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Ok, so I have started the worldbuilding process by creating several different communities and giving them each their own personalities. I ran into a problem, though, when I created a desert dwelling community that doesn't identify with the rest of them. While all of the others could be considered portions of the same thing, this one, due to its history, demands to be separate.It's separate not only metaphorically, but probably physically, by maybe a mountain range (haven't made much of a map). In a situation like this, should I make a second language that this desert dwelling community speaks, or should I make a similar language, or just give it the same language as the rest of my world?

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    $\begingroup$ You could actually do either. Trade is a great reason to want to speak a common language, and that alone could give you reason that these two separate cultures could communicate. $\endgroup$ – Nick2253 Mar 25 '15 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ How long are they isolated (how many generations is probably a better question)? Is there foreign trade, or is it complete isolation? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Mar 25 '15 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ The story I want to tell starts before recorded history, in a sort of mythological time, and then continues to a more "history book" sort of telling, and this community has been separate from the others since its "creation" in the mythology. They trade with the places closest to them, but don't get involved with their politics or anything of the like (i.e. won't help in wars). $\endgroup$ – LovelyCactus Mar 25 '15 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ Are these communities isolated (e.g. on an island, with difficult navigation), or do they have exchanges with other communities who speak different languages? What kinds? Do the two peoples have a common origin (whether they remember it or not)? History is more important than geography in determining whether languages are likely to be close. $\endgroup$ – Gilles Mar 25 '15 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ What technology level is the planet at? $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Sep 25 '15 at 20:04
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It depends on the interactions they have with each other, the more tied they are the more likely the language would stay the same, the less, less. China has so many dialects, sometimes people on different sides of the same mountain can't understand each other.

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Languages form by populations splitting, forming accents, that become more and more extreme, until they are mutually unintelligible. Your split communities would do the same thing, unless both versions of the language are artificially kept in stasis by the speakers. Pedantic teachers with rigorous pronunciation and grammatical rules could keep a language the same forever.

The creation of a new language does take hundreds of years though, so if the isolation is recent (relatively), you could get away with thick accents and a few words that need translation.

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  • $\begingroup$ over generations even with the most pedantic of teachers they will drift apart due to the Chinese whisper effect, unless there were recordings and dictionaries available $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Mar 26 '15 at 9:55
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If you want people to be able to talk to each other, but want some realism in handling the separation between the two societies, you can have them speak and/or write in different dialects of the same language. That will let the characters communicate with each other, but still introduce a level of communication difficulty that one would realistically expect in those situations.

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(This is an offshoot of @Fungo's answer about "Pedantic teachers with rigorous pronunciation and grammatical rules" maintaining a language.)

The desert people could have a collection of sound recordings (or videos) that they listen to regularly, across generations. That would likely keep the pronunciation from varying too much. One type of recording that would probably be listened to over and over is recordings of religious events such as miracles, sermons by holy figures, or readings from sacred texts.

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Give it a differed language! Living separately means living with things that need new or different names, and words that have little meaning, (Ocean, snow, mushroom, things that aren't in deserts,) not sticking around. They have a totally different set of things that 'matter,' and thus, things to be talked about.

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