The Sword and Laser discussion

Sci-fi with language contact?

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message 1: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (parnopaeus) | 45 comments This is a kind of specific question, but I made this connection between the podcasts that I listened to that was kind of neat.

On the latest episode of the podcast "Lingthusiasm", which is a podcast about linguistics, the hosts briefly mention Runglish, or a pidgin language that has developed on the International Space Station where the astronauts and cosmonauts speak a combination of English and Russian to each other. The hosts of the podcast, Gretchen and Lauren, then question whether anything has ever been written about children growing up in this kind of language contact environment in space, where they've created a new language that is a hybrid of two languages that we know on Earth.

I figured the folks here might be able to clue me in to some examples that I could share with the hosts. I know that this very situation was briefly mentioned in Arthur C. Clarke's "2010", there is considerable mixing of English and Portuguese in Orson Scott Card's Enderverse novels (Xenocide and beyond), and of course the Chinese-English mixing in Firefly, just as a few examples.

What other examples, in writing or screen, have you encountered where two Earth languages create a mixed language in space? Any others specifically about Russian and English in space?

message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2530 comments Moon is a Harsh Mistress includes Russian sentence construction and some terminology.

Sean Lookielook Sandulak (SeanSandulak) | 401 comments Not specifically in space, but the original Blade Runner had a similar phenomenon among the people left behind by space-faring colonists.
The charmer's name was Gaff. I'd seen him around. Bryant must have upped him to the Blade Runner unit. That gibberish he talked was city-speak, guttertalk, a mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. I didn't really need a translator. I knew the lingo, every good cop did. But I wasn't going to make it easier for him. - Blade Runner (1982)

message 4: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4653 comments Firefly/Serenity does this with English and Chinese.

Probably not exactly what you're looking for, but this Goodreads list focuses on linguistics. Might be a book in there that fits your criterion:

message 5: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2530 comments Oh...duh. How could I forget? The Expanse has a Belter lingo that's a mix of several languages. Seems to be a mix of Chinese, Spanish, a little German, and English. Can't say as I recall Russian being in there, though.

message 6: by Brendan (new)

Brendan (mistershine) | 904 comments You may find Central Station interesting. Spacers speak in a thick patois called Asteroid Pidgin, of which the examples in the book are plentiful. Language is a pretty big part of the book in general, in fact.

message 7: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 891 comments Cmiiw Belter Creole has some Ukrainian and Afrikaans in it as well. I find it much more interesting than conlangs like Dothraki or Klingon since it is both geeky and based on (multiple) actual languages.

message 8: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2136 comments Seveneves has a mish-mash of English and Russian as well (it takes place on the ISS).

message 9: by Aaron (new)

Aaron | 214 comments Hooray! Another Lingthusiast. It is one of my favorite linguistics podcasts.

message 10: by Keith (new)

Keith (KeithATC) | 441 comments A Clockwork Orange's slang is a mix of corrupted English and Russian

message 11: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 5095 comments Ted Chiang's The Story of Your Life (Arrival) gets into language a bit.

message 12: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (parnopaeus) | 45 comments Thanks for all the suggestions! Many of these I've read and you all reminded me - I had forgotten entirely about the language mixing in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, for example. I passed this thread on to the hosts of the show since they asked about it. (Maybe Aaron and I will hear about it on an upcoming show!)

message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (J-Boo) | 175 comments Seveneves was the first on to come to mind for me. I can't swear it, but I think they ended up using a pidgin of English and Russian.

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