Note: this is a republication of an old Sci-Fi Saturdays that I did at the original Claude & Monet site. As the upcoming relaunch will not include SFS, I’ll be copying many of my favorites here.
“Hey, how come that guy is speaking Spanish? It’s an English webcomic, write English!”
– email from yesterday
Okay, it’s questions like this that make things interesting. Of course they’re referring to Sandoval’s lapse into his native language during Thursday’s page. And though I provided a translation (as well as a translation for Monet’s Scottish slang, something I don’t expect Americans to be familiar with either), I got at least one email asking why I used a foreign language.
To which I say: really? That’s the problem? I can think of at least a couple of webcomics that use languages other than English as advertised and may or may not translate it as needed. Doubtless that there are other works in other media that I could quote as well if we sat here long enough. I see no shame in the use of Chinese or Spanish or Hindi or Japanese or whatever, so long as it’s translated.
Which is another thing that has always confused me: why do we keep thinking that in the future, every human will speak English (or Japanese if we’re talking Japanese sci-fi, or Spanish if that, etc. etc. etc.), because it’s really something that wouldn’t happen in real life. When the colonial nations moved across the world and created new cultures in just about every corner of the world, did we all end up speaking the same language? Hell, we English speakers don’t even use the same dialect within the entire Anglosphere. So how can there be just one language?
Miki was born on an asteroid colony within the New Yamato empire, a nation founded by the Japanese imperial family when they left “Old Japan”. Thus, what would the native language be? The twins grew up on New Hawaii, which although is an Earth colony, they come from a very traditional Chinese family, so Chinese was probably commonly spoken at home. There are hundreds of hundreds of nation-worlds out there, and not all of them were founded by English-speaking colonists, so it makes sense that not every colonist speaks English. In Sandoval’s case, he probably comes from a Spanish-speaking world, else it would be hard to switch so easily.
Just some food for thought. And if you agree, well, es pan comida.