(65b) Addendum to (65)
The Misha Campaign (055-1122 ff.)
Log 65 brings up the issue of myriad spoken languages between people in
the same conversation. It's no longer really enough to identify
this with words in the text, so various notations are now being used
when there are extended multi-lingual conversations.
and their representation in the campaign logs
Galanglic: "Spoken words here."
Everyone except Lap'da speaks galanglic fluently. Almost all
of the conversations between people in the log is in galanglic.
special notation is necessary.
Native languages: He/she/sie said something in his/her/hir own
Many people have a native language other than galanglic. Helia
speaks larian, a high-pitched rapid chattering tongue that sounds like
girlie-girls having a telephone conversation. She has spoken it
only to other larians, or to Lap'da who for some inexplicable reason
also seems to speak it. Misha speaks his own language, but has
probably never used it beyond his homeworld. Sagan speaks hiver,
but through a translator so sie can be considered to be producing
galanglic directly. In the log, if a native language needs to be
translated, it will be -- other than that, there's no special notation
or reason to represent the actual words spoken.
Jannish: "Spoken words here."
This is the native language of the settlers on Digitis, and it
has been discovered by our heroes that it is a child form of script
language. It's a normal linear concept language, unlike script,
that is easily grasped by children and humans. It's also directly
and effectively translated to galanglic using the standard chip.
notation is necessary; the text will indicate if a particular person is
speaking in jannish.
Lap'da Jannish: "Spoken words gobblie-ta."
Lap'da speaks jannish to everyone who's not a jann. It's the same
as Digitisian jannish, except that Lap'da does not permit mere language
to restrict the concepts he's trying to convey. As a result, he
uses sounds that don't make up words in the settlers' language -- that can't
in fact be represented in conventional jannish.
Lap'da's jannish is represented by the galanglic that comes out of the
translators that everyone has. It's therefore represented in the
same way as galanglic. If he actually uses a galanglic word while
speaking jannish, that word is in italics and there's a mention of it
the first time he does so.
Script Language: <<[continuous(future): ref.generality
ref.representation ref.ref.location]>> == "Spoken words here."
No-one has yet coined a name that has seen consistent use for this
language. The most common name uses is script language;
for concise reference here, I'll call it by Mike Greene's word scryptese.
It (not jannish) is the native language of the janns, and the native
language used by
the black ship Nightshade. (Only in script language is it
possible to express the concept that all black ships like Nightshade
language, something that Robert has determined because it's part of the
utterance that is referenced by <<reference>>.)
Scryptese is not a linear language. Whereas all other known
languages contain elements that the speaker can put together to express
concepts, scryptese has no such conveniences. A speaker in any
other language can start to express a concept, and change their mind
half way through and end up meaning something else. Scryptese is
more like a verbal description of a hieroglyphic symbol -- once you've
described certain elements of the symbol, you can't really change what
you're saying simply by using different words in the rest of the
sentence. You really have to know what you're going to say before
you say it, and you have no way of changing your mind -- other than to
throw your hands in the air, look frustrated, and start all over again.
Also, scryptese has no words as such. Each sound, each carefully
timed pause, each pitch of note and flick of tongue, means nothing in
and of itself. It only means something in the context of every
other noise (and absence of noise) that has come before (and in some
cases, is yet to come). It's
like writing a paragraph where each "word" (in galanglic, a sequence of
letters) has a meaning depending completely on the words you've already
No Imperial translator chip can -- or will -- be able to translate this
spoken language. Occasionally, jannish-galanglic translator chips
will recognize a sound and try to make a word out of it, but usually
the most productive thing they can do is hum quietly to themselves or
make annoying screeching noises.
For the sole benefit of people who are reading scryptese in the log, an
oversimplified galanglic translation is often provided after two equal
signs ("=="). These are intended to provide enough context that
gentle reader can make sense out of the actual scryptese
To make any reasonable representation of scryptese, it is "phrased" in
terms of "concept-literals", chunks of anglic that sort of convey what
the script symbol might mean.
The scryptese is enclosed in french style quotations (or rather,
<< and >> which is a close enough international ASCII
representation). Each concept is enclosed in square
brackets. It usually has a context determining the extent of the
concept, usually time, as a point and/or a direction which may apply to
a tense or tenses (in parentheses). The concept to which this
follows a colon -- it might be a list of related instances or further
square bracketed concepts.
Scryptese uses extensive references as shorthand. These
references may be to someone they've been talking about, a well known
cultural event, a lifetime of experience, or a current pop culture
icon. Usually it's just <<reference>> without a
qualifier, as it's obvious to scryptese speakers what is meant -- or
will become obvious shortly, as future references are common too.
References are so endemic that an entire scryptese conversation can be
carries out with each speaker saying nothing but
<<reference>> -- or rather, not even saying that, but
conveying each reference with a shrug or nod or appropriate non-verbal
gesture. References can be layered on top of each other as
reference chains. An orator using scryptese can make a passionate
and moving speech consisting solely of <<reference-chain>>.
Usually, just to make the log readable, references are specialized a
little by specifying sort of what they reference; for example,
<<[continuous(generality): ref.[ship ref.janns] ref.ship]>>
== "Lap'da's people came here on black ships like ours."
References are also represented where appropriate using a sort of
Church's lambda calculus.
To add to the difficulty, there is a complete dichotomy between concept
and background. Concept is the pure thought, what's
spoken, the actual communication. Background is the totality of
existence that gives context to the concept. The background is
separate from, but inseparable from, scryptese. For example,
Lap'da might say, "I have lived for 100 years." Depending on the
meaning of "year", that might mean he's 100 years old or 240,000 years
old. Or maybe he is using a definition of "live" as in having an
exciting time, and he's actually 200 years old but has only been having
fun for half of that. Remembering that in jannish what he
actually said was probably more like, "I am 100," everything Lap'da
says can be interpreted completely differently depending on the
background. Two people can have a conversation with Lap'da and
get totally different things out of it depending on what they believe
about the background:
about how the janns came to the forest, for example.
In summary, script language is a nightmare to represent. It made
sense when it was written down, but that doesn't mean it makes any
sense to the reader.