Nick Farmer knows dozens of languages, so he invented one for The Expanse | Ars Technica

Source: Nick Farmer knows dozens of languages, so he invented one for The Expanse | Ars Technica

The Expanse series takes place two centuries from now in the Belt, a ring of asteroids that orbit the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. People who have migrated to the Belt come from all over Earth speaking dozens of languages, and they’re often isolated for years at a time on remote mining stations. To communicate, they evolve a creole called Belter, which becomes the lingua franca for what is essentially the solar system’s new proletariat. The problem? In the book, Belter could be referenced. But now that The Expanse was coming to television, people would actually have to speak the damn thing. SyFy suddenly needed a linguist who could build a language out of dozens of parts. Luckily, Franck knew a guy. He soon recommended Farmer, who delivered a lot more than they bargained for.


Farmer gave us the backstory on several of the words he’s invented, including “well walla,” a mix of English and Hindi. Well walla is a disparaging term for a Belter who acts like an Earther (well is for the “gravity well” of Earth, and walla means person in Hindi). He also decided that Belters wouldn’t use the term “bullshit,” because there would be no bulls in the Belt. Instead, they would come up with a uniquely Belter curse, “kaka felota,” a term for what happens when your toilet backs up in low gravity and shit floats all over the place. (“Kata felota” literally means “floating shit.”)