Jung J'whon Guo like a True Spacer
The movement to leave Earth-that-Was stands out as a remarkable event in human history, one in which cross-cultural cooperation helped to achieve what some thought was impossible. In the effort to find a new home for humanity, the primary powers of the era—the United States of America and China—worked together to create the necessary technology, manpower, and logistics for the largest migration of people ever known.
Once the exodus of mankind had begun, the close quarters and difficult survival conditions in space broke down traditional barriers of language and culture. After a full generation had lived and died in the massive convoy of ships slowly trudging from star to star, the average person was at least bi-lingual and had a very multicultural outlook. A person’s ethnicity became far less important than competence and character.
Thus many generations later, the children of Earth-That-Was don’t think much back to the days of colonization but continue the legacy by their almost universal fluency in both English and Chinese. Culture and language have both continued to evolve, with economics becoming a primary dividing line. It is easy to distinguish a person from the central planets from one born and raised out on the Rim. Slang and linguistic shortcuts are used on the frontier, though some have filtered back into the refined speech usually found on worlds of the Core.
English and Chinese Folks in the ‘Verse speak English or Chinese, one or the other being the dominant tongues most everywhere. It pays to know at least a little of both if you plan to get very far. Of the central planets, Londinium is primarily English-speaking, while Sihnon stands out as a shining example of Chinese influence.
Mutt Tongues Hundreds of languages made the great leap from Earth-That-Was and most of them survive in pockets and ghettos on most worlds. Only rarely, however, will anyone encounter a community that speaks a non-dominant language exclusively.
Cussin’ Human beings have happily fouled the gift of language with whatever inventive, vindictive, and insulting expressions they can imagine. While the traditional English swear words have survived intact, a few additional crude cuss words have been added to the common man’s vocabulary. The basics include Gorram (“Run! It’s the gorram law!”), Ruttin’ (“It’s gettin’ too ruttin’ hot in here.”), and Humped (“He’s got a gun on us. We’re humped!”). Cursing in Chinese is considered more imaginative and expressive, and most everyone does it—at least when his mother has left the room.
Fightin’ Words Some speech isn’t cursing by traditional definition, but it will cause fists and bullets to fly just the same. Religion, politics, social class, and wealth are touchy subjects—as is mention of the Unification War.
Browncoat: Member of the Independent Factions, Independent veteran. Adopted early in the war by the Independent Factions, a brown coat has become indelibly linked to supporters of the Independents’ cause. After the war’s end, clothiers made good money dying brown coats blue or grey as folks wanted to forget the past and let the past forget them. Those that still “wear the brown” do it on purpose.
Frontier Slang In English, there are two predominant speech patterns. “Core Speech” is carefully used and grammatically correct. “Frontier Slang” sounds sloppy and quaint to Core speakers, who judge the speaker as poorly educated and low class. Those born outside the Core are more likely to have at least a little of the Frontier in their speech.
Basic Rim World Speech • Truncate the “g” for “ing” words (“Schoolin’”) • Pepper with slang adjectives. • Double negatives. (“It don’t mean nothin’ out here.”) • Using odd words and word forms in phrases. • Use “don’t” instead of “doesn’t.” ("He don't have the money.") • Ain’t. • Odd Words: druther, yonder, dang, plumb, right smart. • Prefixing on “-ing” (“a-runnin’”). • No –ly on adverbs. (“She described the plan real simple. That job’s awful hard to do.”) • Subject and Verb don’t match. (“We was goin’ there. He got none of that.”) • Malformed verbs. (“He growed up real good. He come by here last night. I seen it with my own eyes. He done run off again.”)
A Few Examples - “Looks like we got us some imminent violence.” - “We got no short of ugly ridin’ in on us.” - “I’m just feeling kind of truthsome rightnow.” - “We’re in some peril here.” - “We just need a small crew, them as feel the need to be free.” - “This here’s a recipe for unpleasantness.” - “I’m shocked my own self.” - “We’ll be there directly.” - “But she does have an oddness to her.”
Slang: A Frontier Life • All-fired - completely. (“Where’d she go gettin’ all-fired jealous ‘bout this?”) • Awful, Dreadful, Mighty, Plumb, Powerful – adjectives for emphasis. (“Gettin’ awful crowded in my sky.”) • Bang-up – great. (“They did a bang-up job.”) • Bughouse – mental hospital. • Git – go away. • Ornery – Stubborn, not passive. • Peck – a large amount. • Preacher – anyone religious. • Shindig – A party, usually with dancing. • Shiny – good or valuable. • Size someone up – judge how tough they are or what their intentions might be. • Tetchy – sensitive or complaining. • Run afoul – to get into trouble with.
Slang: Spacefaring • Atmo – atmosphere, as in to “leave atmo.” • The black – space. • Clean your housing – to give a thorough beating (as in a spaceship’s engine housing). • Feds, Federals – Members of the Alliance, itsmilitary, law enforcement, or functionaries. • Go to blackout – shut down power on the ship to avoid detection. • On the drift – in space without fuel unable to travel. • Reavers – madmen who live on the edges of civilized space, flying dangerous ships and preying on other space vessels. • The Rim – frontier planets, not the core. • The ‘Verse – inhabited space or the universe. • Being buzzed – Sensors from another ship are actively sweeping you.
Slang: Underworld • Doxy – prostitute. • Drops – illegal, addictive, narcotic drugs. • Second story job – breaking and entering robbery. • Scratch – valuables. • The goods – loot. • Went south – problems appeared, the plan fell apart. • Tonic – amateur or illegal alcoholic drink. • Bushwhack – ambush. • Footpad – pickpocket thief in a town. • Hornswoggle – to trick someone. • On the dodge – wanted by the police.
Slang: Technical • Advocate – a lawyer. • Cortex – wide-spread information network • Genseed – Genetically engineered crop seeds used on freshly terraformed worlds. • Skyplex – orbital city or space station. • Wave – a communication: text, audio, video, or holographic.
Chinese Phrases The Chinese that became one of the two primary tongues of the ‘Verse was originally known as Mandarin—China’s official language. Mandarin, or Pekingese, is a dialect once spoken in that country’s northern part, primarily around the Beijing city. The other major Chinese dialect was Cantonese, spoken down south in the Canton Province. Way back in the Earth-That-Was days, the Chinese folk actually went through a bruhaha as to which of the two tongues to make official. Though no blood was shed far as we know, it was a verbal civil war. North vs. South fought with volleys of dead-waking hollers over the virtues of their respective cant.
Obviously in the end Mandarin won out. So instead of yat zeu, people shout chui se to tell folks to go to hell.
Chinese is a very different tongue than English, and is difficult to learn for those who don’t pick it up in the earliest years. Traditional Chinese has four inflections, five if you count the fifth, “soft” one. You best enunciate each just right or you might have folk scratching their head, wondering why you’re so upset about losing a shoe when you’re really trying to alarm them of a man overboard.
We said traditional, because in the 26th century we go by New Chinese. Like English where new words constantly replace the old and nobody utters the Earth-That-Was slang, Chinese got a makeover too. The progression of humans into a bilingual community evolved the original language into a strip-downed version. The main languages, Chinese and English, each have certain subjects and ideas it can express more efficiently. Over time, folks figured out what they are and started replacing different parts of speech with whichever language that related their thoughts the best. A doctor in the 26th century wouldn’t hope to explain chi flow in English, for instance, any more than a control station would give docking instructions in Chinese.
Words and phrases became further streamlined - curmudgeon sticklers would say “corrupted.” But only those reared in true Old Chinese-speaking households would complain, and the accessibility made it much easier for lower-class folk of English-speaking heritage.
Jung J’wohn Guo Hua Like A True Spacer The above would read “Speaking Chinese Like a True Spacer” in English. In humanity’s new home, a collective of humans is all able to swear in a 5,000+ year-old language - with a cowboy twang.
The following phrases can be tossed into whatever situation seems most appropriate - or not. These just scratch the surface of Chinese cursing possibilities. While even educated, refined folk swear every now and then, you’re more likely to hear most of these phrases out of a free-boosting fringe rat.
A • A switch to those girls’ backsides is just good enough: Byen Dah Tah Muhn Dug Bay Jo Go Lai. • Abracadabra-alakazam: Tian-Ling-Ling, Di-Ling-Ling. • Accusing someone of lying, a ridiculous notion, or talking out of the posterior: Fuhn Pi, literally “farting.” • Agitate someone out of hiding: Da Chow Jing Ser, literally “beating the grass to startle the snake.” • Alas, not good, what a mess, too bad: Jao Gao, literally “spoiled cake.” • Alliance: Nien Mohn. • Are we clear?: Dohn luh mah. • Attributing an unfortunate longshot occurrence: Yeh Lu Jwo Duo Luh Jwohn Whei Jian Guay, literally “do enough nighttime travels and one will eventually see a ghost”; also a warning of future retribution. • Awesome or extraordinarily clever: Gao Guhn, literally “high pole.”
B • Baboon’s ass crack: Feh Feh Pi Goh. • Bastard, jerk: Huen Dahn, literally “rotten egg.” • Big boss or operator of a business: Lao Buhn; Lao Buhn Ni’un for female boss or proprietor’s wife. Also informal appellation for acquaintances. • Big brother: Ghuh or Ghuh-Ghuh, the former is more intimate and connotes blood relation. • Big stupid pile of stinking meat: Yi Dwei Da Buen Chuo Roh. • Big sister: Jei or Jei-Jei, the former is more intimate and connotes blood relation. • Blindside or conspire against someone secretly: Fahn Leong Jian, literally “shoot a cold arrow.” • Bottoms up: Gon Beh, literally “dry cup.” • Brilliant: Jing Chai. • Browncoat (slang for soldiers of Independent): Jone Yee.
C • Cheap floozy: Jien Huo. • Check at once: Ma Shong Jien Cha. • Cheering or urging someone on: Jah Yoh, literally “add fuel,” equivalent of “go (name)!” in English. • Chinese/Mandarin language: Jwohn Guo Hua. • Cool: Ku. • Commit blunder of great magnitude: Bie Woo Lohng. • Complete disarray or sheer pandemonium: Tian Fuhn Di Fu, literally “sky tumbles while earth turns over.” • Completely useless: Tian Di Wu Yohn. • Congratulations: Gohn Shi. • Conniving or scheming person: Guay Toh Guay Nown, literally “ghost head and ghost brain.” • Crazy dog in love with its own feces: Ai Chr Jze Se Duh Fohn Diang Gho. • Cursing: Ma Jung Hwa, literally “chastise with dirty words.” • Cute: Kuh Ai.
D • Damn or damn it: Ta Ma Duh, literally “hismother’s...” • Dangerous person or animal: Wei Shian Dohn Woo. • Daydream or wishful thinking: Bai Lih Mohn. • Deserving of bad consequence or fate: Hwo Gai. • Despicable: Kuh Wu. • Do something for nothing in return, or wasted endeavor without a payoff: Yee Yan, literally “a charity show.” • Done for or imminent doom: Wong Dahn, literally “finished (cooked) egg.” • Dumbass: Chwen, descriptive, literally “retarded”
E • Earthshaking: Jing Tian Dwohn Di, literally “startle the sky and shake the earth.” • Engage a monkey in feces-hurling contest: G’en Ho Tze Bi Dio se. • Enough of this nonsense: Go Hwong Tong. • Everything under the sky: Tian Shia, can be used to allude to the world or universe. • Excrement: Mi Tian Gohn, slang, derives from the fact that when you stack the three characters - “mi” (rice), “tian” (paddy), and “gohn” (public or mutual) - from top to bottom in that order, they form the ideograph for excrement. • Explosive diarrhea of an elephant: Da Shiong La Se La Ch’wohn Tian.
F • Fear nothing but (fill in the blank): Tian Bu Pa, Di Bu Pa, Tze Pa. . . • Fellow: Ja Hwo, also slang for weapon. • Female companion or girlfriend: Ma Tze, a somewhat derogatory slang; add Dow in front for “looking to get a girlfriend.” • Filthy fornicators of livestock: Ung Jeong Jia Ching Jien Soh. • Fire!: Kai Huo (as in shooting), Fuhn Huo (as in starting). • Fire at will or terminate with extreme prejudice: Da Kai Sa Jeh, meaning “breaking the Buddhist vow against killing.” • Flat-chested: Hur Bao Duhn, slang, literally “eggs cooked sunny side-up.” • Foiled or ruined at the last moment: Soh Ya Feh Tian, expression, literally, “a cooked duck flies away.” • Fool: Sah Gwa, literally “stupid melonhead.” • Friend, pal, buddy: Puhn Yoh.
G • Gang, crew, or confederate of diehards: Se Duhng. • Gang or faction leader: Da Gher Da for male, Da Jeh Da for female, slang. • Garbage: Luh Suh. • Get bold or audacious: Fahn Dahn, literally “release courage.” • Get lost: Kwai Jio Kai. • Go all out, hold nothing back: Ping Ming, literally “fight for one’s life.” • Go to hell: Chui Se, literally “go die.” • Good or okay: How. • Good journey or bon voyage: Yi Lu Shwen Fohn. • Good luck: Joo How Rin. • Greetings: Ni How.
H • Handsome: Shwie. • Happy development or fortuitous turn of event: How Shi Sung Chung, literally “a good show’s about to start,” can be used sarcastically. • Have desires above one’s social/financial position, or beyond one’s ability to realize: Lai Huh Moh Sheong Tze Tian Uh Zoh, literally “for a toad to think of eating a swan.” • He or she: Tah, tah-duh for his or hers, tah-muhn for them, tah-muhn-duh for theirs. • Homewrecking tramp: Hu Li Jing, literally “fox spirit.” • Hump: Gun. • Hurry, speed up: Guhn Kwai.
I • I or me: Wuo, wuo-duh for mine. • I don’t believe my eyes!: Wo Bu Shin Wo Dah Yan Jing. • I neither see nor hear you: Wuo Dwei Nee Boo Ting Boo Jen. • Idiot, moron: Buhn Dahn, literally “stupid egg,” or Chwen Joo, literally “retarded pig.” • Impossible: Bu Kuh Nuhn. • Impressive display or visage but no substance: Da Chung Wu Dahn, literally “big gun, no bullet.” • In someone’s doghouse: Luhn Gohn, literally “a cold palace,” which is where an emperor confines those concubines who have fallen out of favor. • In that case, never mind: Nah Mei Guan Shee.
J • Junk: Feh Wu.
L • Leader of a criminal operation: Ser Toh, literally “snakehead,” derogatory. • Leave one to his own fate: Tze Sh’un Tze Mieh. • Let me repeat myself: Wuo Jai Jeong Yi Chi. • Life support failure: Shuhn Ming Shi T’wohn Gu Jong. • Like hell: Jien Ta Duh Guay, literally “see his ghost.” • Little brother: Di or Di-Di, the former is more intimate and connotes blood relation. • Little sister: Mei or Mei-Mei, the former is more intimate and connotes blood relation. • Long time no see: How Joh Bu Jian.
M • Male companion or boyfriend: Kai Tze, also a somewhat derogatory slang. • Manipulate, or playing somebody for a fool: Swa. • Merciful Buddha protect us: Rung Tse Fwo Tzoo Bao Yo Wuo Muhn. • Merciful God, please take me away: Rung Tse Song Di Ching Dai Wuo Tzo. • Merciless bastard: Lurn Shwei Jah Jwohn, literally “cold-blooded mixed breed." • Merciless hell: Ai Yah Tien Ah. • Mind your own business: Gwon Ni Tze Jee Duh Shr. • Miss: Shao Jeh, literally “little lady.” Follows a name when addressing a known person, so River would be addressed as Tam River shao jeh, or simply Tam shao jeh. • Mister: Shian Shen, literally “born before me,” also follows a person’s name. • Monkey raping: Cheong Bao Ho Tze. • Motherless goat of all motherless goats: Mei Yong Ma Duh Tse Gu Yong. • Muddled, mixed-up, confused: Wu Toh Wu Now, literally “without a head or a brain.”
N • No problem: Mei Wen Ti. • Not advised: Jwohn Gao Bu Yi. • Not enough: Bu Goh, or Hai Bu Goh for “not enough yet.” • Not keeping a rendezvous: Fahn Gher Tze, literally “release a pigeon” but insinuating not picking up the bird at the destination. • Now, immediately: Ma Shong. • Nuts: Shiang Jing Ping or just Shiang Jing; Fah Shiang Jing for “going nuts.”
O • Oddball or a goof: Chai Neow. • Of course: Duhn Ruhn. • Oh my God: Wuo Duh Tian Ah. • Old: Lao. • Old man/husband: Lao Gohn. • Old lady/wife: Lao Puo. • One must be ruthless to be a great: Wu Du Bu Juhn Fu, literally “a person without poison is not a great man.” • Outdo someone or doing one better: Dao-Gao-Yee-Chi Moh-Gao-Yee-Juhn, expression, literally “the solution advances a yard, the problem advances a mile.”
P • Pal: Lao Sheong if addressee’s older, Lao Di if younger; used for men only. P’n Yoh for “friend.” • Pathetic wretch: Bei Bi Shiou Ren, literally “shameless dirty little person” • Peon, small fry, a nobody: Wu Ming Shao Jwu, literally “nameless little foot soldier.” • Prehistoric: Lao Deow Ya, literally “so old as to lose all teeth” • Pig’s Sty: Joo Fuen Chse. • Pile of sun-baked dog poo: Ri shao gou shi bing. • Plain, bland, bare: Yong Chwen Mien, slang taken from the namesake generic, flavorless noodle dish. • Please be quiet: Ching Ahn Jing Yi Dien. • Pool of excrement: F’n Zse, can be used in an expression for “deep crap.” • Pool of pig droppings: Joo Fuen Chse. • Posterior: Pi Gu. • Precious, darling, sweetheart: Bao Bei. R • Real man: Nuhn Tze Huhn. • Really dangerous: Wei Shan, more poetic, Wo Hu Chung Long, which is “crouching tiger, hidden dragon,” an expression for something dangerous. • Redundant, unnecessary complicating something: Wua Ser Tian Jwoo, literally “draw a snake and add feet to it.” • Retreat, run away: Jio Weh Sung Chiuh, phrase summarizing the last of the Chinese “36 Stratagems,” which extols the virtue of fleeing to fight another day. • Ridiculously stange, illogical or nonsensical: Mo Min Chi Meow, literally “not understanding the pecularity.” • Ruined, finished: Wan Duhn Luh. • Ruthless or savage beast of a person: Ching Soh.
S • Screw him/her running: Gun Ta Jwo Lu. • Screw you: Chwee Ni Duh. • Shameless Hussy: Meh Lien Duh Jyah Jee, literally “faceless bastard prostitute.” • Shiny, awesome, fantastic: Jahn! • Shut up: Bi Jweh. • Shut up and make us wealthy: Bi Jweh, Lung Wuo Mun fah tsai. • Sir: Da Yeh. When used as a nobility, Nuhn Jwei, following the name. • So guilty as to deserve a thousand deaths: Jwei Gai Won Se. • Son of a bitch: Wong Ba Duhn, or Go Neong Yung Duh for a more literal and vicious translation. • Speak now and quickly: Yo Hua Kwai Suo. • Speaking without a clue: Shiah Hwa, literally “blind talk.” • Stop talking: Joo Koh. • Stupid son of a drooling whore and monkey: Lio Coh Jwei Ji Neong Hur Ho Deh Yung Duh Buhn Jah J’wohn. • Swindle: Gwai. • Suicidal idea: Tze sah ju yi. • Surrender, give up: Toh Shung.
T • Take care, stay healthy: Bao Jone, literally “maintain weight.” • Talk nonsense: Shia Suo. • Thanks: Sheh Sheh. • There’s nothing in this plan that isn’t horrific: Juh Guh Jee Hua Juhn Kuh Pah! • Things never go smooth: How W’rin Bu Lai, Whai W’rin Bu Jwo, literally “good luck don’t come, bad luck don’t leave.” • To throw in a monkeywrench: Gwai Ma Jeow, literally “twist a horse’s legs (while it’s galloping).” • Trouble, problem, complication: Ma Fuhn. • Tyrant, iron-fisted ruler: Ba Wong.
U • Ugly or perverted person: Joo Bah Jeh, insult taken from the name of the hoggish, lecherous character in the popular Chinese folktale, “Journey to the West.” • Understand: Dohn, dohn-ma for “understand?” dohn-luh-mah for “are we clear here?”
V • Very: Feh Chun.
W • Wait/hold on a second: D’un Yi Shia. • Warning someone against doing things “the hard way”: Jin Joh Bu Chi Chi Fah Joh, literally “choosing to sip the wine of penalty over that of respect.” • Water: Swei. • We, us: Wuo Mun, Wuo Mun Duh for ours. • We will enjoy your silence now: Bai Tuo, Uhn Jin Yee Dien. • What: Shuh Muh? • What the hell is this crap: Juh Shi Suh Mo Go Dohng Shee?
Y • You: Ni, ni-duh for yours, ni-muhn for plural, nimuhn-duh for plural possessive. • You don’t deserve it: Ni Bu Ying Duh Jur Guh. • You wanna bullet right in your throat?: Nee Yow Wuo Kai Chiung? • You wanna die?: Nee Tzao Se Mah? • Young one: Nyen Ching Duh, or Yo Chr, slang for underaged (literally “infant teeth.)