Yesterday, again, I worked on how did josh grow up in this world that I’m building?

The key distinction of my world, from our current world, is the US evolved to have two dominant languages, one spoken by the city people and one spoken by the rural people. The second important distinction is both sides struggle to communicate with each other. So I want to know how that is possible. How could a country be bi-lingual and yet they can’t understand each other?

I more specifically defined my question: Do rural people attend the universities in the cities with Josh, my character?

In order to answer that, I needed to know how much language overlap there is, who speaks what language, does the university does bi-lingual classes, and other questions related to language. So my mind started to asking and answering questions about what if the United States spoke two languages. What would change? How would this look?

If the US had two parties, one that spoke English and one that spoke Spanish, how many citizens would actually grow up learning Spanish and understanding Spanish? **A large number UNLESS that party was viewed at a dying language unless that language was viewed as an inconvenience.

This reminded me of an experience where I was in the US, but it was a confusing mix of Spanish and English, with a lot of unnatural communication and a lot of miscommunication. And I realized that was how this world will be.

I wrote: I don’t want both sides of the country to be separated, living only in their worlds, the city people stay in the city, the rural folk stay in the country. I rather want overlap. How can I have that and have both sides unable to communicate? Maybe both sides believe they do communicate. Both sides do speak each other’s language. But because it’s not a shared language, they interrupt the meanings incorrectly. I’m picturing down in the Rio Grande Valley, one side speaks in Spanish, the other responds in English.

Then kids who grow up in that area act like they don’t even understand Spanish (the “rural” language in my world); they straight respond in English even though they know the other won’t understand.

Now I know my key points to the language in my world.

  • The people of the United States speak distinct two languages.
  • Communication between them is messy. Typical they each speak their own language to each other, I’m picturing a Mexican (who understands English) speaking Spanish to a man (who understands Spanish) but speaks back in English. Often even though it seems they communicate, they never find a mutual understanding.
  • The language of the rural folk is dying (along with their culture) and is looked down upon. I’m picturing that even the rural tourist towns, say a ski town in the Rockies, cater to the city folk by speaking their language, just like a Mexican tourist town.
  • The language is dying because the kids are growing up wanting to become gentlemen of the city, wanting to speak properly.

A confusing trip to the Rio Grande Valley

I traveled to McAllen Texas with my ex-girlfriend and her Mexican parents. We got in a car in Mexico and drove north for 2.5 hours, crossing the border to go shopping and to visit her family. The Rio Grande Valley is a confusing area. It’s Mexican culture in an proudly American city and system. We stayed at my girlfriend’s godfather’s house who is a first-generation born American. His kids are classic Texans, they love BBQ, beers, and boots. Everyone speaks Spanish and everyone besides my girlfriend’s parents speaks English.

This created a lot of weird conversation dynamics. The children always spoke English to each other. When speaking with my girlfriend’s parents, they spoke Spanish. When speaking with my girlfriend, they spoke in English and my girlfriend responded with Spanish. Then with their father, it was Spanglish. (Before this trip I thought Spanglish was just a joke for people who occasionally used a Spanish word within English, but no, it’s real, a real blend of Spanish and English. “Voy a eat something.” Whatever English/Spanish phrase best expressed what they wanted to communicate they said that.)

What stuck with me the most was how younger kids who worked in retail communicated with my girlfriend’s Mexican parents. The kids refused to speak Spanish even to help them, a customer, with a purchase in the store. Everyone who lived in this region at the very elast understood both languages. But for this kid speaking Spanish was beneath him. It made me sad.

In my novel, this is how the countries language will diverge. The children who grow up in the rural towns, go on to believe that the language is below them, and they study hard to speak like city folk. I’m picturing Pip from the Dicken’s Great expectations, a boy who grows up in a rural world and wants to speak properly and to be a gentlemen. That’s a perfect character for Josh to meet at university.

Defining that was a 2-hour work session for me, but I gained so much clarity and direction. Tomorrow I have a new question: How at university does Josh befriend Pip, a rural folk who escape to the city?