CIS sponsored a special Mind, Technology, and Society (MTS) talk on the evening of October 22, 2013. David J. Peterson, linguist and language creator employed by HBO, presented a rousing, inspiring talk entitled “Under the Animal Belly of HBO: Conceptual Metaphor in Created Languages” to UC Merced cognitive science students and members of the community. The event was held in UC Merced California Room to a packed audience. Peterson, Founder and President of the Language Creation Society, has created 27 languages, some of which have been used in Hollywood television shows, including Dothraki of the “Game of Thrones” and Irathient of “Defiance”. The interdisciplinary Mind, Technology, and Society talk series is organized by CIS faculty and been running at UC Merced since 2005. The talk was co-organized by Jeff Yoshimi, current MTS coordinator, and Teenie Matlock, MTS founder (pictured here with David Peterson). His visit was also highlighted in the Fresno and Sacramento Bees.
ABSTRACT: Metaphor is not merely a literary device used by poets. Indeed, metaphor can be found even in everyday language (for example, in that last sentence [and that one]). The theory of Cognitive Metaphor, pioneered by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, holds that a series of pervasive conceptual metaphors ground our understanding of abstract concepts in concrete experiences, such that we use the language of a fundamental physical experience or sensation to describe concepts and ideas with which we can have no direct physical contact. For example, emotions and states are often conceptualized as locations, so that we can describe being “in” love, “at” peace or “near” death. And just as it’s nearly (if not entirely) impossible to avoid using metaphors in speech, so is it impossible to avoid metaphor in creating a language. Unlike the languages we speak, though, a language creator has the opportunity to actively create the fundamental conceptual metaphors that guide users of their language. In this talk, David Peterson will discuss the use of conceptual metaphor in his languages from HBO’s Game of Thrones, Syfy’s Defiance and the CW’s Star-Crossed, as well as comment on their use in other created languages, and their use in potential languages.
A recent TED Talk by Peterson: