Voiceless Language Lab Building / Landmark in Milon | World Anvil
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Voiceless Language Lab

Introductory video upon first arriving at the Language Lab. English captions are available for those who don't know the Voiceless Language.  
The Voiceless Language Lab in the city of Selwyn in Melzi is the first stop for any sixteen year-old who has become Voiceless due to failing to pass the sophomore year Standardized Tests. Though most people believe that the Voiceless received their name because they are not Citizens and do not have a right to vote, new Voiceless soon discover it is actually because they communicate with a signed language.

From Old Bar...

The first thing you notice when you walk into the language lab is the large square counter at the back of the front room. This is a remnant from the days when the building was a popular bar and restaurant. The bar is now often used as a front desk, but this is also usually where sign classes are held--with students gathered around the bar and the teacher behind it.
Some tables are still located in the front room. This is where new Voiceless will meet with government officials to be assigned work and living quarters. If they later wish to change jobs or move, they can also apply for those changes here. The back and upstairs rooms do not have permanant furniture, but can be arranged in different ways for different uses.

...to Community Hub...

While the front room of the Language Lab is a place for Voiceless to hold official business, the back and upstairs rooms are often used as gathering places for meetings and celebrations, such as weddings and Farewell Ceremonies. It seems there is always something happening there--from card tournaments to film screenings. The kitchen was even remodeled when the building was converted, so food can be prepared and served for parties.

...and Rebel Headquarters

Probably the most significant of the Language Lab's additional uses is its daycare. Officially, the daycare was established at the Language Lab because it is a central part of the Voiceless part of town, both literally and metaphorically. The daycare workers, like all Voiceless, are assigned to their positions by government officials, and are usually people who were born and raised Voiceless. New Voiceless are often invited to come care for the children during their off-days. They are encouraged to speak to the children, as well as sign so they will grow up bilingual.
Though this is not illegal, those who participate tend to do so quietly, even among other Voiceless, as not everyone approves. A bilingual child has a much better chance at passing the kindergarten entrance exams, but if they do, they will be taken from their parents and placed with a Citizen family on the other side of the city. While some Voiceless parents do all they can to give their children a chance at becoming a Citizen, others prefer to keep them. Kept even quieter are the meetings the Language Lab sometimes hosts late at night for Voiceless to discuss other ways they can call for a revolution and change their current status.
CW: oppression, instituional prejudice


Author's Notes

So... throwing around the term "Voiceless" so flippantly in this context feels really icky. But of course, that's kind of why I did it. What is now known as the "Voiceless Language" was originally "Melzi Sign." But at some point, the government decided it wasn't worth offering support to people who were nuerodivergent, nonverbal, deaf, etc. and made them all second-class citizens. They got called "Voiceless" because so many of them signed, but they do not consider themselves voiceless. In short, I want to make it clear that sign languages are real languages, and the people in my world who treat signers this way are very not cool.

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