Lingua Franca For The 22nd Century.

What if, in a twist of irony, incorporating multiple vocabulary and grammatical elements from multiple language systems, in what we Malaysians call ‘rojak’ (mixed), actually helps to preserve the individual source languages, instead of destroying them?

What if such an elaborate collage of languages were to be the key uniting lingua franca, not merely shoving down specific language lessons down your throat for the sake of a holiday? What if instead of expecting a certain language dominance, we absorb and develop a new language system based on existing contemporary languages? 

Bilingualism will still be crucial to maintain identity of self, as native languages, dialects, accents, and context will still be crucial within a community or region. The new language, however, will hopefully be much easier to pick up as it would appear much less alien, having integrated enough linguistic and cultural elements into a condensed system that indirectly teaches us how we might share common aspirations in communication.

Think of it as a thickening of the Thesaurus, with nouns, adjectives, and verbs being interchangeable between cultures. Again, the native individual tongue is preserved, and the inclusion of multiple worlds of languages might actually open the door for all of us to welcome, appreciate, and even learn in depth about other cultures outside our own.

It’s like what English is trying to do, but more. Like Marco Polo instead of Christopher Columbus. Learning and embracing local cultures, rather than merely picking up whatever is convenient for economic purposes. Instead of leaving the locals looking puzzled thinking you’re smarter just because you speak in an unfamiliar language, it might be less hostile to our intellect to organize a discussion on how the local tongues might fit into the new lingua franca, and in the process, exchange ideas and cultural perspectives between the larger human community and the regional micro-climates of culture.

The language systems we use now are products of thousands of years of trade by ship and carriage. Morse Code was conceived with the invention of the telegraph, but that’s just binary representation of alphabet systems. Since then we have developed computer languages for ease of communication with electronics. With the internet, it is possible to devise an upgrade of the human language. Sites like Urban Dictionary help to collect vocabulary, while Rap Genius offers in depth analysis of the English language made richer with Rap’s tendencies to be playful with efficient and condensed communication of meaning. 

Collect, analyze, integrate, update. Much like dictionary systems in place today, only online, mobile, and in real time.

It might be linguistic hell to achieve, and it will take more than a few decades of research and discussions to get a practical basis. However, the main point is embracing our differences and our own identities. Rather than isolating each other in islands of language, we’ll have a solid and open network of islands instead. 

Enforcing bilingualism would not be easy, unless the two languages share similarities that educators(humans or AI) can utilize to help with understanding. Multilingualism would be a luxury of the mind to achieve as it already is today, yet we can’t ignore the need to adapt to at least one more language than our own to thrive in the 21st century. 

It is more or less like the languages we use in computers. The circuitry operates on a core language but communicates with the users(and each other) in different languages, but each merely an extension of the core languages. In this case, we would be doing it the other way around, compiling different human languages into a core language, itself an extension of all other language systems.

Communities would maintain their local languages, and the high level of integration of that local tongues into the new language ensures that almost nothing is lost. The native tongues would be much like Latin and Sanskrit being incorporated into English, but maintaining the longevity similar to the Arabic language, by not being forgotten thanks to the borrowed vocabulary. In fact, learning the origins of words could offer valuable insight into any culture or community.

Isolated cultures survive through integration, promoting unity along the way, while still maintaining self identity. That is my vision for this.

What do you think?

Space Racism?

A handful of species originating from Earth have an increasing chance of being born a Martian today. This red dot houses an Eden for many, but it is no more a paradise than any other physically isolated pockets of life in this universe.

We have neighbors in colonies as far as Europa and we are well engaged with their wellbeing as much as we do with the neighbors of our individual living units, but we are all inherently different behind these walls of tangible privilege. The equatorial inhabitants of Earth wake up in the day to warm sunlight. The neighbors in colonies on their orbiting moon may differ poetically on how they perceive summer to be.

The life forms conceived anywhere in this solar system today have an almost unique interplanetary privilege of birthplace bragging rights, unimaginable to our forefathers of Earth’s past. For example, I am among 40 percent of the Martian human population who were actually born on Mars, while the chief transport mechanic in my colony has a Lunar-born 9-year old cousin, 2nd generation, who has never been down to Earth. The chimps and mice born in space stations were prized specimens at the height of the Space Age of the 2020′s.

Some privileges were earned, some were just given. Technological supremacy through aggressive funding provided the early JAXA colonies with best toilets on Mars, still duplicated entirely to this day. The gift of naturally-occurring surface liquid water was rendered insignificant after the Saharan Initiative released free 3D print codes for water generators to all humans, combining any amount of oxygen and hydrogen available in any atmosphere to produce liquid H2O, igniting the explosion of outpost numbers throughout the solar system.

Where does this newfound interplanetary association leave us? United as organisms across the solar system that share a Terran origin, or interplanetary segregation? Would Earth-born children finally start bullying their classmates from outer-Earth colonies for having been genetically adapted to different gravitational environments? Will the fruits of the solar system colonization efforts spoil our successors?

We did not choose our birth rights. Our biological parents have earned them for our generation. What matters is whether we deserve to keep enjoying these little perks, by utilizing such benefits for the greater good, however the individual defines it. Such is an individual struggle, but collectively we have a bigger task at hand if we are to survive the coming wave of interstellar colonization, and that is to celebrate our differences, and learn from each other.

Home.

For three sols a week, my home is any settlement the Martian Colonies Union(MCU) would assign me to as part of my volunteered co-op commitment as an engineer with a significantly more flexible schedule than others in my colony. Of these assignments, my favorites are three; 1) Newcomb Rainforest Reserves where it rains Earth-quality liquid water, 2) Strawberry Farms of Uranius Mons where I get to meet Jenny, and 3) all the paths in between the trips away and back to Marikh Vallis, my home colony.

The last of the three is most spectacular. The view outside my personalized Martian All-terrain Rover Unit(MARU) is often humbling. My commute offers a beauty and an experience of Mars unimaginable by those who have never left their colony domes. Blasting some good ol’ Terran Jazz fresh from the latest download packets, speeding across the Martian surface brings you into a context so moving, the planet seems to be alive and conscious, dancing to your gratitude.

Indeed, the dust storms have been documented to have distorted landscape data, so even MARU navigation chips seem to think it’s driving around – and often right atop of – a living, breathing, creature. Except for the settlement colonies, this planet is as dead as an asteroid. A floating rock of shape shifting surfaces where three generations of the human species has lived, worked, and called home.

Machine-born

Today I saw a fellow UN engineer walking out of the private reading chambers in Bayt al-Hikman looking as if he had been crying for many years, and had to shove it all up this morning under his uniform and utility belt straps, with a forced smile to match. Whatever it was, this was not the time anymore. Duty calls.

One of the printers caught a bug and had been messing up fabrication of some exotic art pieces. Apparently the hacks went a little too far with their print scripts, illegally tweaking the OS themselves to bring about some illusive ‘soft’ or ‘desired’ distortion detail in the printing process, for extra aesthetic cool points among the art snobs.

This was the icing for the main dish. It wasn’t the distortion bug codes that caused these printers to go printing microbes. That was the unintended byproduct of a little trick they experimented with in hopes to get a minute ‘gravity bump’ pattern that spelled out their colonial affiliation, possibly out of Earth-imported nationalism. They called it gravimarking their IP. Nonetheless, they’ve accidentally created life out of disfigured carbon molecules on a commercial 3D printer.

Chatter on the local networks have consolidated into the keyword ‘machine-born’, MB for short. A genuine Martian species had been introduced into the Iranian colony’s biosphere. Containment was imminent. Experts and task forces were sent from both the UNHO and the UNSSF.

It was in everybody’s interest that the manifested single-cell organisms be kept in air-tight wraps and scrutinized for potential health risks, though results as of the end of my shift has shown more or less passivity. All they wanted to do was to swim around and reproduce in small numbers. They have not evolved to discover(much less comprehend) harm, pain, fear, and other emotions linked to survival instincts. Like the rich ecosystem in the subsurface lakes of Antartica. Only on a polycarbonate petri dish.

Cradles of Life

In the month of August 2031, amidst seemingly endless psuedo-political debates on cutting down carbon emissions and implimentation of tougher laws against air pollution, the citizens of Greater Klang Valley, Malaysia rejoiced upon the conclusion of their river-purification projects for the Klang and Gombak river networks. It was a crowdfunded citizen initiative strengthened by commercially-available spin-offs from the Martian colonization and biosphere advancements the decade before. Soon the great Yellow river in China followed to become pollutant-free by 2045. From there, the Asians continued their efforts to include their surrounding great oceans.

It was a humbling awakening. The water crisis faced by our Martian forefathers reminded the human species again of how essential clean water was for life. I still hear stories from Earth these days of current generations born still carrying (and sometimes manifesting) the gene mutations from previously-exposed bloodlines, recently in some rural village in Nepal or a small fishing town in Japan, I’m not so sure. The man-made canals of Mars became the bridge to reconnecting with our ancient cradles of life; the Earth rivers.

Today, I chanced on scouting the Newcomb water networks with an old academy colleague. We drove around the smaller pumps that were not maintained by the drones. The rain smells of Amazonian dew here, all year.

Mars Armstrong.

Blues For The Red Planet

Culturally, the first Space Age inspired one of the most accelerated pace of innovation ever witnessed in known human history. We updated expired doctrines every few decades in various incremental values, with every generation or so experiencing direct and/or indirect optimism triggers.

Culture and its manifestations became the narratives of life, hard or breezy. Revolutionized with every breakthrough in communications tech and mindset, it gave us identity and collective individuality in confusing times, among many other significant contributions to the Self. Our very own Martian history is no different. The last Space Age gave us the classics of Ricky Davis & Bobby James’ 22nd Century Blues Orchestra. The first gave us John Coltrane and Pink Floyd.

Perhaps, if I were to write songs again, the first score would be called Blues For The Red Planet. Human life has always been a delicate balance between happiness and our efforts to pursue it. Until I get there, the Blues of the First Space Age will do for company.

Mars Armstrong.

Tonight’s tune: Little Milton – We’re Gona Make It [1965]

Strawberries.

On some nights, particularly when Deimos shines its brightest, I dream.

I met Jenny in one of the strawberry farms I was assigned to for my co-op hours. I’d bump into her vibrant smile at midday, multi-colored strawberries in her hands, shovel in mine. She was a local research colonist, devoting her hours to overseeing 3 separate UN greenhouses around Uranius Mons. Way out of my league.

I dream of better days. Helps to ease the nightmares of past battles. My astrolabe keeps me busy when insomnia hits hard on the 25th hour. It was either that or the pills. Music does little for the nerves, though a welcoming distraction nonetheless. Daft Punk’s discography from the 2040s would be a favourite playlist, especially the live shows around the first Luna colonies.

I dream of Jenny radiating bliss on the strawberry fields of Earth, where the plants are smaller, the fruits sweeter. I dream of finally leaving this planet for a tour around Europa, or skipping around on Luna more often, perhaps.

A vacation is in order.

Mars Armstrong.