Those Who May Speak 5

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The bolts of cloth in this storeroom are “guinea cloth,” so-called because it sold so well in “Guinea,” ie West Africa. It was manufactured in India by local tradespeople and the British made a lot of money transporting it and reselling it in Africa. In these days the Europeans in India did nothing but act as the transportation network for goods both made and wanted in various parts of the world without any other regular contact with each other. It was a good gig. Too good for them to want to give it up without a fight. And as time went on, they kept on winning the fights. But that came later.


Discussion (2)¬

  1. I know I’m nitpicking, but I’m a little confused on language. Are they all speaking Urdu or are they speaking early modern English?

    • Jonathon says:

      The most common options with these characters would be English, Gujarati (Surat is in Gujarat), or Persian/Farsi (for the Mughal royalty and their political infrastructure). Hindi/Urdu dominance of the subcontinent happens later. For the purposes of this story you’re going to have to make your best guess who is speaking which language when, because I’m not going to specify, but I think it’s also safe to assume the characters will mostly understand each other. Vani and her mother will have learned English in order to work at the factory, the Anglos are at least a hundred years out from being able to rely on anyone in India learning English, so they’ve learned Gujarati or else learned to stay indoors, and the Mughal officials might UNDERSTAND Gujarati, but good luck getting them to speak anything other than Persian back at you.

      Language issues only come up once in the story because I felt it would be distracting otherwise, but you know me. Of course I’ve got elaborate mental notes on the subject.

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