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Belter Creole 101

Here are a few terms and phrases that will help make you pass for a true Belter. Sa-sa ke?

By Bryan Enk

Boy … those Belters on The Expanse sure have a way with words, don't they?

Believe it or not, Belter slang — or, more officially, Belter Creole — isn't a completely made-up way of communicating. It's actually a mix of several Earth languages spoken by the original settlers in the Asteroid Belt colonies — very appropriate, as the Belt is a melting pot of several different races, customs and backgrounds.

Here are just a few of the Belter words and phrases that we've heard on The Expanse so far. You can find a more in-depth list of the terms created by linguist Nick Farmer at The Expanse Wikia.

"Beltalowda" - this means "us Belters," or "belonging to the Belters." For example, in Episode 1, the Gaunt Belter mentions "Owkwa beltalowda," meaning "Our water" (or, more literally, "Water belonging to the Belters").

"Beratna" - "brother," as said by the Angry Dockworker in Episode 3.

"Copeng" - "friend," as the Bouillotte Dealer refers to Miller in Episode 2.

"Ereluf" - "air," as first mentioned by the Gaunt Belter in Episode 1.  

"Imbobo" - "holes," as first mentioned by the Gaunt Belter in Episode 1.  

"Inyalowda" - inners/non-believers, as mentioned by the Boillotte Dealer in Episode 2.

"Ke" - this is how you form a "yes" or "no" question. For example, Paj asks "Am I smelling a wager, ke?" in Episode 1 before he loses his arm.

"Kowmang" - "everyone", as said by the Angry Dockworker in Episode 3 ("Komang gotta die sometime").

"Owkwa" - "water," as first mentioned by the Gaunt Belter in Episode 1.

"Pashang" = an expletive, from Chinese 爬上, "to mount." In Episode 5, Gia says to Miller, "Pashang fong, zakomang," to which he replies, "Yeah? How much?" Sassy!

"Sa-Sa" - "to know." There are variations of this, such as "Sabe" ("you know") and "Sabez" ("I know"). In Episode 4, the Gambler tells Miller, "He ain't dead yet, sabez."

"Towchu" - "slaves," as first mentioned by the Gaunt Belter in Episode 1.

"Welwala" - a Belter obsessed with the inner planets, or, less literally, a "traitor to your people," as the Gaunt Belter calls Miller in Episode 1.

Hand gestures are also essential to Belter communication, as they evolved from the days of wearing space suits with poor comms during the early settler days. In Episode 3, Gia incorporates very distinct and strong gestures as she teaches Havelock the phrase, "Unte kowlting gut, to pochuye ke?" ("And everything will be okay, understand?")


And sometimes you don't need words at all, as here Naomi expresses her disgust with Holden.


Sa-sa ke?