Matt Wedel is constantly telling me I need to read Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi epic Dune. I’ve never been keen because of the vast number of sequels, but I finally gave in to his repeated requests and started on it last night, on my Kindle.
I got as far as page 4. Since the Kindle shows small pages, I guess that’s part way down page 2 of a printed copy. Here’s why:
Yes, Paul. What is a gom jabbar?
And what is a Kwisatz Haderach? Or a Bene Gesserit?
That was page 3. Now on to page 4:
Holy poop, Frank — throw me a bone here! Maybe we could have just one or two words in English?
Srsly, we all recognise that when you start reading a new book, you’re going to have to learn a couple of words, if only the names of the characters. (“Paul” I can cope with; “Thufir Hawat”, not so much). But really — this is not a novel, it’s a memorisation test. Do I really want to work that hard?
Well, I will plough on — give it another three or four pages and see whether things improve. But here is my real point. If these noun-phrases — “gom jabbar”, “Kwisatz Haderach” and all — turn out to mean something specific and interesting that can’t be directly translated into English, then perhaps learning the vocabulary will prove to have been worthwhile. But if “Kwisatz Haderach” just means “king” or something, I am going to be annoyed at the pointless additional cognitive load.