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Thousand Suns — Designer Notes — Kiĉa

August 23, 2007

In Thousand Suns, I use the name Lingua Terra to designate a future amalgam language spoken by most human beings. Consider it a space opera “Common.” After all, most classic SF literature assumes such a thing (like the Anglic of Flandry’s Imperium), as do things like Star Wars, with Basic, and Star Trek with, well, whatever the heck it is they speak in the Federation. Every now and again in the text, I’ve needed to come up with words or phrases that, logically, should be in Lingua Terra, primarily for “flavor” purposes. Now, of course, Lingua Terra doesn’t exist and, not being Tolkien or Barker, I’m not planning on creating an imaginary language so I can use a couple of dozen words for it throughout a 200-page game book. And though I have a better working knowledge of linguistics and philology than many game designers, I’m not yet arrogant enough to think I can pull off the feat of creating a plausible fake language, even in small bits. Faux tongues have a certain stench to them that radiates from quite a distance and I want none of that odor on Thousand Suns.

So, here’s my solution: Esperanto. When I need a word or name or phrase that should be in Lingua Terra, I’ll use Esperanto as a stand-in. No, I don’t mean to suggest that’s what Lingua Terra looks like; I honestly have no idea what some futuristic interstellar lingua franca would look like. But Esperanto has the advantage of being at once exotic-looking while at the same time recognizable. There’s also the fact that sci-fi, from time to time, has even used Esperanto for a similar purpose, so I don’t think I’m going to far afield.

Or perhaps I am. Is this, as the title to this entry asks, cheesy?

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