Concepts in The Ender's Game Series - Hierarchy of Foreignness - The Hierarchy

The Hierarchy

Utlanning (translated: "outlander" or "foreigner", utlänning in Swedish) are strangers of one's own species and one's own world (i.e. community or culture). An utlanning is a person who shares the observer's cultural identity. For example, if one were to meet a stranger who lived in another city, state, or province, this person would be considered utlanning.

Framling (translated: "stranger", främling in Swedish) are members of one's own species but from another world or culture. This is a person who is both substantially similar to and significantly different from ourselves. For example, if one met another human who lived on Mars, this person would be a framling (a classic example is Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land). At the time the Hierarchy is proposed, each planet in the Ender's Game Universe (other than Earth) has been colonized by a single terrestrial culture or nation, making humans from other planets "framlings." In passing from Nordic to Stark, the word dropped its umlaut.

Ramen are strangers from another species (as paradoxically explained in Card's own terms) who are capable of communication and peaceful coexistence with Homo sapiens, though that does not guarantee they will pursue the latter. While ramen can share ideas with each other, they may not have common ground, at least not initially. Some examples of ramen featured in the series are the piggies or Little Ones of Lusitania, Jane and the buggers. "Ramen" is the only word of the five to not come from a Scandinavian language.

Varelse (pronounced var-ELSS-uh) (translated: "being" in Swedish) are strangers from another species who are not able to communicate with us. They are true aliens, completely incapable of common ground with humanity. The quasi-intelligent Descolada virus may or may not have been sentient enough to qualify in this category; their creators, the Descoladores, were easily identified as sentient (due to their clear mastery of mathematics, genetics and electromagnetism), but the Ender Quartet ends with years of study yet remaining before any meaningful communication can be entered with them. One character also describes all animals as being varelse, since with them "no conversation is possible. They live, but we cannot guess what purposes or causes makes them act. They might be intelligent, they might be self-aware, but we cannot know it." Translated from Swedish, varelse means "creature."

Djur (translated as: "slavering beast") are the monsters. "The dire beast that comes in the night with slavering jaws." Translated from Swedish, djur means "animal".

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