Sunday, April 15, 2012

K is for "skxawng." (A To Z, Star Wars Blogathon)

Well, kind of.  How about "K is kind of for skxawng?"

Skzxawng is the Na'vi word for moron, and according to this New York Times column on how James Cameron hired a linguist to develop a language for his blue-skinned Gelfling Thundercats, the word was a popular put-down on-set.  The author -- Ben Zimmer -- talks briefly about how alien languages have evolved from the Star Wars days, when alien tongues like Greedo's spoke mish-mashes of native languages from our world (according to Zimmer, Greedo spoke Quechua, only remixed.)

Such minimalist effort wouldn't sit for today's sci-fi fans, posits Zimmer, although I think it's more that it wouldn't sit for today's hard-core sci-fi-fanatics or obsessives like Cameron (who recently digitally altered Titanic for its 3-D release to make sure that the stars Rose and Jack saw are the stars Rose and Jack would have seen), since I didn't notice the beauty/symmetry/whatever it was of the Na'vi language (although I may have been too distracted by how weird Sigourney Weaver looked as an elongated cat.)

I've never paid much attention to the invented languages in books or movies at all; when J.R.R. Tolkien went on and on about elven or something, I tended to skip over those sections.  (I skipped some of the poems, too.  And the second and third times I read the trilogy, I skimmed the Tom Bombadil parts, too.  What was the deal with Tom Bombadil?  I think he was to set up a spin-off.  Tom Bombadil's Middle Earth.)  But apparently people do pay attention to them - -the Zimmer article goes on to note that Ursula LeGuin had a whole dictionary of invented languages, and linguists have been making money on the side creating languages for fake species going all the way back to the Pakuni in Land Of The Lost, which, consider this: that show could afford a linguist but could not come up with better special effects to make a Sleestak seem realistic?

About which, then, what language did the Sleestak speak?  And how did they get their name? 

The answers are "Apparently, hissing and telepathy," and "Emily," the dinosaur on the show, was named after Emily Bronte.



I know, I know. That doesn't in any way answer the question, but I wasn't talking about Sleestak anyway, really, and isn't that fascinating?

Here's today's WHAMMY! question.  Remember: DO NOT ANSWER in the comments.Email me the answer by clicking here. .

Who was Lando's copilot in the attack on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi?

Update: I forgot to point out that it's WHAMMY NUMBER 3 who gets Whammied.

4 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

Did you see my K post?
I loved Land of the Lost. My cousins and I used to play Sleestak when were kids. Shambling and hissing. I suppose it was kind of like playing zombie. Except that zombies don't shamble anymore.

Stephen Hayes said...

Well, we can't have too many words for moron, can we?

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I never care about invented languages either. English is hard enough.

Rhia Roberts said...

I agree that invented language is a bit of a cop-out. There are enough words to describe what we want if we care to learn them, don't you think?
Rhia from Five Minute Piece for Inspiration (around #777 on the A to Z list