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All nouns, All verbs

It occurs to me that the yuels and the jivas in Jim and the Flims going to be better characters if they can talk—but that their speech should be strange.


[A jiva and a yuel.]

I think of the Unipuskers in Frek and the Elixir, who only talk in imperative sentences, that was rich, a great gimmick for expressing bossiness. And the devilish-looking Wackles in Spaceland, they talked in a kind of Beat poetry.

Here’s a simple and powerful idea: the yuels speak in strings of verbs, and the jivas speak in strings of nouns! The whole thing is to give the aliens’ speech a different texture.

It expresses a nice distinction between them. The yuels are more Zen-like, in action, flowing, shapeshifting. And the jivas are more capitalist, hoarding, acquiring.


[A yuel dinosaur and a jiva sun.]

Originally I had the jivas talking in a somewhat dull orotund society-lady Mrs. Earbore kind of way. Like a standard Hollywood SF-movie alien with a deep voice and *ugh* a British accent—and no use of contractions. It’s so stupid that superintelligent aliens in Hollywood can never master the trick of saying, like, “we’re” instead of “we are.”

It’s gonna be more fun, mysterious, poetic, and alien if my jivas speak in strings of nouns.

Nouns seem easier to string together than verbs, by the way.

I’m still getting the hang of it. These are alien modes of thought! So I need to practice.

Suppose that a jiva and a yuel are going to rent a cottage at the beach with their families. Maybe they’d say, respectively, something like this:

Jiva: “Ocean house family days.”
Yuel: “Surge soak sleep eat nurture.”

Feel free to send in (as comments) some further examples of noun and/or verb speak.

10 Responses to “All nouns, All verbs”

  1. HAL-1701 Says:

    iriquois: ugh, how. (no not iraqi) (or maybe indigenous aboriginal natives being routed by the cavalry from calvary DO call them selves ‘iriquoi’ in their ur-language)

    texmex: “txting and iming has made proper grammar seems kinda oldskoo, dont u thnk? heres hoping 4 caps & punctuation 2 comeback in emails & other writing. the gr8 gatsby probly wuld hv been way less gr8 if it wuz written like this. lol”

    (that’s a quote from a blog i am at right at this instant, saying that grammar is extinct)
    (it’s obviously by an oldschooler who doesn’t really know how to type with his thumbs)

  2. Henry Wessells Says:

    RR
    Nice to know you follow your own advice:
    “You’re not doing your job as an SF or fantasy writer unless your readers wonder if you’re crazy.”

    Can’t wait read
    desire view book

    HW

  3. Nick Says:

    I just posted some thoughts on this, @ my blog http://nmarshall23.livejournal.com/5756.html

    But I will summarize, reminds me of a brain altering exercises of Aleister Crowley’s. In this exercises, your choose to restrict your speech; Such as avoiding a common word or pronouns of the first person. anding using negative feedback, ie pain to reinforce it.
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Liber_III_vel_Jugorum#III

    Maybe that would be helpful. I never did use a razor, like Robert Anton Wilson, it was it one of his book’s that I learned of this.. I bit my thumb. Latter I got a little electric buzzer.

    Nick

  4. HAL-1701 Says:

    ( a paragraph from tom sawyer chapter 22, purified to nouns: )

    night storm, rain, claps thunder sheets lightning. head bedclothes suspense doom; shadow doubt hubbub. forbearance powers extremity endurance result. waste pomp ammunition bug battery artillery, nothing thunderstorm turf insect himself.

  5. HAL-1701 Says:

    best robot company, FESTO. outa some not-so-big town in germany. the company used to make old wood and brass things for centuries, now the great-great-grandson is making manta-rays and manta-blimps and tentacles and other ‘bio-inspired’ (read, just plain smart designers!) robot ideas, including a tall wiggly wall….

    http://www.hizook.com/blog/2008/10/19/festo-manta-rays-dirigible-and-submersible

  6. paradoctor Says:

    The trouble with all-nouns or all-verbs is lack of structure. How do all those Tom Sawyer nouns fit together? Waste pomp ammunition bug battery artillery? Say what?

    You say:
    <>

    Nouns only, that’s:
    <>
    Say what?

    Now verbs and gerunds only:
    <>

    They both need adjectives at least. Adjectives and adverbs only:
    <>

    We also lose logic connectives like ‘and’ and – worse – ‘no’. Also: of, like, through, though, because…

    So I don’t think this’ll work except for the simplest and shortest utterances. (In jiva: I this utterances. In yuel: don’t think work.)

    How’s this for an alien grammar: instead of noun-verb-noun, try verb-noun-verb? So instead of “the chicken laid an egg”, it’s “cluck egg lay.” But for all I know, some human languages already use that grammar. Consult Chomsky; according to him all human languages are the same, modulo dialects. So going out of our fold is non-trivial.

    How about this: all sentences in the interrogative mode. Or how about the all-imperative mode, with zero agenda-hiding, again? It was a major hoot.

  7. paradoctor Says:

    Aack! The texts didn’t transmit.

    Nouns only:
    I jivas Mrs. Earbore society-lady Hollywood SF-movie alien voice accent contractions aliens Hollywood trick we we

    Verbs only:
    had talking use ‘s can ‘re are

    Adverbs and adjectives only:
    Originally somewhat dull orotund standard deep British stupid superintelligent like

  8. R 3.0 Says:

    This is kind of irrelevant to this particular blog entry – apologies – but it pleases the hell out of me to be the one to inform all of you that flickercladding is now a reality.
    Check it out: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827073256.htm

  9. Rudy Says:

    Computing slime! Thanks, R 3.0, I now await my Prognosticator Prize, having writting about the moldie robots in FREEWARE, creatures made of piezoplastic flickercladding veined with mold like a fine bleu cheese.

  10. Rodney Berry Says:

    HI Rudy, lon time no see.

    … got me thinking about how in Japanese, a lot of concepts to which English speakers would assign a verb, are actually adjectives. For example to say you love somebody in Japanese is to say that the other person has the property of being loved-by-you as one might say the other is tall or blue.

    also thinking of how Heidegger often created verbs out of nouns (maybe that’s more easier to do in German?) for example he will use ‘presence’ as a verb and even change it back into an noun ‘presencing’.

    … anyway, just neurons doing their stuff. dunno what to make of it.

    best wishes,

    Rodney


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