Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Private Journal of Klendath Servitor Class Alpha
Ulla-Korsa: This is ridiculous. I know how to act properly.
Korsa: No Dad, you don't.
Klendath: Humans don't like you to yell 'Death to the humans!'
Ulla-Korsa: Old habits are hard to break. They shouldn't take it so seriously.
Korsa: Shut up you or I will sic Talnerassa on you.
Klendath: Shutting up.
Korsa: Now ... when you are introduced to Terrans or beanpoles or phrogs you greet them and say, "How do you do?"
Ulla-Korsa: How do they do what?
Korsa: You got me. They just ask it and never seem to answer it.
Ulla-Korsa: What about the voles?
Korsa: They make no pretense about caring how you are.
Ulla- Am I supposed to answer the question?
Korsa: No. Just say 'fine' or 'doing good'.
Klendath: It is a calibrating phrase to make sure their translators are working properly. Like when you guys say "We've come to liberate you!"
Korsa: ... Hey that makes sense. Anyway wait for the translator module to kick in. Now you will probably be offered refreshments.
Ulla-Korsa: It's about time.
Korsa: Not necessarily booze or a full meal.
Ulla Korsa: Cheap bastards. We're supposed to enter into a weighty thing like a conversation without some meat and salad and wine?
Korsa: Maybe later. Anyway, when they offer you food you say, "Thank you."
Korsa: It proves you are polite.
Ulla-Korsa: Who said I'm not polite? Are they just so snooty as to assume I am rude? I'll kick a mudhole in some snotnose's chest!
Korsa: You just do it. Say 'thank you' or 'thanks' if they give you anything.
Ulla-Korsa: Wait. EVERYTIME? Why?!
Korsa: Again to show them you are polite.
Ulla-Korsa: Once is not enough? Are they trying to trip me up? This is very stressful!
Klendath: I can see why you tried to conquer them.
Ulla-Korsa: I know right?
Klendath: If you let me tell him about saying 'please', Master Xamilar, I will realign your entire power assembly!
Korsa: I was getting to that ...
Ulla-Korsa: What is 'puh-leeze' for?
Korsa: Klendath, wine, meat, salads ... more wine. This may take a while.
Klendath: You didn't say please.
Korsa: Bring enough for yourself as well.
Klendath: I like the way Zangid ask for things better than humans.
My nano-fic made a point of saying the humans who run a lot of the Space Fleet have mediocre translators at best. One clear discrepancy is in labeling Klendath and his ilk as slaves. In the Zangid culture conquest of individuals and whole cultures is the road to glory. The humans perceive this as 'slaver' and to a point they are correct. To the Zangid 'slave' is not a binary function (slave/free). They view everyone as having obligations, the conquered as well as the conquerors. There are degrees of responsibility and freedom.
While a human made translator translates a Zangid word as 'slave' there are at least a dozen variations on that term denoting different socio-economic levels. Indeed some servants such as Klendath have more luxuries lavished on them than the average Polity citizen. More telling he has rights and privileges an ordinary warrior does not. Being an inoffensive servant you can't just bust him in the mouth for a snide remark like your brother warrior. there's such a thing as the 'Slave' Relations Board. Too many infractions and you get your license to operate servants taken away. then you must actually hire people and deal with (shudder) unions.
The Tripper/ Zangid relationship could be characterized as mutually beneficial. The trippers run the machines of industry or war. The Zangid operate the machinery of war and keep the bigger meaner aliens off their pencil necks.
As for the translators: the Polity is not without its prejudices against the Zangid and others. The humans programming the translators will have biases as they trnaslate terms. thus the non-Zangid citizens of their kingdoms are referred to as slaves. The term "Zangid', once thought to refer to their species actually means 'children of Gid' the first ancestor/Creator/badass. Now any being displaying courage, tenacity and ruthlessness can be a Zangid (note this is not S&S canon, blame Ray McVay for this neat insight). That sort of egalitarian philosophy doesn't fit human notions of these warriors so the term continues to refer to the race. Controlling a translator can promote world views and propaganda or just reflect cultural biases.
Take the Big Glowing Heads, first encountered by the beanpoles. These are truly alien in biology, mentality and culture. Given to arbitrary and god-like dick moves they deserve a more ominous name perhaps but the beanpoles are pretty literal in their language and eschew mythology and the supernatural in their descriptions. Thus the term is translated into the various human languages as Big Glowing Heads because that is the form they often take. So humans are maybe a little less cautious about them (Doc sure was.)
Culture and politics are spread by more than troops and starships. So is misinformation.
Obligatory plug: the Company makes translators.