Lang Belta: the Belter language from SYFY/Amazon’s The Expanse

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The Belter language, which in the TV show is referred to as Lang Belta, is a Creole language spoken by the Belter people in the The Expanse universe. A creole language can be characterized as a new language, based on the vocabulary of an existing language, but with an innovated grammatical system.

The Expanse takes place 200 years from now, in a future in which Earth has colonized the solar system. In this world, people emigrated to the Asteroid Belt from Earth looking for work, and now survive by scavenging materials in the Belt. In this contribution I will outline the construction and general characteristics of this very complex and interesting Creole and discuss some of its grammatical characteristics.

A language without a nation

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”Now that I am dating an Italian, I will have to start learning Italian”… “I am going to Portugal during my summer vacation, can I borrow your dictionary?” … In Europe we are used to countries having each their language – Denmark has Danish, Sweden has Swedish, Germany has German and so on. But this is a truth with modifications. First of all, countries can contain more than one language, either minority languages such as German in Southern Jutland and Danish in the Flensburg area, or like entire language areas such as Greenlandic and Faroese in Denmark or Sorbian in Germany. Not to mention countries like India or China, which each contain hundreds of languages. Second, several countries can “share” …

Languages in and around Armenia

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As of November 2020, the territories where native Armenian speakers live have become smaller. Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, launched a war against the unrecognized territory of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno Karabakh), inhabited by ethnic Armenians. As a result, a large part of Artsakh was given to Azerbaijan, and ethnic Armenians had to leave their homes. Many of those displaced families had roots in the area reaching back centuries.

Being displaced from ancestral homelands is no news to Armenians. Within the past two hundred years Armenians have been through a genocide, various massacres and pogroms by Turkey and Azerbaijan. There is even a word for “eviction of Armenians” in Armenian  – հայաթափում (“hayatapum”), where հայ (“hay”) means “Armenian” and թափում …

When Rihanna ‘mumbles’ in her native language

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You probably noticed that you can’t understand what Rihanna is singing in the chorus of her song “Work”. What most people don’t know, is that she isn’t singing in English. The language she is singing in is the creole language ‘Bajan’.

A creole language is a type of language that can arise under certain circumstances, where people who don’t have any language in common need to communicate. Bajan arose several hundred years ago among West African slaves who were transported to the Caribbean island of Barbados and bought by plantation owners. The slaves needed to communicate with each other, but since they came from many different places in Africa, they didn’t have one language in common. However, when people need …

Did Denmark get a new dialect?

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When the Danish news agency Ritzau sent out the announcement: “Researcher: Denmark has a new dialect” on the morning of February 4th, my phone started ringing non-stop from 6:20 am. Several Danish news outlets, radio stations etc., including TV2 News, P1, P2, P3, P4, Radio Nova, Radio 4 and about 50 other media agencies, couldn’t find anything else to cover but the exact same story that everyone else wanted to cover. The news about this “new” dialect even reached Iceland.

The reason for all of this was a short interview in the Danish paper Kristeligt Dagblad where I explained that despite Danish dialects being used less and less, new dialects are simultaneously coming into existence. And that I …

The Danish pronoun ‘man’ used as ‘I’ in conversation

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In English, you is both a definite and an indefinite pronoun. This means that speakers can use the same form to refer to a specific person and to refer to someone unspecific, someone in general. In Danish, the pronoun man is used to refer to someone in general, just like the English indefinite you, and the word’s primary meaning, listed in dictionaries and grammars, is this generic function. However, there are instances in the language where man occurs as an indefinite pronoun with self-reference. These instances are only briefly mentioned in the literature and are not described in detail at all.

This blog post is based on a presentation and an article from the 17th MUDS – Møderne …