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 importance 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 center of Chinese influence.
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.
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.
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 gray as folks wanted to forget the past and let the past forget them. Those that still “wear the brown’ do it on purpose.