8

I have only vague memories of this book:

  • Aliens had pacified the Earth but there was a resistance. One of the main characters was a man who had learned to speak their language.
  • The scene I recall was of him in a car trying to accomplish some task for the resistance: they came upon some humans guarding the facility, and he shouted "OBEY!" at them in the alien language and they hustled to follow orders.
  • There was some business at the end of the book about Earth children being taken into alien homes for the purpose of learning the language, and our hero was pointing out that the aliens would have to actually talk to the kids: not just allow them to observe.

Help? Probably 1970s ish? Or was it a short story perhaps in Galaxy?

5

Could you be thinking of Gordon R. Dickson's 1987 Way of the Pilgrim?

Book Cover - Way of the Pilgrim

Shane, a gifted linguist, has spent his life learning the language of the old and powerful alien race that has conquered Earth. He has learned it so well that the interstellar masters, old hands at enslaving planets, regard him as a valuable servant.

But Shane has a secret. One day, in a rebellious moment, he invented The Pilgrim: a mysterious figure who incites rebellion and vanishes unseen, leaving a distinctive icon behind him.

Now the human underground is preparing to rebel. Shane knows how hopeless their rebellion will be. He knows, as well, that he will be unable to keep himself from taking part.

I don't remember a scene with him specifically using "Obey" in the alien language, but as a servant to the rulers of Earth, he does occasionally bluff guards and others by implying he's on official business.

However, Lostinfrance added a comment saying that that scene, as well as the one about the children, are present in the book:

@Sheri Wells-Jensen I've got Way of the Pilgrim. It does have the scenes you recall. In Ch. 6 the aliens (called Aalaag) discuss bringing human children into their households so the children would grow up to understand their language. When the MC, Shane Evert, says that for it to work the Aalag would have to interact with the children, they are disgusted by the idea of treating them almost as equals. In Ch. 21 Shane, yells "Obey! You hear me? Obey!" to an Egyptian policeman in the alien language and gets instant obedience allowing him and some Resistance members to escape a roadblock.

Parts of it were released as short stories starting in 1974 such as "Enter a Pilgrim", "The Cloak and the Staff", "House of Weapons", and "See Now, a Pilgrim" in various magazines, although the book itself seems to have only been serialized in an Italian magazine.

  • If this is the correct answer, Sheri, you can accept it by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons. – FuzzyBoots Jan 13 '18 at 18:07
  • And if it is the answer, it is a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/38087/… – FuzzyBoots Jan 13 '18 at 18:11
  • 1
    @Sheri Wells-Jensen I've got Way of the Pilgrim. It does have the scenes you recall. In Ch. 6 the aliens (called Aalaag) discuss bringing human children into their households so the children would grow up to understand their language. When the MC, Shane Evert, says that for it to work the Aalag would have to interact with the children, they are disgusted by the idea of treating them almost as equals. In Ch. 21 Shane, yells "Obey! You hear me? Obey!" to an Egyptian policeman in the alien language and gets instant obedience allowing him and some Resistance members to escape a roadblock. – Lostinfrance Jan 15 '18 at 18:32

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