My favorite Mârshen
|From:||Herman Miller <hmiller@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, July 11, 2001, 1:01|
I've described the similarities between the Mârshen language and English;
here are a few of the differences.
Foreign borrowings. The English of the future still borrows heavily from
non-English languages, but Mârshen is even more receptive to new
vocabulary, even to the point of supplanting some of the core English
words. From French "n'est-ce pas?", the Mârshen word <nespâ> replaced all
the various English tag-question forms like "isn't it?" and "didn't you?".
German "kennen" and "wissen", in the adapted forms <ken> and <vis>, came to
replace <hnou> ("know") in most ordinary uses of the word. (Note that a
silent "h" was often written to distinguish homophones in Mârshen spelling.
This usage came from analogy with <hw> in words like <hwich> and <hwedher>,
which was pronounced the same as <w> by most Martians.) But <hnou> remained
-- and in later years the <h> was pronounced! -- in the meaning of "being
certain that something is true".
Clipped forms of words. The same process of abbreviation that gave us "lab"
from "laboratory" and "gator" from "alligator" was a productive source of
new words in the early years of Mârshen. Abbreviations like <mod> for
"modification" or <kem> for "chemical" quickly became established as the
official dictionary forms of the words. Unstressed syllables ended up being
simplified or dropped: e.g., <insting> from "interesting". An amusing
example is the Mârshen word for "computer": <top>. It originated as a
back-formation from "desktop", "laptop", and similar compounds (a
spaceship's main computer was known as the <shiptop>!).
New compounds. Non-native speakers of English who learned to speak Mârshen
often translated compounds literally from their native languages. These
often became established as authentic Mârshen words.
(Hmm, interesting that I'm using the past tense to discuss future events! I
guess I'm imagining Mârshen from the perspective of a future time when the
history of the language will be in their past.)
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