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CHAT: Niven's langs (was: One language for the world)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Saturday, June 10, 2000, 16:13
On Sat, 10 Jun 2000, Anthony M. Miles wrote:

> In the case of Jinx (Sirius), directional words change meaning since it is a > stretched rock with an atmosphere that becomes vacuum at its extremes and > too thick for humans in the middle. Niven explicitly uses East and West to > refer to the extremes of the long axis, but this seems a rather > unsatisfactory solution to me for such a bizarre environment.
Why not? The fact of rotation determines the North and South Poles, and the direction of rotation determines which is which. After that, it is quite reasonable to apply the terms East End and West End to these two huge mountains (which is in effect what they are, mountains that stick out of the atmosphere, with *very* gentle slopes.) Which is which is a purely conventional choice. One might suppose that Jinx was partly settled by Londoners, or at least Brits....
> Wunderland > (Alpha Centauri) is said to be settled by patriotic German aristocrats, so I > would suspect that the Wunderlanders also have a distinct accent.
Well, they speak Wunderlander, which is a koine containing elements of German, Danish, and Afrikaans, roughly in that order. IIRC. However, the situation is unstable: within a few centuries after settlement, Wunderlander is a dead language, probably the result of unrestricted immigration after the development of faster-than-light space travel. -- John Cowan "You need a change: try Canada" "You need a change: try China" --fortune cookies opened by a couple that I know