Friday, 24 October 2014

The Man Who Counts, Chapter IV

This chapter makes clear that linguistic communication on a large planet with diverse cultures is not easy. Tolk,

"...a linguistic specialist of the Great Flock of Lannach..."
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 361,

learns every language;
makes ceremonial announcements;
presides over a messenger corps;
has been captured by his people's enemy, the Drak'honai, who have also rescued three shipwrecked human beings;
can just barely communicate with one of the human beings because the latter has, for trading purposes, learned the language of a remote area of Diomedes.

Van Rijn would have preferred rescue by a trader than by a navy ship. However:

"'...where there are enemies to bid against each other, that is where an honest trader has a chance to make a little bit profit!'" (p. 363)

Well, yes, if you see it that way. I would settle for just getting off the planet. Surely there would be some feelings of fear or distaste at being surrounded by armed winged beings, then crowded together with some of them?

"The cabin was small. Three humans and two Diomedeans left barely room to sit down." (p. 360)

Van Rijn, admirably, keeps thinking about profit, not losing his lunch, in these circumstances.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Ha! But before you could get off Diomedes you would first need to get back to Thursday Landing, the only human outpost on the planet. That was the problem Old Nick had to find a solution for. And if could do so and still trade with the natives, all the better! Esp. if he could finagle matters in such a way that it would be in their own interests for the Diomedeans to help the humans get rescued.


Paul Shackley said...

I know. He's a genius.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Absolutely! I like Nicholas van Rijn, who was, afer all, a basically decent man--never mind his comically fractured Anglic and loudly ostentatious "greed."

And I like Dominic Flandry as well, another basically decent man.