Questions tagged [language]

For questions about the written or spoken language of a world.

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7 votes
13 answers
2k views

Would a culture inhabiting the abandoned homeland of another people adopt parts of the previous inhabitants' language? [closed]

The Vareyn once lived in a fertile land at the head of a great desert, subsisting off of a great river and its bounty - until they were forced to leave after a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Many ...
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  • 810
1 vote
2 answers
111 views

How to create a custom gematria system for a world? [closed]

I just recently asked What are the origins of the various forms of Gematria? and What are the rules for constructing a gematria system? Now I am wondering how to create a custom gematria system for a ...
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  • 183
-4 votes
2 answers
90 views

How many languages would it take to unite the Mammal Kingdom?

The mammilia class is tired of just being a class. They want to be a kingdom. However the problem is: they can't communicate very well. The humans didn't want to give up their powerful syntax, but the ...
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4 votes
6 answers
2k views

Why would a language created by humans lack both the /s/ and the /z/ consonants? [closed]

In my story, there are a strange species from the Homo genus: hematophagous humans often called vampires (their scientific name is Homo haematophagus) (so, they are still humans, just not Homo sapiens)...
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0 votes
1 answer
94 views

What would a language spoken by a tortoise-like sapient species sound like? [closed]

In my world, there is a species of massive bipedal (with a hunchbacked gait because of their shell) turtles with human-level intelligence (I do not mean humans with profound intellectual disability ...
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5 votes
2 answers
129 views

Why would a language have three rhotic phonemes?

In my world, there is a mammalian species from the Homo genus called "ogres" (their scientific name is Homo obesus) (they are still humans, just not Homo sapiens) (Homo obesus means "...
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4 votes
4 answers
405 views

How does a whistle language written with latin script work?

so for context this kind of alien possess no vocal cord to make sound like human had instead, they communicate by making sounds akin to whistle,chirp,and clicks. this kind has no native writing ...
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  • 1,658
21 votes
10 answers
3k views

The deaf prisoner got her secret message and the pirates never knew. How was that possible?

I have a Category 3 problem in my world This is an escape from pirates problem. The story requires a secret message to get past pirates and I don’t know how to design the captivity for it. Setting: ...
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  • 5,864
10 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why would a language created by humans lack the /j/ semivowel and even the /i/ vowel?

What I mean is the /j/ sound (as in English "yellow" and French hyène) (hyène means hyena) is the most common semivowel around the world. This phoneme is highly conserved in Indo-European ...
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4 votes
5 answers
274 views

Why would a language lack a T-V distinction, but with a pronoun system that is the opposite of English?

In English, you is used both in the second-person singular and in the second-person plural (thou is now only used in some old proverbs and old expressions). In French, tu is used exclusively in the ...
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4 votes
3 answers
336 views

Can culture A adopt culture B's language entirely but keep their identity intact?

In my world, a group of nomads (culture a) conquered settled peoples (culture b) and adopted their language as an administrative language, think Aramaic or Koine Greek. I've also been playing with the ...
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10 votes
7 answers
290 views

Root words for a portable communication device in alternate reality: 19th Century

I am looking for a small list of Latin, Greek, or French words which would be most concise and descriptive of the qualities and functions of a pager-like device. The technical description of the ...
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12 votes
9 answers
2k views

Language for people who see in the future

People of the forest, people who become trees when they die. The trees are interconnected, a giant web spanning almost the entire continent. The tree-web is a computer, it reads the impulses it ...
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  • 374
3 votes
2 answers
147 views

When building a language & alphabet (especially between species) what range of phonemes (mainly consonants) should be included?

Most languages on earth do not have every phoneme. When creating a new language, how do I decide which ones to choose? How should I manage the relationship between different languages? I have a race ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
75 views

Could language coexist with complex natural signals? [closed]

The species in question would have a humanoid level of intelligence and inventiveness Their abilities of language would be less developed than humans, but would still work well enough for a society ...
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5 votes
2 answers
92 views

What would a good justification for my giants having a non-spoken language?

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 ...
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4 votes
5 answers
217 views

What are ways an alien species could have a subtle inability to pronounce certain sounds in Earth languages?

Nothing too huge, just things you might notice after awhile if you're really paying attention and don't shrug it off as a slight speech impediment -- which it kinda is, I guess, but y'know what I mean,...
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12 votes
20 answers
6k views

How to avoid evolution for a language made to be spoken across an entire galaxy?

In the SF book I am trying to write, the galaxy has been seeded with human life by (not so much) benevolent AIs. Despite isolation between the worlds, everyone speak a single universal language made ...
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  • 197
4 votes
5 answers
452 views

Could a society work with members that cannot use language?

The society is a simple society. It is more-or-less a hunter-gatherer society, with a large hierarchy of leadership. They mostly live in independent families. Every family, including the leaders, ...
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  • 11.7k
16 votes
18 answers
5k views

Preventing a word from being spoken

Toward the end of the war between Atlantis and Mu, such magicks were cast that their interaction rent asunder the very length and breadth and height of the world and through that tear entered The ...
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  • 45.4k
1 vote
2 answers
184 views

How Complex Can a Sign Language Get?

In this setting, I have a species with incredibly weak vocalization abilities, being hardly able to speak over what a human would consider a whisper. In this, they have relied entirely on using their ...
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  • 810
3 votes
2 answers
150 views

What sounds would this creature make?

I am making a creature with a mouth that opens four ways, has four tongue-like things on each mouth flap and just has a giant hole in it’s mouth that goes into its stomach and lungs. It still has ...
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  • 549
21 votes
8 answers
5k views

Is it possible to learn a language entirely by observation?

It is the age of exploration. Intrepid European colonists have come to settle the Americas amidst a storm of interest over the wondrous materials that may be found in the New World. Unfortunately for ...
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7 votes
6 answers
387 views

How long before my feral amnesiac with a superhuman memory regains the ability to speak?

A significant character in my story is a young man, late teens early twenties or so, who shortly before the story began had his mind wiped almost completely. All memories, all knowledge, and all ...
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28 votes
27 answers
9k views

How can you tell an AI apart from a human over the phone but not in person?

Let's say that there's a "dumb" AI - it can only learn within preset limits, and cannot learn anything that is outside of those limits. However, it's very good at imitating human speech, and ...
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  • 9,596
2 votes
1 answer
205 views

How would the phonetics of a snake be?

I am trying to create my first alien language, I am creating an alien race that is like a two-legged reptile, has a head similar to snakes, has something similar to feathers (mostly on the head) and ...
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  • 45
12 votes
8 answers
5k views

Why would a language spoken by humans entirely lack bilabials?

Bilabials are nearly universal consonants within human speech. However, why would a naturally evolved language spoken by humans lack bilabials entirely?
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  • 4,100
6 votes
6 answers
2k views

How sophisticated could a society be if knowledge depends only on some kind of religious cult or administrative group?

I been reading this question and it makes me think a lot. So I came with a question of my own. In a resume, the post presents a world where everyone is illiterate. Some said that the society could be ...
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  • 357
4 votes
6 answers
195 views

Preserving information for future humans

I'm conceptualizing a sci-fi short story. In it, the main character will find an obelisk type object which has been half-buried for who knows how long. Well, the answer is about 20,000 years. The ...
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0 votes
0 answers
23 views

Universal translation throughout an environment? [duplicate]

Related to another question I had—-if there was something in a sci-fi environment that allowed for everyone there to understand each other, by letting every language be understood by anyone under the ...
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3 votes
6 answers
457 views

How to maintain a language as simple as possible?

What is a simple language? Any language which avoids any redundant words Poison+venom=toxin This an example to begin, many languages do not have separate words for poison and venom, when talking about ...
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5 votes
7 answers
276 views

How could a universal translation drug work?

Rather than a machine or computer to translate things, how could a sci fi drug of some sort (such as a pill that one or both parties has to take and be under the influence of, or a gas that fills an ...
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2 votes
1 answer
139 views

Spontaneous linguistic evolution [closed]

I'm working on some world building, and I am making a conlang for this world. It's intended to be a slightly futuristic language, but with no influence from any existing language (in world) that ...
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14 votes
7 answers
501 views

What type of lullabies would a D&D-style dragon sing to their eggs - particularly ice dragons? [closed]

D&D style dragons come out of the egg knowing languages meaning that they had to learn it somewhere. I'm not interested in that. What I want to know is, that assuming Dragon lullabies are like ...
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  • 651
0 votes
2 answers
236 views

What concept replaces the placeholder behaviour of the He/She/Him/His/Her/Hers pronouns in a genderless society? [closed]

A society of ungendered beings speak English. They have no concept of gender identity, and haven't for thousands of years. They have all the other concepts we have in English that we use to derive ...
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  • 43.3k
8 votes
3 answers
902 views

Minimum phonemes for a conlang?

I'm designing an alien race with limited points of articulation, and it got me thinking what is the minimum number of phonemes needed for a language to function? That would help me determine their ...
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5 votes
5 answers
327 views

How can three separate magic systems benefit over an all-inclusive one?

In the land of Gnosticia, legend speaks of a messiah who would lead his chosen people to greatness as a far flung empire. This prophecy came to pass when a child was born to a virgin woman, and would ...
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  • 38k
18 votes
9 answers
5k views

What happens when two languages merge?

I'm trying to work out what two languages merging would look like. Obviously, I know about pidgins and creoles, but these generally require the presence of a third, dominant language. Here, I'm ...
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  • 1,984
0 votes
3 answers
155 views

How do runescribes activate the desired effect from ideographic runes with multiple, different meanings?

There exists a radical offshoot of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet called kig-anr (“stone-symbols”) that evolved into an ideographic form consisting of over fifty different characters. People who use ...
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1 vote
6 answers
276 views

Future evolution of an English Language and writing system

In a future where a large company is launching a series of interstellar colony fleets to nearby star systems, would it be feasible if they modified the English writing system and Earth kept to the ...
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  • 885
14 votes
13 answers
8k views

How would a theoretically perfect language work? [closed]

Suppose a species gets together to make the most efficient language possible. The species is culturally able to accept it, the logistics of getting it to everybody has already been taken care of. ...
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5 votes
10 answers
285 views

In a cultural worldbuilding scenario, what would turn a whole multitude of languages to sound virtually nothing like their common ancestor?

Allow me to clarify by starting with the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article on "Proto-Indo-European language": No direct evidence of PIE exists – scholars have reconstructed PIE ...
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  • 14.3k
3 votes
1 answer
159 views

Proto-German name for Plant People

I was considering calling plant people in a setting, "skoagraz," which is a combination of the words for forest (skogaz) and flood (agraz). Flood seemed a good word to imply inclusiveness, ...
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3 votes
2 answers
144 views

Biologically classifying a gene-spliced creature?

In my world, new wildlife and creatures have emerged due to the presence of radiation, genetic engineering, and have lead to new mutants and dangerous beasts stalking the Wastelands. A scientist in my ...
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  • 11k
7 votes
11 answers
2k views

Bidimensional thinking

Is there a way of more advanced minds start to count with complex integers, instead of naturals? This way such a society would never think of $2$ as prime since $2=(1+i)(1-i)$. Notice that more ...
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  • 204
2 votes
2 answers
187 views

What phonemes could an intelligent fox produce?

What phonemes could an intelligent fox produce? This assumes that their vocal tract is the same as real life foxes. They have human intelligence and have built a civilization that has reached the pre-...
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  • 4,100
9 votes
2 answers
423 views

Linguistics in a society with contrapositive thermodynamic philosophy

Our philosophy is based on the concept of energy as a positive, because we generally live on a planet in a low energy state which does work via fuel. As such, we don’t really have articulate language ...
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  • 5,864
1 vote
2 answers
160 views

How to decide what language(s) to use for place names? [closed]

I have a homebrew world for a TTRPG where I have generated languages for each of the cultures populating the planet. When referring to those places (on a map, in the player's guide, in-game, etc.), I'...
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  • 21
8 votes
9 answers
806 views

Magic and Language Problem

So I wanted my magic system to have spells based within different religions, each of which rooted in (but not limited to) the country of the race it corresponds too. example Dogfolk have their own ...
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31 votes
12 answers
3k views

Universal Language

If I want to have multiple intelligent species (with different languages for each), how can they exchange each other? Some species may not have eyes, legs, hands, ears, ... so is there a way for a &...
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