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Dictionaries: Official, Unofficial

We love language and we love words—natural therefore that we’d have lots of dictionaries and that we find them indispensable. We love ’em, dictionaries of all types. There are dictionaries  that are official record of a language, there are foreign language dictionaries, there are subject-specific dictionaries (e.g. medicine, engineering, physics), and then the unofficial dictionaries that track the evolution of language within small groups.

We found one such unofficial dictionary on the web site of the organization hosting ConFusion, the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention mentioned in the last post. Little did we know that we’d have to study up in order to become familiar with the language that we’ll hear next week at the convention. Here’s a link to the fanspeak dictionary provided online by the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association.

Do you know what Filk means? Filk is an amusing song, often in a folk style, with science fiction or fantasy lyrics. It can also be used as a verb.

Fandom means: “The Science Fiction hobby or subculture. Includes discussing SF (books, film, TV…), writing amateur SF, conrunning, filking, gaming, costuming, smoffing, and more, new fandoms arise constantly.”

A perzine is a fanzine written by the editor alone—no contributions are solicited.

Finally, a word about the name Stilyagi Air Corp., the name of the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association’s web site. The word stilyagi is Russian and has its origins in the word stil which means style in Russian. The word was coined to name a young subclass in the Soviet Union during the 1950s, a group much like the beatniks or zoot suiters in the United States of the same era.

The full name, Stilyagi Air Corp., comes from the 1966 novel by Robert A. Heinlein titled The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. In this novel the Stiyagi Air and Pressure Corp. was a group responsible for manning air locks on the Moon and fixing pressure breaches that occurred as a result of attacks from the Earth.

Not surprisingly, much of the terminology used by sci-fi fans has its origins in the very literary works upon which fandom is built. We hope that perhaps one day fans will say something like, “I sure  could use some Zerofric,” when carrying heavy luggage into a sci-fi convention…

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One Response

  1. Or just when carrying a heavy dictionary from one room to the next.

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