Don’t freak out the celebrities: Representing Orth and Fluccish on screen

I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. I also tend to read novels and work out how to film them, even if the novel will never ever be filmed.

Massive spoilers for Anathem and other works will therefore follow.

Anathem portrays multiple languages, the main two being Fluccish (think Americn English) and Orth (think clerical Latin). Fluccish is used everywhere; Orth is used in the mathic community (think monasteries). Our narrator Erasmas, an avout – a member of the mathic community – speaks both. The novel depicts all conversations in English, but there are places where avout are shown speaking Orth and not being understood by members of the general public.

So how do you show that on screen for a modern audience?

Well, you could cheat a little:

The 1990 film adaptation of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October had two linguistic groups: the Soviet crew of the submarine Red October, and the Americans who were tracking the sub. The Soviets were initially shown speaking Russian with English subtitles, but early on in the film director John McTiernan moves the camera in for a tight closeup on a character’s lips. The character switches from Russian-with-subtitles to Russian-accented English in mid-sentence (on a word common to both languages), the camera pulls back, and we the audience understand that the Russian submarine crew are still speaking Russian, but we are hearing English. I thought this was a little old-fashioned at the time but went along with it.

Later on, when the Americans meet the Soviets, The Soviets switch back to Russian-with-subtitles, but enough of the Soviets speak at least some English that the rest of the movie is in English.

It works, but it wouldn’t work for Orth/Fluccish, since we the audience have to in some scenes understand both at the same time. The title of this post is from one such scene: avout over here talking in Orth, when another non-avout character barges in and tells the avout to stop scaring the celebrities, who don’t speak clerical Latin – I mean Orth.

Or you could cheat a lot:

Remove references to having multiple languages. Maybe the avout all have British accents, and everyone else speaks with an American accent.

Or something I havent thought of yet? Reply below or if comments have timed out, try this topic on the Worldbuilding forum.

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But enough of this fooling around

I’m reactivating my blog after a number of years. This is another test post, made after adding functions to cross-post to Facebook and Twitter. I can’t post to MeWe yet…

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I seem to be back

I have a few ideas so I upgraded the site.

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The Office

My wife got rid of a bunch of her magazines and gave me the magazine boxes she had been keeping them in. I filled those boxes with my magazines and went and got more. They are much easier to handle than the bankers boxes I’ve been using for overflow. So I’ve begun excavating the scary place known as the PatCave.

Also they’re just the right size to stack up and make a fort. Just sayin’.

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Up Goer Five

So: A little while ago, Randall Munroe posted an xkcd cartoon called “Up Goer Five“, which is a diagram of the Apollo/Saturn V stack, annotated using only the thousand most common words in current English.

Inspired by that, Theo Sanderson wrote an online text editor which warns you when you are using a word that is not in the thousand most common list.

Inspired by that, I have begun to revise my resume. I work with Oracle databases. Or simplified:

I make computers do things, like keep big tables of who has to pay money to the place I work. The tables are kept on computers that only keep tables. I make those computers work as fast as they can so the other computers that read the tables can do their work quickly. Once a day I make my computers do new things or fix things that are broken. Other people send me new or fixed things for the computers to do. I put the new things on the computer in the right order so it all works.

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The comedy version of the last two weeks

We buried my father-in-law last month.

They’ll never find him.


My wife laughed and laughed, so it’s OK.

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If Obama weren’t running I might consider it…

Saw an actual “Vote Saxon” bumper sticker on an actual car today. I should have taken a picture, because the design of the sticker I saw matches none of the designs I can find on the Web.

(Who is Saxon? Dr Who spoilers in the links)

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Mr Munroe Explains It All…

…every Tuesday at his new site (in addition to xkcd), which is called What If? Go read the first couple.

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Just upgraded WordPress. Using the Aside format for this post.

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I’m playing with making a Kinect into an affordable digitizer.

So here’s the first shot: A single scan from a single angle. Almost no cleanup: pulled into Lightwave and minimal color added.This particular scan is actually full of holes, most of which are covered by the use of a black background.

Next steps will be to get multiple angles, stitch them together and further cleanup.

A scan takes a couple of seconds on my computer. For multiple angles, I’ll probably add a timer and a means to either move the Kinect around me or a spinning seat. I was scanned years ago on a Hollywood laser scanner that was on display at the Tech Museum in San Jose. (It’s not there anymore, alas). That scanner moved around me as I sat still, that’s probably the best approach, if more Stuff to build.

Me, scanned with a Kinect and rendered in Lightwave.

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