Linguistic adventures in space
There are many aspects to writing science fiction. I’m interested in science, but I usually stumble and fall when it comes to alien languages. My mind starts spinning. What if they would speak through body language or song? Even if it’s a spoken language its structure might not resemble ours in any way. I made a few lines up for my novel Kidnapped, but other than that I tend to find a somewhat feasible explanation for the characters speaking English.
In Operation Earth, my editor called me on it.
She said, "You know, it would look much better if these lines were in a foreign language, and we found a way to translate it into English for the reader."
It was a good idea and I couldn’t turn it down. Especially since she went to great amounts of work to translate a phrase into Russian for a portion where our hero speaks with a Russian counterpart. Making up a language seemed the least I could do.
We were in a time crunch, of course. That's par for the course.
All my attempts seemed ridiculous. I tried translating the lines to other real languages from different parts of the world, but some words were still so similar anyone could see they were related.
I ended up approaching a Facebook friend, asking him for a favor. Now the alien parts are in Turkish. I don’t know one word of the language, and to me it looks mighty exotic.
Another comical discussion pertaining to language was the name of the grouping of aliens come to invade us. Like, “We are the…” or “You are now part of the… something, something.”
Finding a word for the “something” isn’t as easy as it seems. Every expression I could think of was already used.
What? You don’t believe me?
Star Trek has a Federation. Star Wars has an Empire and an Alliance. Firefly has an Alliance.
Andromeda has a Commonwealth. I think both Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica have councils, but I might be mistaken. If my memory serves me right, the Jaffa in Stargate are also run by a council.
To complicate things further, I use a Confederacy in the Embarkment books, an Alliance in Kidnapped, and the Borealis series have a Protectorate. All those are off the table.
There aren't all that many synonyms, and some words imply a state of rulership that might or might not fit. Like, a republic is run by the people. At least in theory... I was stumped.
Luckily, editor's husband came to the rescue with a great idea. The Earth is invaded by the "United Galactic People's Republic." I love it, and I love that it makes a good acronym.
If you see a space ship marked UGPR you'd better take cover. They are here to assimilate us!
~ Maria Hammarblad ~
Born in Sweden in the early 1970's, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, "The Sun Book." They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother's horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.
As an adult Maria's creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike.
They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.
Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.
Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite food: Chicken with cashew nuts
Doesn't eat: Mammals
Favorite TV Show: Star Trek TNG and Leverage
Favorite animal: Border Collie
Quotes: "Full Speed Ahead" and "Caffeine is good for you"
Seven billion people on Earth go about their daily lives, and no one is prepared when a global EMP slows the world to a crawl. With all our technology incapacitated, everything changes. Within days alien soldiers line the streets, and life will never be the same. In the midst of chaos, Rachael Hill struggles to adapt to the new order, doing her best to keep herself and her cat alive.
On a ship far above the planet surface, Peter just got his new Earth name, and can’t even remember his identity from the last world he visited. It’s another day on the job, one more planet on a never-ending list. That is, until Rachael bumps into him, dropping exotic objects all around his feet. His culture taught him females should be obeyed and protected, but he never had an urge to leave himself at a woman’s mercy until now.
Rachael’s neighbor Ryan hounds her to join a brewing resistance movement and make a stand against the newcomers. She still befriends Peter, enthralled by his enigmatic personality and hypnotic golden eyes. Would falling in love with an alien be treason against humanity? When the rebellion gains momentum and open conflict with the newcomers is a fact, Rachael’s personal insurrection might be her doom, or bring salvation to us all.
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