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Posted on Friday, June 12, 2009 in Fiction


Recently, I’ve been re-reading the Martian Tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs (or ERB), and I had forgotten about how much fun they were. It’s easily been more than 20 years since I last visited with John Carter, Tars Tarkas, and Dejah Thoris. They’re a quick read, full of adventure, bravado, and, yes, political incorrectness. However, it never ceases to surprise me that the first novel, A Princess of Mars, was serialized in 1912! With that in mind, it becomes easier to overlook ERB’s sometimes overwrought prose and political incorrectness. Just think, in 1912, the First World War hadn’t even been fought yet, less than 50 years had passed since the end of the U.S. Civil War, and Robert Goddard had just begun experimenting with rockets.

True, the Barsoomian language (ERB’s name for Mars was Barsoom) is not well documented in the Martian stories. ERB was no JRRT. He did, however, provide tantalizing glimpses with words here and there and employed an exotic naming language for the Red Planet. An interesting article is posted in the Magazine Articles section of the Conlanger’s Library from ERBzine #1508 on the protolanguage of Barsoom and it’s influence on “current” Barsoomian. The novels are featured in the Books section.

And “Kaor!”? That’s Barsoomian for “Hello!” Check out Jeffrey Henning’s great site at on Barsoomian as well as this site.

I have spoken.