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After humanity broke free of the confines of its homeworld, Earth's dominant languages, among them Chinese and Japanese, began asserting their influence over their colonies' culture, spoken and written linguistic system.


Humanity managed to escape their homeworld and establish colonies throughout the Sol system, at first confined in the inner part. However, after the invention of the Epstein drive, mankind ventured past the Asteroid Belt and settled on the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune.

The colonies were influenced by many major Earther cultures. Earth's languages grew new variations outside the bounds of their traditional home, including strong influences from prominent Asian cultures, like Chinese and Japanese. Although many more languages blended, those with a larger number of speakers asserted their firm influence over less common tongues.

Pluri-ethnic cultures[]


Belter Creole (a.k.a. Lang Belta in the TV series) is the result of several donor languages having blended their vocabulary and grammatical properties into a single, unitary tongue. The process took several generations to achieve the threshold of a consensus discernibly distinct language, as Belter Creole was diverging from its donor languages.[citation needed]

Chinese greatly influenced the final language, especially in the more frequently used vocabulary, more so than Japanese. This is due in part to China's superpower position prior to the unification of Earth under the United Nations, while Japanese cultural influences, although still a major regional economical force, was diminishing with the economic rise of China. However, Chinese characters are rarely used among the Belt's populace, having standardized on Latin to transcribe phrases and words of Sino-Japanese origin.

One noteworthy example of Belter vocabulary originating from Chinese is "dui"  (对) used for an affirmative response interchangeably with the word "yes".[1]

Another example, "xie xie" (谢谢), is routinely used for showing gratitude and is largely the Belter equivalent of the English "thank you".[2] These words are routinely intermixed with words originating from other major tongues, such as Spanish, French, and German.


On Mars, Chinese characters are used when tradition is emphasized, a common practice in the MCRN, where ships names and mottos are written in Chinese. Iconographic uses are also common.


Sino-Japanese cultural influences can also be seen in the names of people, vessels, and organizations, such as Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile. Some words have homonyms in Japanese or Chinese adding some ambiguity to the meaning.

Name Home Affiliation Possible Influence[3] Description
Native Origin[3] Native Characters[3] Native Meaning[3]
Tachi Mars Japanese 太刀 or 立ち type of sword; pre-dating the katana original name of the Rocinante
Tsuchi Mars Japanese 土 or つち earth or soil
Koto Mars
Free Navy
Japanese traditional stringed instrument played while laid flat on the ground
Shinsakuto Mars
Free Navy
Japanese 新作刀 genuine/(new production) sword
Guanshiyin Earth Chinese 观世音(simplified)
Bodhisattva of Compassion[4] Jules-Pierre Mao's luxury yacht
Zhang Fei[5]
Zheng Fei[6]
Earth Chinese 张飞 (simplified)
張飛 (traditional)
3rd century general of the Chinese warlord Liu Bei (劉備) Holden's assignment while on duty for UNN
Mars Chinese 闪电 (simplified)
閃電 (traditional)
lightning MCRN vessel in orbit around Venus
Zhang Guo Earth Chinese 张果(老) (simplified)
張果(老) (traditional)
mythical Daoist and member of Eight Immortals Amos, Clarissa and Erich commandeered escape yacht
Xinglong Belt Chinese 兴隆 (simplified)
興隆 (traditional)
prosperous Prospector ship
Seung Un Earth Korean 승은 Destroyed as a plot to defame Holden

Name Possible Influence[3] Description
Native Origin[3] Native Symbology[3] Native Meaning[3]
Michio Japanese みちお ? Appears in Abaddon's Gate and as a Viewpoint character in Babylon's Ashes. Also, in The Vital Abyss
Sakai Japanese さかい ? Replacement for Chief Engineer Rosenberg on Tycho Station. Agent of Marco Inaros Nemesis Games
Pa Chinese ? ? Last name for Michio
Mao Chinese "brush" or "hair" Last name for Jules-Pierre Books • TV and Julie Books • TV
Meng (mèng) Chinese ? Last name for Prax Books • TV and Mei Books • TV
Mei (měi) Chinese beautiful Mei Meng Books • TV
(méi) plum
(méi) rose or "fine jade"[7]
(メイ) Japanese 芽衣 (or 芽依) sprout
Chou Chinese
? Captain Chou Books • TV of the Lina Babylon's Ashes
Liang Chinese ? ? Liang Goodfortune Books • TV
Jianguo Chinese ? ? One of the fathers who shared a ride on the Lazy Songbird with Amos in Nemesis Games Chapter 4
Koh Korean ? ? Clarissa's alias Books • TV Abaddon's Gate
Nguyen Vietnamese Nguyễn common Vietnamese name of Chinese origin(阮) Admiral Nguyen Books • TV
Le Vietnamese ? Gorman Le Books • TV Nemesis Games

Belter language from books versus TV[]

The team of Daniel and Ty concocted a crude Belter language when they developed the books. They relied on readers' ability to look up definitions in order to understand meanings. It was composed of words from a plurality of donor languages directly intertwined among one another within sentences. When they went to produce the story for television, they decided that the language they had built wasn't suitable for the new medium, so Ty endorsed Nick Farmer to create a language that was distinct, while still maintaining the sense of pluri-ethnic origins, and one constructed with a greater degree of rigor than what had been used for the books. The authors of The Expanse recommend students focus on the TV/Farmer version of Belter Creole for any serious analysis. (This wikia reference initially covers only the Book incarnation of the language. The TV incarnation will be added in the future. Wherever possible, the particular incarnation being described will be denoted. For more information on the Book incarnation, see Belter Creole (Books). For more information on the TV incarnation, see Belter Creole.)


  • Chinese characters have an ideographic/iconographic aspect and can express or allude to concepts alongside the spoken sound of a name.
  • Standard Chinese is transliterated into Latin script using the phonetic "pinyin" system.
  • When reading transliterated Chinese, there will be inherent ambiguity and a fair degree of context may be needed for correct reconstruction. Another simplification often made is skipping the pinyin tonal diacritics, thereby creating additional homonyms as Chinese syllable tones are critical for semantic distinction.



  1. dui - (对) - borrowed from Mandarin. An affirmative response to a request for confirmation. analog to "yes", "correct" (adj.), "agreed", "true" (adj.)
    Leviathan Wakes Chapter 6
    Cibola Burn Chapter 9, 17
    Babylon's Ashes Chapter 17, 26, 31, 41, 42, 44
    [pronounced like "Dwayne" but without the "n" at the end]
  2. xie xie - (谢谢) - borrowed from Mandarin. "thank you"
    Nemesis Games chapter 7
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 When reading transliterated Chinese, there will be inherent ambiguity. For the sake of accuracy, a fair amount of context may be needed. Another simplification that possibly leads to subsequent complication is the lack of tonal diacritics when used in English text, as Chinese syllable tones distinguish homonyms.
  4. Bodhisattva of Compassion
  5. The novels spelled the name with an "a"
  6. The TV show and Origin comics spelled the name with an "e"
  7. 玫 means "rose" as a simplification of "玫瑰" (or, sometimes, "玫" means "fine jade" when standalone, free of combination)

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