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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Global Pandemic!


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...And the idea of only one language existing in Randland isn't?

 

Umm.... We have the Old Tongue, and the present language.

 

Sorry but the title is a bit misleading. I'm not gonna talk about what's happening in Mexico right now. The focus is Randland.

 

Why haven't we seen any diseases or something similar prior to the Bowl of the Winds being activated? 3000 years and nothing? That seems odd to me.

 

Also: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/26/swine.flu/index.html

 

/discuss

 

We have heard of fevers and flus. As for something on scale with the plague, it is probable that something like that has happened and the Aes Sedai took action. If death tolls started hitting the hundreds in a major city they could easily quarantine it.

 

 

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Yes magic definitely makes controlling a disease easier, but what if it's something they can't handle, that is something completely strange and unfamiliar to them?

 

We are aware now that the AS don't know everything. In fact they didn't know everything in the entire Third Age. Only in the AoL did they know much about diseases and how to cure them.

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...And the idea of only one language existing in Randland isn't?
Umm.... We have the Old Tongue, and the present language.
Exactly. Look at Europe - a lot of different languages. Look at the Westlands, an area larger than Europe - just the one, and its extinct ancestor. The Seanchan even speak the same language, and they've had no contact for 1,000 years! After a millennium, they haven't even developed a distinct language? Keep your eyes off teenagers for five minutes and they become unintelligible (and they tend not to be too intelligible to begin with), awash with slang no-one understands. How realistic is it that given a thousand years they still speak the same language, but with a bit more old tongue and a Texan accent? And if you can suspend your disbelief to accept that unrealism, you can accept a lack of pandemics, surely?
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Yes magic definitely makes controlling a disease easier, but what if it's something they can't handle, that is something completely strange and unfamiliar to them?

 

We are aware now that the AS don't know everything. In fact they didn't know everything in the entire Third Age. Only in the AoL did they know much about diseases and how to cure them.

 

The old style of Healing, which was used by AS until Nynaeve came up with her version, Healed EVERYthing. I think it was Samitsu's POV when she Healed Lord Dobraine that gave us the best description. I'm too lazy to find it now, but it's in the last book somewhere. She says that whatever she did would Heal everything wrong with him, from his slight cold to the several holes piercing his heart. The only thing she could control was the extent to which she Healed those things.

 

When the old Asha'man (forget his name now) Healed Rand after his encounter with Padan Fain's dagger, he also mentioned something similar: Dashiva told them that it was all the same, whether a broken bone or a cold (I'm paraphrasing badly here - again, too lazy to go find my books now and search throught them).

 

My point being: whether or not they knew the disease, their Healing would cure it anyway.

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I thought the current AS style of healing was more like battlefield style healing, just fix it all quick, but it took a lot out of the recipient.  Nynaeve's style, which I took to be more like what was used in the AoL, healed specific hurts or ailments with a different weave for each type of healing needed, and taking the energy to heal from the One Power. IIRC this is mentioned several times in the series.

 

Aes Sedai would have had to figure out how to heal each sickness that came along. (weave probably isn't the best word)  I remember it being said the current style of healing would only work if the recipient had the will to be healed.  It wouldn't do much good using the cure-all healing if the patient didn't have the life left in them to be healed.

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You are quite correct, but it does not in any way change the fact that they would be able to Heal hitherto unknown diseases. Whether it's chicken flu or a broken bone, if the patient has the will to live, they can be Healed.

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We have heard of fevers and flus. As for something on scale with the plague, it is probable that something like that has happened and the Aes Sedai took action. If death tolls started hitting the hundreds in a major city they could easily quarantine it.

 

We must also remember that pandemics in our history have come with increasing interactions between different societies. The Plagues of the middle ages began when Europe which had been in isolation for hundreds of years began trading with far off lands. For instance the indeginous peoples of the Americas population was decimated shortly after Cloumbus "discovered" the Americas not by their large scale intentional slaughter but by the transmission of diseases for which they possessed no immunity for.  It should also be noted that the Flu pandemic of 1918 came from Asia, Aids from Africa, etc.

 

In WOT Randland has been cutoff from the rest of the world for many generations. No contact with the Seanchen landmass for over a 1000 years. No direct contact with Shara for unaccounted years (only contact is in highly contained border towns). Indeed the interaction between Randlanders and Ail for 3000 years was at best spotty. Thus its not that farfetched to believe that large pandemics have not much bothered Randland.

 

 

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Please, don't get me wrong, I wasn't saying the AS couldn't heal whatever cropped up.  More that they wouldn't have the ability to reach  most of the sick people.  Traveling fell out of use, skimming did too.  AS would have been limited to ships and horse travel.  This would have taken too long to reach far off outbreaks and closer people might not get reached in time either depending on the sickness.  I guess it would depend on how much will left is needed to be able to heal successfully.

 

Another point that came to me is that constant healing of sickness would take out the bodies chance to build up a natural defense to disease.  Wouldn't that mean that when serious sicknesses hit it would hit harder than normal?  Wouldn't that make it that much harder to arrive in time to stop a major outbreak?  I might be missing something, I'm far from a doctor, so opinions appreciated.

 

As an after thought, how is it Trollocs and such carry no diseases?  They have horrible hygiene, eat raw meats, live in filth, this just seems a breeding ground for disease.  Then they come bleed, bite, and stab our good people.

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Builder ... where did you get the idea that there haven't been pandemics?  Or that Trollocs don't carry disease?  Just because none of our characters have gotten smallpox doesn't mean there aren't diseases in Randland.

 

CUBAREY is right in pointing out that the lack of general connectedness would, in general, slow pandemic spreads, and Charlz is right that we know of a pandemic right before Hawkwing's rise (when the populations were larger and more connected).

 

A few specific responses.

 

It is linguistically odd that there are no separate languages in Randland ... and even more odd that the Seanchan still speak a mutually intelligible language (that is REALLY odd).  Jordan just seems to have simplified that for the sake of convenience in writing.

 

Healing of diseases is not nearly common enough to affect a significant portion of the population's ability to develop antibodies/disease resistance.  Most people go through their entire lives without so much as seeing an Aes Sedai, much less being Healed by one.

 

Trollocs probably do carry disease.  Remember, they haven't been seen in places south of the Blight for so long that most people thought they were myths.  We can't base what effect they'll have on human populations solely on what we see in the books.  Trollocs and humans don't mix.  If they did, all kinds of wierd diseases might pop up.  A Trolloc with bird DNA would be the perfect breeding ground for an H5N1 type crossover.

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It is linguistically odd that there are no separate languages in Randland ... and even more odd that the Seanchan still speak a mutually intelligible language (that is REALLY odd).  Jordan just seems to have simplified that for the sake of convenience in writing.

well, that is seen in every media ever made. i'm just gonna throw out some random examples.

in any sci-fi movie the aliens on the other side of the galaxy speak the same language as the heros from earh.

in any hollywood movie on ancient japan, they speak english, etc.

all i'm saying is don't bother questioning it, that's just how it's done.

 

Healing of diseases is not nearly common enough to affect a significant portion of the population's ability to develop antibodies/disease resistance.

i'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that maybe, maybe Healing disease might work in a way that it dosn't just remove viruses, but it might create an anti-virus as it removes the symptoms. otherwise they could just get it again when they are throwing out trash full of goo.

 

off course i base this on absolutely nothing and i don't claim that it is infact so, but it's a possibility

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well, that is seen in every media ever made. i'm just gonna throw out some random examples.

in any sci-fi movie the aliens on the other side of the galaxy speak the same language as the heros from earh.

in any hollywood movie on ancient japan, they speak english, etc.

all i'm saying is don't bother questioning it, that's just how it's done.

 

Jordan is usually more realistic (not real, this is a world with magic) than most of those examples.  But yes, he probably did the language thing for same reasons that the writers of have every human in multiple galaxies speak English.  A necessary, or at least, convenient, unrealism.

 

i'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that maybe, maybe Healing disease might work in a way that it dosn't just remove viruses, but it might create an anti-virus as it removes the symptoms.

 

If it did that, it would take time to work, not work instantly.

 

otherwise they could just get it again when they are throwing out trash full of goo.

 

That would be the consequence, yes.

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I wonder if ishy has something to do with the language thing. think about it, he saw the old tongue deteriorate to the new tongue and started worrying that by the time the forsaken would be released, they would be completely useless because they wouldn't be able to manipulate people and commend the darkfriends (who themselves could use a common language). So to prevent that he gave a standing order to all the darkfriend to never use slang.

 

Either that or that the wheel maintain the language for age specific reasons.

 

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At least in Star Trek, Farscape, Doctor Who and Hithiker's Guide to the Galaxy they try to come up with a "plot device" for it. Though some may feel that's worse then just ignoring it.

 

Do you suppose it's possible for an organization or a powerful near immortal individual such as Ishamel to make sure one Language is spoken? Though since the populace HAS evolved from the Old Tongue they really should have evolved differently much like many languages came from Latin for one example.

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Oh, Jordan came up with a rationalization for it.  He says that since the world had a united language at one point in the past, it was more natural to maintain some form of linguistic integrity.  Even the Old Tongue is still related to the modern tongue; he compares them at one point to Latin and Italian.

 

Of course, there are linguistic holes in that ... for example Italian is more complex than Latin, whereas the language of Randland is supposed to have lost complexity ... which never happens over time with live languages.

 

But yeah, he doesn't spend much time defending it.  Just like Star Trek sort of runs quickly across the top of the "universal translator", and Farscape didn't dwell on the mechanics of language microbes.  Because I'm sure he knew that it is unrealistic.

 

Its certainly not a reason to not enjoy the series.

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Didn't Latin give birth to Spanish, German and English? I may be wrong it's been a very long time since I studied any linguistics since HS.

 

I agree though in the end it's better to do like MST3k suggests to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. I mean otherwise you'd have to invent all these ways of getting around language barriers.

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Of course, there are linguistic holes in that ... for example Italian is more complex than Latin, whereas the language of Randland is supposed to have lost complexity ... which never happens over time with live languages.

 

Actually, that is not quite true. We have several examples of "language simplification", especially in the Germanic familily of languages, which should be familiar to all here. Without going into too many technicalities, there are many notable counterexamples to your categorical statement. Such simplification is far from a linguistic impossibility. For instance, to the best of my knowledge, all of the Germanic languages have undergone substantial linguistic "simplification" (for lack of a better term) in the course of the millennia they have existed. It is an indisputable fact that important languages such as English and German have lost much complexity compared to Proto-Germanic, their ancestor. For the English speakers here, a familiar example:

 

Old English (c. 450-1200 CE) had four cases with remnants of a fifth: The nominative, the accusative, the genitive and the dative, with some left-over traces of the instrumental. Already at this stage, great simiplification is seen in the language, represented by substantial losses of morphological inflections, and simplification and unification of the various declensions of nouns, adjective, pronouns, etc. In many cases, the nominative and the accusative, previously highly distinct, are nearly identical. The dative case at that stage was already an amalgamation of several distinct Proto-Germanic cases, lost in the Old English period, notably the instrumental, ablative, locative, and so on.

 

Modern English, of course, have none of these cases, except for very few traces and remnants. Great simplification is also seen in noun, adjective and pronoun systems. For instance, English now only has ONE distinct case ending for nouns, which is -'s, added to indicate the possessive, which is the naked remains of the formerly much more complex genitive case. Also in relation to nouns, plural formation was formerly a much more complex affair, compared to today's simple addition of -s the noun. Old English nouns commonly took -es, -as, -an, -u, -ru endings  to indicate plurality, in addition to the mutation plurals, which were far more numerous in Old English and Proto-Germanic. In actual fact, the simplification of the Germanic languages from their Proto-Germanic ancestor mirrors the simplification of Randland's language quite nicely.

 

 

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We have several examples of "language simplification", especially in the Germanic familily of languages, which should be familiar to all here.

 

Not over a 3000 year period.  Those periods are localized, and relatively short term, and often have to do with elimination of extraneous terms after two language bodies merge, not the simple elimination of complexity within a language in isolation.

 

The real world has nothing like what Jordan describes.

 

Without going into too many technicalities, there are many notable counterexamples to your categorical statement. Such simplification is far from a linguistic impossibility

 

Universal language simplification, of a single language in isolation, over a period of 3000 years, is.

 

Old English (c. 450-1200 CE) had four cases with remnants of a fifth: The nominative, the accusative, the genitive and the dative, with some left-over traces of the instrumental. Already at this stage, great simiplification is seen in the language, represented by substantial losses of morphological inflections, and simplification and unification of the various declensions of nouns, adjective, pronouns, etc. In many cases, the nominative and the accusative, previously highly distinct, are nearly identical. The dative case at that stage was already an amalgamation of several distinct Proto-Germanic cases, lost in the Old English period, notably the instrumental, ablative, locative, and so on.

 

Modern English, of course, have none of these cases, except for very few traces and remnants. Great simplification is also seen in noun, adjective and pronoun systems. For instance, English now only has ONE distinct case ending for nouns, which is -'s, added to indicate the possessive, which is the naked remains of the formerly much more complex genitive case. Also in relation to nouns, plural formation was formerly a much more complex affair, compared to today's simple addition of -s the noun. Old English nouns commonly took -es, -as, -an, -u, -ru endings  to indicate plurality, in addition to the mutation plurals, which were far more numerous in Old English and Proto-Germanic. In actual fact, the simplification of the Germanic languages from their Proto-Germanic ancestor mirrors the simplification of Randland's language quite nicely.

 

English never was, and never will be, a language in isolation.  Therefore your examples, while interesting, do not apply.

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Didn't Latin give birth to Spanish, German and English? I may be wrong it's been a very long time since I studied any linguistics since HS.

 

I agree though in the end it's better to do like MST3k suggests to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. I mean otherwise you'd have to invent all these ways of getting around language barriers.

 

Latin "gave birth" to languages such as Spanish, Italian, Romanian and French, to give a few examples. It did not give birth to German or English, which are both West Germanic languages. The Germanic languages and Latin were related, though, both being members of the Indo-European family of languages. Modern English is the direct descendant of an Anglian dialect of Old English, a languages in turn descended from the western branch of Proto-Germanic.

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