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For the language from the book series, see Belter Creole (Books).
Belter Creole-simple title.png
RPG belter creole.jpg

Belter Creole, often referred to simply as "Belter", is the cultural language spoken by many Belters.[1]
The Belter name for the language itself is Lang Belta.[2]

History

As its English name suggests, Belter Creole is a creole language. During humanity's expansion into the solar system, people from many different parts of Earth or Mars often lived and worked together, and they developed a pidgin language to communicate with one another. Over time this developed into a full-fledged creole language, lang Belta, which became the lingua franca, a common tongue, of the Belt and the outer planets.

Vocabulary

For a full list of words and phrases, see Category:Belter words and Category:Belter phrases.

As a creole language, Lang Belta is primarily derived from English, with influences and contributions from languages of many different families, such as Germanic, Chinese, Romance, Indic, Slavic, and Niger-Congo.[3] Many of its words were derived from words or phrases in one or more of these languages.

Example words

Example phrases

  • Oye – "Hello" / "Hey"
  • Oyedeng – "Goodbye"
  • Taki – "Thanks"
  • Im ta nating – "You're welcome." (lit. "It was nothing")
  • To pochuye ke? – "Do you understand me?" (lit. "You hear?")
  • Sabaka! – a general-purpose curse; "Dammit!" or "You bastard!" (lit. "Dog" in Russian)
  • Kewe to pensa ere X? – "What do you think about X?"
  • Mi pensa - "I think"

Grammar

Main article: Belter Creole grammar

Like English and many other languages, Belter's basic word order is SVO (subject-verb-object):

da Mila lit da buk
Miller reads the book.

Adjectives follow the word they modify, as do nouns when showing possession:

  • setara "star" + mali "small" → setara mali "little star"
  • kopeng "friend" + mi "I, me" → kopeng mi "my friend"

Orthography

The Belter language is typically written in the Latin alphabet. Most letters have similar phonetic values as in English, but there are some differences.

Within the setting of The Expanse there is no single standard Belter orthography,[4] and variant spellings or even custom letters[5] are sometimes used by Belters. The system described here is the one used by Nick Farmer when discussing the language in the real world, and the one used on this wiki.

Glyph(s) Phonetic value Notes
a /æ/ as in "cat" in General American English[6]
b /b/ as in "boy" in General American English[7]
ch /t͡ʃ/ as in "chew"
d /d/ as in "dash" in General American English.
dzh /d͡ʒ/ as in "juice"[8]
e /e/ like French é or "may"in General American English.[9]
f /f/ as in "fill"
g /g/ as in "go"
i /i/ as in "machine", not as in "bit"
k /k/ as in "key"
l /l/ as in "loop"
m /m/ as in "mother"
n /n/ as in "no"
ng /ŋ/ as in "king"; how final /n/ is realized
ny /ɲ/ as in "canyon"; how medial /n/ is realized[10]
o /o/ as in "home"
ow /ɒ/ as in "law" or "thought"[11]
p /p/ as in "people"
r /ɾ/ a tap or flap, like "water" in General American English
s /s/ as in "sight"
sh /ʃ/ as in "ship"; how final /s/ is realized
t /t/ as in "tick"
u /u/ as in "boot"
v /v/ as in "very"
w /w/ as in "weep"
x /x/ like Spanish "jota"[12], or Scottish "loch"
y /j/ as in "yes"
z /z/ as in "zoo"

Phonology

Phonotactics

Consonants

Consonant clusters appear to be uncommon, and only occur at syllable boundaries; there are no initial or final clusters. Some have only been seen at morpheme boundaries, and it is possible that these only occur in compounds. So far, only the following have been attested:

Cluster Examples Notes
kp bekpélesh only seen at a morpheme boundary
kw owkwa
lt Belta
lw welwala only seen at a morpheme boundary
mb imbobo, rémbera
mp pampa
mw rowmwala only seen at a morpheme boundary
nd ando, Sundiye
nsh tensha
ns pensa
nt unte, manting
ngw pashangwala only seen at a morpheme boundary
sm bosmang only seen at a morpheme boundary
st teristi
tn beratna

Epenthesis and elision

When forming compounds, epenthetic vowels are sometimes added to break up what would otherwise be forbidden consonant clusters. e seems to be the most common, but a is also seen:

  • im + lowdaimalowda
  • bek + da + bushbekedabúsh
  • na + kang + pensanakangepensa
  • tung + tingtúngeting

In other cases, consonants at the morpheme boundary are elided instead:

  • kowl + mangkowmang
  • zakong + mangzákomang

Syllables

The basic syllable structure appears to be CVC, where either consonant may be omitted (subject to constraints on vowel and consonant combinations).

Type Example Notes
V o, adewu, ereluf, owlesi only initally
VC ong, unte only initally
CV du, bikang, xalte
CVC bek, Belta, ereluf

Vowels

Belter does not appear to allow diphthongs or vowels in hiatus. So far, there are no attested examples of vowel sounds being directly adjacent without an intervening consonant.

Stress

By default, the primary stress falls on the penultimate syllable of a word:

  • showxa – /'ʃɒ.xæ/
  • seteshang – /se'te.ʃæŋ/
  • gufovedi – /gu.fo've.di/

If the stress for a particular word is on a different syllable, this is indicated with an accent mark:[13]

  • belówt – /be'lɒt/
  • ámolof – /'æ.mo.lof/
  • idzhifobék – /i.d͡ʒi.fo'bek/

When forming compound words, the stress often remains on the head of the compound, which sometimes requires the addition of an accent mark:

Dialects

Like any language, lang Belta has regional variations between speakers, depending on where they come from in the solar system and what their linguistic background is. What is spoken on the TV show is primarily the Ceres dialect of the language.[14]

Gestures

Though not part of the language per se, spoken Belter language is accompanied by several physical idioms, which originally developed due to the need to be able to communicate while wearing space suits. Some examples:

  • Lifting the hand: Asking a question
  • Lifting a fist: Greeting; nodding, affirmative
  • Shrugging is done with one or both hands, palm-up
  • Two fingers (index and middle) double touch the opposite side of the chest: thank you
  • Nail of index finger touching the thumb's inner side between the 2 digits, forming a circle, while the other 3 fingers are straight: derogatory gesture, similar to giving the middle finger
  • Crossing arms overhead: danger

Numerals

Number Belter
0. Zero Nada
1. One Wang
2. Two Tu
3. Three Serí
4. Four Fu
5. Five Faf
6. Six Sikesh
7. Seven Seng
8. Eight Et
9. Nine Nang
10. Ten Teng
20. Twenty Tuteng
30. Thirty Seriteng
40. Forty Futeng
50. Fifty Fáveteng
60. Sixty Síkeseteng
70. Seventy Séngeteng
80. Eighty Éteteng
90. Ninety Nángeteng
100. One hundred Xanya
1000. One thousand Towseng

Trivia

  • Lang Belta was created for The Expanse by Nick Farmer, a linguist, after he met Ty Franck.[15]
  • After the TV show began airing, Daniel Abraham recommended that aspiring students of Belter focus on the version portrayed in the show, as opposed to what he and Franck had written about in the books.[16]

See also

References

External links


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