‘The Word became flesh.’ Skull Face, main antagonist of Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain, quotes these four words from the opening chapter of the Gospel according to John. In his hands he holds a parasite, which becomes active when the ‘carrier’ speaks a specific language. Speaking English, German or whatever programmed language leads to certain doom and death.

Skull Face want to use the ‘English programmed’ parasite to whip out the lingua franca of the modern world, accusing it from destroying the cultural richness and diversity of the world. Skull Face is not your next-door grandpa mourning the loss of his mother tongue because of the its Anglicisation. (The fact that I am, as a Dutch native, writing this article in English is proof of its existence.)


Born in Hungarian, Skull Face was forced to adopt different foreign languages, thus neglecting his Hungarian mother tongue. First the Nazis occupied Hungaria, than the Soviets took their turn. Skull Face paraphrases the Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran’s maxim: ‘It is no nation we inhabit, but a language. Make no mistake; our native tongue is our true fatherland.’

Thus being robbed of his native Hunagrian tongue, Skull Face feels like he does not have a past, a fatherland, a mother tongue.

I was born in a small village. I was still a child when we were raided by soldiers. Foreign soldiers. Torn from my elders I was made to speak their language. With each new post, my masters changed, along with the words they made me speak. Words are… peculiar. With each change, I changed too. My thoughts, personality, how I saw right and wrong… War changed me – and not only my visage. Words can kill. I was invaded by words, burrowing and breeding inside me. (http://metalgear.wikia.com/wiki/Skull_Face)

No past

To make things even worse, Skull Face, was himself infected by the same parasite, this time programmed to Hungarian. So, even when he discovered his mother tongue, he was not able to speak Hungarian for more than a couple of words every time. According to Cioran, Skull Face is indeed without a past.