Study Guide

Nation Language and Communication

By Terry Pratchett

Language and Communication

We would love to just draw a picture explaining this whole theme, but that would kind of defeat the whole purpose of literature. It's about words. And words, well, not everyone understands them. Take Mau and Daphne, for instance. Nation's two protagonists don't speak the same language—and Mau even misunderstands the pictures Daphne draws at first. But instead of going crazy and trying to shoot each other (okay, Daphne tries to shoot Mau that once, but she feels really bad about it later), they patiently work it out. By doing so, they come to a greater understanding about each other, each other's culture, and the world.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. What concepts transcend the language and culture barrier between Mau and Daphne?
  2. How would Mau and Daphne's relationship been different if they spoke the same language? 
  3. Why do some people, like the mutineers, refuse to communicate?

Chew on This

Instead of taking the time to talk, some people (like Foxlip, the mutineer) just get mad and start shooting. But guns are no substitute for communication.

Pictures and images are more effective tools of communication than words.