Apr 04, 2020 11:34 PM
A Network exploration team lands on Krisses
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She pulls one of the children's board books, that's the most likely to have illustrations and simple sentences which is what they need most.

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The board book has illustrations on every page, but it also has a lot of text, not in a particularly large font, and it's not always clear what the association between the text and illustration is - probably this story is about some very colorful snakes, though.

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Well that was a swing and a miss, she still flips to the end for archival purposes and tries for an early reader book instead.

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"Ye! Kradhen dwang besadi!" is the text above an illustration of a large brown reptile, with enormous frills around its head and what seems to be a prehensile tail. The reptile's standing on some yellow ground with what might be grass-like shading. On the opposite page is a map of the world, with one continent and part of another in bright green, the rest in dark brown - "Tlung tamb nutolndur va haje myir besadi!"

The letters are large, high contrast from their background, words clearly spaced apart, and in a font that's probably very friendly towards kids with dyslexia or other trouble reading.

("Hi! I am a [reptile species]. I live in [continent] and the subcontinent of [region].")

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Dwang is now suspected to mean the verb to be.
Kradhen is now suspected to mean reptile or a specific type of reptile.

She turns the page.

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The reptile lives in the savanna! Their cousins live in the forest! Their cousin is small, and the lizard is large (there's a side by side, here). The lizard hears with their head frills! Two lizards can talk from very far apart! The lizards like to be in large groups with big lizards and small lizards of the same species. The lizard's tail is prehensile! Prehensile means you can pick stuff up with it! Your hand is prehensile! It is like a tail. The lizard does art! (This is shown as painting with the tail). There are a lot of Cool Lizard Facts in this book - lizards get cold in the snow, lizards like the sun, lizards have scales and do not sweat. The lizard used to fight the humanoids! (The humanoids are holding spears, and the lizard is reared back). Now we are friends! (Everyone seems relaxed and does not have weapons. The humanoids are smiling). We cannot understand each other when we talk! This makes us sad. Maybe you can learn how to talk to the lizards and then we can be happy! (This last is just a picture of a humanoid child and a small lizard facing each other; the humanoid child is smiling and has their mouth open.)

There's usually one picture per sentence or two.

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That gets them even more words, it's also enough to have a decent guess at how the rest of the alphabet corresponds to sounds when compared with the radio corpus. Alien symbols now accompany IPA in Sapphire's HUD.

"Alright let's parallelize. Wilfred see if you can find a dictionary. Everyone else focus on these children's books for the moment. Courtney, Aisha, one of you keep an eye out."

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The early reader books seem to mostly consist of Cool Facts. A lot of them are about animals. Some of them are about rocks, or volcanoes, or cosmology, or rockets, or history, or foreign cultures instead. The cosmology and rocket books are very worn down, apparently popular. There's an introductory alphabet book with simple, illustrated nouns containing different letters, which should help confirm their guesses.

A dictionary exists on one of the upper shelves. It's notably the thickest book there.

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The thickest book is indeed where Wilfred starts. She starts carefully scanning each page. Steadily more words enter their corpus. At this point their main issue is probably grammar. Sapphire switches to block books in the hopes of improving their understanding of grammar. When the receptionist comes back they're likely to be quite surprised by the change.

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The receptionist comes back shortly. "Town rep decided to escalate this to the regional council," he says, mostly to the driver. "It's all above their ability to investigate."

"Not surprised," says the driver. "They've just been looking at books while you were gone."

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"Hello. We worked to understand Narrel. I think we understand now." She's speaking slowly and with an accent but she's understandable. The other members of her team are continuing to look through the books, slowly moving to harder texts.

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"Oh - that's fast, but I guess if you've got some fancy Universal Translator type deal... It'll help, though."

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"Yes. Our technology helps. Is there anything you would like to ask us before the council representative arrives? Or anything you think we should know?" They might notice that whenever she talks her mouth moves without sound for a little while before she speaks in Nerral.

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They're familiar with recordings; aliens maybe having something recording them then playing the sound seems either in line with a Universal Translator or just an alien weirdness.

"Not sure how much context you already have," the receptionist says.

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"We have very little context so far. We've been focusing on picking up the language and there's only the seven of us here so we haven't been able to do in depth cultural analysis."

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"How did you all get here?"

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"We teleported. We have magic that lets us do that."

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" - Magic? Do you mean technology?"

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"We call it magic because only one person knows how it works and all attempts at reverse engineering have failed."

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"I guess that's not a bad translation..."

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"Yes. Most of our capabilities come from technology but there are a couple of types of magic which allow us to do things no known technology can do."

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"So you're just exploring at random?"

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"Mostly, we're also trying to scout for all the worlds near our own to be aware of any potential dangers. You're the first alien civilization we've found."

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"Neat. We're really excited about aliens - just started seriously trying our own space program."

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"That's pretty cool. We've been doing a lot of work in space development recently because we figured out how to use teleportation magic to get around some of the difficulties with space launch."

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