Anthropomorphic non-humans

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:25 pm

Hola 'urybody!

My question today is about how human can you make a non-human in a storyline without crossing the that's just ridiculous line.

When I started expanding my story and created a map to help me along, I mentioned that the map software created some topography that gave me some plot ideas. One of the plot ideas is the inclusion of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in my story. They live in what is called The Closed Ocean, a body of water with no saltwater exits.

My humans are the way they are partly because of something that happened in the distant past that included these cetaceans. The humans left The Closed Ocean to the cetaceans and never sailed it again.

Anyway... In the writing of some dolphin characters I imagined them having a much looser, more modern way of speaking to each other than my humans, who for reasons of their own have adopted a more ridged, semi-Victorian manner of speech. Obviously dolphins would not be speaking street English to one another, they would have their own language, but in order to the give the flavor I want to give to these characters, is it too much to ask the reader that these non-humans would speak more like we do in our everyday lives than the actual humans in my story?


Last edited by Wreybies on Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:04 pm; edited 2 times in total

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by MC on Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:29 pm

I think they should talk like lol cats. Hahaha.

They're highly evolved and walk on two legs I assume? If so, go for it. It will just be a sub-culture within a culture. Sounds like fun. Dolphins strike me as affectionate and playful, is this how your cetaceans will be too?
avatar
MC
Senior Member
Senior Member

Female
Posts : 405
Age : 38
Location : Los Angeles, California
Joined : 2009-02-25

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:42 pm

MC wrote:I think they should talk like lol cats. Hahaha.

They're highly evolved and walk on two legs I assume? If so, go for it. It will just be a sub-culture within a culture. Sounds like fun. Dolphins strike me as affectionate and playful, is this how your cetaceans will be too?

Playful? Yes! Therein lay my wish to have them speak in a manner that is more casual, more everyday. Oh, and no, theyz no walk aroun' on legz or talks like LOLcats! biggrin

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by NaClmine on Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:00 pm

You could create a dolphin dialect, complete with idioms and slightly altered grammar. For example, some languages do not have distinct words representing future and past tense . . . future and past are simply inferred by context. Humans live in a "flat" world where we exist tethered to the ground by gravity, while dolphins evolved in a much more three-dimensional world, limited only by water pressure at greater depths. Their speech patterns would reflect the different environment that forms their view of the world around them.

It would be fun to invent such a dialect for your non-human characters. You could even include words or idiomatic expressions that will be mis-interpreted by humans, causing mistrust or other plot-enhancing tension.

As far as believability, I think that will require consistency of dialog format, repetition (the more a reader reads a common style, the more familiar he/she becomes with it) and logical design, meaning a design that makes sense considering the environment in which it evolved.
avatar
NaClmine
Senior Member
Senior Member

Male
Posts : 397
Location : California
Joined : 2009-02-10

http://www.lasthumanwar.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:24 pm

All very excellent ideas. thumbs up

I have actually already added items like movement of the dolphin melon and expulsion of air in given ways to indicate mood. Much reference is made to the environment in which they live and the creatures with which they share it.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by MC on Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:33 pm

Awesome thoughts Saulty.

You should totally figure out what good and bad would be for a dolphin, Wrey, because, he's right, their idioms would evolve around that.

We say 'deep' when we approve of the profoundity of a concept. But 'deep' would have a different meaning to them. It could mean 'scary' or 'dangerous'. They might say "whoa man that's deep" and mean that's utterly terrifying--which would cause some miscommunications as Saulty suggested.

How fun. I better stop here or I'm going to be taking your book away from you... Razz
avatar
MC
Senior Member
Senior Member

Female
Posts : 405
Age : 38
Location : Los Angeles, California
Joined : 2009-02-25

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by ebyss on Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:07 pm

I think giving creatures the ability to talk is just fine. Look at Charlotte's Web, a spider can talk and has a rather big vocabulary plus she annunciated very well.
Giving them their own dialect is a great idea. Take for instance Yoda in Star Wars, he spoke english but did it backwards. As a matter of fact, amazingly enough, all the main characters spoke english. And those that couldn't, small print magically appeared in the bottom of the screen so that I knew what they were saying. LOL!!
Anyway, I do not think it is at all far fetch when giving animals speech. I think the only requirement to make it work is to give them human like qualities. Doing this makes your reader relate to the animal, creature, or whatever, and makes it more believable to them.
If that makes sense?

ebyss
Senior Member
Senior Member

Posts : 653
Joined : 2009-02-23

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:22 pm

ebyss wrote:Anyway, I do not think it is at all far fetch when giving animals speech. I think the only requirement to make it work is to give them human like qualities. Doing this makes your reader relate to the animal, creature, or whatever, and makes it more believable to them.
If that makes sense?

This makes perfect sense, and was the main reason I wanted to have my finned characters speak in a manner that would represent their personalities.

I've spent the last few days looking up dolphin behavior on the web and what I have found is that it is amazingly complex. No surprise there. What was a surprise is that dolphins are very ... how do I put this ... sexual creatures. Much like humans (and different from the rest of the whales) dolphins engage in sexual play that has nothing to do with reproduction. And they do so on the regular. Dolphins will even go a'courtin' with dolphins of other species, other smaller whales, and sometimes even with humans!

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by NaClmine on Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:03 pm

This is not a joke . . . are there gay dolphins? Many other animal species engage in same sex activities. If so, you might have another characteristic you can build into your underwater society.
avatar
NaClmine
Senior Member
Senior Member

Male
Posts : 397
Location : California
Joined : 2009-02-10

http://www.lasthumanwar.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:22 pm

NaClmine wrote:This is not a joke . . . are there gay dolphins? Many other animal species engage in same sex activities. If so, you might have another characteristic you can build into your underwater society.

Yes, Saulty, there are gay dolphins!! cheers And yes, one of my characters has already been slotted for just that role.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Churnok on Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:01 pm

How central to your story is the culture of these sentient dolphins? The more important it is, the more you can and should develop it. Also, How humanoid are they in appearance? How much is their culture influenced by the humans?
avatar
Churnok
New Member

Male
Posts : 14
Age : 36
Location : Somewhere between realities
Joined : 2009-04-03

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:14 pm

Churnok wrote:How central to your story is the culture of these sentient dolphins? The more important it is, the more you can and should develop it. Also, How humanoid are they in appearance? How much is their culture influenced by the humans?

They are becoming more central to the story than I had originally thought they would be. Humanoid in appearance? Not in the least. They look just like you would expect dolphins to looks. The anthropomorphic in the original question refers more to their behavior and cultural aspects, not their corporeal morphology.


Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Churnok on Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:50 pm

In that case, you may be over thinking this. I'd recommend Finding DVDs of a TV show called Seaquest. One of the main characters is a dolphin that they talk with via a special device. He's probably a bit more simplistic than your dolphins, but you could still get some good ideas.
avatar
Churnok
New Member

Male
Posts : 14
Age : 36
Location : Somewhere between realities
Joined : 2009-04-03

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:08 pm

Churnok wrote:... of a TV show called Seaquest. One of the main characters is a dolphin...

Seaquest: DSV ! (aka Shark Trek) biggrin

Loved that show. Hated the smarty pants kid.

I have posted a small excerpt of the delphi chapter I am working on here: The Delphi

If you've not already had a peek, it should give you an idea where I have decided to go with the dolphins since I initially posted this here thread.


Last edited by Wreybies on Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Churnok on Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:47 am

Why is it the smart kids get the flack?
Read your excerpt. Aside from the fact that I got confused as to which character was what gender and your having them use the word ass, I think you have something good here. The only reason ass is a problem for me is that Dolphins don't have them. They have anuses, but not asses. Asses are what land mammals sit on and dolphins don't sit. If it's a term they picked up from the humans, you should mention that.
Again, aside from gender confusion, and anatomy terminology, I don't think you need to worry about your dolphins being believable.
avatar
Churnok
New Member

Male
Posts : 14
Age : 36
Location : Somewhere between realities
Joined : 2009-04-03

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:38 am

Churnok wrote:Why is it the smart kid[s] get the flack? (I was the smarty pants kid growing up. wink I just didn't like the actor playing him in this show, Jonathan Brandis. Always comes off so... wimpy. I would have preferred someone else in that role. Oh, and I accidentally made the word kid into a plural, I only meant the one kid.)
Read your excerpt. Aside from the fact that I got confused as to which character was what gender and your having them use the word ass, I think you have something good here. The only reason ass is a problem for me is that Dolphins don't have them. They have anuses, but not asses. Asses are what land mammals sit on and dolphins don't sit. If it's a term they picked up from the humans, you should mention that.
Again, aside from gender confusion, and anatomy terminology, I don't think you need to worry about your dolphins being believable.

Aha! You have come to the very heart of the matter. Much of their manner of speech is derived from humans, but in the long ago past. Their onetime relationship to (and subsequent break from) the humans becomes part of the plot line and is not inherently evident at the beginning of the story. The fact that they are even dolphins is only a conclusion one would come to from context clues and description. And you are correct that a dolphin has something more akin to a cloaca than one would expect to find in a mammal, but I felt that straying too much from everyday human terminology, especially in the delivery of such a low-brow interchange of dialogue between Shaa and Preem, would have taken away the intended rudeness of the comments. Regardless, you have hit the nail on the head as to my concern with their manner of speech. I will revisit that particular bit.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Churnok on Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:02 pm

Actually, you did use kid in the singular form. When I said kids I was referring to a trend I've noticed where the smart kids in science fictions like Star Trek and Seaquest tend to be unpopular with fans. Sorry for the confusion.
So these dolphins are the descendants of pets or lab animals? Interesting. I'd like to see a summary of this story you're writing.
I understand that you're trying not to confuse your readers or mess up the flow of the story. But the anatomy difference is considerable, and I think you can use an alternative term and still make the meaning clear.
avatar
Churnok
New Member

Male
Posts : 14
Age : 36
Location : Somewhere between realities
Joined : 2009-04-03

Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:10 pm

Check out David Webber's Armageddon Reef series before you go too far with dialects. He altered the spelling of common names to reflect a language drift on a colony world. It's a multi volume set, and the odd spellings of the names is a real hassle to this reader. At first it seemed like a great idea, but after the first few hundred pages it just makes the characters harder to remember and more awkward to read. I have noticed several comments on Eric Flint’s web site (which posts snippets of unreleased novels by Webber and others) indicating some other Webber fans are having the same issue with this.

I think that this is a device that would work fine in a short story, or to spice up one character who wanders in and out, but never stays on stage long enough to be annoying. As soon as the reader has to work at figuring out what the characters are saying, you’re in trouble. I used it for a Scots Captain of an armed merchant cruiser in WW2, but the ship was only a passing incident in the second cruise of the Bismarck.

IMHO

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:25 pm

Yeah, the linguistic flux has since been removed. Another book I have read called The Wall at the Edge of the World by Jim Aikin also contains this phenomenon and after reading a few chapter I was like, "cheez-o-matic."

In his book, Jim Aikin plays with the place name spellings of a very post apocalyptic California. It got annoying really fast. It made my inner voice sound like it had a speech impediment. Also, there was one place name that he changed in Louisiana which I could never figure out as to what the original place name was, not even after looking at maps. Of course, that pulled me out of the story. Big no-no.

So yeah, that's gone from my piece.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Anthropomorphic non-humans

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum