The story behind the Belter language in The Expanse

This picture, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), shows a galaxy known as NGC 6872 in the constellation of Pavo (The Peacock). Its unusual shape is caused by its interactions with the smaller galaxy that can be seen just above NGC 6872, called IC 4970. They both lie roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. From tip to tip, NGC 6872 measures over 500 000 light-years across, making it the second largest spiral galaxy discovered to date. In terms of size it is beaten only by NGC 262, a galaxy that measures a mind-boggling 1.3 million light-years in diameter! To put that into perspective, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, measures between 100 000 and 120 000 light-years across, making NGC 6872 about five times its size. The upper left spiral arm of NGC 6872 is visibly distorted and is populated by star-forming regions, which appear blue on this image. This may have been be caused by IC 4970 recently passing through this arm — although here, recent means 130 million years ago! Astronomers have noted that NGC 6872 seems to be relatively sparse in terms of free hydrogen, which is the basis material for new stars, meaning that if it weren’t for its interactions with IC 4970, NGC 6872 might not have been able to produce new bursts of star formation. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.

We’ve started watching “The Expanse” and it is definitely worth watching if you are a sci-fi fan. One of the features of the show (and the books) is the Belter language or dialect which can be a little challenging to understand at times. At the same time, it adds a whole dimension to the story that would ordinarily be lacking without it. Are Technica has an article about Nick Farmer titled “Nick Farmer knows dozens of languages, so he invented one for The Expanse”, the linguist who helped create Belter creole. Interesting to watch if you are curious about how languages are developed for TV shows and movies.

If you haven’t watched The Expanse yet, here is a trailer:

I’ve been reading the books and there is definitely a difference between the books and the TV series storylines. They seem to proceed more or less in parallel but there are features in the TV series which are sometimes at odds with the books. I’ve pretty much decided to treat the two storylines as related but distinct.

If you are really curious, you can also follow Nick Farmer on Twitter for more insight into the language he helped create:

If you also enjoy the show, take a look at my previous post about it and the article written by Martin Rezny about The Expanse’s value as a hard sci-fi show:

“Meanwhile on Stargate, 95% of planets are Canada”

Image credit: Hubble Feathers the Peacock by NASA’s Goddard Flight Space Center, licensed CC BY 2.0

By Paul

Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at Automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

One comment

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.