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In my fantasy setting which I have been building, then there's a planet neighboring the main planet of my setting. I've taken to calling it Kazimar. On it, then there are two intelligent races that inhabit it: The lowland Primulis and the mountain-dwelling Axulis.

The Primulis specifically have skulls with multiple horny protrusions, and lack mouths. They eat and communicate with their horns, which can be used to more easily manipulate magic to transfer nutrients from food and water directly into the body, and to send telepathic messages to one another, registering on their auditory senses in the form of words, as an adapted communication in order to speak with their highland counterparts, who need to communicate verbally through physical sound.

But this begs the question for me: What would their written language be like?

Would it be significantly different to written language in our world? Or would it still have similarities?

[EDIT] The materials they can use for writing trend more towards the harder substances, such as stones and metals. Carved using their magically infused horns.

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  • $\begingroup$ If they "hear" their "words" using auditory senses, there is no reason for their writing to be any different. Or to be the same, really. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 31 '18 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ When you say "significantly different to written language in our world?" are you familiar with just how wide and varied written language actually is? I'd like to get a sense of what you are thinking of as "not different" from our world. Also, is their telepathy really so limited as to be mapped onto auditory effects? That's unusual for telepaths in fiction. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 31 '18 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ Why do they write? I think that has a huge bearing on what the writing looks like. $\endgroup$ – JeffUK Apr 1 '18 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ I found this Q in the VTC queue. I disagree that it should be closed. The reasons for the development of writing are limited and given the nature of the story's protagonist race I believe there's enough for a "one right" answer (despite it having already been awarded). Everything on this site is POB to a degree, we should only close for it if there cannot be one right answer. DeadKnight, we prefer you give 24 hours before awarding a right-answer tag because we have world-wide participants. It's up to you, but people tend to stop answering after the award. You'll miss out on their insight. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 1 '18 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ There is no indication of the importance of sight to these people. Although a written language is not necessarily a visual one, I expect that the question anticipates it to be so. How they see, their acuteness of vision, their ability to differentiate colours through and maybe beyond our visual spectrum, plus the importance of colour and shading may all be important factors in the evolution of a written language. When it comes to writing, we generally think in terms of black and white and differences in shape, but there is no reason why an alien race might not think some other way. $\endgroup$ – Lee Leon Apr 4 '18 at 17:04
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One factor would be the extent of Primulis telepathy. Written language is a means of communicating over distance and time. If all the Primulis can communicate instantly with one another, they'd have no urgent need for other forms of long-distance communication. Writing would be for preserving information as a mnemonic aid or to pass information to future generations. I don't know how this would affect the writing itself, but consider possibilities like no need for the present tense and an emphasis on conserving language rather than slang and fleeting terms that would lose meaning over time. (These would stay part of their telepathic/aural language, not migrate into written language as human slang often does.) So if they also have excellent memories the Primulis probably wouldn't need to develop written language a all.

If, howerver, Primulis telepathy is localized, like human speech, long-distance communication becomes valuable, and if their memory capacities are similar to ours they might develop it for the other purposes too. Human written languages either encode sounds (e.g. the Latin alphabet) or the ideas behind words (e.g. Chinese ideograms). A telepathic language that's perceived aurally could be encoded either way too, but the fact that the Primulis never speak means they couldn't physically sound out the writing they see in front of them, which is how humans typically learn to read. Would they then be more inclined to use Chinese style ideograms rather than a phonetic alphabet?

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    $\begingroup$ To add to Rich's answer: "...of communicating [large volumes of information] over distance and time." Unless the Primulis have perfect long-term memory (which is unrealistic), you need to store data. Textbooks are a great example. Nobody can remember everything. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 1 '18 at 14:29
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If it existed it would be parallel to however their telepathy works.

It won't be phonetic since our languages are audible and theirs isn't.

They might not develop writing at all beyond pictogryphs if that.

It's actually likely that they won't even develop a language as we know it. Our languages all developed out of a need to communicate. They don't have the same need.

If they communicate with sign language of some sort, then their writing would be representations of the signs.

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They could write stuff like this using their hornsI can imagine their telepathic communication to sound almost like sound waves, because their telepathy wouldn't come with its own pre-prepared language, would it? Correct me if I'm wrong. But I feel like their writing would read as a visual representation of a sound wave, with several lines spiking and lowering to form something they could imagine as a sound.

To elaborate, I think of the combination of speeds and pitches are their words, or at least think that would make some sense if their telepathy and natural, and their written language could be like a sound wave reading, but they understand what the sound wave reading means.

Sorry that this answer doesn't have too much concrete information, but I thought it was a cool idea and I hope you do too!

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i assume it would be quite simple, like Mayan numerals (as a group of dots and/it circles) or like Egyptian hieroglyphs would describe the thing or action required in sign language As I think that if it was a written language it would be simple like as it would not have to be normally used) or if they did speak as they said above me in sign language they would use hieroglyphs to describe the action with hands that would be used for that word

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    $\begingroup$ Generally speaking, an answer at SE should be less an opinion and more fact based. Also, an answer should be fuller and more explanatory. How do hieroglyphs describe things (better than any other method)? Why would the written language need to be this way. And the like. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Mar 31 '18 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ Hey @Twimes, thank-you for taking the time to answer this question. However, one-line answers are discouraged on this site. Maybe you could explain your reasoning a little more, or expand on this point. Please check out the help center, and take the tour for more information. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Mar 31 '18 at 23:06

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