Thursday, 21 July 2016

Mentator, Diaglossa And Amulet

Panigpak's amulet (The Merman's Children, Book Four, Chapter I), p. 196.

What have these three artifacts in common? Follow the links and find out. The first two are technological whereas the third is magical. In fact:

"It is a deep magic...'" (p. 197)

The magician had to open his father's cairn and take a piece of the skull.

How do fictional characters converse with the people or beings that they meet on other planets or in ancient time periods? In some films or TV episodes, the problem is ignored. Everyone in the universe speaks and always has spoken English! Until the film is translated into French etc. Occasionally, a completely inadequate explanation is given. Two ERB characters, imprisoned in a cell, begin by pointing at objects and articulating nouns and are soon discussing abstract concepts like telepathy.

It is interesting to find an instant translator in both fantasy and sf, both written by Poul Anderson. The technological devices are versatile but have their limits. Of course. They are not "magic."

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

At least Edgar Rice Burroughs made an effort to introduce some realism in his story by having his characters teach each other words in their languages.