Space aliens

Yesterday’s Zippy:

I have a friend who has in fact assembled quite a collection of vivid vintage ties. But what especially caught my eye in this cartoon was space alien in the last panel.

A family story: Some years ago, my daughter Elizabeth and a friend (from high school and college) were talking about the friend’s problems dealing with her family, and her deep feelings of being, as she put it, a space alien.  Elizabeth said something like, “But I’m a space alien too!”, which her friend objected to, saying, “But you’re a space alien who was raised by space aliens. I’m a space alien who was raised by totally typical Midwesterners!”

The space aliens who raised Elizabeth were, of course, Ann and me. We were certainly exotic eccentrics in Columbus, Ohio.

Since then I’ve taken to referring to myself as a space alien on occasion.

Note: space alien ‘alien from space’ (as opposed to an ordinary, terrestrial alien) isn’t a completely transparent compound, and there are no straightforward parallel compounds like Europe alien ‘alien from Europe’. (In general, space serves as the first element in a large number of compounds having something to do with outer space: space travel, space cadet, space biology, space pilot, etc.)

Space alien is also relatively recent. From OED3 (Sept. 2008):

space alien n. Science Fiction = alien n. 1b.

1954    Fantastic Universe May 134   Cinema-makers are now trying to avoid further boycotts by using space aliens for villains. But suppose some of our Extraterrestrial neighbors are also a bit touchy?

2003    BusinessWeek 13 Jan. 45/1   A secretive sect led by a Frenchman who..believes in space aliens, announced..that it had cloned a baby girl.

The relevant subentry for alien (from OED2):

Science Fiction. An (intelligent) being from another planet, esp. one far distant from the Earth; a strange (usu. threatening) alien visitor.

1953    ‘W. Tenn’ Of all Possible Worlds (1958) 57   The first of the aliens stepped out in the complex tripodal gait that all humans were shortly to well.

1960    K. Amis New Maps of Hell (1961) i. 20   Some excellent stories have been written about non-communicating aliens, from The War of the Worlds onwards.

1984    Times 30 Nov. 15/4   A gentle, speechless alien of black human form lands in Harlem, whither he is pursued by a pair of white bounty-hunters from outer space.

3 Responses to “Space aliens”

  1. John Lawler Says:

    OT: Thanks, Arnold, for fixing the Zippy Zoom feature so that I can read it. Lately (last few months anyway) clicking on a Zippy cartoon here has opened it in a smaller ssize on a separate page, Now it’s back to (what I consider) normal. Even if you didn’t fix anything, you get the credit.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      This has been a problem for some time, the result of some change in the way WordPress works. I stipulate the size that appears on-screen and the size that appears when you click on the image, and then when I post the thing, WordPress automatically alters the html for the second, to a smaller size. So I have to go back and hand-edit the html back to what I stipulated in the first place — and that then sticks. Vexing.

      Unfortunately, I sometimes forget to do a second pass on editing.

  2. the ridger Says:

    Our inhouse social networking uses Live Journal software. For various ill-explained reasons the IT types have decided to migrate us all over to a Word Press platform. I wish that every time someone using WP comments about how it works it wasn’t negative!

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