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    From: STRACZYNSKI [Joe]
 Subject: English became the dominant EA language...
      To: GENIE  
    Date: 3/22/1992 9:23:00 AM  

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English became the dominant EA language because the EA started out and
has always been pretty much an extension of the main Terran government and its
respective colonies. English is already pretty much the prime language of
commerce and economy and diplomacy, and this is pretty much an extension of
that thought.

Right now, in this country, anyone from any ethnic group has to pretty
much know two languages...the language of his or her ethnic background
(assuming that it is different from English) and the language of the dominant
culture, necessary to find work. (As a sidebar to this, not long ago here in
L.A. there was a Latino study group that looked into this whole question,
because there are two very different sides, such as those who support the idea
of Black English, that Latinos shouldn't HAVE to learn English. The results
of the report were pretty straightforward: if you never intend to leave the
Barrio, then no, you don't have to learn standard English. If you do intend
to go beyond the Barrio, then you do have to learn the language of the
economy. Which is hardly anything new, it is traditional in Jewish culture
that you pretty much have to know not one, or two, but three
languages...Hebrew, Yiddish, and the dominant economic language of the culture
you live in. In my family, the situation was much the same; around some
people you spoke Polish, around the house you spoke White Russian, and to do
business, you spoke English.)

As the world becomes smaller, I think that this situation will apply more
and more to other cultures. Already, most other countries and cultures
require courses in English (which is why it's always easier to find someone
in, say, Sweden or Japan or Germany who speaks English than it is to find
someone here who speaks Japanese or Swedish or German, a sad commentary on our
own poor emphasis on learning foreign languages.) I think that what will
happen over time is that everyone will be more or less multilingual or bi-'ll speak the language of the country you were born in, or live
in, and then the language of world economy when traveling outside your
country. I think that language will be English for the reasons given. Also,
it's more convenient for our show than havaing everyone speaking Dutch. I
think it would have an adverse effect on our ratings. (That's a joke, I say,
a joke, son.)

As for the alternate languages...yes, there will be a range of sounds and
clicks and sort-of words. Not so much in the movie, but in the series.
As each new race is introduced -- and there are basically 20 that we'll be
building for the first season -- I'll decide on a case-by-case basis what they
should sound like, and begin taking the language used in each case and saving
it to a file for that race. In this way, I'll gradually develop a sort of
dictionary for each species. As for subtitles...yes, in some cases it'll be
subtitled...but I think that there are times when you don't want to do that,
and rather let the emotions behind the language carry it, or in cases when the
action is fairly obvious (such as asking a bartender for a drink).


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