Being a treatise on VSF and Mars, and on 19th Century colonial warfare in general

(with a nod towards Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, lest I take myself too seriously)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

When is a sepoy not an askari?


When he's a Johnny Martian, of course.

Locally-raised troops on Earth were variously called Sepoys, Sowars and Askaris, these terms (and probably others) deriving from corruptions/transliterations of the local usage for a warrior or soldier of some description. I see no reason for the derivation on Mars being any different. But what would the term(s) be? I have never seen anything in the canon that comes close, and the only guide I have is that something with one or more double-vowels would be a good start. So here goes ...

In Parhooni the term for a warrior or soldier is "Sa'anshi" (pl. Sa'anshaya).  In the time-honoured tradition of English-speakers everywhere this has become garbled as Sanchi.

Mounted troops are known as "Qua'anshi" (pl. Qua'anshaya), but this term is only ever applied to Canal Martians and never to Hill Martian mercenaries. The Red Men have garbled this as Kwanchi.

The terms for artillery troops are many and various, depending on the type of gun they serve, and even where the gun is located, but the Red Men have cut through this again, calling all such troops Panchis (sing. Panchi), derived from the Parhooni "Pua'anshaya", or gun soldiers.


6 comments:

  1. Splendid work Sir. It would be great if the official canon could adopt these :)

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    1. Some common usage would be interesting, but no doubt someone will inform me that I have made a mistake with the the declension of Parhooni nouns :-)

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    2. Sammy Sanchi - sounds authentic.

      I remember looking for the sanskrit term for warrior, as a way to draw a spooky prehistoric connection between Mars and the Earth, Prof. Quatermass notwithstanding.

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    3. Sammy Sanchi? I love it !!

      I almost want down the sanskrit route myself, but in the end I opted for Mandarin, transliterated and twisted out of all recognition.

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  2. I like the idea, however...would not the various Colonial organisations prefer to keep there nomenclature consistent throughout all their possessions? Perhaps then the German Territorial Troops might remain designated Askaris, with a consistent naming convention, but with a local designation for organisational and logistical purposes in the Colonial Department. For example, the 4th (Barsoom) Schutztruppe Battalion.

    Of course that might work better for some nations that others, inviting delightful variation and confusion for all (just like Earth!)

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    1. I'm not sure about preferences for simplicity. The only nation I can think of that maintained the same nomenclature across different continents (or linguistic divides anyway) was the French, who had tirailleurs from Senegal, Cochin and Tonkin. German askaris were all from their African possessions, and they don't seem to have raised troops in the Pacific and China. The Brits had sepoys and askaris and probably something else for the Weihaiwei Regiment (that I haven't been able to find).

      As for regimental naming, I tend to agree that this would follow Earth standards. Whether the Germans would have battalions of Schutztruppen or stick with the company format would probably depend on local numbers.

      Anyway, living where I do, linguistic confusion is a way of life :-)

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