8/06/2016

Meanings of the Names in Harry Harrison's "The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge"

Harry Harrison: The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge
Harry Harrison: The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge
This post is explaining the meanings of some some of the  names used in "The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge" by Harry Harrison, without revealing much of the plot.

During the course of action, the protagonist land on a planet inhabited by humans speaking a language called Claandian, which is in fact Serbian. There's no "original dialogue," but many of the personal pronouns used, such as names of characters or places have meanings which add to the comical effect of the book. Here they are, in order of appearance (the numbers in parenthesis are page numbers of the 
  • Pas - dog (masculine)
  • Ratunkovy - looks like a compound of rat of plus and Polish surname ending. 
  • Zlato - gold 
  • Pacov - rat (masculine)
  • Slobodan - Free man (noun, Serbian male first name), also a pronoun meaning free (masculine) 
  • Lonac - pot (correctly translated in the book)
  • Vaska - female first name, masculine form is Vasilije in Serbian, Vasko in Macedonian. English Basil. 
  • Hulja - dastard (masculine)
  • Dosadan - boring (masculine pronoun)
  • Glup - stupid (masculine pronoun)
  • Glupost - stupidity (noun)
  • Ostrov - lit. island in several Slavic languages and in Romanian. Serbian form is ostrovo, though. 
  • Paljenje - ignition.
  • Isbacivanje - ejecting with a typo, the Serbian word is izbacivanje (close enough).    
  • Kraj - the end
  • Zobno - something to do with hay (zob)
Then they go to another planet, where all the names have meanings in Turkish
  • Burada - here
  • Taze - fresh, as in fresh fruit or just cooked food
  • Fayda - benefit, profit, use
  • Firtina - storm
  • Mutfak - kitchen
  • Hamal - porter
I have no info why Harrison choose these languages, or whether he spoke any of them (compare Herbert). Harrison's mother had Russian Jewish origin from Riga, who immigrated to the USA at age 15, and might have passed knowledge of some Slavic linguistics. He also spoke Esperanto, which is featured in the book, also. I presume this particular influence came from his close friend Brian Aldiss, who had written a travel book about Yugoslavia and an alternative history involving local medieval kings.

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