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  • Writer's pictureH.R. Owen

M.A. Presents: In the Original Ghast

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M.A. Presents - In the Original Ghast
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In the Original Ghast Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]

H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies presents: In the Original Ghast.

[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-there were a lot of arousals-”, a voice saying “-they're really hard-” and more pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]

The Presenter

-you deserve to be treated better, and you're not going to settle for less.

That's all for our advice segment. Up next, we're delving into the world of liminal languages. The creature community spans countless cultures, and with this diversity comes hundreds upon hundreds of languages spoken every day in the homes and lives of ordinary creatures.

The languages spoken by creatures in Britain range from indigenous languages, like Ghast, Puckish and Welsh, to newcomers brought over in successive waves of immigration, from Punjabi and Arabic to Gerulfese.

We spoke to Odhrán Kelly, a linguist at the Society for the Preservation of Liminal Languages – the SPLL – about the many tongues of liminal Britain.

Odhrán Kelly

[laughing] So, just to be difficult, I'm going to need to pick a little at that phrase, “liminal Britain”. Forgive me, I'm a linguist – being pedantic about words is kind of my whole job!

It's just, what does that even mean, you know? Britain isn't a country. It's an island. One of many in this part of the world, and while it might be the biggest, that doesn't mean it's the most important.

OK, so, maybe you mean “the liminal community in the United Kingdom”. Which is fine, if that's what you mean. If you're really talking about a specific experience of the world unique to creatures in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. An experience that is somehow shared across all of those communities and yet not shared with, say, creatures in the Republic of Ireland, or Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands. If you can think of any such experience, please, let me know. I'd love to hear it.

Besides, we're talking about languages here! Language doesn't care about borders. You follow the line of a border on a map, you'll see it cuts through towns and cities, sometimes right through people's homes. You think they speak a different language whether they're in the living room or the bedroom?

So, no, I'm not talking about liminal Britain. I'm talking about the multiple and various languages spoken by all manner of folk from all manner of cultures and backgrounds who happen to make their homes among this collection of soggy little rocks in the North Atlantic. I hope that clears things up!

The Presenter

Given the diversity of liminal languages, it's little wonder that some fare better than others in the modern world. Puckish enjoys global popularity as a second language, and Enochian regularly tops the polls as one of the largest immigrant languages in the UK.

But not all liminal languages enjoy such good health. Some have been all but eradicated in the wake of colonisation and forced assimilation, while others struggle to attract new learners due to the small size of their speaker population.

For Odhrán, learners' unwillingness to engage with minority languages demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of this education.

Odhrán Kelly

One of the most depressing ideas in this world is language is only valuable insofar as it's useful. “What's the point?” people say. “Everybody speaks English! All you need's a bit of Spanish for your summer holidays and you're laughing.”

What a miserable view of the world! Languages are so much more than just tools to use when you need them. They're an expression of culture and identity, a celebration of difference.

I mean, not to get too down and dreary but like, there's a reason people – and by people I mean colonisers – work so hard to eradicate native languages. It's a way of eradicating culture, it's an act of genocide, pure and simple. Unfortunately that's something all too many liminal languages have in common with indigenous sapio languages. Sorry. Gloomy but true.

Fortunately, the last few years have seen all manner of projects springing up to encourage the use of liminal languages, from education and awareness raising to community translation projects. I just picked up a copy of 'Where the Darkness Whispers' in the original Ghast!

There's nothing cheers my heart like sitting on the bus into town and hearing people speaking English, Irish, Enochian, Bugganen, Polish, Nixish, Shelta, Tocharian. That's the kind of world I want to live in!

The Presenter

Fortunately, awareness and appreciation of liminal languages is on the increase, thanks to the hard work of organisations like the SPLL and individual volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to the promotion, preservation and celebration of these precious languages.

As technology develops, liminal communities have more and more opportunities to share their languages with others. Language app Lingua Phasma is dedicated entirely to liminal languages, while the internet offers communities the opportunity to create their own online media, such as Nix News Daily and Podghast: the Ghast Podcast.

Indeed, some would-be learners can feel overwhelmed by the sheer choice available to them. Odhrán offers these words of encouragement to anyone looking to start their liminal linguistic journey.

Odhrán Kelly

Sometimes people can feel a bit awkward about learning a language that belongs to a different genus. They worry that perhaps they're overstepping, or taking something that isn't theirs. But language isn't a finite resource. We're not going to run out of runes, like!

Besides, learning a new language doesn't just teach you about that language. It opens up this new window on your own culture, helps you see things from another perspective.

I mean, say you start learning one of the many languages that use a different tense for whether the action took place before or after you metamorphosise. Where do you draw that line? When do you consider yourself to have become an adult? It's brilliant stuff!

That said, you do want to make sure you're, you know, biologically capable of speaking certain languages. Most of the audible languages are easy enough to approximate as long as you're capable of making a wide variety of sounds – though you might get teased for your accent. Apparently my Gerulfese sounds like a dog trying to speak Danish underwater.

Other languages can be almost impossible to approximate without the right biology, though. My advice for new learners is to find something not too different from the language you speak at home. If you're used to communicating on the astral plane, another astral language might suit you better than something that relies on physical gestures, like one of the cephalopodic languages.

But then again, there are work-arounds – I've got a colleague who built himself an entire light rig wired up through his wetsuit to mimic bioluminescence, all so he could chat up this mer-fella he knew. Apparently you just can't get the nuance of “would you like to come in for coffee” without it. He must have done something right, anyway – they've been married four years now!

The Presenter

Thanks again to our guest, Odhrán Kelly. To learn more about liminal languages, visit or visit your local library to find language courses in your area.

Time now for the news.

[Voice fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through guitar music, a voice saying “-thank you very much-”, pop music, a voice speaking Irish, and a voice saying “-DUP-” before fading out.

Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

In the Original Ghast was written by H.R. Owen and performed by H.R. Owen and Oliver Smith.

Oliver is a Northern Irish voice actor with roles in everything from video games to podcasts, including Correllion, the Silt Verses, and the Stench of Adventure. You can find them on Twitter @OliverSmithVAVO or at

Submissions are still open for Season Three, but the inbox is filling up fast! Send in your letters, prompts and adverts via the website, by email at, or get in touch through our Tumblr account, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter @Monstrous_Pod.

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This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence]


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