First: I've never done a discussion like this one before, and it may turn out that I'm not good at it; we'll see. If the discussion is dreary and boring -- which won't be dagoski's fault in any way -- we'll give it a prompt and decent burial.
Second, for those of you who haven't read the Foreigner books: Even without having done this before, it's clear to me that spoilers are going to creep into the discussion. I don't see any way we can take up the communication problems and discuss them thoroughly without bringing in information that gives things away, no matter how hard we try. I can only say that I'll do everything I can to keep spoilers to a bare minimum.
That said, my suggestion would be that we begin with the following, to prime the pump:
1. The Wikipedia article about the series, which is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_universe
[Note: The two "external links" at the end of the article appear to be largely inactive for this topic.]
2. An earlier post about the Foreigner series in this journal, at
3. A Strange Horizons review of the series novel Deliverer by Siobhan Carroll, at
4. A brief piece about the ETs in the Foreigner series -- the atevi -- by tj9582, at
5. And -- on the off chance that you're not familiar with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis [mentioned in 2] -- an earlier post on that subject, at
Over to you....
[Thanks to countrycousin for the working link in #1.]
Nonfiction online: "How Verbal Self-Defense Works" at http://people.howstuffworks.com/vsd.htm ; "Why Are Old Women Older Than Old Men And How Can We Fix That?" at http://www.seniorwomen.com/articles/articlesElginOld.html ; Religious Language Newsletter archive at http://www.forlovingkindness.org ; Fiction online: "We Have Always Spoken Panglish" at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/Story-Panglish.html ; "What The EPA Don't Know Won't Hurt Them" at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/epa.htm ; "Weather Bulletin" at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/Weather.html ; "A Quorum Of Grandmothers" at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/QuorumOfGrandmothers.html ; The Communipaths at http://www.jackiepowers.com/SuzetteHadenElgin/TheCommunipaths.html . More stuff at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/SiteMap.html ; LiveJournal blog index at http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=ozarque .