Wednesday 23 November 2022

Speaking in Parlance

As you might expect, Bastion doesn't have an official language.

Scoffin at yer nonknowin that Handydown is OFFICIALLY recorded as prime in a number of...

Who let the Mock Linguists in here?

Well yeah everybody can muddle through conversation through pointing and pantomime. That system of exaggerated gestures is as close to a common tongue as you'll get here. 

So basically everybody can co-communicate a bit even if they're from distant boroughs or just got off the Deep Country Express. 

Lookear lad it nay that simple
Yes it is!

Sure, there are regional dialects. People revel in their local slang, lilts, and drawls. I reckon some ham it up to let you know where they're from. If the roof sweeper speaks like they grew up on the Slatefield then you might grant them the assumption of sure-footing and pay them a bit extra. 

But now we're getting into Parlance

It's actually more complex than that.
We're talking about Cants. This is solved.

No! This isn't like Cants or Codes. Those conceal a message. 

Parlances enhance the message and maybe add a little extra. 

Here are six of them. They can be learned, but those in the know will recognise a chancer from the real deal. 

Some will be keen to point out that Bastion is full of aliens, all of whom face some sort of barrier to communication. Parababble emerged from communities of Bastiards who found themselves dealing regularly with Aliens. Lots of familiar words, but pronounced at a strange pace, emphasising unexpected syllables and inserting hums between particularly long words. 

Although it doesn't really aid in Bastio-Cosmo communication, it demonstrates to other people that you are the sort of person that roams in such circles. Maybe you're a little bit above all this human nonsense. You know, from the stars Bastion looks so small.

Actually that's not true, but that's a topic for another day. 

A sort of branch of legalese with some bureaucratish and politican mixed in. Allows to very carefully, very precisely, say something truly reprehensible in a reversible manner. 

You can quite plainly proclaim something that you'd never say out loud under normal circumstances and look around to see if anybody agrees with you. If somebody looks shocked or offended the whole meaning can be shifted with the addition of a word of two.

This started as a joke. A load of fake, sarcastic technical terminology that you'd throw out when you didn't really understand what you were talking about.

Then some joker actually gave a load of those terms real meaning with a heavy dependency on context.

Now speaking Yargon means you absolutely do know what you're talking about... unless you're doing it in the old fashioned way... or in the newly-emerging ironic way.

Best to just let them get on with the job and see how it turns out. 

The ur-tongue of Bastion. So prestigious! You can see its influence in just about every dialect in the city and beyond. Words used in a bygone time, the legacy of our ancestors.

But it's just made up, really. You take some modern words and mess them around a bit. Make sure you stick your chest out when you speak. 

Makes you sound educated and fancy to people who don't know better, but you'll embarrass yourself in front of anybody switched onto such things. 

There's way of talking as if you're tough. That might work on some people.

But Punchbunk is specifically a way of using slang and innuendo to describe how you're going to hurt somebody with such poetry that the words cause physical pain. They say it started in prisons, where inmates would shout such vivid descriptions between cells that they'd wake up bruised. 

I don't know about all that, but there's certainly an art to the wounding word. 

A way of speaking that involves dropping as many references as possible to books, songs, esoteric history, just about any piece of trivia that you might hope somebody else recognises.

But there's no point if everybody recognises it. The dream result is that the other person recognises you've made a reference without fully understanding how it's relevant to what you're saying.

It puts them on the backfoot. They smile and laugh like they understand. Now you're winning the conversation!

As well as that y...

Um. Ahum. Excuse me. Yes. Excuse me. You weren't listening so I'll start again.

I was talking because this is my thing! This isn't your classroom.

Juslookathat! Very rude. Goto the dean all-at-once.

I'm not even a student here! 

Wait, when did we get here?


Wait, the Dean? Is that the one I saw in

Well I'm afraid you're in real trouble now.



Art by Midjourney

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  1. Did you make all those images? They're great.

    1. I guess I'm sold on SKYNET

    2. Yeah as noted these are all Midjourney. Weird old photos is definitely a strength right now.

  2. Unsolicited additions because I'm bored. Barlingo's the best imo because it's barely fiction, almost prefer "Yargot" to crowbar in another language synonym in too.

    Pidjit is an accretion of curses directed at Bastion's vermin until the mangy blighters started slinging it right back (along with the usual surplus young and feces). In effect it's Even Commoner Tongue on account of borrowing shorthand from other species. Piss corners as scrawled messageboards equivalents are well known example but a well woven trash-bower can be powerfully yet inexplicably enticing to potential suitors. Of course regular pantomime remains preferred by most due to Pidget's relatively limited vocabulary and the habit of vermish thoughts to creep into it speakers skulls.

    If Baztic is the city's fake past perhaps Amourchanica is its true present. Codependency with temperamental machinery has become a way of life yet only a few are aware of how literal this relationship can be. If percussive maintenance is abuse they learn to follow up with a honeymoon of hands on bodywork. Though harems of appliances are the norm and monogamy's not unheard of those who expand these practices into a true language are the promiscuous. As profitable as grand theft adultery doubtlessly is many of these consummate saboteur/seducers leave a trail of broken hearts and engines in their wake simply because they can. More modest lovers do in fact keep the language alive as these rakehells are picked off by vengeful deodands.

    High Flutin' raises "ooh"s, "ah"s and the odd well placed tut to an art form, almost an anti-art actually. The parlance's place is among a crowd focused on some other unfortunate. Accomplished Fluters can nudge bated breath towards ecstatic applause or riotous derision with larger crowds allowing stronger pushes. Of course such crowds usually mean more fellow Fluters whose efforts even when in accord can only ever interfere, a Fluter's also far from immune from the passions they stir and if carried along by a mob's soul can further embolden it in a catastrophic feedback loop.

  3. This is fantastic. I'm always looking for more ways to utilise my linguistics degree in RPGs and this has inspired me! It reminds me a lot of the sociolinguistic concept of 'repertoires' - in widely multilingual societies, it's often better to think in terms of repertoires rather than languages. That is, how people combine languages and dialects in certain social environments. So you nailed that!