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I'm currently designing an advanced alien civilization that has achieved telepathy. The idea is that each one of their species has a small device merged with their brain that can allow them to communicate with multiple other ones of their kind at the same time, no matter how far away they are from each other.

However, the species I'm designing also has a spoken and written language, and there's where the problem begins. If a species has telepathic technology and it's a far better way of communication, then why would they still keep their spoken language?

I've been trying to came up with a reasonable answer but I couldn't came up with something good. So my question is, why would a telepathic species still use spoken and written language?

Edit: I'm making a few edits just so everyone knows. Their species has left behind their natural bodies for biomechanical ones that are powered by an infinite energy source, so the telepatchic devise doesn't draw too much power from their bodies. Also their society is pretty utopic, they don't have some higher goverment leader, they don't have crime and they don't have privacy. Basically there is no need to keep secrets from others. And lastly, the telepathic device is actually part of their biomechanical bodies, so they're sort of born with it.

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marked as duplicate by Telastyn, L.Dutch Dec 7 '18 at 3:54

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    $\begingroup$ Could be for historic reasons, especially if this species is not biologically telepatic, but uses a tech for that. They could know other species which do not use the tech and they need to communicate with them. Maybe the kids have to learn a spoken language to learn enough to use the tech for telepatic communication. $\endgroup$ – Julian Egner Nov 30 '18 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ @ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΜΙΧΑΗΛΙΔΗΣ - Welcome! We need to know much more. Can you spy on someone's thoughts? Can you block someone you don't like (exes who are stalking you)? Can you have conference calls? I think issues like this have to be explained before we can answer properly. It might be best to put your question on hold while you add these things to your question. ;-) $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 30 '18 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ The Belcerebons lived on Kakrafoon Kappa and caused jealousy among their neighbouring civilisations by being enlightened, calm and quiet, behaviour judged to be smug and self-righteous. The Galactic Tribunal as punishment forced telepathy upon the Belcerebons, so that they now must talk continuously in order that their every thought is not broadcast. Restaurant at the end of the Universe. $\endgroup$ – Spratty Nov 30 '18 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ Are their TVs also telepathic? $\endgroup$ – Xavon_Wrentaile Nov 30 '18 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ When you say they don't have privacy, how do they filter important information? And how does the "signal" work? Is every member receiving a constant, continuous blast of information (I'm imagining a noisy sports bar with multiple televisions each on a different channel but in my head)? Or is it more directed, and you have to give your intended partner a mental tap on the shoulder? Also, how are their memories? Can they remember every thought? $\endgroup$ – miltonaut Dec 1 '18 at 0:39

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Because speaking uses less energy than telepathy when communicating over short distances.

Even if they have access to vast amount of energy, it's still finite. Wasting energy is never a good idea.

The protocol requires that if the person you communicate with is less than X meters from you, you should prioritize voice over telepathy.

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Language crystalizes and conceptualizes thoughts. Many many people use pen and paper for working out things: designs, plot lines, mathematical theorems, sketches. They are using language and paper for communicating with themselves and should have the best conceivable manner of telepathic connection with themselves to start with. Poetry does not work without employing language as a device of art rather than blanket communication.

The conceptualizing and categorizing power of language is such that many things change when spoken about because they then become tangible rather than a superposition of partly conflicting leanings. Speaking about feelings focuses on some details of what is a complex mesh and makes it desirable to form consequences, even when you are just speaking to yourself, or writing to yourself in the form of a diary.

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I'm suprised this is not in the answers yet:

...each one of their species has a small device merged with their brain...

Because devices break down from time to time. A communication backup comes in handy then ;-)

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They use spoken language because telepathy shares too much information. If you open your mind to allow telepathic communication... by definition your mind is open, and anyone with telepathic ability will know EVERYTHING on your mind. Imagine you are walking in the mall talking with your wife via telepathy and a hot chick walks by. Now your wife knows you think the chick is hot and every person open to telepathy in the whole mall knows you think she is hot. Additionally, you know your wife is pissed, the chick thinks you are a creep and her oversized boyfriend wants to kick your teeth in. Imagine trying to negotiate a deal with someone who knows you you plan on taking advantage of them or engaging in a fight where the enemy knows where you plan on throwing your next punch.

In short, telepathy is simply too personal to allow it to be used as a primary means of communication and too dangerous to use with people who are in direct competition or opposition to you. Its primary use would be between trusted individuals to instill a deeper understanding or to prove trustworthiness in important communications.

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Assuming that isn't some sort of "phone in your head" but a direct transfer of thought telepathy could be too direct to be the only communication method. If the species only uses that direct transfer of thoughts/feelings it would be hard to tell individuals apart from each other, some sort of hive-mind, a collective conscience. So the society encourages spoken language to preserve (in the long-run) the individual being. If every thought/feeling is only direct-transfered, everyone would fell and think the same.

This could be achieved by their culture, what's social-acceptable/desired. Some art pieces (poetry, movies, music...) would be desired in spoken language. The direct thought transfer would be as a photograph of something, and the spoken language a painting of that thing, the painting generally has more value because it's the expression of the artist's individuality and his point of view and not a translation of the electromagnetic field.

Think about the how we value the original painting even when the fake is visually equal also.

It could be also some sort of etiquette, or used to show respect, admiration, affect. Or some comfort, people who loves vinyl-disc, even when the sound is exactly the same (with good speakers of course).

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Telepathy is terribly vulgar:

Refined people prefer the sophistication of delicately crafted sentences.


Actually, it may be a cast thing where the dominant class is using that as a mean to distinguish from the masses.

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