This is the start of an experiment to see just how useful Worldbuilding Stack Exchange can be. I'm planning a work of fiction, but rather than build the world around the story, I'd like to write the story in the world - in other words, making the setting without thinking about how it will be used. To do it, I'd like to ask a series of questions on Worldbuilding that touch on different aspects of it - using the site to help me better hone the various facets of the setting.
This is the first question.
The setting so far is Victorian London - with a twist. Around the year 1850, massive coal deposits were discovered underneath central London (construction on the London Underground began roughly 15 years before it did in our world, and large-scale excavations started up quickly). Within five years, even larger seams had been found, and it became apparent that London was sitting on top of the largest coal seam discovered to that date.
By the year 1895 - the date of this story - the Underground project has expanded in conjunction with new mining enterprises, and there is effectively a second city underground, populated by workers and their families. I'm not entirely sure how deep it will run - certainly many hundreds and hundreds of feet - but it is quite sprawling.
The world underground is much different from the world aboveground, and as mining is the predominant occupation below the surface - at least, at first - it dominates society in a number of ways. For example, there have been changes to the language (English, of course) because slang terms have made their way into everyday speech. Here are some examples, based on their fictional technology:
- "vehicle" $\to$ "c'lagon", an effective contraction of "coal wagon" that was generalized to most wheeled vehicles.
- "lamp/light(bulb)" $\to$ "geordysword", reflecting an affectionate nickname given to a variant of George Stephenson's lamp that became common in this world.1
I'd like to use common patterns in the jargon to create names, using in part some of the techniques suggested in Are there techniques for creating alien or foreign sounding names?. However, to do that I need to better understand the evolution of this new dialect/language to determine how much mixing is likely to happen, and on what timescales.
How long will it take jargon to turn into a dialect, and a dialect to then turn into a language? It is realistic to expect a new dialect to form in 50 years, under these conditions?
1 This is in part an nod to the miners of Northumberland, though this term was never used ("Geordie" was and still is). The Stephenson lamp is one tie between the real world and this one.