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The Fictional Linguistic Dilemma - The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Beemer

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The Fictional Linguistic Dilemma [Jun. 15th, 2007|12:49 am]
Beemer
So, a question for y'all what read SF:

We have a (human) character from a fairly ordinary background who gets dragged off to strange and interesting places. Logically, the (also human) people in the strange and interesting places would not speak the same language. But these characters need to be able to communicate -- have conversations, even -- because otherwise it's all very boring.

Which of the following solutions to this problem do you find acceptable?

Ignore It: Just avoid the question entirely. Everyone speaks 'English' and language is simply never mentioned.
0(0.0%)
Gloss Over It: Acknowledge briefly how strange it is that everyone speaks 'English', but provide no explanation.
0(0.0%)
Translator Microbes: Describe a whatchamajigger that solves the problem, but don't explain how it works.
1(3.8%)
Babel Fish: The whatchamajigger is explained in a hand-wavy way, then we move on.
2(7.7%)
Universal Translator: Whatchamajigger with explanation; how it works is sometimes plot-relevant.
1(3.8%)
Fast Learning: Invoke technobabble to let characters absorb new languages very quickly.
1(3.8%)
The Low-Tech Way: Characters learn new languages through conveniently-available months of intensive study.
1(3.8%)
Other: some exciting and clever method I haven't thought of, which is described in a comment.
1(3.8%)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: boat_of_car
2007-06-15 01:08 pm (UTC)

ordinary and convenient

You describe the travelar as ordinary, (can't help but think of Arthur Dent) and the aliens as already mysterious. We need the basic mechanics, and that it works, and not much more, I think. Unless, as you suggest in your poll, how it works is relevant to the plot- for example, if the translation requires large amounts of a particular substance or technology that has other side effects...(sorry out of commas cant post until i get more arrrrgghhhh)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: bryree
2007-06-16 05:29 am (UTC)

Re: ordinary and convenient

How will getting more arrrrgghhhh help with your comma shortage?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)