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Herb J. Smith II

Take Advantage of Special Offers on Keepers of the Dawn

Reblogged from Herb J. Smith II:
Keepers of the Dawn - Herb J. Smith II

Announcing a new SPECIAL OFFERS PAGE.

This new page will be updated periodically with one or more SPECIAL OFFERS related to Keepers of the Dawn. Offers may include discounts on Keepers of the Dawn, contests for free copies of the ebook, and other deals.

Visit the page today to take advantage of these two offers.

1) HALF OFF the epub version of Keepers of the Dawn now through April 18, 2015.

2) A Quiz Contest. Correctly answer the contest question and WIN A COPY of Keepers of the Dawn (epub version).

 

Visit www.KeepersOfTheDawn.com/Special-Offers today for details on both offers.

Source: http://www.KeepersOfTheDawn.com

Crafting Language for the Post-Apocalyptic World

When crafting a post-apocalyptic world, one consideration easily overlooked is that of language. What one might call the post-apocalyptic language of the survivors. In a world only two or three generations removed from an apocalyptic event, the language will likely exhibit few changes. But in a world set farther in the future, say a century or more, it’s likely that the language will embody numerous changes, or at least significant ones. The reason for this is twofold.

 

First, a post-apocalyptic language will be greatly influenced by the amount of knowledge that survives the apocalyptic event. Some knowledge may have survived as the product of purposeful attempts to salvage pieces of the previous world, while other knowledge will have survived simply from the fact that a survivor contains within him the knowledge and language of the previous world. Second, a post-apocalyptic language will be altered by the addition of new words and phrases, as well as the exclusion of others. People of a post-apocalyptic society may likely encounter strange new events, objects, and phenomena that were nonexistent in the pre-apocalyptic world, or at least rarely experienced there. Such a society would need to invent new terms to describe these things. Conversely, events, objects, and phenomena that no longer exist in the world will eventually fade from the language.

 

In our own world today, we find remarkable examples of preserved knowledge. Examples from ages past that have survived down to us nearly intact through nothing more than the simple vehicle of repeated copying. In Judaism, for example, centuries of tradition have held that even a one-letter discrepancy in the creation of a written copy of the Torah is unacceptable. Comparing ancient copies of this text with modern copies reveals incredible fidelity, despite the fact that the versions were created centuries apart. Similar fidelity is also found to exist in the tales of some oral traditions.

 

In Ray Bradbury’s award-winning, dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, a network of individuals has taken to memorizing great works of literature and philosophy in an attempt to save them from a society that makes it a priority to burn them. It’s not hard to imagine that such a memorization effort could be carried down through the generations. This raises a couple of interesting questions, questions that I explore in my novel, Keepers of the Dawn. 1) How accurate can preserved knowledge be in the absence of context? 2) Is preserved knowledge from a bygone age truly preserved if the meaning behind it has been lost?

 

In the Hugo Award-winning novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr., monks spend centuries scavenging and copying remnants of pre-apocalyptic literature in hopes of preserving what little remains of the previous world. One particular document of interest is a diagram annotated with technical specifications. In a world of lost technology, however, the purpose of such diagrams, along with the meaning of their technical terms, has been forgotten. So although the monks have painstakingly copied the technical document word for word thereby preserving it, its true meaning has been lost.

 

In Keepers of the Dawn, the wizard Zandow understands this affect. That is, the affect time can have on an attempt to preserve pre-apocalyptic knowledge. He states: 

‘But you need to understand that things change. Time itself changes them. The course that a river flows today may be vastly different from the course it flowed in your great-grandparent’s time. There could be a world of difference between the tales of your Heritage and the meaning you ascribe to them, and the meaning your ancestors ascribed to their versions of those same tales.’ 

In a post-apocalyptic world, therefore, even the precise copying of pre-apocalyptic documents, or the exact retelling of pre-apocalyptic tales, may fail to prevent the loss of pre-apocalyptic knowledge and the language associated with it. This brings us to another point: the imperfect preservation of past knowledge.

 

It’s axiomatic that the passage of time can have a profound effect on knowledge. And that, in turn, has an effect on language. For example, can you name three gods worshipped by the Neolithic people who built Stonehenge? Don’t feel bad. No one can. Their names—provided they ever existed—have been lost, along with the rest of that population’s language. That is not to say that ancient names, words, and phrases never survive. They do of course. But they do not always survive in their original form.

 

The History Channel series, America’s Secret Slang, does a good job of investigating the origins of some of our most common words and phrases. A number are actually found to be adulterations of other words and phrases. The program’s findings are often surprising. An example from my own experience is the word, “Alzheimer’s.” At the time that word first began to appear in popular culture, the internet did not yet exist. And unless you’d seen the word in print somewhere, it was a little difficult to understand exactly what someone was saying when he spoke the word. As a result, many people heard “Alzheimer’s” and misinterpreted it as the phrase, “Old Timer’s.” Since Alzheimer’s is a cause of dementia that primarily affects the elderly, and since the word sounds somewhat like the phrase, it was perfectly logical to perceive that “Old Timer’s” was what the malady was called. All these years later, I would not be surprised to find that there are still those who think the term for the malady is “Old Timer’s.” Although perhaps not the best example, it does show how easily an “adulterated” word can be absorbed into one’s vocabulary. America’s Secret Slang has a plethora of much better examples if you should get a chance to catch an episode.

 

The point is that an author would be remiss if he failed to account for the effect that the passage of time can have on any pre-apocalyptic knowledge that might have survived the previous world’s downfall. In Keepers of the Dawn, the Holy Mother and Her universal Church oversee the world’s sole religion. In an attempt to keep the Nameless-One’s words inviolate (the “Nameless-One” is the name of the deity the world worships), the Church employs a Dean of Tongues.

The duty of the Dean of Tongues, then, was to make certain the Language—the words and sounds used by the Nameless-One in the time before Ruin—did not stray. If too many adulterations of the one true language were allowed to exist, then the purpose and true meaning behind the Nameless-One’s words, Church doctrine, and even He Himself might be lost to future generations. Even the Viles knew to keep the Language true, although to what purpose and through what means one could only guess.

 

Despite their best efforts, however, that host of holy women who over the centuries had served in the post of the Dean of Tongues had failed to keep out every “adulteration.” I admit, I had fun “adulterating up” some modern words for use in the future world of Keepers. Here are a few: Claymouth, Kalifai, and the Mountain of Titans, as well as the Kingdoms of Montaho and Nevona (which, hint hint, arose as a result of the Great Consolidation of centuries past). I’ll leave it to you to guess what the unadulterated, modern equivalent of each of these is.

 

The second way a post-apocalyptic language can be altered is by the addition of new words and phrases. It is a fact that language is always changing. Just ask any linguist. Or the Dean of Tongues for that matter.

 Like humankind, the one true language was a living creature. A creature the Nameless-One created for the transmission of His Word. It fell to the Church to always constrain the Language so as to prevent it from wandering from its original divine design, just as the Church strove to constrain humankind from committing sin against its original design. Like humanity, however, the Language was imperfect. It too was given a spirit and freewill that sometimes led it astray. 

I would argue that the fact language does indeed possess “a spirit and freewill” should be incorporated into the language of any post-apocalyptic world that exists more than a century or so beyond its apocalyptic event.

 

In Keepers of the Dawn, for example, numerous words were introduced into the language over the preceding centuries to describe events, objects, and phenomena that did not exist, or were rarely seen, in the pre-apocalyptic world. Some of these new words describe various aspects of the population’s psychic abilities. These include: kineticor, receptor, coercer, inducer, compeller, mentas, dual-dwelling, and the Infiltration. Other new words describe other aspects of the post-apocalyptic world. Some of these are: mishappen, the Ruin, the Nameless-One, forest giant, battle beast, war dog (a new species of dog), and stiquilla. Inclusion of these words in the language makes for a richer, more vibrant world.

 

For example, take the word, “kineticor” (rhymes with core), which I coined. It is obviously an extension of the word “kinetic” and may call to mind the word “telekinesis.” (Both “kinetic” and “telekinesis” derive from the same Greek word, “kinesis.”) When a reader comes to realize that “kineticor” is actually another term for “wizard,” the whole nature of what a wizard is in this world is called into question and, by extension, the true nature of what “magic” could be in a world populated by psychics. All of this from the inclusion of one new word where the old tried-and-true “wizard” would have served reasonably well.

 

Along with the addition of new words into a post-apocalyptic language is the other side of the coin: the exclusion of words from the language. In a post-apocalyptic world where advanced technology no longer exists, or at least no longer exists in a recognizable form, the vocabulary used to describe such technology is of no practical use. It’s hard to imagine, for example, that the terms “force field” and “laser” would continue to exist centuries beyond the demise of those technologies.

 

In Keepers of the Dawn, which takes place in a medieval world, I took special care to exclude all such technological terms from the text. For example, I gave great thought as to whether to include the word “cannonade.” Although I thought to use the word to describe a wizard discharging a rapid succession of “wizard fire,” and so textually the word was quite appropriate, I decided not to use it. I determined that in a world where gunpowder and cannons had not existed for two millennia, the connotation of “cannonade” was too suggestive of those lost technologies. I excluded other words for similar reasons. Many of these, as you might imagine, were difficult to replace. If you chance to read the novel, you may recognize some of the substitutions and divine their absent counterparts.

 

In short, careful attention to the language of a post-apocalyptic world offers opportunities for infusing richness, vivacity, and even mystery into the text. By carefully crafting a post-apocalyptic language, an author can convey a number of clues about the nature and impact of an apocalyptic event, the length and level of chaos following the event, the quantity of knowledge likely preserved from the previous world, and other related tidbits. All of which adds richness to the text and enjoyment for the reader.

 

Source: http://www.HerbJSmithII.com

“Mishappen” – A New Word or a Misspelling? Let Me Check the Work’s Publisher.

Imagine you open a new book from a first-time author, begin reading, and in Chapter One encounter the word “mishappen.” Is your first thought, “Hmm, that’s a curious word. Wonder what it means?” Or is your first thought, “Hmm, a misspelling of misshapen right in the first chapter. Wonder how many more mistakes I’ll find?” Now let’s take that same scenario and add one additional bit of information: the publisher.

 

Line of horizontal books.
This time imagine you’re reading a book published by Random House and you encounter the word “mishappen.” Do you reach for a dictionary? Take a second look at the word’s context to ascertain its meaning? Or do you simply regard it as an error and move on? I’m guessing you’re grabbing a dictionary or taking a second look. Okay, now imagine you’re reading a self-published book and encounter the word “mishappen.” Again, a dictionary? A second look at context? Or do you simply make a little tick mark in that space you keep reserved in the back of your mind for self-published books? You know, the space where you almost subconsciously tally each textual error you find, apprehensive that you will again reach that tipping point whereupon you’ll be forced to conclude: “What a waste of time. I should have known better.” It’s the latter isn’t it? It’s all right. Believe me I’m not criticizing. I do the same thing. And we all know why.

 

2 plus 1 equals 4.

There are so many self-published books out there just riddled with errors: spelling errors, grammatical errors, plot errors, formatting errors—errors, errors, and more errors—so many errors, in fact, that we’re predisposed to the fact and begin expecting them. It’s an understandable prejudice. Get bitten by seven of the eight yellow Labrador retrievers you’ve ever encountered and it’s understandable that you’ll be wary of the ninth. But should we be? As a self-published author, I say . . . sure, of course. Why not? Who’s looking to get bit again? Unfortunately, like our fictitious yellow Labs, many self-published authors have a tendency to bite. It’s a propensity that makes it all the more difficult for those self-published authors who don’t. Yet it’s a fact, and one we need to acknowledge. So where does that leave the self-published author? Somewhat disadvantaged I’m afraid.

 

If Random House is the publisher of my book, a reader will almost certainly give me the benefit of the doubt when he encounters some new word, literary device, or innovation. It’s a natural inclination. If I’m the publisher of my own book, however, I’m unlikely to receive that same consideration. A reader will naturally regard the “oddity” in the self-published book with a wary eye and, quite possibly, see it as an error. So what’s the self-published author to do when it comes to the new word, the new device, the innovation? Employ it or ignore it for fear a reader will fail to recognize it? It’s a difficult question.

 

In the end, I believe it all comes down to the work itself. As a self-published author, there’s only so much one can do to ensure an innovation is not misunderstood. Do too much—explain too much—and the work is compromised. Rather, I believe the self-published author needs to be true to himself, true to his work, and true to his craft. He needs to write the story the best he can, ignoring the fact that his new word or device or innovation may be viewed with a more skeptical eye than that of his traditionally published counterpart. Is it fair that a self-published author should be judged more skeptically simply because he is self-published? Perhaps not. Then again, perhaps it is. It’s not as easy a question to answer as one might think. It harkens back to the question of the biting yellow Labs. Except that a yellow Lab cannot help but be a yellow Lab. But a self-published author . . . Well, that’s a subject for another day.

 

Whatever the case, whether fair or unfair, reality is reality. A self-published author will be judged more skeptically. And that is not likely to change. I only contend that, despite this reality, a self-published author should still embrace originality and innovation whenever possible, despite the potential for heightened skepticism and misunderstanding. Originality and innovation are hard enough to achieve. They are too precious for one to eschew out of fear they’ll be misunderstood. Therefore, I say stay true to the work. Who knows, one day you may be recognized as the innovative yellow Lab that doesn’t bite. And good dogs, as we know, sometimes get treats.

 

Close-up of Bartu
Okay, so what about this word, “mishappen”? Is it a misspelling of misshapen or is it actually a new word? Well, the first thing it is, is a self-serving device I used in this article to one, make my point, and two, blow my own horn while simultaneously promoting my book. Shameless I know.

 

Beyond that, “mishappen” is a word I coined three decades ago for use in my future novel, Keepers of the Dawn. In Chapter One of the novel, a three-year-old Bartu is described as “the mentally afflicted mishappen with the strange and unsettling eyes.” Later, in Chapter Five, he is referred to as the “[m]ishap of a wrongful birth,” the “[f]oul fruit of a lifeless womb,” the “[s]pawn of Muta!” Therefore, a mishappen (pronounced mis–hap–en), as referenced in the novel, is a person or thing whose existence is directly attributable to a mishap or an adulteration.

 

For years after I’d coined the word, whenever I came upon an unabridged dictionary somewhere I’d check to see if the word appeared in it. But I never found it. Then a few years ago, I decided to check the internet. And voila! There it was. Mishappen. After so many years of off-and-on searching, it was quite a surprise. As it turns out, however, the mishappen of the online dictionaries is not quite the same mishappen that I had coined.

 

Although spelled the same, the word in the online dictionaries is a verb, whereas the mishappen of my book is a noun. The dictionaries state that “mishappen” is rarely used now. It originated in the 14th century, comes from the Middle English word “mishapnen,” and is equivalent to “mis- + happen.” It’s defined as meaning, “[t]o happen through misfortune,” which is actually very close to the meaning I’ve ascribed to my version of the word. That is, a person or thing whose existence is directly attributable to a mishap or an adulteration.

 

Since my version of mishappen is a noun rather than a verb, it appears the mishappen used in Keepers of the Dawn is a new word after all. Even better, the definition of the new noun, “mishappen,” fits well with the definition of the existing verb, “mishappen.” It’s such a natural fit that I’m surprised the noun wasn’t coined long ago. Then again, perhaps it was and I just haven’t encountered that definition yet. Maybe one day another previously undiscovered dictionary entry will rear its aged head and prove me merely a borrower of the word rather than originator. Until then, however, I’ll take my little glories wherever I can get them and lay claim to the new noun, “mishappen.” My brief moment of fame!

 

From the Ninety-Ninth Edition of the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, published January 2234: 1 mishappen mis-hap-en n : (now exceedingly rare) a person or thing whose existence is directly attributable to a mishap or an adulteration. Ex. The mule was a mishappen, as it was the result of a prize racehorse escaping its paddock and mating with a donkey. Origin: late 20th century, coined by a forgotten man of little consequence whose name has since been lost to history.

 

Source: http://www.HerbJSmithII.com

Take Advantage of Special Offers on Keepers of the Dawn

Keepers of the Dawn - Herb J. Smith II

Announcing a new SPECIAL OFFERS PAGE.

This new page will be updated periodically with one or more SPECIAL OFFERS related to Keepers of the Dawn. Offers may include discounts on Keepers of the Dawn, contests for free copies of the ebook, and other deals.

Visit the page today to take advantage of these two offers.

1) HALF OFF the epub version of Keepers of the Dawn now through April 18, 2015.

2) A Quiz Contest. Correctly answer the contest question and WIN A COPY of Keepers of the Dawn (epub version).

 

Visit www.KeepersOfTheDawn.com/Special-Offers today for details on both offers.

Source: http://www.KeepersOfTheDawn.com