Date of Award

Winter 4-28-2020

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Degree Name

B.A.

Department

Anthropology

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Stephen Chrisomalis

Abstract

Many commonly used words in the English language originated in science fiction or else have been popularized by use in science fiction works. This paper examines the historical, linguistic, and cultural voyage of four words: empath, hive mind, hypnopaedia, and mindlink. These four words are all related to the mind and parapsychology. Magazines, books, and materials from Google books are examined to trace the journey of these words through science fiction and out into the “real world”, if they make it there. Google Ngram is the central tool in this research. The paper examines Ngram graphs and attempts to explain how and why these four words became popular, lost popularity, or never gained a presence in the public consciousness. Science fiction staples such as Star Trek, Brave New World, and stories from popular science fiction magazines are used to trace the history of empath, hive mind, hypnopaedia, and mindlink. Other important cultural works, such as Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, Atari’s Mindlink device, and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess are also used to trace these words linguistic journeys. When these words leave science fiction to be used in other cultural contexts, they often acquire slightly altered meanings. Each word is traced from its first use (either in science fiction or elsewhere), its use in science fiction, and possible venture into other cultural contexts. This paper finds science fiction to be a tool for generating and propelling new words into the public consciousness if the cultural context is right.

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