Smithsonian linguist debates the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’

The aliens’ written language moved in circles, each sentence lacking a defined beginning or end. The alien visitors seemed to view time in a similar manner: as a circular concept. Working to decode this mysterious language, accomplished human linguist Louise Banks—played in the sci-fi film Arrival by actress Amy Adams—begins to have visions of the past and future as her perception of time shifts from linear to circular. In other words, thinking in a different language causes her thought patterns to change.

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