Sep 16, 2019 12:22 AM
a story of the second age
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She will teach them the words for plastic and for sandwich!

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As they get more vocabulary words it becomes clear that this group of people -- the most progressive linguistics guild of Ost-in-Edhil, which is the capital city of the nation of Eregion, they tell her -- is internally divided over their priorities; in particular some of them really want to know all the words in the English language and some of them really want to know everything she does about electricity, computers, combustion engines, and the manufacture of plastics, and one guy really wants to know how societies run by humans work. The first two groups settle on alternating, while the one guy tries to come up with technology or linguistics questions that get at what he's actually curious about.

Does she know any of the properties of the metal used in the machines that manufacture her clothing?

What's the etymology of 'etymology'?

How do zippers work?

How much dialectical variation is there among speakers of English? Is all English mutually intelligible?

What sorts of materials can cars run on?

What technology does her society use for people to give input on the functioning of the government?

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She is pretty sure most metal involved in most industrial processes is probably steel which she thinks is iron with carbon on it but she isn't sure how to translate that since she doesn't remember the atomic number of iron, though she thinks carbon might be 8. She doesn't know anything about this topic really and should not be taken as an authority on it.

She thinks the ology part is from Latin and means "the study of" and the "log" part means maybe words in particular, no guesses on "etym". It's commonly confused with entomology, the study of bugs.

She has no idea how zippers work but they can look at the front pouch on her backpack while she zips and unzips it.

There is lots of dialectical variation among English speakers since lots of different countries have it as a major first language and it's the most popular second language in the world. People who are technically speaking English don't always understand each other unless they're trying and succeeding at moderating their accents toward a sort of global standard; her own accent is not that far off the global standard, because she is from a country that talks a lot like the neighboring country that produces most of the popular movies.

Cars run on gasoline which is made from petroleum which is icky stuff found underground.

Her society is a democracy; adults - people a couple years older than her - can vote on representatives who in turn vote on policy.

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“That’s fascinating. Does it work?”

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"Democracy? ...sure. There's a saying it's the worst system of government except for everything else that's been tried."

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“What else have you tried?”

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"I'm not sure I have enough words to describe it! People have tried having kings - one guy running things and his kids inheriting - and some people have tried doing a thing where 'the people' rule -" She does air quotes, then digresses briefly into explaining quotation marks with chalkboard examples and the gesture as a derivation thereof. "- only it winds up being not quite that because that's so impractical you can't even actually try it... I don't know if it would work if telepaths tried it, maybe it could. Uh, I don't remember other things off the top of my head, usually to talk about this I'd be looking at a reference. Incidentally is one of you going to give me a place to sleep and something to eat at some point, that was my only sandwich."

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“The humans native to here can eat all our food, though I think there are other groups of people who have problems with some of them. I can arrange for a house.”

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"I'm not allergic to any foods I know but if I see anything I don't recognize I might not try it if it makes foreign humans sick."

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“Allergy is the thing where humans get sick because their protective system mistakes flowers for a threat?”

“That’s real?” someone asks.

”Yes. They died of it back before, maybe now they don’t. Or maybe they do more because their protective systems are better.”

 

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"Yeah, those are allergies, some are to flowers and some are to cats or foods or whatever. I don't have any. The protective system is called the immune system. People sometimes die of allergies where I'm from but not usually, we can test for them and there's a chemical called epinephrine they can carry around to stab into their legs if they eat the wrong thing by accident that buys them time to get to a hospital. They're still annoying though."

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"That's so horrifying," someone says.

"How common are they?"

"There are lots of humans we can talk to if we want to learn things about humans, go away and bother them and let us ask her about words -"

"Do 'hospital' and 'house' have the same root?"

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"I think we'll reconvene tomorrow, actually," he says. 

 

There are some glares but they stop arguing.

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"Hospital and house might have the same root, but I'm not sure. I think hostel is related to at least one of them. And hotel."

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She's making herself very popular here. 

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"Would you rather your own house or a room in an existing one? I don't think anyone'll bother you in your own house but some representatives from the other linguistics guilds might conceivably take it upon themselves to show up and try to get your attention."

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"Why do you have an extra house?"

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He looks slightly uncomfortable. "Oh, it's not mine, it's the city's for groups of important visitors from other countries - is there a word for that? when they visit. But they're not here right now."

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"Diplomats if they're there to talk about how the countries should behave toward each other? Why are you allowed to put me in a diplomat guest house?"

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Way more uncomfortable! "Well, no one's using it and you need a place to stay."

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"...yes. Does no one else need a place to stay?"

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"Not that I know of? There used to be some Dwarves who didn't have houses but then we figured out how to solve that without making the rest of them very angry at us."

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"So anyone can just put people in the diplomat guest house as long as there aren't diplomats there?"

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So! Uncomfortable! "- well, anyone could ask me and I'd probably say yes unless there was a good reason not to."

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