In my story, giants are about 14 feet tall with long, almost elephant-like legs and feet. The giants' language is not verbal, but is instead spoken through the stomping of the feet and individual toes tapping. A giant's feet are very sensitive to vibrations, meaning they can feel even they can clearly understand what another giant is saying. My giants are able to sing, more specifically throat sing, but the songs themselves have no actual lyrics they can understand. Because of this they aren't really able to socialise, or even talk with most other species. So why would my giants be unable to spoken language, or if you want, why would they choose to not have a spoken language?

Note: My giants are capable of understanding other species' languages, but they don't really understand most words in these 'foreign' languages

  • $\begingroup$ I think the part where they are able simultaneously able to sing (throat singing at that) but don't speak is gonna be pretty challenging. Perhaps they lack lips or other important oral features? That might stop them from being conventionally identified as giants, though. $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 7, 2022 at 0:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If Giants are intelligent and capable of complex (foot tapping) language, it's going to be a stretch to say that they can understand simple spoken language but somehow incapable of comprehending complex spoken language. Making it so that most Giants simply don't understand many words in this "foreign" language would be fair, and expected, but that wouldn't mean they're not capable of learning it just like humans can learn non-spoken languages (such as sign, braille, etc.) $\endgroup$
    – Gene
    Jan 7, 2022 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Gene Thank you for your insight! That does make a lot more sense than what I wrote. Your right, it would be a stretch to say that, and the simple fact they can't understand many words in other languages makes far more sense. $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2022 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ Heh heh! It's obviously so that they can communicate without the Daleks knowing what they are saying. youtube.com/watch?v=Do-wDPoC6GM $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Jan 7, 2022 at 5:41

2 Answers 2


Many real languages have pops and whistles and rolls that non-native speakers may find challenging to reproduce, even though they might be able to comprehend them when it is heard. That part seems perfectly plausible to me.

I feel the things holding your giants back from more verbal communications are the compound problems of: high pressure air exchange and long throat and mouth tissue

In order to facilitate their required mass air exchange, the giants breathe with a much higher pressure than people. Like many larger animals, this results in powerful guttural snorts that facilitate their throat songs but cannot be controlled for more subtle uses like whistling, talking or worse yet whispering.

Compounding this is the issue that the giants have developed long soft tissue in the throat and tongue again working great for deep pitched guttural throat singing but resulting in a lack of dexterity required to make more nuanced sounds.

Anything worth communicating is worth stomping about!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for this answer, it was very informative and works quite well with my world! $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2022 at 1:33

Look at the limitations

The immediate image that comes to my mind is of two giants standing a short distance apart on some firm ground. One stomps "shave-and-a-haircut" and the other one riffs back with a couple of repetitions of the well-known beat from Queen's We Will Rock You. This could actually translate to anything from an accusation of infidelity to a discussion of market economics, it really does not matter.

What does matter is that this communication method cannot be used when:

  • lying in wait in an ambush (for prey or enemies)
  • swimming (cannot call out "Help! I'm drowning")
  • wading through or standing in marshy ground that does not conduct vibrations well and adds suction noises when raising feet
  • running, or in proximity to other people who are running (excessive interference), which includes many combat and hunting situations (cannot say "You go left, I'll go right" or "A go and assist B, C continue the pursuit")
  • unable to use legs/feet due to injury (although possibly hands have the necessary strength and sensitivity in a pinch)
  • while balancing carefully or on unstable footing (eg while balancing on a beam to build a roof / next storey of a building, cannot say "Pass the hammer and another box of nails". While wrestling and being yanked and thrown all over the place, cannot say "OK, I yield".)

These limitations mean that giants are essentially unable to communicate during ongoing tasks. They can't work together to build anything or even chat together while walking along. Their language is limited to "formal" communication while all parties involved are essentially each voluntarily remaining in the one location (although those locations may be some distance away if there is highly vibration-conducting ground in between).

This suggests that giant "society" is highly individualistic - even more than humans, they can only communicate when all parties are actively willing to do so. (A giant jogging on the spot is the equivalent of a human putting their hands over their ears and saying "Nah! Nah! Nah!" - their constantly moving feet prevent them receiving the subtle vibrations and the vibrations created by jogging will interfere with any other ongoing conversation.) Even if they are physiologically limited in their ability to vocalise, they could develop and use a sign language or system of coded clicks / finger taps. Instead they have chosen a means of communication that can only be used exclusively, not during any other meaningful, potentially cooperative activities.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for this interesting insight on the harsh limitations of my giants' language. I'll make sure to add some sort of other form of speech such as finger taps and a sign language along with their stomping language. $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2022 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Walking communication could be managed through modulation of the giant’s footfalls. The differences between step, stomp, shuffle and M.C. Hammer slide could all be used to encode information on the move, though it would mean that ‘Walk’ and ‘Stand’ would be different languages. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Jan 7, 2022 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs I agree. It's like talking with your mouth full or even gagged, specific words might not be clear but to someone fluent in the language might be able to understand the intended meaning based on context, pitch, syllables, etc. It's not idea but serviceable in the right situation, such as mid-combat. Heck, this sounds like a cool Zelda-style boss fight where the player has to learn the sound cues to anticipate the next giant double-team big attack! $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 7, 2022 at 18:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .