In my world there are bipedal insectoid creatures (think kind of like the grasshoppers from Bug's Life) who are sentient and communicate primarily through pheromone signals, with some body language involved.
Humans have recently discovered this race, however humans are unable to read or emit the pheromone communications used by the insectoid race, and the insects have no vocal chords with which to create human-like speech.
So far the 2 possibilities I've thought of are:
- Communication through written language, the insectoid race have hands capable of grasping things, so could hold writing utensils, and they have the intelligence to learn human reading/writing.
- A subsidiary race to act as an intermediary, who evolved alongside the insectoid race and are able to communicate with them via pheromones, but are still mammalian enough that they can use vocal communication with humans
My problem with these solutions is that the former seems somewhat uninspired, and the latter seems like the entire purpose of the race would be to provide intermediary communication between the insects and the humans, which feels like a bit of an ex-machina to me.
What other feasible ways could the 2 species communicate, and/or how could the above ideas be improved?
Edit: To give a little more context, the world is roughly European medieval technology level, and there's no magic, so "babel fish"-esque translation devices are out of the question.
The setting is very much a fantasy setting, but I'm still trying to go for a sort of "low" fantasy setting, so I'm sticking to realism and feasibility where possible (overlooking the fact that human-sized insectoid creatures would have to be significantly different to insects due to size difference).
The insects are subterranean, and tend to keep to their hives, which is why the humans have only recently discovered them. In terms of technology level, they're around late bronze age/early iron age, far behind humans, but have demonstrated that they have an early iron age understanding of metallurgy, and, given that they have evolved beyond the hegemonic hive-mind structure of their ancestors (despite still being very closely bonded to their hive), they have shown their ability to pass knowledge to their offspring, and they have rudimentary education systems in place.
The insectoid race can also make a sort of chittering sound with their mandibles, although while this can be done at will similarly to human laughing, it is usually an instinctive action when feeling angry or threatened.
To answer the question of why they might want to communicate in the first place, the insects would like to communicate with the humans in order to gain knowledge and hopefully advance their own technological understanding, the humans would like to communicate because a specific faction of the humans are particularly interested in communication with and study of new species, many of which are recently and suddenly popping up in the world.