Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Cautious Communication

Poul  Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

(I might stop at 100 posts for May, an average of 104 per month so far this year, but thinking about Poul Anderson's works never ceases.)

How can half a dozen individuals assess an entire society that is new to them? Some well-meaning visitors were completely misled by Stalinist Russia. The Envoy crew are cautious with the future Earth. Only two of them descend to the surface and they refuse "'...a mnemonic in a modern language-'" (p. 456). They do not want to risk mental alteration along with linguistic knowledge.

"The mansion stood on the far edge of town, not very big though ornamented with pilasters, changing iridescences, and a winged cupola." (pp. 457-458)

Inside the mansion, a translating device is required which, Nansen concedes, "...didn't make for intimate conversation, but it served well enough here." (p. 458)

I have attended meetings where an interpreter was needed both for the talk and for the questions and answers. This slowed down everyone's thought processes. Responses that were usually immediate were delayed and thus perhaps more considered.

Now, speaking of other languages, I have some Virgil to prepare for next Tuesday...

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