languages science fiction

Don't do this with your conlang

I am periodically stunned by the insipidity of much of the Star Wars “Expanded Universe”, and the way that incidental references are inflated through mechanical cross-referencing into something of tediously world-shattering importance.  For example: did you know that IG-88 (a bounty hunter ‘droid seen en passant on the Death Star in The Empire Strikes Back) was actually one of four assassin droids in its series, and these four planned a “‘droid revolution” that would annihilate all biological lifeforms?  And that one of these ‘droids uploaded its consciousness into the second Death Star, and was destroyed just before it could take over ALL THE ‘DROIDS IN THE GALAXY?!

Ay gevalt.

I thought I’d grown calluses over the part of my brain that could be harmed by further violence to the Star Wars saga, but I am newly aghast at this article on the Jawa language.  Here’s how you count in Jawaese:

  • 1 Po
  • 2 Ko
  • 3 Kyo
  • 4 Yo
  • 5 Dyo
  • 6 Lyo
  • 7 Does not exist in Jawa arithmetic
  • 8 Ho
  • 9 To

We’ll skip past the lameness of having a merchant race use words for numbers that can barely be distinguished when spoken. The number seven doesn’t exist?  This sort of “novelty” is the work of an inane intellect.

(The best extension to the Star Wars universe, I think, was the early trio of Han Solo books by Brian Daley. These didn’t reference anything in the original trilogy except for Han and Chewie, reinforcing the immensity of the setting rather than turning it into something claustrophobic and inbred.  Also, I prefer to regard episodes 1-3 as regrettable fanfic.)

3 replies on “Don't do this with your conlang”

As someone who has only recently read any of the expanded universe stuff (thanks to a Star Wars obsessed 5 year old!), I find a lot of it a mixture of good and bad, I suppose like the Star Wars franchise…that being said, Jawas not having 7 in their maths just doesn’t make any sense!

The only things I’ve found myself really enjoying outside of the films have been Knights of the Old Republic, which I only recently played, and some of the comics I’ve picked up that figure outside of the Darth Vader era.

I’m just glad you posted about Star Wars so that I could actually confess this!

Cheers, Andrew. I just realized that I must have been around five myself, when I saw the first movie in the theater. It provided a lot of texture to my imagination at the time, and I still have a lot of fondness for it.

I’ve never played KoTR, but have heard excellent things about it…I’ll definitely have to check it out one of these days.

I did quite enjoy Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, which I thought did a good job of capturing the panache of lightsaber combat, even if the story was a bit flaccid.

Star Wars was the first movie I saw in the theatres, and I was obsessed with it as a small child. Growing up, I think I associated Star Wars with “being little”, and while watching the movies was always enjoyable, I tended to avoided that larger world. I remember getting the VHS trilogy for Christmas from my parents, the one before all the CGI additions, back in the mid-90’s and I don’t think I watched it until 2005 just because I took my parents celebrating my own childhood as some kind of dig at my maturity. The great thing about having kids of your own is that you realise your own parents’ motivations much more clearly…

Actually, I think I may just blog about this! And welcome back to posting yourself!