle”‑shrinks down to the name “drive-in.” The same mechanism of contamination also operates when the statement “Relativistic effects thwarting the ascertainment of that which is occurring now on planet X, n light-years distant from the Earth, compel the Ministry of Extraterrestrial Affairs to base its cosmic policy not on real events on other planets, for they are fundamentally inaccessible, but on the simulated history of these planets, this simulation being the business of investigative systems directed at the extraterrestrial state of things and known as MINISTRANTORS (q.v.)” is replaced by the single phrase “to wonderstand.” This word (and offshoots such as wonderful, wondrous, wonderland, wonderhanded, wondercover, wonderline, wondress, etc.—there are 519 derivatives) is the result of a shrinking of a certain conceptual network into an agglomeration. Both “drive-in” and “wonderstand” are words belonging to a language in use at the present moment and which is called ZEROLANG in the prognolinguistic hierarchy. Above zerolang lie the next levels of higher languages, such as METALANG 1, METALANG 2, etc. No one knows whether there is a limit to this series or whether it is infinite. In METALANG 2 the entire text of the present EXTELOPEDIA entry for "PROGNOLINGUISTICS" would read as follows: “The best in n-dighunk begins to creep into n-t-synclusdoche.” Thus in principle every sentence of any metalang has its equivalent in our zerolang. (In other words, there are in principle no interlinguistically impassable hiatuses.) But while a zerolang utterance has its always more concise equivalent in a metalang, the reverse in practice no longer occurs. And so a sentence in METALANG 3, the language chiefly used by GOLEM—“The out-indriven chokematic phyts faststican thrensic in cosmairy”—cannot be translated into an ethnic language of human beings (zerolang), since the time it takes to say the zerolang equivalent would be greater than a human life. (According to Zwiebulin’s estimates, this utterance would take 135 ± 4 years in our language.) Although we are not dealing with a fundamental untranslatability, but only with a practical one caused by the time consumed by procedures, we know no way of

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PROGNOLINGUISTICS

shortening them and so can obtain results from metalang operations only indirectly, thanks to computers of at least the eightieth generation. The existence of thresholds between individual metalangs is interpreted by T. Vroedel as the phenomenon of the vicious circle: to reduce the long definition of a certain state of things to a concise form, one must first understand that very state of things, but when it can be understood only thanks to a definition that is so long that a lifetime is insufficient to assimilate it, the operation of reduction becomes impracticable. According to Vroedel, prognolinguistics practiced in machine intermediation has already gone beyond its initial objective, since it does not in fact predict the languages which humans are ever going to use, unless they radically transform their brains through autoevolution. What, then, are metalangs? There is no single answer. While carrying out his so-called “soundings upward”‑i.e., along the gradient of linguoevolution—GOLEM discovered eighteen higher metalang levels within its reach, and also calculated circuitously the existence of a further five which it is unable to penetrate even by way of a model, since its informational capacity has proved inadequate for this. There may exist metalangs of such high levels that all the matter in the Cosmos would be insufficient to build a system to make use of those metalangs. So in what sense can these higher metalangs be said to exist? This is one of the dilemmas arising in the course of prognolinguistic work. In any case, the discovery of metalangs negatively prejudges the age-old controversy over the supremacy of the human intellect: it is not supreme, and we know that for certain now; the very constructibility of metalangs makes it likely that creatures (or systems) exist which are more intelligent than Homo sapiens. (See also PSYCHOSYNTICS; METALANG GRADIENT; LANGUAGE CEILINGS; THEORY OF LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY; T. VROEDEL’S CREDO; CONCEPTUAL NETWORKS.) See also Table LXXIX.

Table LXXIX

A reproduction of the entry MOTHER from the zerolang dictionary predicted for the year 2190 + 5 years (according to Zwiebulin and Courdlebye).

MOTHER fem. noun. 1. MOdern THERapy, contemp. med. treatment, esp. psych. Num. var. incl. MOTHERKIN, also MOTHERKINS, ther. concerned w. fam. relationships; MUM, silent ther.; MAMMA, breast ther.; MUMMY, posthumous ther.; MAMMY, var. of ther. practiced in Southern U.S.A. 2. Fem. parent (arch.)

808

Table LXXX

Visual diagram* of linguistic evolution according to Vroedel

and Zwiebulin

[diagram omitted]

_____________
*Not a prognosis!

PROGNORRHOEA or prognostic diarrhoea, a children’s disease of twentieth-century futurology (v. PRAPROGNOSTICS), which led to essential prognoses being drowned in inessential ones as a result of decategorization (q.v.) and created the so-called pure prognostic hum. (See also: HUMS, also PROGNOSIS DISTURBANCES.)


SOURCE: Lem, Stanislaw. “Verstrand’s Extelopedia in 44 Magnetomes,” in Imaginary Magnitude, translated from the Polish by Marc E. Heine (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), pp. 77-96. Excerpts: pp. 83-85, 93-96.


Stanislaw Lem on Alien Invasions

Stanislaw Lem on Borges & genre

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources:
A Selective Work in Progress

Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide / Retgvidilo pri Esperanto & Interlingvistiko


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