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Interstellar travel may be a thing of the future, but how will people communicate if it actually happens? Southern Illinois University linguistics professor Jeffrey Punske is on the topic, presenting his unique perspective at the European Space Agency’s upcoming Interstellar Travel workshop.

“Obviously we aren’t ready to launch a ship and settle another planet,” Punske said. “But the workshop looks at some of the issues we may face in the future, and creative ways we could deal with them.”


The workshop, set for June 20-21 at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands, focuses on empowering and educating other scientists and engineers within the European Space Agency.


Punske received an invitation to speak at the event after he gained attention for his language role-playing game. In the game, people are settling in space, and their language starts to change and decay.


Punske worked in collaboration with Andrew McKenzie, associate professor of linguistics at the University of Kansas, on the pedagogical project. The two often use games to help in their teaching of linguistics.


“There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the future of space travel,” Punske said. “What we do know is that language is always in a state of change. One thing that we must consider as we move forward is that the language will change, and in many ways the change will be unpredictable.”

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Category: Science