Questions tagged [language]

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

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4
votes
5answers
424 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, ...
14
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18answers
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 ...
0
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2answers
148 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
133 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 ...
21
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8answers
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
370 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 ...
28
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27answers
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 ...
2
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1answer
173 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 ...
11
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8answers
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?
6
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6answers
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 ...
4
votes
6answers
186 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 ...
0
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0answers
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 ...
3
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6answers
403 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 ...
5
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7answers
269 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
131 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
342 views

What type of lullabies would a dnd style dragon sing to their eggs? Especially Ice Dragons

Dnd 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 human ...
0
votes
2answers
216 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
793 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
285 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 ...
18
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9answers
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 ...
0
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3answers
140 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 ...
0
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6answers
233 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 ...
14
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13answers
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. ...
5
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10answers
260 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 ...
3
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1answer
148 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, ...
3
votes
2answers
135 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 ...
6
votes
11answers
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
180 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-...
9
votes
2answers
398 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
147 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'...
8
votes
9answers
686 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 ...
31
votes
12answers
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 &...
2
votes
3answers
282 views

Should I attempt to make my aliens all have their own language? [closed]

I am creating creating a universe similar to Star Wars. It is not like Star Trek where new planets are always being found, it more like Star Wars, where the planets are known, so are the aliens, and ...
7
votes
6answers
410 views

Would it make sense for Dragons to be able to learn to speak the common language of Dwarves, Elves, Humans etc. And vice versa?

My world is a medieval high fantasy setting. Dragons are one of the many denizens of the world. They speak a complicated language. Humans and other common races know most dragons to be cunning, ...
3
votes
2answers
144 views

It is feasible that a (human) civilization at the end of time uses English, Latin, etc. words but considers earth history as a myth? [closed]

When universe is close to ending (only few solar systems remain), I can see how Earth history (or the current galactic civilization beginnings) could become a myth. However, does that mean that some ...
4
votes
1answer
258 views

How to make a bird/human hybrid language

In my world, through the work of magic, a group of humans were mutated into half-bird people. I've figured out most of the anatomy so I wanted to know how their speech would work. If it matters, ...
8
votes
7answers
695 views

What would it take to make a “true” universal translator? [duplicate]

In Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy I know you put the Babel Fish in your ear and it telepathically translates any language, and the one from Star Trek could translate languages that the Federation ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Which two numbers between 1 and 10 inclusive are the most difficult to distinguish when lip-reading? [closed]

The heroine in my story is a princess who has fallen in love with a commoner, but because of the differences in their ranks, they may not marry under normal circumstances. However, there is a ...
7
votes
4answers
203 views

Books about Insults Across Cultures

I am trying to come up with insults and swears for some fictional races. Their cultures pretty well mapped out, but I am still having some trouble. I figured the best source of inspiration would be to ...
9
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5answers
1k views

Keeping oral tradition accurate, and preventing language divergence, how long will it last? [duplicate]

So, this is the set up. Communities of wood elves spread out over a large area (think half a continent), with each community having several hundred to several thousand individuals. Communities are so ...
18
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16answers
4k views

How do governments keep people accountable for contracts and oaths in a civilisation without a writing system?

Let’s say we have this fictional civilisation. It doesn’t have a writing system; its traditions are oral and so is its system of government. How do you keep people accountable to what they’ve sworn? ...
21
votes
4answers
4k views

Are there any 3000 year old Northern European languages that modern humans could communicate with?

Follow up to Could a well versed archaeologist understand and speak languages that are 3000+ years old? I have an archaeologist who finds some inscriptions that are at least 3000 years old while ...
33
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7answers
4k views

Could a well versed archaeologist understand and speak languages that are 3000+ years old?

I have an archaeologist who specializes in ancient ancient Northern European civilizations. Due to some handwavy mumbo jumbo, he is brought face to face with a supernatural being which still speaks ...
3
votes
3answers
352 views

Name of scientists that study sapient life

In a fantasy world I'm creating, one of the characters biologist who studies the other intelligent beings. Originally, I was going to name them a Xeno biologist. But that would implies that other ...
28
votes
14answers
6k views

Why would a religion make up its own language?

I've been exploring language for the past few weeks, and I came up with what I believe is an interesting idea. Let's say that a fictitious religious sect decides to, for some reason, make a language. ...
2
votes
1answer
68 views

What events would trigger linguistic hyper-evolution in a spacefaring civilisation?

Let's say that in an alternate universe, humans developed on a relatively small supercontinent, so their languages and cultures were somewhat similar. After a while, all of the nations merged into one ...
24
votes
14answers
6k views

How can a language be prevented from evolving and drifting?

So language drifts enormously over time. With the English of today, little drifts happen fairly quickly in slang, but over long periods of time languages drift and change and move, even changing ...
6
votes
4answers
251 views

Would sound shifts be severe enough for two dialects to be mutually unintelligible after 400 years of no verbal contact?

A group of English-speaking settlers travel to the Earth-like exoplanet of Rataan, which is 5 light years away. They board the generation ship Genesis that will reach Rataan in 200 years (0.25% of the ...
17
votes
19answers
5k views

How do I make a writing system undecipherable, while not intended as such in-world?

It is relatively well known that hieroglyphs were not fully translated, or at all for that matter, until a while after the Rosetta Stone was found. It is less well known that the script known as ...
3
votes
2answers
102 views

How can the effects of a language be linguistically locked?

The ancient Sumerians were the first great empire on earth, worshipping a great elder god called "Mickey". After the empire fell, worshippers of the god went underground and continued to thrive. In ...

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