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{Empty title} | The Nation

I found the article today by a Google search for "Weilgart." I knew the late John W. Weilgart, a professor at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, up to his death around 1983. I thought of his "Language of Space" today, when reading about all the hate speech that occurs on radio and TV. He designed his logical language in a way that makes inflammatory speech difficult to express. One of his sayings was, "Love divides, hate unites." He traces that phenomenon to natural selection, where two lovers of the same person, motivated by the reproductive drive, fight each other.

One declared purpose of his language is for attempted communication with beings in outer space. They might not understand linguistic forms influenced by Darwinian evolution, here on earth. In anthropoids other than man, the hands are associated with logical thoughts, and the voice is associated with alarms, threats and the like. So in humans the voice becomes a means of exhorting people to hate and to fight against something, whether it's a wild beast or another group of people. Hypothetical beings in outer space might find incomprehensible a harangue by someone such as Rush Limbaugh. Dr. Weilgart hoped that his language might make people more peaceful.

The title of this article reminds me of Weilgart's book Shakespeare Psychognostic. Dr. Weilgart escaped from Austria in 1939, the year after the Anschluss. He'd just gotten his doctorate in psycholinguistics from the University of Vienna, and he came to America. His daughter Lindy, a professor at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, studies the language of whales.

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