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On the Other Side of the Sky

A novel combining history, adventure, and more than a little touch of the arcane

The book is available for preorder (publication date 1 December 2021)

On the Other Side of the Sky is set in the late 18th century. Obviously, people spoke differently then, compared to the way that they speak today, and the temptation is to write in a fake 18th century style:

“Unhand me, Sir!”
“By Gad, wench, I will have you, whether you will it or no.”
“I pray you to have mercy.”

Actually, there is no such scene in the book, and very little of such language. However, I made a conscious effort to avoid modern slang or expressions, and where I failed in that goal, I was quickly pulled up by my friend Vicky who kindly acted as an efficient and conscientious editor. As a result, the characters speak in what I hope is a natural neutral English. Sometimes it may sound a little stilted, but with luck always comprehensible.

Some conversations are carried out in languages other than English (French, German, and Yiddish). My French and German are not quite good enough to write fluently in these languages, but my Yiddish is almost non-existent. Accordingly, all these conversations are reported in English, with only a few words in the original language. I try to avoid the easy French phrases and accent:

“Mon Dieu!” exclaimed Pierre. “Was it for zis zat our fishermen have suffered?”

I’ve tried to avoid this kind of writing. But what I have done is to include a few words of Midlands English. Some may be familiar, some not:

mither (v): to annoy, or to inconvenience (“Don’t you mither me”)
mardy (adj): sulky, in a bad mood (“She came over all mardy when they made her eat her vegetables.’)
clemmed (adj): starved, which can also mean “cold” (“I was half-clemmed when I came in from the snowstorm.”)
nesh (adj): suffering from cold and/or delicate
urchin (n): hedgehog (not just Midlands)
ta ra & ta ra a bit: goodbye
duck, me duck: affectionate term of address
thee, tha (p): still used as second person singular pronouns in some areas near here

I’ve also tried to keep some of the rhythms of speech:

“Well, there’s Them as comes from the other side of the sky.”

And lastly, there is one word that you will not find in a dictionary but you will find in On the Other Side of the Sky:

This is a ligature (a multi-letter glyph) of f-f-j which exists in some fonts, such as the one I used for the book, but which seems to have little application in English. I made up this word to make use of the ligature. You’ll find it in the book.

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