Today is Mr. Asimov’s birthday, and I’ve always appreciated this quote and felt like it was a good day to share it. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised how writing, even my pulpy cosmic horror series, has expanded my own personal knowledge. It’s also National Science Fiction Day. To celebrate, I’ll continue reading the sixth book in The Expanse series, and perhaps finish 1899 tonight.
Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.
I can’t think of a better conlang in recent memory than the Belter Creole or “Lang Belta” in its own words. It’s the fictional language spoken by the Belters of The Expanse series, the frontier folk who dwell in the asteroid belt or among the outer planets. Created by Nick Farmer specifically for the series, this pidgin language is a mish-mash of words and gestures haphazardly assembled by a society coming from disparate backgrounds, who spend a great deal of time living and working in the vacuum of space. It’s a brilliant fictional language with a ton of detail paid to everything from the language’s drift to the shift of emphasis depending on use.
As you’d expect, we see that same attention to detail in its vulgarities. For a series on swearing, I do tend to avoid dropping f-bombs, so I’ll let you Google and discover the true meaning of “pashangwala.” It’s as salacious as you’d expect. Vulgarity aside, this is solid faux-swearing.
Typically, I don’t rank one-to-one replacer words or phrases as high as others. So it might surprise you to see me score “pashangwala” so high. Why? Well, it makes sense. Lower scoring one-to-ones often are found in the language of fictional societies, which have developed on their own and away from English. But, in the near-future world of The Expanse, Lang Belta is primarily rooted in English. The culture that came before the Belter’s is our culture. So to see words, phrases, and vulgarities like ours meld into a fictional future lingua franca would be expected. It’d be more shocking if words and phrases like this were absent altogether and would speak of a much different society than we’re shown with the Belter culture—a solid five.
Xídawang da wowt da ultim. (I think I did that right.)
Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.