September 28, 2014

Slice of PIE: ESL in the 29th Century and What Was Extant in 8000 BC?

The international language of aviation is, “of course”, English.

The international language of business is, “of course”, English.

The intergalactic language of The Empire AND the Republic, is “of course”, English...

How about we go the other way? What was the language of commerce on Earth eight thousand years ago?

That would depend on where you lived...

Some 10,000 years ago, there were many languages – though linguists, archaeologists, and evolutionary biologists have traced them back to their “roots”. They might be broken down into a few groups: Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Niger–Congo, Afroasiatic, Austronesian, Dravidian, Altaic, Japonic, Austroasiatic, Tai–Kadai, Eskimo–Aleut, Na-Dené, Algic, Quechuan and Nilo-Saharan.

Do you know what this means: “Alā! Kējō Taru!”

It’s written in the source language of English – why can’t you read it? All right, how about the same question written in Latin. This one is only a fifteen hundred years old and is a DIRECT root of English: “Salve! Lorem ipsum dolor sit Tarusatium!”

Still nothing? Hmmmm…we’re getting dangerously close to just telling you what it means. One more try – this time an even closer time period in which this would have been considered a common language: “How now! Yclept Taru!” (Not entirely accurate, but the general idea would be the same.)

STILL nothing? All right – I relent: “Hello! My name is Taru!”

“Alā! Kējō Taru!” – Indo-European, approximate 10,000 years ago.
“Salve! Lorem ipsum dolor sit Tarusatium!” – Latin, late Roman Empire, about 1500 years ago.
“How now! Yclept Taru!” – Old English, approximately 400 years ago at the height of the British Empire and “America” was only a rude colony.

From my own heritage, in Norwegian, “Hei, jeg heter Taru!”; and from my wife’s German heritage: “Hallo, mein Name ist Taru!” (Whew! I might have guessed that one!); and from the place I live now, “Aanii! Ndishnikaaz Taru!”, Ojibwe was the language I would need to speak to be understood – and not run out of town.

All this to say that when it comes to English as a Second Langauge and the ATTITUDES people have about language – especially when addressing the issue of people learning English as a second language, there’s not much separating all of us all from being incomprehensible to one another.

The next time you talk to someone for whom English is a second (or third or fourth) language, consider that your own English skills would have brought you face-t0-face with a grossly negative response wherever you’re reading this even as few as two hundred years ago. You might even be transported to the country your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or great-great-grandparents came from and find that your English is the incomprehensible language.

As for the science fiction context, why do we blithely assume that dolphins, chimps, or (for gosh sake) ALIENS will be even remotely comprehensible – or that they would even CARE to be comprehensible to us or that they would want to learn to speak English? Even given that they would find Human languages comprehensible, why would they learn English when more people on Earth speak Mandarin Chinese than English. What if their brains are hard wired to understand the structure of Basque? In that case, “Kaixo! Nire izena da Taru!”

September 25, 2014


The Cold War between the Kiiote and the Yown’Hoo has become a shooting war.  On Earth, there are three Triads one each in Minneapolis, Estados United; Pune, India; and Harbin, China. Protected by the Triad Corporation, they intend to integrate not only the three peoples and stop the war that threatens to break loose and slaughter Humans and devastate their world.; but to stop the war that consumes Kiiote economy and Yown’Hoo moral fiber. The Yown’Hoo know about the extra-Universe Braider, aliens whose own “civil war” mirrors the Cold War. The Braiders accidentally created a resonance wave that will destroy the Milky Way and the only way to stop it is to physically construct a sort of membrane that will produce a canceling wave – generated from the rim of the Galaxy inward. The Braiders don’t DO physical stuff on that scale – the Yown’Hoo-Kiiote-Human Triads may be their only chance of creating a solution. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society may produce a stability capable of launching incredible expansion, creativity, longevity and wealth – and building the Membrane to stop the wave.

The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans –two; the smallest canine pack of Kiiote – six; and the smallest camelid herd of Yown’Hoo – a prime eleven. On nursery farms and ranches away from the TC cities, Humans have tended young Yown’Hoo and Kiiote in secret for decades, allowing the two warring people to reproduce and grow far from their home worlds. Grendl, Manitoba is one such place. No one but the Triad Company has ever heard of it and the physical plant goes by the unobtrusive name of Organic Prairie Dairy.

The city Triads never hear of anything they aren’t spoon fed in their luxury worlds and have heard only rumors of the farms and ranches. Surrounded by a Humanity that has degenerated into a “duck-and-cover” society as the Big Boys fight their war, the Triads don’t care about anything but their own lives. Oblivious, cocooned, manipulated, they have no idea that their privileges are about to be violently curtailed and all of their biology ransacked for the correct Membrane pattern. (update: 5/2/2014)

I only barely understood what she was saying, but I bowed to her. The rest of the Triad pressed together. The lieutenant Bakhsh looked totally confused and so did St. Admiral. The leaders of the intelligent universe turned to look at us.

The Kiiote howled, the Herd Mother stamped, Bakhsh clapped his hands, and St. Admiral nodded slowly. Backing away, I exclaimed, “What?”

“This is why we need all of you!” Bakhsh said. “You knew what she was talking about – you should see all of your faces! You knew what she meant and accepted it within your own psychological matrices. None of us understood her. That,” he jabbed a finger at us, “is why we risk everything to get you out of here.”

I shook my head. “You expect me to believe that all of you think that Humans and Kiiote and Yown’Hoo can live just fine without each other?”

“We have always done so,” said Pan; her mate rumbling in agreement.

“As have we,” said Ji-Hi.

“And us,” said St. Admiral.

“You’re all disgusting,” I said.

Qap and Xurf turned and urinated in the direction Pan and Zir. They growled, but neither one made an move to attack. The rest of our Pack scattering to avoid the spray then stood by their leaders. Dao-hi and the Herd spit in unison, their acidic saliva hissing on the edges of the front hooves of the Ji-Hi, Mother of All Herds. She didn’t move, allowing the acid to eat the edges of her hooves smooth.

Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh said, “Explain yourself, Human Oscar.” I opened my mouth but he held up his hand, adding, “I don’t want you to explain yourself. I want you to explain your group. I want you to explain the Triad.” He put his hand behind his back and fell to a stance I’d seen in old movies. It was parade rest. St. Admiral did the same. The other elders also fell into their people’s version of parade rest. Everyone was looking at me.

“What do I mean?”

“You’re the one set off the verbal attack. Explain the Triad to us.”

“Um, I just meant…”

“You meant to shame us, Human child,” said Ji-Hi. She was so old, her head was almost level with mine. Yown’Hoo neck vertebrate begin to collapse and they grew shorter the older they got; there was a legend that it happened because of the weight of authority on them.

I shrugged. I didn’t mean to shame anyone, but I guess I did mean to. I finally figured it out. “You all don’t get each other, do you?”
The Zir and Pan said in choral response, “We do not…”, “…understand our enemies or Humans.”

Lieutenant Bakhsh said, “We have no idea what either of them think! Why are they tearing up our planet?”

Pan said, “We do not hate Humans. We hate only the food ones.”

“As we hate only the rule-less ones.”

“And we all get each other,” I cut into the hate-fest. “We know each other. We grew up together. We understand how we think.”

“That is why…”, “…you must escape. The Humans…”, “…do not work alone,” Zir and Pan said.

“The Humans have been joined in hate – Yown’Hoo and Kiiote together – as much as you have been joined in growing,” said Ji-Hi.”

St. Admiral said, “We have to go. Before we all die.”

“And we have to go now, or this is all over and Humanity, Yown’Hoo Shwee, and Kiiyaa will never have a chance to show how great we can be together.”

September 23, 2014

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 175 Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

Fantasy Trope: Gaslight Fantasy

Andrijana Crncevic said, “Wha’d’yo mean you ‘just really wonder if I’m a witch’?”

Kweku Chikelu shrugged. She grabbed his upper arm, her weightlifter grip holding him firmly enough to keep him from slipping away – which he usually did when he made outrageous claims. Like when he accused her of being controlled by the aliens who made the Anasazi disappear by taking over their bodies and making them build spaceships so they could escape Earth. Or the time he accused her of being a mermaid assigned to infiltrate land-based politics and stop the professional fishing industry – and tidal stream power generation. Andrijana rolled her eyes and squeezed harder. Kweku – Quack when she was irritated with him – squeaked. Quacked, pretty much.

“So tell me what you mean. We’ve already established I’m not a mind-controlling alien, a mermaid, or a golem.”

“I never really thought you were a golem,” he said sheepishly, finally meeting her gaze.

She released him with a shake. “You’re the only reason I stay at this stupid school, Quack.”

It was his turn to roll his eyes and say, “Don’t call me ‘Quack’.”

She echoed him tone-for-tone as he said it.

They sat side-by-side outside of the school theater. It was a warm night, just before spring actually sprung, trees still bare and fingers reaching up to touch a full Moon. They were breaking from rehearsal for the school’s production of “Macbeth”, where she played...Gentlewoman, Lady Macbeth’s caretaker. She said, “How about I won’t call you if you don’t call me a witch.”

He shrugged and dropped his eyes again. Somewhere on the autism spectrum, she’d decided long ago that he didn’t fit in any one place – he wandered up and down the spectrum, some days he’d talk to anyone; others he’d follow her, hunched as if the world lashed him. He said, “I can’t. You have to be a witch.”


“ ‘cause I’m more me with you than I am with anyone else even my mama,” he said in a rush. “It’s got to be magic. It can’t be reality.”

Andrijana thrust her lower jaw out – she did it whenever she thought she had a major decision to make. It bugged her mom to death. Her dad thought it was adorable. In fact, it was neither. When she configured her chin in that way, it allowed her to focus her psychic energy and speak through real space to the Behind. Her familiar lived there. He turned indolently to her. She couldn’t see in the Behind, but for whatever reason, her sense allowed her to know what was happening there. She knew he turned to her. She knew he was immense. At first, she’d thought he was a dragon, but she knew now that he wasn’t. She also knew that he was both committed to a different relationship and that he was somehow slaved to her – though he didn’t mind. “Listen, Mac, he’s on to us.”

The voice he spoke in belied his power; it was gentle, calm but strong nevertheless. She’d heard it once before. The creature beholden to her Behind reality sounded exactly like Martin Luther King, Junior...

Names: ♀ Serbian, Serbian ; Akan, Igbo