Did you know that the word “barbarian” comes from the Medieval Latin barbarinus, meaning “foreign, of another nation or culture”? The Latin word is from the root barbar-, which was used to imitate the unintelligible speech of foreigners, originally from the Sanskrit barbara-, meaning “stammering.” In fact, originally the word barbaroi meant “all who are not Greek,” but after the Romans took over much of the world, they started applying it the term to non-Greeks and non-Romans—although by the Greek definition, they themselves were actually barbaroi themselves. (This is also the etymological source of the name of the Barbary Coast, the Berber people, and other similar terms as well.)

But what all this means it that essentially, the English word “barbarian” means “a person who says blah, blah, blah.”

Writing Prompt

Write a scene that includes a character speaking a different language, speaking in a thick accent, or otherwise speaking in a way that is unintelligibe to the other characters. (Note: You don’t necessarily need to know the language the character is speaking—be creative with it!)

Writing Without Rules: How to Write & Sell a Novel Without Guidelines, Experts, or (Occasionally) Pants

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68 thoughts on “Blahbarian

  1. Jennifer Park

    45. The Prisoner

    [Follows “44. The Lover”, posted under “The Wonderful What of Where?” You can click on my name above for the complete Darth Barbara Saga; sometimes, you then need to click on the “Darth Barbara Saga” button on the blog’s menu bar.]

    Of course, the Council of Thirty had its own ideas about where Barbara would be useful.

    Ko, in an octant neighboring Tstrini’s, was staunchly loyal to the Galactic Union, and was therefore chosen to host a gathering of Union diplomats and other dignitaries. When an asteroid materialized inside a transportation node and wiped out a shipload of Union diplomats, the octant was left essentially without a high-ranking diplomat, and Barbara was quickly dispatched to Ko.

    After a flurry of press events, credentialings, and whatnot, Barbara was given a tour of a Koan prison where a person of interest was being interviewed.

    “This one is clearly a Kryzlam male, but we do not understand a word he is saying,” said the minister, pointing at the viewer. “Not any of the dialects we know. Even the Kryzlam authorities did not recognize the language.”

    The prisoner was silently chanting something, but it only appeared that way because Koans were electromagnetic-pulse-communicators, and had no standard equipment for sonic waves. The minister was speaking to Barbara through a translating device.

    “I’d like to see him.”

    “That is not advisable, Ambassador. He is clearly linked with the Elements.”

    Barbara wanted to remind the minister that she had made up the organization called the Elements—just a word in her speech denouncing the destruction of a planet that had been misunderstood by the press to be the name of a real insurgent group—but stopped herself. “And with the sabotage of the transport node?”

    “Yes. He was inside the node, and apparently had disabled the safety.” Thus allowing someone to transport an asteroid into it. It was still unknown from where the asteroid had come. It was unsurprising that the saboteur was a Kryzlam; despite having been a mostly agrarian people when they first joined the Galactic Union, the Kryzlamei had unsurpassed aptitude for modern engineering.

    “I would like to see him,” she said more firmly, staring into the minister’s eyes.

    The minister shirked with fear. “If… We’ll… ummm… safety… precautions…”

    “Take your time.”


    Barbara met the prisoner at another cell where her safety could be more easily assured. The prisoner was blindfolded, and was babbling away inaudibly.

    “Uche’em’egde ge!” Barbara commanded in Standard Ku’u’Ama Empiric.

    The prisoner continued his mumble.

    “Shembenye?” Sopha dialect.

    No change.

    Barbara sighed, and tapped on her temple, turning on her sonic enhancer. She could finally hear what the prisoner was saying:

    “Sha’me, sha’me, sha’me am’mu’Me.”

    “Heke’e’Mute, omu’e’Date, mi e elite da’Ave Ute;
    Hava’sa’huve, uto va’Have, ke’Um ava’e, va’Am’amae;
    Som’ve’vuNane, nane Um’Vune, Ote va’vite; yama sa’mite…”

    Barbara knew what this was. It was an ancient Kryzlam epic poem. As was the tradition, the first two stanzas were repeated after each five stanzas of the rest of the poem.

    “It’s ‘da’Ave Ote,’ not ‘Ute’.” Barbara said calmly when the first stanza returned.

    The prisoner startled awake from his meditation.

    “Hello. I believe you call me Ee’am’uKem [Angel of Death].”

    The prisoner subsequently confessed everything.

  2. csweet

    The machine whirred, game quietly humming in a commented sort of babbling. The brothers sat near it, an old boxy computer Dan had picked up at a yard sale, bird up, an not known the password to. They say near it, trying to stay cool in the sweat drenched trailer, neither looking at the other. The computer suddenly went silent. Dave peered over at it, squinting at it.


    “Probably just sleeping,” Dan replied.

    “The screens on.”

    Dan pressed himself up from the tested brown couch, shuffling over to the machine. The heat of Dave’s body soon radiated over his left shoulder. They started at the silent machine for a moment. Once it has their full attention, it kicked it’s fan back in, rythmicallly speeding up and slowing down.

    “Whiz. Whiz whiz. Whiiiiiz.”

    “See. It’s fine,” Dan said.

    “Almost sounds like it’s taking.”

    “Mom’s right. You are crazy.”

    Dan sipped his beer and slipped back towards the couch, while Dave peered into the machine, not the monitor, but the box.

    ”Everything okay?” he said.

    Dan rolled his eyes and the machine whirred in response. Dave looked his direction.

    “Maybe it’s trying to tell us something.”

    “Yeah. That you need to lay off the beer.”

    “What’s going on?” Dave asked the box.

    The fan turned faster, moving from a low-toned soon to a siren shriek. The CD drive opened and closed, as the machine attempted to modulate the shrieking fan.

    “I don’t know. Can you use the monitor?”

    The cascade of lights along the front of the box all simultaneously turned red.

    ”No, I guess. Okay.”

    The system tone, that cold beeping that requires no speakers rang out, joining the other sounds of alarm. Dave expected Dan to show some interest now, but he was passed out, body strewn across the couch. The machine continued ringing out it’s warning. Dave desperately considered the machine. What could it possibly know that he wouldn’t. Half on a whim he pulled the plaster board desk away from the wall. A brief stumble and he caught himself with it, pulling his hand away at the shocking heat.

    Ripping the computer and nearby lamp from the sockets, he quickly ran to the kitchen, pulling the main breaker. The machine fell silent. Later, the electrician would tell them the short had been there a while and would likely have burned the thing down if he hadn’t caught it. Even if Dan still doesn’t believe what happened, Dave keeps the computer running, thanking it every so often when he goes by.

  3. Andrew


    Michael dragged himself Onto the the soaked, sandy riverbank. His legs ached his vision was blurry and his ears were still ringing from the impact of the single engine plane striking the sand bar. It was far too short for a runway of any sort, but, given the circumstance, he had no choice but to take his chances touching down on the small clearing in the thick jungle woods. The landing gear was torn clean off nearly 100 yards away and the rest of the little plane had cut a groove in the sand from there to the water’s edge, where it was now fighting a losing battle with the raging floodwaters of a higher and stronger than normal river. The pounding of an early summer rain fueled the fury of the jungle waters and proved the plane to be no match for its might.

    Michael’s hand sank into the drenched sand as he turned around at the sound of metal creaking into the muddy water. “NO!” He shouted, stumbling to his feet and trying to rush to offer futile aid to the sinking vessel. The mud gripped his boots and the torrential downpour made it nearly impossible for the pilot to even keep his eyes open. He ignored the pain in his back, along with his common sense and tried to reach his old flying companion as it slowly sank sideways toward the rushing waters. The wing creaked toward the water until the edge dipped in. The river spun the little plane 90 degrees with a gushing splash as the flat wing met the merciless current. Michael stopped in his tracks and threw up his hands. “Gaaa!” He shouted, too distraught to form an actual word.

    “Gaaa ha!” A voice shouted from behind him. “Ga ha, mokgano!” Michael’s heart jumped inside him. The only thing worse than being stranded on a jungle sand bar is being stranded on a jungle sandbar with someone who doesn’t want you on their jungle sand bar. The pilot turned around slowly, his feet still sticking hard to the mud. “Mokgano do ma Kataiu!” A young native boy stood at the edge of the trees with a spear raised above his head in one hand. He, like Michael, was drenched in the hot Central-American rain. His skin was brown and his hair was long and dark. He had only a hog skin loin cloth tied around his waist and a leather strap wrapped just above his elbow. He couldn’t have been older than 17, but he shouted with the ferocity of a warrior. The exhausted pilot wiped rainwater from his face and gestured a very cautious “hello”. “Ga ha maki todu!” The young man shouted again, stepping out from the tree line.

    “Woah, it’s ok, it’s ok” michael raised his hands nervously. “I have no intention of staying”. He shook his head at his own ignorance to think that the boy could understand him. He tried again. “I… um”. The pilot wiped the rain from his face again, with one had still up in front of him. “I… “ he pointed to himself, “go” he pointed away toward the plane. The young man’s brow furrowed as he looked toward the river. Michael turned around and pointed again. “See, I…” he stopped himself, seeing that his plane had been dragged down the river and was no longer to be seen. The pilot lowered his head and placed both hands on his face.

    “Kataiu ga ha mukanga!” The boy shouted angrily as he marched toward the drenched stranger. “No wait, I don’t want to hurt you!” Michael raised his voice again, stumbling back and falling into the mud. He tried to get back to his feet, but before he could get his hand out of the rain soaked dirt, the native boy had already seized him by the arm. “NO!” Michael shouted and tried to pull away, in spite of the mud. “I don’t want to hurt you!” He knew that he would either die by the hands of this barbarian or defend himself in a way that went against his own code of conduct. He had committed to helping, not hurting others, so he couldn’t bring himself to harm this young boy, even if he was much louder and stronger than the average American child his age.

    “Gotan ke miklo” the boy said sternly as he helped pull Michael from the mud. “But I…” Michael started. “Miklo, don kataiu”, the boy pointed toward the trees. Confused, but relieved to still be alive, Michael nodded, stood up and wiped his muddy hands on his rain soaked shirt. The boy got behind him and pushed him toward the jungle. “Gotan!” He commanded. “Yes, … gotan” Michael agreed as they began sludging toward more solid ground under the jungle trees. The boy pressed his captive onward with his his hand on his back, but he kept the spear at his own side. They marched through dense, green foliage. The dark clouds above and the thick jungle canopy made it difficult to see, but at least they provided some reprieve from the relentless storm. After what had to be a half hour of hiking, they came upon a gathering of small huts, built out of branches, palm fronds, animal skins and various other natural resources.

    The two approached the entrance of one particular hut. The ground all through the jungle was soaked with rainwater, but the floor of the hut was remarkably dry. The ceiling was low so michael had to remain hunched over even after hunkering through the little doorway. A meager fire lit the two-person dwelling and a bed of freshly cut banana leaves made a bed on one side. Michael turned to look at the boy, hoping that he would give him some indication of why he was there. “Is he going to eat me?” Michael thought. He began to reconsider his own ethics and started formulating a plan of escape.

    The boy looked at Michael with angry eyes. But it wasn’t just anger. In fact, the more Michael looked back at him, the less he saw anger and the more he saw fear. “Gotan ke miklo.” The boy insisted as he pointed to the makeshift bed. Michael hesitated for a moment, looked at the bed and looked back at the boy. The once fierce eyes of this native boy were now brimming with water, and it was not from the rain. He gripped his spear and breathed heavily through his nose. His lip quivered as he fought to hide his own angst. “Gotan!” He shouted, “Gotan, gotan!” His voice trembled as he pointed to the bed. “Ok, ok, ok…” the pilot responded, slowly kneeling and moving toward the banana leaves.

    As he got closer, he thought he saw movement under the leaves. He looked back at the boy who was now holding his spear upright in both hands, wringing it as though it may help him stay strong. Michael looked back at the bed, reached out and slowly pulled back some of the leaves. The pilot gasped. “A baby!” Lying nearly still as a stone, a little native baby girl lay right there in front of him barely breathing and nearly as cold as the ground beneath her. Michael looked back at the boy, then back at the baby. “Oh my gosh… is she yours?” Michael looked back again. The boys eyes were closed tight and he had turned away.

    Michael looked around frantically for something keep the baby warm. A blanket, a towel… something! His own clothes were still drenched, so he gathered some leaves and swaddled her up in them. He picked her up and carried her over to the fire. The boy saw what he was doing and raised the tip of his spear to the pilot’s forehead. “Gundko! Gundko!” He grunted. “No!” Michael said angrily. His tone had changed from fear for his own life to fear, or rather fight, for this other little life. “You have to trust me!” He grabbed the spear and looked the boy firm in the eyes. They both held tight to the spear, but neither attempted to pull it away. The boy looked at him, then at the girl then back at him, his lips pursed and his nostrils flaring as he fought to trust this white stranger. “It’s ok”, michael said softly. He looked back at the now lifeless bundle cradled in his arm. “I won’t hurt her” he said assuringly. The boy closed his eyes, breathed in deeply and loosed his grip on the spear. Michael nodded to him and let go. The young father pulled back his weapon, crouched down and stared intently through red eyes at the little one being laid down near the fire.

    Michael breathed a deep sigh and looked upward. “I’ve done this with grown men, but this is entirely different.” The pilot had served as a field medic in WWI, but with no resources in a dark little hut, this was quite different. The life of the tiny baby was now no less important to him than the lives of his brothers in battle. Michael breathed a quick prayer and began performing mouth to mouth resuscitation. In this moment, the clamour of the downpour outside was hushed, the loss of the plane and the fear of what may happen next no longer mattered. Cold tiny hands were now the center of michaels existence and he would give his last breath if it meant that breath would return to this little one. Seconds felt like hours and the once-fearsome warrior dropped his spear into the dust and pressed his hands over his face.

    At the brink of despair, the silence was broken. Not by the rain or thunder, but by the coughing cry of life returning to the little bundle in the banana leaves. The boy lept over to michael, pushing him aside and scooped up the baby girl. “Oh moku gkatu loah” he whispered to her as he rocked her back and forth. Michael lied down on the dirt floor, exhausted from everything between the sandbar and where he was now. He rested his arm over his eyes and breathed a whispered “thank you”.

    “Kataiu”. The boy said softly. “Logka Kataiu”. Michael looked up to see the boy kneeling by him, holding out the baby to him. “Kataiu magu ahai”. Michael sat up and looked at the boy. He was smiling as he placed the baby in his lap. The exhausted pilot smiled back, picked up the little girl and held her close. The boy grabbed his spear, smiled at Michael again and stepped outside the little hut. The rain was still pouring down, but it didn’t stop the boy from shouting out “Kataiu magu katu! Kataiu magu ahai!” He shouted it again even louder “Kataiu magu katu! Kataiu magu ahai”. The boy ducked his head back into the hut and smiled at Michael. “Kataiu magu ahai”. His eyes filled with new tears as he beat his chest with a closed fist. “Kataiu magu ahai”. Michael said in reply, tapping his own chest with a closed fist. The boy smiled and continued shouting his proclamation to all the jungle.

    The pilot looked down at the precious baby in his arms, wondering why his plane had given out, wondering why he was there in this little hut, wondering what would happen next. The only thing he knew for sure, was this little girl’s name; Kataiu.

  4. jayak20

    “Whe..y”, a lean guy wearing a rumpled red Tshirt and blue jeans looked at me through his thick glasses.

    “Arkitekturbygning”, I asked calmly.

    “Jo skarit og churn leph”, he replied showing directions with his arms.

    After two years of rejection, I finally got to take classes as a foreign exchange student. The university campus resembled the baroque era with modern touchups. The red bricked buildings overlooked a beautiful sprawling green lawn, intertwined with stone path ways and tram tracks.

    “Thanks”, I said, “I am Jane, foreign exchanges student, taking Eastern Civilization and its impact for Modern Architecture with the analysis of Artificial Intelligence”

    The boy looked at me baffled and mumbled his name, showing a row of discolored, disoriented teeth.

    “Pee?”, I thought, “Who in the world will name their child that ?”

    A biker zoomed past us, drowning my stomach’s grumbling. I counted the money in my wallet. I would need to find a job soon to make my ends meet.

    Sensing my hunger, the boy asked me “Kaffee?”

    “Sure”, I said as we both went up the stairs of the cafe`.

    I needed a hot tea to clear my mind.

    The menu had a long winding list of hot tea beverage . I used google translator to figure the choices – hot tea with smoke organic spice or orange touched honey or cinnamon cream swirl or blue cotton candy mix.

    We got our beverages and sat on a table outside the cafe`. The cool breeze was refreshing.

    “I worrc heere un eviniings.”, the boy gestured with his hand. “ Ee kaan aascc me manejeer fur jjubh fur yuuuu.”, he continued pointing at me.

    “You know, I have a better idea. I will teach English here.” I said looking excitedly at him.”And you will be my first student, Pee!”

    The boy frowned, “Whaat do you meen? I speeking English aall this time.” He continued, “By the wey, my name is Pierce.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh, this is funny, energetic and whimsical at the same time. The language the boy said at the beginning was genius. I could understand what he was saying. It’s a wonderful way to break the prompt. I couldn’t do it. It’s a shame more writers aren’t responding this week
      Glad to see you aboard

  5. Kerry Charlton


    If you believe in the super natural as well as angels. you might like my story. After forty seven years, I have decided to reveal a fall night that happened to change my life

    It wasn’t the first time I had seen her on campus. And it surely wouldn’t be the last, I was sure of that but I let her pass after her eyes met mine in a big smile. ‘Idiot,’ I thought. Her hair had shone in the sun to be of many colors, that puzzled me. It certainly wasn’t a dye job, too complicated for that.

    I saw her again the next day in the student union, this time from the rear but I couldn’t catch her. Her swing was distinguished in it’s movements now why would I use a word like that to describe her derriere? Was it possible to fall in love with just a few glances or was I off shooting rockets somewhere,

    I noticed a banner in the cafeteria announcing a dance being held Saturday to welcome all the new freshmen to campus so I decided to go. Maybe, just maybe I might see her. But the evening wore on and some of the crowd had already left, I felt abandoned and cast my eyes toward the crowd once more in a desperate search and as my eyes bore though the crowd, they landed on her back. She couldn’t see me so I blew her a kiss from sixty feet away and she jumped suddenly as if I had touched her.

    She raised her arms up as if they were a beacon for me and I was drawn to her by a force unknown to me. The music changed in mid song to a tango and she jumped into my arms and we danced as I had never before. There was not a word spoken between us but I understood what she wanted. I pressed her to my body and we threw ourselves to the beat and danced across the room as the crowd stood and watched as if spellbound.

    It wasn’t I dancing and yet it was, I lifted her as if we were both flying over my left shoulder, she rolled across my back and hurtled her toward the floor. I caught her in mid flight, her head only inches from from slamming onto the floor. She glanced toward the bandstand, the music slowed to a soft waltz as she worked her way up into my arms and we danced cheek to cheek.

    Meanwhile, the scene changed in a flash, we stood on a balcony high above the ocean, from the edge of which hung slightly over the water at least seventy feet below. I could tell from her eyes, she had to go. She walked toward the rail and she saw the fear in my eyes, she hesitated and turned and kissed me as if to say thank you. I held her hand but she broke away. Vaulted to the top of the rail, she did like a driven butterfly , and balanced herself as she looked through the night to the crashing surf.

    I rushed to the rail as she dove off in a swan dive toward the roaring surf. I looked down in horror expecting to see a floating body but she rose up some, waved and blew a kiss which fell on my cheek. Immediately the heavens burst forth with a meteor shower and then quiet. I knew she she had said goodbye

    I named her Darthinia and she lives to this day in my heart.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for a wonderful comment
        I started the story not knowing where to go to satisfy the prompt and fingurs contnued as I watched . This happens rarely but when it does, it totally mystifies me

        Part of this story is true.
        You have to ask my fingers where the rest came from.

  6. GrahamLewis


    The impending dawn seeps around his blanket, and Billy Sird stirs, opens his eyes, and listens. Nothing happening yet, so he makes a tentative sound. No response, so he makes another. Finally he hears them out there, and waits, a bit impatiently, calling again and again.

    “Morning Billy,” the man finally says, as pulls away the blanket. Unable to form words, Billy makes enthusiastic sounds. His face would probably break into a smile of anticipation, except that Billy was born without facial muscles, only a solid unmoving carapace surrounding his mouth. He must communicate by wordless sound, by angle of expression, and by varying his tones. He tries so hard to get his point across, and is never quite sure he succeeds. Because he’s never spoken, he never understands what he is not saying, and never understands why they don’t understand him.

    Billy spends most of his day in his quarters, sometimes staring out at the incomprehensible activity around him, sometimes alone, times at which he stares into space or mumbles to himself. Sometimes he’s taken out for exercise, and makes excited sounds, and the others seem to understand. He has learned to sound happy, to sound startled, so sound lonely, to sound angry, to call for company. All without words or a smile or frown.

    Thus passes Billy’s day. Dark is approaching and so is the blanket. Billy nestles beneath it, chattering softly to himself, and closes his eyes.

    Thus passes another day in the life of Billy Sird, the peach-faced lovebird.

      1. GrahamLewis

        Golly, I didn’t mean for it to be sad. I was really going for communicating without words and still getting a point across.

        Billy Sird a/k/a Silly Bird has been a member of our family for 3 years now. The vet says he’s happy and healthy. He has bonded with us totally, and his cage is in the kitchen, where he dialogues with us constantly. His wings are unclipped, and we give him at least an hour of free flight time every day. When he’s out he usually flies around the house seeing who’s home, and settles on someone’s shoulder. He often goes back to his cage on his own. He hangs on my arm while I do the dishes, and hops around on the keyboard when any of us are on line. When we sit down to dinner he hops over to his food dish (in the cage) and begins to eat.

        Bottom line — he thinks he’s one of us and as long as we’re around, he’s happy. And when he is alone, he happily chatters away or bangs one of his bell toys. The few times he’s really frustrated about getting out he perches near his mirror, looks into it, and screeches loudly, flapping his wings. But he gets over it.

        1. writer_sk

          Oh, that’s awesome. He sounds fun. My uncle has a cockatiel that is like that – full of personality. Upon Going back over it I realized I misunderstood “he was born with no facial muscles” and I interpreted him to be disabled or deformed. Rereading it it isn’t sad.

          He sounds like a nice pet

        2. Kerry Charlton

          I love this story I wish I could be there when he’s have fun. Mine’s also about communicating without words, a little more spooky. I should have written about my twin grand daughters. It’s really strange one had to settle for third place in a writing contest of a whole school district, the other twin was first place. There were probably several hundred entries.

          1. GrahamLewis

            Our twins, neither of whom has hearing issues and are no way identical, taught themselves to sign when they were young and used it so we didn’t know what they were talking about.

  7. ikhan928

    ‘Finally you’re home! What took you so long?’ Belle was standing by the front door watching Sean as he dragged himself inside and set his bag on the floor. He stood there for a moment, wavering on his feet a distant, vacant look in his eyes. He leant against the wall, summoned the last of his energy and removed his coat and shoes before stumbling upstairs. ‘No doubt to collapse on our bed.’

    ‘Is everything ok? Sean what’s wrong?’ but there was no response. ‘Fine! Ignore me!’ Angered, Belle went to seek out her armchair, indignation rising within her at the way she had been treated.

    ‘It wouldn’t kill him to give me a little attention.’

    After what felt like an age, Sean came back downstairs a spring in his step.

    ‘Sorry about earlier, I was knackered’ giving Belle a kiss on her forehead he plopped down on the sofa and turned on the TV. Channels flicking from one to the next.

    ‘If he thinks he’s going to get out of it that easily he’s got another thing coming’ thought Belle as she curled up on the armchair, tucking her legs beneath her.

    Sean rose from the chair and went to the kitchen, rustling through the fridge and kitchen cabinets looking for something edible.

    ‘Belle, dinner time!’

    She grudgingly rose from the armchair and slowly made her way to the kitchen. A delightful scent reached her nose ‘Ahh chicken and gravy’, saliva flooded her mouth.

    ‘I have your favourite’ said Sean, placing a bowl before Belle and scratching behind her ears.

    Belle looked at it and then back up to Sean, ‘Fine, I will talk to you but I am still annoyed’.

    Savouring every bite she thought ‘He might be a stupid human, but he’s my stupid human’.

  8. Big Tastey

    John climbed the mountain, past the point of safe return, until he arrived in a valley nestled between two mountain peaks. The sky was a deep blue and the wind was cold, but John hardly noticed because John was angry at his god, and he had come to the valley of the gods to air his grievance. From the various campfires he could see in the distance, there were a lot of gods living here. John sighed. It might take him a while to find his own god.

    At the first campsite he saw a large green turtle. On its back was a yellow flower growing out of a clump of dirt.

    “Who in the hell are you?” John said.

    “ fl#++++++.” the turtle said in a language that was ancient before time even began.

    The turtle resumed walking around the campfire in a never-ending circle.

    “Flat Earthers!” John said.

    He looked around at the dozens of other campsites. John grew impatient in his search.


    A tall man with the head of a bird stood up and pointed to the East. Black feathers tinged with pink hung from his arms.

    “And who worships you, Birdman?” John said.

    “wwtk auck ghybdooooooooooooooo maaaataaaaa.” [Hivaro headhunters in the Amazon. I like your head.] Birdman said.

    John nodded as if he understood.

    “Thanks. Be seeing you.” John said.

    He walked east through the campsites. One campsite, without a campfire, had a group of trees standing in its center. They shouted angrily, in what John assumed was Ent, at everyone else as they pointed at the many wood fires. John finally saw someone he recognized.

    “I need to talk to you, Vishnu!” John said.

    “Aosodln osfnong disonsl sssfffffppppttt.” Vishnu said.

    “What?” John said.

    “Vishnu said no autographs now. Come back at eleven.” Brahma said.

    “I’m not here for an autograph. I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Vishna!” John said.

    “Bonepickers are three campsites over.” Brahma said.

    “Not literally pick a bone! I’m here to complain about my reincarnation! I came back as myself and I didn’t want to come back as me. I didn’t like me. I was me-incarnated!”

    “Dkvof sofdk lfgjdll lfdgjfdj?” Vishnu said.

    “Vishnu asks why you don’t like yourself?” Brahma said.

    “Because I never made a difference! All of my life I watched as others suffered and I did nothing to help.” John said.

    “Wjik ool iaye onmisowpcz mjlwqpff.” V

    “Then you have unfinished business.” B

    “Shiva eklds. klf mwgbvkqbg ;fd dksokld kl big tastey.” V

    “Shiva comes. The Destroyer has promised to spare the Earth if good outweighs the evil.” B

    “Ev kols dool lke slkdgl alk wkel oklds lsksflsk.” V

    “Go back into the world and make your difference.” B

    John left the valley of the gods and descended the mountain. He vowed to help make the world a better place.

  9. Quill7

    “Did you hear about the new movie coming out?”
    “Okay, did you like the look of the trailer?”
    “Look Tim, I know you said you were learning a new language but you still haven’t told me which one.”
    -Tim shrugs-
    -Tina sighs-
    “Fine, I’ll just try to understand you.”
    “From the looks of tbe trailer I think that dude is gonna die.”
    “But the heroine seems nice. Relatable, talented, and a good actress.”
    “What about the other girl? She has to be the antagonist.”
    -Tina squints at Tim-
    “Did you hear how they’re taking our favorite show off NetFlix?”
    -Tim nods and glares through slit eyes-
    “Aha! I knew it! You’re speaking in colour!”

  10. Quill7

    “Did you hear about the new movie coming out?”
    “Okay, did you see the trailer?”
    “Did you like it?”
    “Okay, Tim, I know you said you were learning a new language but you still haven’t told me what.”
    -Tim shrugs-
    -Tina sighs-
    “Fine then, have it your way, I’ll just try to understand you.”
    “The movie seems so sad though, from the trailer, I know the dude’s gonna die.”
    “And that girl, she’s the antagonist I’m guessing.”
    “The heroine seems nice. Relatable, believable, good actress.”
    -Tina squints at Tim-
    “Did you hear about how our favorite series is being taken off NetFlix?”
    -Tim nods, his eyes in angry slits-
    “Aha! I knew it! You’re speaking colour!”

  11. ReathaThomasOakley

    Marge and Arlee Converse

    “Arlee, Dear?” Marge called from the kitchen, but her husband didn’t move, his recliner was so comfortable mid-afternoons in Spring with a gentle breeze slipping through the open window, the last of the late snow finally melted, Sports Center on mute, buds on the lilac bushes. . .

    “Arlee?” She was now in the den. “Dear, are you napping,” she paused, “again?”

    “Ah, no, no,” he pushed the chair upright, caught the remote before it fell. “Just thinking I’d better call Ethan about the sprinkler system, lots to do this time of year.”

    “Well, yes, just don’t forget about a new watch battery.” She glanced at her wrist, touched the object there a few times. “Oh, my, I’m late.”

    “Late? Going somewhere? Need the car? I can get the battery tomorrow.”

    “Oh, no,” Marge laughed, “just meeting Carol at the high school track in a few.” She tapped her wrist again.” High school? Arlee wondered, but didn’t ask.

    “New bracelet, Marge?”

    “No, you silly, it’s my Fitbit.”

    “Pardon?” Arlee stood.

    “What the kids gave me for my birthday. Remember?”

    “Ah, sure, a watch.”

    “Well, yes, I suppose, but I wanted to watch my stats change in real time, so I had to sync my tracker with my app dashboard.”


    “I’m afraid I’ve been having stat gaps, like when I’m out with Carol, so I set up MobileTrack for the phone sensor.”


    “Been having some tiny little problem with Bluetooth syncing, suspect it’s that pesky Bluetooth.” She picked up the bright blue jacket from the back of her chair, and put it on, carefully inserting her thumbs into the slits at the cuffs.

    “Don’t think I’ve seen that before, or those, um, trousers.” Perhaps he was still asleep.

    “Oh, I’m so pleased you noticed.” She laughed. “Can you believe I’m back in polyester after all the years of everything natural, but, except for that little issue with sweat sesh stink, this keeps me drier.” She turned to leave, but glanced at the bookcase with the vacation photos.

    “I keep forgetting a most important thing with my Fitbit. Can you believe on our next cruise I can change to a new country’s food database?”

    “Uh, no.”

    “All I have to do is from my dashboard, tap the Account icon, Advanced Settings, and then Food Database. Then choose the country I’m logging from. Hope I don’t forget to change it back when we get home. Hmmm, I’ll just set up a silent alarm or calendar notification to remind me.”

    Marge walked back to her husband, kissed him on his bald spot. “Now, don’t forget the watch battery, the girl at the drugstore will help you.”

    “Marge,” Arlee cleared his throat, his brain and voice didn’t seem to be working. “Dear, I’m sorry, and maybe it’s me, but I haven’t understood anything you’ve been saying. It’s like I’m in a foreign land and I don’t know the language. What are you talking about?”

    “Well, we need to be getting more exercise at our age, because, well you know.”

    “But, Marge, the words, the, I suppose, the jargon. Where did that come from?”

    “Don’t you recall, Nathan was here all Saturday afternoon and he explained everything to me.”

    “Nathan? Nathan, our eight-year old grandson?”

    “Yes, but he is nearly eight and a half. Bye.”

    1. writer_sk

      Great idea using tech-speak as a foreign language. Love all the color Marge and Arlee’s Characters bring. I like how they just do ordinary things.

      Nice tough having the nephew be 8.

      Now I’m interested in trying a Fitbit as well.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, sk. Grandson Nathan, 8, recently made a presentation to the school board. Just younger Carter has his own Fitbit. That gives me hope.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hey Reatha. I run into this foreign language every day. Some I have myself and use it on the sub contractors. I taught the plumbers to say,
        ‘Umm, this not be cheap.”
        .: The electrician, Sparky “I’m going to light up a transformer and stick it up ‘your ;u know if you don’t
        get busy’ and the plumber, “Quit biting your finger nails.” Your writing is so good, you should write real comedy, AKA Amos and Andy. No no the Bickerson’s is perfect.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Kerry, I’ve often wondered where workplace language comes from.

          We listen to Radio Classics on long car trips. Bickersons are perhaps a bit too bickery, maybe George and Gracie?

  12. ShamelessHack

    “Two Pina Cyuckladas, please.”
    “I really love this place. No one can beat it for snarfling up hot Hobbit guys.”
    “Look, there’s Frodo Baggins! Isn’t he blarbeous?”
    “Mmm, yeah. The hair on his feet make me flamble all over.”
    “I wouldn’t mind if he tossed me on my yelwon and jumped my glimperding.”
    “He’s looking our way. Now he’s picked up his mug of blorpnot from the bar and is heading this way.”
    “Hi there. I haven’t seen you two chikbendas around the Shire. Are you new here?”
    “Yes, I’m Brendelia and this is my friend Mahmahlunia.”
    “Hi! I’m Frodo. I’m bleched to meet you.”
    “Listen, girls, I hear there’s a new club opened up down the road where just about fletgraming goes.”
    “Uh, huh.”
    “Well, I don’t know…”
    “Oh, Mahmahlunia, don’t be such a sworepulett.”
    “How about it, Brendelia? You and me, eh? And after we can talk about your glimperding at my flabernabby.”
    “OK, Frodo. But you have to promise not go too glopmantilly on me. I’m, well I’m still a jevbender.”
    “Do I look like a blahbarian to you, Brendelia?”
    “Brendelia, don’t go with him! Horglenia told me he tamplatized her when he got her into his flabernabby.”
    “Harbat you, Mahmahlunia! I’m a big detwinia! C’mon, Frodo, let’s go.”

    And it came to pass in Middle Earth that Brendelia wasn’t really a jevbender, not even close. She had long ago sacrificed her virtue to the Dark Lord, and that’s why the Ring of Power isn’t destroyed, but instead is now hanging over the bar at Murphy’s Pub on the corner of 79th Street and Mt. Doom Avenue.

    And you were wondering why the sky is always black…

  13. MicahLee

    It sounded like screaming.
    That was all Kappel could think of when the ship’s doors opened, letting in all the sounds from the dock. G’Kayok citizens weaved in and out of each other’s paths, buying, selling, arguing, teasing, flirting, dealing… and it all sounded like hundreds of people screaming over each other. Detective Pulse, of course, was unfazed, or at least better at hiding her reaction to the cacophony. She strode down the gangplank. He followed.
    “How are you used to this?” He leaned in to ask.
    She didn’t look at him. Maybe she couldn’t hear him over all the noise.
    They moved deeper into the crowded market, and the noise only got worse. Kappel resisted the urge to slap his hands over his ears or maybe to raise his fingers just to test if his ears were bleeding yet.
    “DETECTIVE!” The sound of English tugged at his senses. A particularly round G’Kayok in an orange coat waved them down. Cezain, their contact.
    “Welcome to our home! We are so happy to see you!” He whisper-shouted in a halting voice. His voice was breathy as if he were making a real effort to whisper, but the volume remained incredible. The pauses were punctuated with concentration as he searched for the next word. He curled his long fingers. “… to your…embassy!”
    Compared to the sweeping campus on Arameth Prime, this embassy outpost on this planet was little more than a shack. Its fabric roof rippled and snapped as ships took off into the atmosphere. They passed through the heavy door and inside… silence. Papers shuffled, and chairs shifted, but beyond that… nothing.
    “No one is talking,” he whispered, as if scared to break the sanctity.
    Detective Pulse shook her head, tapped his shoulder, and reached up to take something out of her ears.
    “Wait… you had EAR PLUGS on you the WHOLE TIME?!”
    Seven heads swiveled in his direction and the only sound to follow his outburst was a collective “Shhhh!”
    She shrugged, a grin pulling on her lips. “They are talking, by the way. Look closer, rookie.”
    He looked. And he noticed. He noticed the hands and fingers flying through motions and raining down because picking up again.
    She was smiling. “People will always figure out ways to communicate. It’s one of the most important things we do.”
    A tall G’Kayok walked by and gave her a smile and a respectful nod. She returned it in kind.
    “And some things are the same in every language.”
    “I WILL…SEE…YOU…FOR WHAT YOU CALL… DINNER….TONIGHT?” Cezain’s whisper-shout unseated two employees and startled the rubbish-critters outside. Heads swiveled, and the room responded to the outburst in a flurry of sudden sound.

  14. creaturescry

    General Arlan was a man of culture and old books. He surrounded himself with stacks of the musty things in the library, digging through the information they kept locked within. When he wasn’t commanding an army or speaking with the other Generals he was tucked away in the castle he built for himself. He sat under the light, a massive red hood dripping over the entirety of his face. He flipped the page of the book he held in his hands, reading the history of the great land. It once was great, it was once free, then King Ezra came into play. He shook the thoughts out of his head and focused back on his reading. Although not many appreciated Ezra, it wasn’t his job to judge the man. He was there to command his army in battle and keep them in shape when they were back at home. He was getting a lot of those troublesome thoughts lately.

    “General Arlan!” Harold, another of the Generals shouted as he tumbled into the Library, “we have a problem!”

    Arlan groaned and slammed his book shut, “what is it Harold?”

    Harold, he had just reminded him of another troublesome thing. The aloof General danced around the miscellaneous piles of books with the grace of a troll. But that wasn’t surprising since he worked closely with them to spy on the Giants. The blonde haired mess of a man eventually reached the fort of books out of breath and still as panicked as when he arrived.

    “There’s a man here who doesn’t understand us,” Harold sputtered, his hands animated as he relayed the story, “he just came out of nowhere speaking gibberish.”

    “Gibberish?” Arlan said as he emerged from where he was sitting, “you mean a foreign language?”

    “Please go easy on me, I really only know Trollish and Human, I don’t know any of that fancy stuff.”

    “Fine, take me to him then.”

    Arlan still wondered how Harold became a General in the first place. Noah, a half dark elf General, was selected for his skill in tactical planning. Dominic, who was in charge of the prisons and elf slaves, was selected for his loyalty and violence. Harold? He was selected for his charisma as far as he knew. Mediocre fighting, somewhat coherent strategy, and excellent trollish. He shook his head and kept following Harold, he never could understand what was going on in Ezra’s mind.

    “Noah is he still in there?” Harold asked as he peeked into the closet office.

    “He’s fine,” Noah replied, emerging from his office, “but its not that big of a deal.”

    “Why not?”

    Noah crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes, “didn’t you smell the alcohol on him? He reeks of it!”

    Harolds face turned blood red, “so, it was literally gibberish?”

    “You’re becoming more and more troll like as they days pass,” Arlan commented, his lips straining as they tried to hide his amusement..

    “Aye Shevhin,” Harold Cursed in trollish, grinning mischievously, “looks like I am.”

  15. rlk67

    Life had been nice. I made it through junior high and high school without liftin’ a finger.
    I only learned the basics: 1. Teachers are boring. 2. School’s a waste. 3. Who needs English? 4. Whoever invented math is dumb.

    And of course, money talks. No, it screams. HA! Every “A+” of mine paid for by rich Grampa who also hated school back in the 1800’s (or whenever he was a kid), and finally had his revenge on his torturers…I mean, teachers…through me…his sweetie, sad, doggie-eyed, no-nothin’ grandson. “Leave the boy alone!” he croaked to my parents. “If he don’t want to learn, let him get through and he’ll make it…like I did!”

    Naturally, Mom and Dad weren’t so on board with this. Oh, no, they said, I needed to really be taught somethin’ in school. Well, I was. It takes just a few dollar signs to get the mean faces to look the other way. And now that I am in the highest college in the land, I’d expected that we should continue our, ahem, lesson.

    But then gramps left me. Lyin’ on his death bed, he waved his wallet, and moaned, “We don’t need no education, bum, bum, bum, bum, we don’t need no th-th-thawwww…..” and then he was gone. So the money was passed, and daddy’s rich now. But he ain’t helpin’ me any.

    Then summer was done, and I moved into the dorm of my new hotsy-totsy school. My roommate put out a hand. “Ah…a fellow tenant. Thy cognomen, s’il vous plait?” I didn’t mean to be impolite, but I just stared. Thycog? What kinda name was that? He took back his hand, and no more smile. He sighed.

    “Beckett. Beckett Wellington. Esteemed. Must not brood, mine companion. Common angst for newbies. Weltschmerz will dissipate anon.” Oh, man, Thycog was so weird. I just hope he don’t snore.
    I grabbed a half-broken pencil and tore out a loose-leaf paper and ran out. I looked at my crumbled schedule. First class–‘Recondite Etymological Comparison in Practice’: 9:30, Hifalutin Hall, room 212. I stopped some guy and asked directions.

    “Ah, Voltaire…’Everyone goes astray, but the least imprudent are…’” Oh, never mind. I ran in another direction, and asked some others. “Go hyperborean!” “Easterly a-scintilla.” This wasn’t normal. Oh, man, I was gonna be late. I finally found it and took the last seat in the back. The teacher was a tall guy. I hope he was nice, too.

    “And so, as you well know, the constitutive rudiments apropos of precise patois have inceptions in univocal abstractions.” My head was jelly. What was with this place?! Mr. Patois kept talkin’. “Who amongst us can cite a precedent of third-world realm?” President? Third? Oh, man, I know this. I raised my hand. Shocked silence. Patois looked confused.

    “Yes?” he said to me.

    “Thomas Jefferson?” More shocked silence. Patois was stun-gunned. “I see,” he said quietly. Yesss! I pumped my fists. Great start. So why are they moving their desks away from me?

    Later I was walking to my afternoon class, ‘Socio 145: Kinsperson in Munitions’ with Professor Knopfler, when I saw…her. Oh, her. Everything at first site. I smiled at her and she said, “Pulchritudinous visage, conjugation is thy aspiration postulated and approbated!” I guess that means she’s taken. I walked away sad, and surprisingly, so did she.

    Well, after class the next day, Patois told me to stay. There were no more payoffs from Grampa, so I braced for the worst. I told him my story, but he spoke to me normally, and said everything was going to be ok. No more easy life, and he would help me through! And I stayed at that place for many years, learning under him.

    Today, I’m hitched with kids of my own, and have a great job! And not only that, but my intrinsic lexicon and elocution are curiously cosmopolitan, if I say so myself.

  16. Nicole Coffey

    As soon as Keegan walked into the Other club, he was smacked in the face with Orc stench. Tonight was the Master match of demons his friends persuaded him to come watch, but it was a popular event that attracted all kinds of Others. Past the marshy smell of Orc was the sickeningly sweet waft of sprites. They gathered at a bar Keegan passed to find the staircase.
    Despite this being a part of his culture he wasn’t a Hellbent or Oskborn demon, none of his talents were violent, sexual or otherwise impure. Keegan didn’t care for the fight between the demon and it’s master.
    “Keegan!” Samantha wrapped him in warm, tiny arms once he found his friends.
    Rake was too caught up with the scene on stage to listen. A few of the wolf shifters nearby were snickering about the pride of a demon being broken, and that’s why this event was so funny. Although Keegan wasn’t born of malice he was still the Other they mocked and he had half a mind to turn around and set them on fire but Samatha forced his attention back to the stage.
    “Our next Demon to be met with its master is a level three, incubus.” called the announcer, a demon himself, with too wide of smile not to be a Shadow. He motioned for the guards to bring the incubus forward.
    “Duzell, your master is level one, pyromancer, Keegan Shale.”
    Rake choked on his beer spraying the guy in front of him. Keegan wasn’t sure whose eyes were wider his, or Rake who sputtered incoherrantly. While Samantha pushed Keegan on stage onlookers began to laugh. The bright lights nearly blinded Keegan but he couldn’t miss the tower of a man who waited for him. For show Duzell was shirtless. It emphasized his long lineage that wrapped up half his body in tattoos, and his imposing stature. Duzell’s pale skin grew red with agrivation when Keegan remained silent.
    “Et edyacer? Hastil mæden, err Keegan.” He seethed.
    Though his voice was smooth and he spoke clear Lansic, Keegan couldn’t understand. He had been raised on Earth, away from all the demonic languages, even Lansic which was as generic as English. Sweat itched the palms of Keegan’s hands and formed across his forehead. He had to win over the demon, he had to find out why he was his master, as the game was played.
    “Damn you Fates.” he muttered.
    Duzell stepped forward and pushed Keegan back. “Q’in tes? Resstha toi echno,” He said grabbing Keegan by the arms. “resstha toi almance,“ then by the chin to shake the smaller man’s head. “œ toi yenta?”
    Keegan pulled away when Duzell’s hands landed on his hips. He didn’t need to know what the higher demon said, just a hunch from the catcalls in the audience let him know. After a few more seconds watching Duzell grin bemused, Keegan returned the smile. Duzell was an incubus after all, so perhaps his last statement was a good place to start.
    “Ok Duzie, “ Keegan grabbed him by the beltloops. “let’s play.”

  17. RafTriesToWrite

    Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 1.5 (Or at least, this is how I imagine it went down)

    “How’s he doing rocket?” Peter asked, looking concerned.

    “Still sleeping” He replied, looking at the little plant. “We’ll probably wait another day, give or take”

    “Okay” Peter went out.

    “Just take your time little guy. I’ll be here” Rocket whispered calmly at the tired plant. Eyes closed, chest breathing lightly, little leaves spread about his head.

    “Is the little plant awake?” In came Drax stomping into the bedroom.

    “Shhh Shhh! Quiet. You’ll wake him up!” Rocket tried to push the big guy out the room, he succeeded but barely. They were standing in between the corridor and the bedroom. “Listen, you can’t just keep barging in and making noise like that.”

    “Oh. I just thought the puny plant had woken up. I wanted to give it a hug.” Drax scratched his hairless scalp.

    “No, that will crush him. Just go” Drax was just about to leave when the bedroom door suddenly cracked open.

    “Groot?” Groot spoke in a tiny voice, crawling out of the bedroom.

    “Groot!” Rocket cheered.

    “THE BABY PLANT IS AWAKE!” Drax screamed.

    “I am groot” Groot said.

    “What’s he saying?” Drax questioned.

    “I am groot” Groot said.

    “Okay little guy. I’ll be right back.” Rocket started running towards the main deck of the ship. “Watch him Drax!” He ordered.

    “I can see him just fine” Drax replied.

    “I am groot.” Groot spoke to Drax.

    “Hi groot. I am Drax. Do you remember me?” Drax knelt down to talk to baby Groot.

    “I am groot” Groot replied.

    “What does that mean?” Drax asked.

    “I am groot” Groot replied and started crawling back into the bedroom.

    “Wait. What are you saying?” Drax questioned, following Groot inside the bedroom.

    “I am Groooooooot” Groot screamed, as loud as a baby can.

    “I don’t get iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit” Drax joined in on the screaming as well.

    “What are you two dunderheads doing?” Rocket comes in with water.

    “I am groot” Groot exclaimed.

    “He started it” Drax pointed to Baby Groot.

    “Well I’m ending it, now out” Rocket was pushing hard to draw Drax out of the bedroom.

    “But he started it!” Drax repeated himself.

    “I don’t care. Out!” Rocket was persistent.

    “I am groot” Groot smiled.

    “What were you two doing?” Rocket asked baby Groot.

    “I am groot” Groot started.

    “Uh huh.” Rocket followed.

    “I am groot. I am groot.” Groot said.

    “Well you both are stupid. Now drink up.” Rocket gave Groot the water he brought.


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