Tag Archives: language

Guest Post: The Importance of Words by Jeffery Viles

29 Dec

Words are not just important, they are the key invention of Homo sapiens, which  separates us by miles from the other animals here on planet earth.  With our complex languages and  hundreds of  thousands of words, we describe things we can see and touch and things we only imagine.  What is in front of us and what is not. The trick is to string words together in clear sentences that tell a story, an imaginative vision, or a descriptive picture.  For me, the challenge is to use surprising and creative language within those sentences to catch the reader’s attention — to make the effort an entertainment for both  writer and reader. Continue reading


Around the Podosphere #13: Podcasts of Note for June 24

24 Jun

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted one of these. Since the Skiffy and Fanty crew collectively listen to more podcasts than there are episodes of our show (totally scientific, promise), it’s about time we brought the Around the Podosphere back to share some of the goodness worming its way into our ears. So, here goes: Continue reading

Languages Matter: Some Thoughts on Language and Dialect

28 May

I want to expand on what I have written in my essay, “Languages, Dialects and Accents:  Why Our Voices Matter.” Much has been said about the use of dialect in science fiction and the outcry that follows. I would like to see more of such discussions because we have been shying away from issues that really matter to us. Perhaps, it is the shift from white Anglo science fiction to a more international/world science fiction that has started the ball rolling. For a long time, the world has been white, male and painfully Anglo-centric, not to mention US-centric. Now we have new voices coming into the song, and some are naturally reacting rather angrily, I would say.

Why are we fixating on English – and for that matter, proper grammatical English English? Let’s not bring in the American versus British spelling argument. Let’s talk about English. Why do we insist SFF writers write in English? Probably because science fiction, at the moment, is dominated by the Americans and the British? Bear in mind that science fiction is also written in Mandarin Chinese, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Bahasa. Why does English have so much hegemony in the SFF-sphere? Continue reading

Language in the Written Word

21 May

The Philippines is home to more than a hundred languages (and that’s not counting the number of dialects). But there are only two official languages in the country:  English and Filipino. The official languages, especially Filipino (a lot of which is based on the Tagalog language), is always the subject of debate. And both languages are arguably the products of a dominant culture enforcing its will on another:  the former by Americans and the second by what could be considered the “mainland” in the Philippines, Manila.

In schools, we are taught to be fluent in one language or the other, but the mingling of both languages is discouraged (and in most cases, will count as an error). In English class, we’re not allowed to use Filipino. In Filipino class, we’re not allowed to use English. And yet, both Filipino and English are inevitably used in both classes. In actual practice, the mingling of several languages is the norm. For those who can speak both languages, this is usually called Tag-lish. In my community, since I am also ethnically Chinese, our variation is Chi-tag-lish, as we mix our version of Chinese (usually Hokkien) with Filipino and English. This phenomenon is not unique to the Philippines, and other countries will have their own variations. Take Singapore and Singlish, for example. Continue reading

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