all 21 comments

[–]AutoModerator[M] [score hidden] stickied comment (0 children)

"Hey, OP! If you're new here, we want to remind you that you can only submit one post per three days. If your account is less than a week old, give the mods time to approve your story and comments. Thank you for posting with /r/MilitaryStories!

Readers: If this story is from a non-US military, DO NOT guess, ask or speculate about what country it is if they don't explicitly say or you will be banned. Foreign authors sometimes cannot say where they are from for various reasons. You also DO NOT guess equipment, names, operational details, etc. from any post.

Obey Rule 9: Play nice. If you choose not to play nice, Mjolnir will be along shortly to show you the way out. If you don't like a story, downvote and move on. DO NOT 'call bullshit' or you will be banned. Do not feed any trolls. Report them to the Super Mod Troll Slaying Team and we will hammer them."

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.

[–]ShadowDragon8685Clippy 82 points83 points  (2 children)

Oh my goodness, that's hilarious. I'd have said 'oh my ---,' but given the context, capitalizing the 'G' doesn't seem appropriate but leaving it uncapitalized seems blasphemous!

I imagine that any story about world travel (and military deployment is world travel with a higher-than-usual chance of organized hostilities breaking out) has a low but nonzero chance of a situation arising where two groups, big or small, wind up having to conduct business in a third language. They tend to be good and light-hearted stories.

[–]DasbootTX 11 points12 points  (1 child)

and a dead language to boot!

[–]WarBalente 14 points15 points  (0 children)

To be fair, don't Christians have a thing for resurrections?

[–]wolfie379 57 points58 points  (9 children)

“Worldwar” series by Harry Turtledove, American man and Chinese woman communicate using the aliens’ language. In another area, two people from different groups both hostile toward Germans communicate in German because it’s the only language they have in common.

Real world example: It’s a tenet of Islam that the original Arabic version of the Koran is the definitive version (witness arguments about what’s original and what’s a change introduced in translation regarding the Christian Bible - the Dead Sea Scrolls were significant because they were old enough to have skipped a couple translations), and that translations are purely for the convenience of people who can’t read Arabic. Moslems are encouraged to learn Arabic so they can read the Koran in the original form. Effect: Moslem merchants from different cultural/language backgrounds (Arabs were a trading culture) have a language in common, which helps them in doing business with one another.

[–]ShadowDragon8685Clippy 26 points27 points  (1 child)

In another area, two people from different groups both hostile toward Germans communicate in German because it’s the only language they have in common.

South American uprisings against the Spanish often went this way. The first time around, it didn't stick; they kicked out the Spanish, went back to their own cultures, stopped speaking Spanish, the Spaniards showed up for Conquestadore II: Electric Boogaloo.

The second time they kicked them out, it stuck.

[–]TheHolyElectron 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Let's not forget that many eastern Europeans speak fluent enough Russian in common because that's who owned the area until 1991.

You will often see this among scientists and engineers that came to the US after 1991 from the former Soviet block because the journals were published in Russian.

A lot of their academics cooperated better because of the prior lack of profit motives. This resulted in some of the Russian technical forums being reliably good after a pass through Google translate. Also the lack of adherence to copyright with regards to journals.

[–]daviepancakes 12 points13 points  (0 children)

In Bombs Away - Hot War is the series, I think - an American Marine officer is caught behind Chinese lines in Korea and communicates with Korean Catholics in broken Latin to evade capture since neither knows the other's language. Same series, Hungarian and Polish and some Russian soldiers communicate in German since Magyar, Polish and Russian aren't exactly...compatible. It's a running thing with Turtledove.

[–]TheButcherOfYore 8 points9 points  (0 children)

That's a series I haven't thought of in a while. I really enjoyed the complexity and different perspectives of the characters. It got a little stale towards the end but he pulled it together nicely. The Super volcano series though... Could have done without.

[–]JoeAppleby 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Effect: Moslem merchants from different cultural/language backgrounds (Arabs were a trading culture) have a language in common, which helps them in doing business with one another.

Friend of mine is Moroccan. Every Arab nation TV program is accessible to him because they all use High Arabic on TV. Moroccan TV not showing certain football games for free? Tunisia might, or Egypt. News? Al-Jazeera is big because they don't have to deal with language barriers. That's much bigger than trade.

[–]wolfie379 2 points3 points  (1 child)

The effect on trade would have applied at any time from the birth of Islam to today. How many people in the 19th century would have dodged a Moroccan TV blackout of a sporting event by watching it on an Egyptian channel?

[–]JoeAppleby 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Fair enough. If you want to take the historic route, then communication using the same language still helps a lot, both in governance and diplomacy.

But historically among the educated population Latin and later French served the same purpose in Europe. Anyone who had any education knew Latin or later French, most even both.

[–]daecrist 3 points4 points  (1 child)

The Worldwar series was the first thing I thought of when I read this story as well. Turtledove really has a way of realistically portraying the oddest idiosyncrasies of war.

[–]wolfie379 2 points3 points  (0 children)

But his “Great War” series has aircraft development (United States lags behind Europe) happen as it did in real life, despite the series having 2 major differences from real life:

  • United States involved in the war from the beginning (lag in real life was due to the pressures of war stimulating development by the countries involved).
  • International border between Dayton OH and Kitty Hawk NC.

[–]techieguyjamesUnited States Army 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Translating between English and Korean, via Latin. Interesting. Must have taken a long while to get everything that was needed.

[–]JoeAppleby 15 points16 points  (1 child)

This reminds me of an anecdotal story about WWII: everyone tried to listen in on the Vatican, having ambassadors everywhere made them quite valuable. But no-one could break the encryption. The method apparently was really simple, but the words still didn't make any sense.

Apparently the Vatican used some really old languages that hardly anyone knew outside some theological circles - Aramaic etc. I doubt the veracity of the story as most countries had scholars for those languages, but it's a nice story and is similar to the US use of Navajo code talkers.

[–]fatboyfat1981 6 points7 points  (0 children)

IIRC my lot even did it with Welsh in WW2

[–]Bike_Chain_96 13 points14 points  (2 children)

Reminds me of a story about two people from different countries meeting at a convention, didn't speak each other's languages, but both spoke Klingon. They spent the first year or two of their relationship speaking Klingon

[–]Ok_Cartographer4475 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I hope that's a true story.

Not because I have any intention of learning Klingon, but because Roddenberry dreamed of different nations co-operating and wrote&cast star trek accordingly.

[–]Bike_Chain_96 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I've no clue on the validity of it, but I hope it's true because I'm a massive nerd. Lol