The 2016 film Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Hiesserer is a science-fiction mystery based on Ted Chiang’s 1998 science-fiction novella The Story of Your Life. The film follows linguist Dr. Louis Banks as she takes on the task of decoding an alien language in the midst of the arrival of twelve UFOs.
The film is interesting to me because it took inspiration from the Sapir-Whorf theory, a theory that I believe in to an extent. The Sapir-Whorf there states that the structure of language determines or greatly influences the modes of thought and behavior characteristics of the cultures in which it is spoken. Essentially, the structure of our languages determine how we think.
In the film, it is noted that all languages spoken by humans on Earth are linear, meaning that when speaking or reading there is always a beginning and end to our sentences. However, for Heptapods, the alien species that land on Earth in the film, their language is non-linear, the sentences are these circular splotches on ink. No matter where in the sentence you were to begin reading, the sentence would always read the same, something that humans just can’t seem to understand due to our linear language and how it affects out way of thinking.