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The "Language of Space"

By T. Peter Park


Probably the most bizarre artificial "universal" language of recent times is aUI (pronounced "a-OO-ee"), the "Language of Space." aUI, meaning "space-spirit-sound" or "space-language," and advertised as the "Pentecostal Logos of Love and Peace," was launched on Planet Earth in the 1960's by John W. Weilgart, an Austrian-born Iowa psychiatrist who claimed to have learned the language as a young boy from a little green elf-like humanoid from outer space. The little green spaceman told Weilgart that aUI was the literally universal language used by intelligent beings on all planets throughout the Cosmos. aUI, according to Weilgart, is a perfectly logical and rational language, and learning aUI can actually cure a person of irrational thinking patterns.

I first heard of John W. Weilgart, aUI, and how he allegedly receivied the language, in a couple of articles on UFOs published in the late 1960's by Brad Steiger, a prolific, rather sensational popular writer on UFOs and other weird, para-scientific, and occult topics. Steiger apparently took Weilgart's story of the little green man quite seriously, and discussed aUI as a quite possibly valid, important, and worth-while revelation from our "space brothers." A few years ago, just out of curiosity, I decided to see for myself what aUI was like, and ordered two of Weilgart's books: aUI: The Language of Space: Pentecostal Logos of Love & Peace, 4th edn. (Decorah, IA: Cosmic Communication Company, 1962, 1979) and Cosmic Elements of Meaning: Symbols of the Spirit's Life: A Cosmology for Mankind's Survival in the Atomic Age of Space (Decorah, IA: Cosmic Communication Co., 1975). The "philosophy" of the books strikes me as pure Southern California neo-Theosophic New Ageism, like the revelations of a slightly more intelligent and literate George Adamski or Shirley MacLaine. However, the aUI language itself strikes me as a really rather interesting example of a constructed priori "oligosynthetic" language rather in the tradition and spirit of the 17th century glossopoeic efforts of John Wilkins, George Dalgarno, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz.

aUI seems to completely ignore and by-pass the intuitive language of human psychological sound-symbolism discussed by linguists like Morris Swadesh (The Origin and Diversification of Language, 1971), Otto Jespersen (Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin, 1922), and Edward Sapir (Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in Language, Cultureand Personality, ed. David G. Mandelbaum, 1949, 1963). It seems to represent either a totally priori "out of thin air" attempt to create a perfectly logical language with no dependence whatsoever on material from any natural languages, or else a language reflecting the natural psychology and intuitive sound symbolism of an alien, non-human race. I have no idea whether Weilgart was "on the level" in attributing aUI to a little green elf-like space-being who visited him in his boyhood. If Weilgart was honest, and not a conscious liar or hoaxer, in telling such a story, I have no idea whether he simply suffered from a delusion (psychiatrists are by no means immune from mental disturbance), or perhaps truly had a "close encounter" with a non-human intelligent alien of some sort. The "non-human," counter-intuitive character of aUI might almost be considered an argument in favor of an alien origin. If aUI is indeed a real language, it may be an outgrowth of a biology, physiology, and psychology, a background of sense- and speech-organs and of day-to-day and minute-to-minute bodily and environmental sensations, very different from the ones underlying human language.

Ultimately, the intuitive language discussed by linguists like Otto Jespersen, Edward Sapir, and Morris Swadesh is rooted in human biology and physiology. Intelligent creatures with a different biology, physiology, and evolutionary background from Homo sapiens might have a very different intuitive language from ours, one that would leave us cold, puzzled or irritated but would seem and feel "logical" and "natural" to them. aUI might well be a language based on such an alien physiology, psychology, and sound- symbolism. aUI could easily be a language for robots--or even for the frail-bodied big-headed "Grays" with enormous dark "wrap-around" eyes described by alleged UFO abductees. One could easily imagine Whitley Strieber's "Visitors," or the bedroom invaders with enormous bald heads and huge dark slanted eyes, performing genetic and medical experiments on Budd Hopkins', John Mack's, and David M. Jacobs' patients, as conversing among themselves in aUI. We can imagine a "Gray" surgeon asking his assistants in aUI during one of those medical examinations or genetic experiments described by supposed abductees, "please pass me the ovarian probe," "please bring me the nasal implant insertor,""please activate the sperm-collecting suction cup," or "please bring hybrid baby No. 387 from the incubator and show it to the patient to facilitate emotional bonding." The thought of a "Gray" referring to the spouse of an abductee as her bvu ("husband, together-active-man") or his byvu ("wife, together-inactive-person"), pronounced (in English phonetics) as something like "b'VOO" or something like "B- voo," somehow just sounds oddly apt and natural to me. aUI sounds, indeed, very much like what most of us might come up with if we tried to imagine the native language of Zeta Reticuli, the supposed home solar system of the creatures who allegedly abducted and medically examined Barney and Betty Hill on their famous or notorious "Interrupted Journey" through the New Hampshire White Mountains in September 1961.


A Short Course in aUI

In aUI, each sound of the language--each vowel and each consonant--is a "basic element" signifying one basic concept, and the meaning of every word can be analyzed into the "elements" of which it is built up. Essentially, this means that every letter stands for one particular basic idea, and always stands for that idea. The aUI alphabet and sound-system consists of the short vowels (lower-case) a,e,i,o,u,y,q, the long vowels (upper-case) A, E,I,O,U, the nasalized vowels (long and short) a*,e*,i*,o*,u*,y*,A*,E*,I*,O*,U*, Y*, and the consonants r, L, m, n, w, v, f., h, j, c, s, z, g, k, t, d, p, b. The long and short vowels aeiouAEIOU are pronounced as in Spanish, Italian, and German; y is pronounced like German in Brcke, fnf or French u in lutte, duc; Y* corresponds to the German , h in ber, khl or the French u, in pur, mur, dur, Vaucluse, s'amuse, sr; q has the sound of German or French eu; c is like English sh in ship, shoe, fish; j has the zh sound of s in pleasure, z in azure; x has the sound of German ch in Buch, Nacht, machen, sprach, doch; g is always "hard" or velar as in English go, get; the b,d,f,h,k,L,m,n,p,r,s,t,v,w,z have their usual English values. The short nasal vowels a*,e*,i*,u*,o* stand for respectively the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, while the long nasal vowels A*,E*,I*,U*,O* represent respectively the numbers 6,7,8,9,10; zero is indicated by Y*, the nasalized version of the sound of German in ber, Fhrer or French u.in dur, mur, s'amuse, Vaucluse. The short vowels a,e,i,u,o,y,q stand respectively for "space/place (a), movement (e), light (i), man/human/person (u), life (o), no/not (y), Condition(al)/if (q)."

Negation (no, not, non-, un-, anti-), which is expressed by nasal grunts in the natural intuitive language described by linguists Otto Jespersen and Morris Swadesh, and by Esperanto ne, Loglan no, Lojban na, is expressed in aUI instead by y, the sound of German or French u. The long vowels A, E, I, U, O signify respectively "time (A), matter (E), sound (I), mind/spirit (U), feeling (O)." The name of the language, aUI, thus, literally means "space (a)-mind, spirit (U)-sound (I)," the "mind-sound of space," thus "the language of space." Of the consonant phonemes, w signifies "power, strong, work." Thev represents "action, do, make, active" and as final -v serves as the aUI verb-ending. The m stands for "quality," and -m serves as the aUI adjective ending, corresponding to English -ful, -ish. The n signifies "quantity, number, count, many," and final -n serves as the plural sign. Neither the m nor the n, we may note, bears any of the symbolic associations of the nasals stressed by Swadesh, such as "negation, first- or second-person pronoun, mother, woman." The r means "positive, good," while L signifies "round." Of the other aUI consonants: f means "this," h means "question, what?," j stands for "equal, equality, even, horizontal," c means "exist, be, is," s denotes "thing," z designates "part, divide," g signifies "inside, inner," and k stands for "above, up, top, high, upper." Finally, t denotes "toward, to, direction, tendency," d means "through, by means of," b signifies "together," and p represents "before, front, in front, pre-, pro-, proto-." Again, it is difficult to see any similarity or correspondence in any of this to the symbolic associations of different phonemes suggested by Otto Jespersen and Morris Swadesh.

From y, "negative, no, not, un-, anti-" and Y* "zero," we get the derivatives ya"nowhere"("no-space, no-place"), yA "never" ("no-time"), yr "no!" ("not-yes, un- positive"), yr- "mal-, ill-, bad-, dys-" ("no-good, un-good"), yc "not, is not" ("not-is, not- be"), yg "out, outside, outer" ("not-inside, non-inner"), yk "under, below, low, lower" (""not-above, un-high"), Y*n "no, none, no one" ("zero-quantity"), yn- "little, micro, mini- " ("not-much, not-many"), and yv "female, passive" ("not-active, not-doing"), as compounds of y "no, not" or Y* "zero" respectively with a "space, place," A "time," r "positive, good," c "be, exist, is," g "inside, inner," k "above, up, top, high, upper," n "quantity, number, amount, many" and v "action, do, make, active." The word yv "female, passive" is especially interesting for two reasons: for the rather old-fashioned Earthly sexism implicit in defining "female" as "passive, non-active," a male chauvinism decidedly somewhat surprising in enlightened galactic starfarers, and for its total absence of the nasal sounds m, n, or ng suggesting "suckle, mother, woman" stressed by Morris Swadesh and shown by Swadesh to be presented in the words for "mother," "woman," "girl," or "female" in most of the world's natural languages--one gets the feeling that, if Weilgart did indeed first learn aUI from a little green elf-like space-man, this means that the aliens (1) don't suckle their babies and (2) keep their women down.

The basic aUI pronouns, too, seem somewhat "non-human," or at least totally detached from the intuitive sound symbolism described by Jespersen and Swadesh. The demonstrative is f, "this," from which we get fu "I, me" (literally "this person," from f +u "man, human, person"), fnu "we" (literally "this-many-person"), fa "here" (literally "this place", from f + a "space, place"), and yfa "there" (literally, "not here, not this place"). The demonstratives can also be expressed as fE "this" (literally "this matter") and pfE "there" (literally "before-this-matter"). The other personal pronouns are bu "you" ("together-person"), bnu "you, plur." ("together-many-person"), vu "he" ("active-person, male-person"), and yvu "she" ("inactive person, female person"). Again, none of these sound too much like pronouns or demonstratives inspired by Swadesh's intuitive language. "Big," "small," "much," "many," "little," "few" are respectively nam (quantity-space-ful),ynam (not-quantity-space-ful), nE (quantity-matter), nEn (quantity-matter-plural), nyn (quantity-not-much), and ynEn (not-many, not-quantity-matter-plural)--again, nothing too reminiscent of the numerous world-wide size and quantity words of the type mek, men, mel, pel, or pen often discussed by Morris Swadesh. The color names, too, have what I find an oddly cold, bloodless, and super-logical quality: "white" and "black" are bim("together-light-quality") and ybim ("not-white"), but the other colors are simply numbered in spectral order--a*im "red" ("first-light-quality"), e*im "yellow" ("second-light-quality"),i*im "green" ("third-light-quality"), u*im "blue" ("fourth-light-quality"), and o*im "violet" ("fifth- light-quality"), a name-scheme that presupposes knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum but owes nothing to the symbolic intuitive language.They do not have the sort of resonance with natural human languages found, for instance, in Loglan & Lojban blanu "blue," Loglan & Lojban blabi "white," Loglan brona Lojban bunre "brown," or Loglangrisi Lojban grusi "gray."

From u "man, person," aUI has derived yvus "woman" ("passive-person-thing"),bvu "husband" (together-active-person"), byvu "wife" ("together-passive-person"), vom "male" ("active-living, active-life-quality"), and yvom "female" ("passive-living, not- active-life-quality"). "Father" and "mother" are respectively ytvu and ytLu, literally "not- toward-active-person" and "not-toward-round-person," that is, "originating-active-person" and "originating-round-person," or "active progenitor" and "round (pregnant) progenitor." Once again, a total detachment from the Swadeshian intuitive sound-symbolic language. Compare aUI "yvus" for "woman" with Loglan "fumna," Lojban "ninmu," or aUI "ytvu" and "ytLu" for "father, mother" with Loglan "farfu, matma" or Lojban "patfu, mamta":the aUI "mother"-words, especially, just sound light-years removed (pun intended) from such human "mother"-words as English "mother, ma, mom, mommy," French "mre," Spanish "madre, "German "Mutter," Russian "matj," Hindi "mt," Estonian "ema," Hungarian "anya," Turkish "anne," Arabic "umm," Hebrew "em," Swahili "mama," Zulu "umame," Chinese "m," Korean "mo," Thai "m," Vietnamese "me," Tagalog "in," Tamil "ammaa," Eskimo "anaanak," Lakota "ena," Nahuatl (Aztec) "naan, naantli," Yucatec (Mayan) "nan," Tarascan "nan," Cuna (San Blas) "nan," Mosetene "oo," etc., that have so impressed linguists like Otto Jespersen and Morris Swadesh with their strong suggestion of a probable natural psychological sound-symbolism linking the nasals "m, n" with "mother, breast, suck," etc.

On the other hand, aUI does strike me as producing something inadvertently "Gemtlich," "homey," and "warm-fuzzy" in its word for "friend," bru, "together-good- person," which suggests the purring of a contented cat, as well as English "brother" and German "Bruder"! The same is true for the very similar aUI word for "peace," brU,literally "together-good-spirit" or "together-positive-mind." However,"beauty" and "beautiful" are expressed as riO, "good-light-spirit" and riOm, "good-light-spirit-quality," "good-light-spirit-ful," which perhaps do not seem to sound quite as "beautiful" by human natural-language standards as Esperanto "bela," Loglan "bilti," Lojban "melbi", with their echoes of French "belle," Spanish & Italian "bella," and Chinese "mili." Lojban "melbi nixli," Loglan "bilti nirli," and (despite the awkwardness and sexism of "knabino" with its kn- beginning and derivative feminine ending) Esperanto "bela knabino" seem far more intuitively plausible as "beautiful girl" to me than does aUI "riOm yn-yvu"--or maybe that simply proves that I myself happen to be more accustomed to admiring pretty girls from Earth than from Zeta Reticuli or Epsilon Eridani?

I wrote the aUI nasalized vowels as a*, e*, i*, o*, u*, y*, A*, E*, I*, O*, U*, Y*. Weilgart himself in fact used underlining in his books for the nasal vowels, but underlining is not easily supported on the net. However, the change is really not important, because Weilgart also gave the hieroglyphics in which our Space Brothers themselves write aUI, and used his Romanized transliteration only as a pedagogic aid for beginning learners.

To give you all a few more examples of how aUI words are constructed out of the one-letter aUI primitives:

"God" is kU "up-spirit," "above-spirit," "high-spirit"
"angel" is kna-u "up-many-space-person"
"Satan" is yrkU "not-positive-high-spirit," "not-good-up-spirit"
"animal" is os "life-thing"
"domestic animal" is bos "together-life-thing"
"dog" is waubos "power-space-human-together-life-thing
"cat" is bo*zvos "together-five-part-active-life-thing"
"horse" is ukbos "human-above-together-life-thing"
"lion" is ko*zvos "above-five-part-active-life-thing"
"bird" is kEos "above-matter-life-thing"
"fish" is jEos "horizontal-matter-life-thing," "even-matter-animal"
"tree" is tok "toward-life-above," "direction-life-up"
"fruit" is ot "life-toward," "life-to," "life-direction"
"apple" is nakot "many-space-up-fruit"
"water" is jEn "even-matter-many," "horizontal-matter-many"
"liquid" is jE "even-matter," "equal-matter," "horizontal-matter"
"air" is kE "up-matter," "above-matter"
"fire" is iE "light-matter"
"burn" is iEv "light-matter-act," "light-matter-do"
"stone" is wE "power-matter," "strong-matter"
"sun" is a*ki "first-above-light," "first-high-light"
"moon" is e*ki "seccond-up-light," "second-high-light"
"star" is ki "up-light," "above-light," "high-light"
"boat" is jEged "liqquid-inside-movement-through"
"car" is (da)ged "(through-space) inside-movement-through"
"airplane" is kEged "up-matter-movement-through", "air-car"
"house" is uga "human-inside-space," "people-inside-space"
"gold" is e*i-krE "yellow-above-positive-matter"
"iron" is wrE "strong-positive-matter"
"hydrogen" is Ez-a* "matter-part-first," "matter-part-one"
"oxygen" is okEz "life-above-matter-part"
"see" is iOv "light-feeling-act," "light-feeling-do"
"hear" is IOv "sound-feeling-act," "sound-feeling-do"
"eye" is IOz "light-feeling-part," "see-part," "vision-part"
"ear" is IOz "sound-feeling-part," "hearing-part"
"hand" is bo* "together-five"
"foot" is yk-bo* "not-up-together-five," "lower-hand"
"head" is kUg "up-mind-inside," "high-spirit-inner"
"neck" is kogz "up-life-inside-part"
"mouth" is ogta "life-inside-toward-space"
"nose" is kEmOz "up-matter-quality-feeling-part"
"tongue" is gOz "inside-feeling-part"
"tooth" is odzEvz "life-through-part-matter-do-part"
"eat" is dov "through-life-act"
"drink" is jEv "even-matter-act," "liquid-act," "liquid-do"
"go" is av "space-do," "space-act"
"come" is tev "toward-movement-do," "toward-movement-act"
"big" is nam "many-space-quality"
"small" is yna "not-many-space"
"long" is a*nam "first-many-space-quality"
"wide" is dam ""through-space-quality"
"good" is rUm "positive-spirit-quality"

And so it goes!

Copyright 2000