Wednesday, 27 July 2016

"It's All Greek To Me!"

SM Stirling, Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998).

Although there is no Universal Translator and Stirling emphasizes the difficulties of communication, he is also able to assume some knowledge of Greek on the part of the historian, Ian Arnstein, who exclaims:

"'Captain, he speaks Greek! It's very archaic, and he's got a thick accent, but I can catch about one word in every two - more with a little practice.'" (p. 130)

In such circumstances, canny people like traders, learning to converse for practical purposes, would necessarily also learn fragments of each others' languages. After a while, the Greek-speaking Tartessian is able to say:

"'Hello...Ianarnstein. Msdoreenrosenthal.'" (p. 152)

Arnstein replies both "Hello" in English and "Rejoice...":

" his archaic, gutturally accented Greek." (ibid.)

Arnstein reflects:

"If [he] ever met a real Mycenaean, he was probably going to sound extremely Tartessian himself, but comprehension came easily to both of them after a week of practice. He wasn't doing as well with Iraiina, but Doreen had made some progress and was beginning to pick up a little of this Greek." (ibid.)

It is a big help learning with others. A Time Patrolman would have Temporal for conversing with other time travelers, artificially implanted knowledge of other languages needed for any given mission and mental training to learn yet other languages quickly.

I heard on BBC radio that Lenin spoke English with an accent peculiar to one district of Dublin. While in London, he advertised for English-Russian conversational practice and was answered by an Irishman - who, I think, was a relative of either James Connolly or Sean O'Casey. A Time Patrolman would reflect on the quirks of history.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And the training in linguistics given by the Intelligence Corps of Anderson's Terran Empire, which I quoted from Chapter XI of THE REBEL WORLDS, would also have helped!