alternate englands - belated questions

Kathleen Jennings kathleen.jennings at
Tue Feb 15 20:19:25 EST 2005

Ros said...
> But does the fact that she and Christopher can communicate mean that they
> both speak English or does something magical happen so that people can
> understand each other's languages when people from different worlds meet? I
> can't remember if there are any cases where people from other world don't
> understand each other...there could be, just can't remember.

Not in the Chrestomanci books, but in Homeward Bounders I seem to
recall Jamie had to struggle to learn *some* languages at least. I
enjoy books where people have to struggle with a new language (my
favourite scenes in 13th Warrior :), and while I'll accept magical
understanding and babelfish, and even (to a lesser extent) Kivrin's
"translator" enhancement, I find it very hard to accept that two or
more separated worlds would develop or maintain the exact same
language. My family is half Irish/American and half English/Australian
and still have trouble understanding each other. What about accent and
dialect and idiom and cliches, technological jargon, etc?

Just one of my pet peeves, but it jolts me out of the state of
suspended disbelief (not quite as badly as RE Feist letting the atlas
index fall open and having a character walk from Taroom to another
place also in western Qld and definitely not within walking distance).

Having alluded to Connie Willis above, I should announce I have read
the Doomsday Book and enjoyed it very much. However, I have two
burning questions, which may be answered in *To Say Nothing of the
Dog*, but I haven't any money atm:

(1) Where was Basingame? Please? Somebody? Do we ever find out? Or did
I miss it?
(2) Where are all the mobile phones? Did they finally prove they cause
cancer? I know the book was written in the early 90s, but still. For a
novel in which people spend so much time on the telephone...


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