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On Conglish, Espancon & Condarin (ENVOYS UNIVERSE language revitalization)

NOTE: This is not an article about politics or about tensions in the Middle East. This is an article about practical linguistics and their (minor) use in my science fiction works.

Recently I had an extremely pleasant conversation with a reader via email. The reader was warm and complimentary about the 3 DCHC books they’d read so far in my scifi universe: Exclusion Zone, Third Contact and Assured.

But they had a question about my use of language in the books…

[In Exclusion Zone (set in 3001), it’s mentioned that the slang term for the revived languages being taught and encouraged throughout the young Confederation are Conglish (Confederation English), Espancon (Confederation Spanish) and Condarin (Confederation Mandarin). The terms are tongue in cheek, but the kind of shorthand people might turn to in everyday use.]

Returning to my reader email, in their words, “I get why you need a common language for everyone to speak, but it’s not really believable that three entire languages could be reborn from scratch over just 50 or 60 years.”

I was so glad they asked that question. The simple response to that is, things like that have been done before. Specifically during 19th and 20th century revival of the Hebrew language in which a ‘dead’ and written language was transformed to a living and spoken one. Loosely speaking, this achievement was the inspiration for my fictional revival of 21st century English/Spanish/Mandarin in an imagined society 1000 years into our future.

Indigenous (First Peoples’) languages are also experiencing revitalization in our day and age, and it’s hoped this will both prevent them being lost AND empower the revitalization and preservation of those cultures from which they grew.

My reasons for fictionally reviving those three modern languages in novels set in the 30th and 31st centuries were twofold: to depict a society attempting some lingua franca(s) to promote easy communication between them, and as a rationale for why my characters used modern turns of phrase etc. (I have a pet peeve about fantasy and far future sci fi stories using modern phrases which would surely have faded out of use in the future, and not be used at all in cultures that aren’t speaking English).

You can read about Language Revitalization endeavours here and about the complete revival of the Hebrew language here.

To read about the books I’m referring to here: The ENVOYS Series – Home of Pete Aldin (Author)

Published inOn WritingPete's Work(s)

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