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.
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. Many of its words were derived from words or phrases in one or more of these languages.
- Belta – a Belter, an inhabitant of the Belt.
- beltalowda – Belters as a whole, or "us Belters"
- inyalowda - Inners, or people of inner planets
- tumang – an Earther
- pomang – a Martian, or "Duster"
- beratna (or baratna) – brother
- sésata - sister
- seteshang Erosh – Eros station
- 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"
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"
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, and variant spellings or even custom letters 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.
|a||/æ/||as in "cat" in General American English|
|b||/b/||as in "boy" in General American English|
|ch||/t͡ʃ/||as in "chew"|
|d||/d/||as in "dash" in General American English.|
|dzh||/d͡ʒ/||as in "juice"|
|e||/e/||like French é or "may"in General American English.|
|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|
|o||/o/||as in "home"|
|ow||/ɒ/||as in "law" or "thought"|
|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", or Scottish "loch"|
|y||/j/||as in "yes"|
|z||/z/||as in "zoo"|
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:
|kp||bekpélesh||only seen at a morpheme boundary|
|lw||welwala||only seen at a morpheme boundary|
|mw||rowmwala||only seen at a morpheme boundary|
|ngw||pashangwala||only seen at a morpheme boundary|
|sm||bosmang||only seen at a morpheme boundary|
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 + lowda → imalowda
- bek + da + bush → bekedabúsh
- na + kang + pensa → nakangepensa
- tung + ting → túngeting
In other cases, consonants at the morpheme boundary are elided instead:
- kowl + mang → kowmang
- zakong + mang → zákomang
The basic syllable structure appears to be CVC, where either consonant may be omitted (subject to constraints on vowel and consonant combinations).
|V||o, adewu, ereluf, owlesi||only initally|
|VC||ong, unte||only initally|
|CV||du, bikang, xalte|
|CVC||bek, Belta, ereluf|
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.
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:
- 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:
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.
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
|100. One hundred||Xanya|
|1000. One thousand||Towseng|
- Belter Creole (Books)
- Belter Creole grammar
- List of Belter Creole individual articles
- Belter dialogue
- Sino-Japanese Linguistic Influence
- Voiced bilabial stop on Wikipedia
- arstechnica.com: Nick Farmer knows dozens of languages, so he invented one for The Expanse