Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Pedantic Post #321

This is a page from Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #2, a sort of jam issue by various creative teams following the arc of the super-power couple's relationship while Superman considers proposing to Wonder Woman. This particular page is from the story "Unsaid," written by a K. Perkins and drawn by Ken Lashley. In it, an interestingly designed (if not terribly well-rendered) demigod named Dichara menaces a pair of shepherds in Shimshal, Pakistan.

Do you catch the mistake?

The characters are all speaking in, according to the little yellow box in the lower left-hand corner, "Pakistanian," which, of course, is not an actual language. It sounds like it could be one, in the same way if you add "-ian" to the end of a place name sounds like a language. For example, there's no such language as "American" or "Americanian," but I suppose if you were unfamiliar with America, you might think that sounds about right. The people of Pakistan speak Urdu and English.

At least, that's what I thought when I read that editorial box and it sounded so suspicious, as I had never heard of anyone in or from Pakistan speaking anything other than Urdu or English, and had never heard the word "Pakistanian" applied to a language, so I did what I imagine any comic book writer or editor would do: I turned to Google.

The first result of the search term "Pakistan language" brought up a Wikipedia page for "Languages of Pakistan." Urdu is, indeed, the national language, while English is the official language (left over from the area's time in the British Empire). There are other languages spoken in the country of course; Wikipedia goes on to list 13 more (of which I only recognized the names of two) and another 64 minor languages. None of them are called "Pakistanian," though.

A second search for Shimshal also brought up a Wikipedia page, and search on that page for "language" revealed that they speak Wakhi. The comic would have probably been fine just saying "Translated from Urdu" or "from English" though, as at least those are real languages that actually exist and are the most commonly spoken in Pakistan; only someone from Shimshal or maybe Pakistan, and some asshole like me to Googles this stuff after the fact would know that "Wakhi" would be more accurate (and I wouldn't have Googled anything, had I not encountered the name of a language that I was 90% sure didn't actually exist).

They could probably have just skipped the "Translated from" bit altogether, though, as it's not really important to the story in anyway, except to try to achieve some kind realism, which they of course fucked up.

So who gets the blame here? My first inclination would of course be writer Perkins, but the editorial box is signed "Ed," meaning either "editor" (Assistant editor Andrew Marino or Group Editor Eddie Berganza), or "Ed" for "Eddie Berganza." Anyway, that's at least two editors that didn't catch it, so I suppose we can blame and shame them.

Alas, DC no longer has letters columns, so the responsible party cannot publish a mea culpa in the a future issue's letter column, but I suppose at the very least they can fix it in the trade.


SallyP said...

Wait... editors? They still have those?

A. Sherman Barros said...

I don't find this post pedantic at all. Writerly or editorial incompetence or laziness should never get away unscathed.

After all, they didn't need the editorial note at all, as it is a long established convention (maybe more marvelite than dcnian - there you go with a new language)that any text put between <> is being spoken in whatever native/foreign/alien language is being spoken.



A. Sherman Barros said...

" is being spoken in whatever native/foreign/alien language is being spoken."

Forgive me the redundancy. Another case of writerly or editorial laziness...