Adventures in the World
Language and Writing
The future equivalent of “damn,” expressed in present terms, is “damn.” – Alexei Panshin
A rule we’ll be keeping to, most of the time. But for the exotic flavor, here are some notes:
Basic – the lingua franca of most of the world. Anyone who deals with trade or travels very much at all speaks it fluently, and most everyone knows enough that the old standby of “speaking slowly” often actually works. It’s a utilitarian, straightforward, simple language, and weak on specific terminology. Most of the signs in a city of any size will be in or include Basic.
In Play: Very, very plain English.
Fluff: Basic has a dead-simple grammar and a standard vocabulary of under a thousand words that represent most of the general words in communication. Very specific or proper terms are either quoted from other languages or glossed with a descriptive phrase, like “He’s a Nagah” or “That village is guarded by a flying combat robot” to describe a Wytiko the village has hired.
There are “adjunct” vocabularies of Basic with collections of words and symbols for technical subjects, like various sciences, air/water-ship navigation, etc. Most people formally trained in a field know the Basic adjunct for it, but outside of travel, finance, and some militaries, many people fall back to their own languages when talking technically.
When spoken, the words are one or two syllables. The written form is vaguely hieroglyphic, combining basic word-pictograms into phrase-symbols. Think of the pictograms as the triumphant evolution of the international sign symbols and the hieroglyphs as very straightforward combinations of the pictograms (like the “No” circle-and-bar and the P-for-parking for “No Parking”). Even the illiterate pick up or can puzzle out basic symbols and combinations, especially signs like “danger” or “no spitting”.
Solekitar – [sew-LEHK-ih-tahr] A Southern-hemisphere language that’s been in vogue in the sciences for the last several centuries. Crisp, clear, and merrily gets on with MakingNewWordsByClumpingThem.
Lagee – [la’GEE] the language of the most pretentious restaurants in Pohjah-Lyn. Admittedly, it’s pretty, and even bad poetry sounds almost pleasant in it.
Runes are essentially two-dimensional barcodes of relatively low resolution so that any machine with a simple eye (or any organic with a cybernetic eye or even a simple brain-plug) can glance at a rune and read a message of up to paragraph or so encoded in it…if they know the standard that rune uses.
You know what they say about standards, of course – there are so many to choose from.