Fictional language in John carter

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The vocabulary used in John Carter's film is Barsoomian. Language includes lexical vocabulary and grammatical phrases such as prepositions and pronouns. The fictional language has initial consonants that are suffixed: tu 'I,' kik 'him,' cut 'me,' ki 'he' and, in the plural, are indicated as (du/gi/dud) which means (we/they/us). The Barsoomian language has ten vowels, five short and five long. The short ones are; (a, e, I o, u) while the long ones are (aa/ey/ee/oa/and oo). There are gliding vowels in the language (ao is/how/and ay is/high/). Although the Barsoomian language is similar to English, it has an addition of consonantal sounds, which are (ch [x] and gh [y]). In addition, there is the use of nouns, pronouns, non-verbal communication as well as graphics in the movie.

While watching this movie, dominantly and possibly confusing phonetics are k’s and t’s. Their use in this movie is boundless, thus creating aspirated soundless stops. Some of the statements containing the pronunciation of these phonetic characters are as follows:

[mi dutʃe] “…hell are you?” (spoken by Tars Tarkas upon seeing Carter, following Carter’s own “What the…” utterance) (18:21);

[sɑ tʃɑ tʃik] “don’t shoot him” ( spoken by Tars Tarkas telling his fellow people not to shoot Carter) (18:29);

[ʤɑteth] “don’t run” (spoken by Tars Tarkas to John Carter) (18:59);

[tsɑtɑ] “it’s okɑy” (-Tars Tarkas) (19:07);

[sɑkh | səlɛt˺ sɑk vəˈʤɑkh] “Jump! Jump like you did before.” (-Tars Tarkas tells Carter when he realizes he is different from them) (20:10);

[sɑkh] “jump” (20:13).

In the film, there are many nouns, which are easy to identify because nouns are names of particular people, places, or things. Besides, determiners like a and the mostly precede nouns. John Carter mentions Virginia (19:57) which is a name of a country while introducing himself to Tars Tarkas. Also, when Edgar meets the lawyer, who was to instruct him on his uncle's last request he introduces himself as Nicholas Woodeson (3:03). Carter mentions gold(7:15) to trade men and when he is asking where the gold is, he mentions cave(7:16) which is a noun as well. In the scene where Carter is kidnapped, the Colonel mentions South Calvary of the United States (8:39). Besides the mentioned nouns, pronouns like he and I are also used when the actors are addressing other people or themselves. The attorney uses the pronoun he (3:19) while addressing Edgars uncle. The attorney also uses the pronoun I (3:08) as well while introducing himself to Edgar.

Basic terms such as; ‘right behind you!’ ‘what the hell!’ and ‘get up!’ are used in the film. When a strange person appears towards Carter in the cave, Colonel Shouts carter! right behind you (14:20) to warn him. What the hell! (17:38) is exclaimed by Carter upon seeing creatures in a cave. Also, Carter shouts at Colonel get up! (12:59) when he sees the Apache approaching them. Some parts of speech are intelligible thus using an adjective. For example, the colonel terms Carter as a valuable (9:28) person in the United States since he is a Calvary man (Alaniz).

There is also the use of gestures in the film. For example, Dejay uses her hand to make a gesture to Carter. She makes the gesture wanting to know what Carter meant when he was telling her that she would fight and die for her (1:36:39). Another gesture is seen when Woola is gesturing Lakor to maintain silence so that they can move to another corridor without being seen (1:35:28). When Carter lands on Mars, he meets creatures with limbs who are shocked to see a stranger in their planet. They attack him by throwing arrows and shooting but Tars Tarkas waves at them to stop them from shooting Carter (18:28).

Finally, the film has various graphics such as a foreign language and arts. When Carter lands on Mars, the creatures living there talk a different language thus creating language barrier. Art is seen in Mars and other areas where many of the chambers are marked with strange markings as well as the wall and roof lined with gold (45:13). The strange markings and writings have hidden meanings that only a particular person has knowledge about them (45:15). The film is rich in linguistic features that make John Carter a great movie.

In conclusion, as linguistic developing an alphabetic script of Barsoomian, I would integrate an approach devoid of ambiguity and indeterminacy. This is to mean that if you come across written script, you become certain about its pronunciation, nouns, pronouns, gestures as well as graphics used just like in the movie John Carter.

Works Cited

Alaniz, G. Doris. “John Carter Movie - Mars Hero - Fiction, Funny.” YouTube, uploaded by Doris G. Alaniz Movies, 22 April 2012,

July 24, 2021

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