Linguistic Note: Cityspeak

Let’s talk about Gaff. Who is this man, with his shady look, his little origami figurines and his scarce comments in an unusual tongue? He basically is Deckard’s ride throughout most of the film, yet he stood out for me because of his amazingly intricate dialect. This mishmash of languages is Cityspeak, the preferred means of communication in the strange city Los Angeles has become by 2019.

In a metropolis heavily influence by East Asia and known as a melting pot of cultures even nowadays, Cityspeak emerges as a natural way of fusing identities by creating a shared, open dialect used mainly by the lower classes of the derelict L.A. Mixing Japanese, Chinese, Hungarian, German and French to the previously establish English and Spanish, Cityspeak sounds foreign, yet familiar.

Edward James Olmos himself made it all up for his character Gaff, whose participation is brief at most. To many, it’s just a neat, cutesy factor in a much larger opus. To me, its intervention speaks volumes of the world built for the film and sets the cyberpunk mood as much as the dark, dank streets and the huge floating billboards with geishas selling lipstick. 

CITYSPEAK Revisited: The story behind the first Blade Runner fanzine.

CITYSPEAK is an integral part of Blade Runner fandom history. It was a fanzine that spearheaded the Blade Runner fandom long before the movie achieved its cult status.

CITYSPEAK represents an early generation of fanfiction writers before the advent of the World Wide Web. They’d meet in person, talk over the telephone, and send letters via the post. It was an underground fannish activity that produced usually no more than a hundred copies of each issue, and was spread primarily by word of mouth or through a friend of a friend.

First released in December of 1982–while the movie was still in theatres–the fanzine would only produce three issues until CITYSPEAK editor Sara Campbell’s untimely death. The last issue–the Special Edition–was published posthumously.

Back in 2007, Andrew Pokon, a Blade Runner fan propmaker and collector, sent me a copy of the first CITYSPEAK issue. And it blew my mind. I then embarked on an investigative journey to learn all that I could about the fanzine and the people behind it.

It is tempting to speculate how far Sara Campbell could have gone with her writing career. At present, she is known best for her articles, stories and poetry on Blade Runner. And I believe that she would have wanted the CITYSPEAK issues to be freely available over the internet.

As she duly noted in the first issue, “CITYSPEAK is an amateur, non-profit publication.” It would be of disservice to the Blade Runner fandom–let alone to the writers–if the stories, poems, and articles in this fanzine were to remain in the storage bins of the privileged few. So, I’d like KippleZone to be the CITYSPEAK athenaeum–a bookshelf containing the fanzine issues, the work of its contributors, and a resource free to all.

The article features an interview with Eric Larson, and some words from Anne Elizabeth Zeek and Rosemary Edghill.

This CITYSPEAK revisit is far from being complete. I’ve only the first issue to share and discuss at this time. So, consider this a work in progress–CITYSPEAK Revisited 1.0. As more is learned, it’ll be added to the website. And all updates will be posted via the OFF-WORLD NEWS.

If anything, this article has raised more questions than answers. Hopefully this will spur those in the know to come forth and share the remaining issues of CITYSPEAK–an integral part of Blade Runner fandom history–with the rest of us.

Have a better one!

~ Kipple



::…I think the Chosen One is a bit lost, yes. But, I have no one to blame but myself. Clearly there’s a limit to how well we can communicate like this.::

::I’m not ungrateful, you understand. If she hadn’t shown up, Metroplex and the rest of us would most likely be long dead.:: And don’t you dare ever tell her he said that, sir. I’m just wondering how well she can keep her word if her popularity on her homeworld is at an all-time low.::

::Speaking of… do you have a new Cityspeaker now?::

~тнє ѕρєαкєя σƒ ѕтσηє ωιℓℓ ℓєα∂ тнє ωαу. нє ωιℓℓ ѕнσω тнє ¢нσѕєη σηє тнє ραтн тнαт тнє тяανєℓєя ιѕ тαкιηﻭ,~ the Metrotitan responded. Now he just had to get Praxis’s attention. The Chief Cityspeaker had holed himself up in Caminus’s extensive library, exploring some of the oldest texts to find clues and hope that might save their world.

The Metrotitan had been left under the supervision of one of the trainee Cityspeakers. Needless to say, the line went dead for a very long time as Caminus tried to communicate to the student who he wanted and why.

Hopefully the King would have the patience to deal with an old mecha and an idealistic, young scholar. Just when it seemed as if the radio silence was going to go on forever…

::Greetings, I am Xeta Praxis, Chief Cityspeaker of the Metrotitan Caminus. I just received the news we had direct contact from a Cybertronian for the first time since your departure. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?:: Praxis, for the moment, was under the impression it was probably Thunderclash.

::Alright then…?:: Well. Maybe things will go far easier with a translator.

Maybe. If one ever shows up.

By the time Xeta Praxis finally responds, Starscream has pretty much forgotten he was even on hold with someone, and has resumed skimming various reports. Thus the Cityspeaker’s first impression of a Cybertronian is going to be a rather undignified and started squawk over the comm line. He’s quick to recover.

::This is Lord Starscream, current ruler of Cybertron. I assure you, the pleasure is all mine.::

Not a call that Xeep was looking forwards to, but pride and distaste was not an excuse for failing his assigned task. No matter his personal feelings on the matter, the events of a few days ago were still a concern to the cityspeaker and he found himself in the position that he needed advice with someone who had more experience.

"Caminus, I am going to access the communications bridge for a short while. I want you to let me know if it is too much. I will keep the conversation short, and of course you are welcome to add in whatever remarks you wish," he called back to the freshly-wakened Metrotitan (now as close to fully-charged as the decaying mecha could come).

~ωну ∂σ уσυ тнιηк тнє ωαℓℓ тнαт нαѕ ѕтσσ∂ α мιℓℓιση уєαяѕ ωιℓℓ ¢яυмвℓє тσ∂αу ƒσя α ρυƒƒ σƒ ωιη∂?~

"Because it is my task to speak for your well-being, even when you yourself will not," Xeta replied as he typed in the former chief cityspeaker’s comm line. His hand hovered the keypad, hesitating when asking for confirmation to place the call. Yes, he thought it might do Caminus good but what if he was wrong? Was it worth the risk and pushing the Titan when he was already weakened?

However, he was the Speaker of Stone. In his decisions, he must be firm and this one was made. Wavering was as much a waste and risk in these dark days as anything else.

The comm link connected only moments after he confirmed the action. “Cityspeaker Windblade, do you copy? This is Chief Cityspeaker Xeta Praxis if I may have a moment of your time.”

Windblade fic - Of Winglords and Cityspeakers (1/?)

This fic was born from reading Windblade #1-4 and Aeos at the same time, and thinking it would be really awesome if Windblade could talk Seeker culture with Starscream. Trine bonds! Winglords! And maybe there could be a sky dance somewhere!

As I’ve only read the Windblade issues in the IDW run, liberties were taken with the entire concept of Seekers, characters and situations that didn’t appear in Windblade. Because I thought self, are you going to read close to a decade’s worth of comics just to write Windblade and Starscream snarking unto forever amen? Sadly no.

Title: Of Winglords and Cityspeakers
Summary: Windblade and Starscream engage in a battle of snark and politics over Seeker culture. And why are there Seekers calling Starscream Winglord?

Pt 1: In which Windblade and Starscream make cutting remarks about each other’s culture, and Starscream is NOT the Winglord

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