Language Speaks the Culture
Updated: Jun 23, 2022
In The Coming of Áed book series, the characters speak two distinct languages. The first is the simplest--written in English (unless you’re reading in translation), it represents a language shared by the inhabitants of the Maze and the White City. A necessity for narrative purposes. The second language is exclusive to the Maze, and in the interest of solidifying the setting as a sort of fantastical, historical Ireland, it’s represented in Irish Gaelic.
There is, however, a greater reason I chose to use two distinct languages for the two distinct cultures in The Coming of Áed series.
In the world of the Maze, Irish Gaelic is a common tongue. It’s a colloquial language of the people, and it’s woven into the culture as fluidly as it’s interspersed in the people’s speech.
And nobody from the White City speaks it at all.
I wanted to use linguistic differences to highlight the social dichotomy of the Maze and the White City, the two major components of the Gut. Speaking a language that parallels the Maze’s culture brands Áed undeniably as an outsider in the White City, where anyone who knows his origin is likely to see him as little more than an unwelcome alien. As Áed struggles to train himself out of his linguistic habits, he also has to come to terms with what his old home means to him, and how much of it he’s actually willing to relinquish in order to survive in the White City.
Language, in human society, is a profound thing for this very reason. It’s so much more than just a means of information transmission--it’s a part of our origin, our identity. To some extent, it shapes our experience within our own societies. From accents to dialects to the evolution of entire tongues, language maps our cultures, our interactions, our capacity to communicate. It’s powerful.
The fact is, humanity is immense, and complicated, and absolutely breathtaking. I love language because it has the capability to express a facet of this spellbinding complexity in a way that everybody has some experience with, a way that is as instinctively intuitive to us as speaking our own mother tongue.
The Coming of Áed book series includes:
The Hidden King (book 1)
The Last Prince (book 2, a prequel)
The Wild Court (book 3, the sequel to The Hidden King)
E.G. RADCLIFF IS A PART-TIME pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.
You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on social media.
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