Sometimes when building a world, and in particular since Tolkien, one may wish to create original languages for the inhabitants. There are some information around the site about the creation of conlang, but @knave made a good summary on our blog. From there, we learn that one of the first step is to decide on the phonemes of the new language.

However in the world creation steps, it is likely that we define the climate and geography of the world before populating it.

I was thus wondering whether the climate or geography had some influence in the phoneme used in a given region. Are colder countries more prone to use guttural sounds? Etc.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I haven't read this (and probably wouldn't understand it well enough to provide a decent answer), but this paper seems to suggest climate does impact phoneme development. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 25 '15 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre, thanks for the paper, I'm going to have a good read :) $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Sep 25 '15 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ Seems almost like you'd get better answers on Skeptics Stack Exchange, if you want scientific accuracy. $\endgroup$ – zeta Sep 25 '15 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ Geography certainly has an influence. Some sparsely populated mountain regions use Whistled Languages because it enables them to communicate over long distances. This article has some examples. And if our atmosphere had its nitrogen replaced by helium, speaking low-frequency tones would be impossible $\endgroup$ – DenDenDo Sep 26 '15 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @sumelic, I had the impression that Skeptics required someone to have claimed something... it couldn't be me, could it? $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Sep 28 '15 at 6:12

I can't remember what to search for to find the article again, but I found a neat article on the tonal languages, such as Chinese, which depend on the pitch of the vowels to convey meaning. They found that all such languages were found in equatorial regions. They postulated that the tonal languages may depend on reasonable climates and high humidity, because those are conditions which make it easier to maintain the level of vocal chord health required to continuously create such changing pitches.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ Could it be the one Frotfyre mentioned in a comment above..? $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Sep 25 '15 at 22:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.