Questions tagged [language]

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

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24
votes
24answers
7k views

In a culture that writes in circles, what would the medium for writing look like?

Most Earth cultures — as far as I know — tend to use square or rectangular surfaces to write upon, and similarly our texts are also organized into square and rectangular shapes. However, a culture ...
19
votes
2answers
657 views

How can I replicate language evolution?

I realize that evolutionary linguistics comprises an entire sub-field of study, but I figure I can narrow it down a bit for this question. In How long will it take to form a new dialect and language ...
1
vote
2answers
125 views

What word or phrase might a vegetarian culture use instead of “meatspace”? [closed]

I'm looking for a word or phrase that might be used in a vegetarian culture to denote the non-cyber "world", and that is not "meatspace" or "real life". The best I've come up with so far is "...
79
votes
48answers
14k views

Why would “dead languages” be the only languages that spells could be written in?

Note: this is an in-universe explanation, not media in general. Media in general tends to have magic written in archaic, usually dead, languages. In my world, magic is best described as fickle; most ...
10
votes
5answers
481 views

Would a human culture that developed in a world where audio recording was straightforward also develop written language?

Possible situations where this might happen: Early human culture develops in a situation where audio recording and recall is straightforward - perhaps in a place where there is an abundance of tame ...
81
votes
13answers
13k views

Are there techniques for creating alien or foreign sounding names?

An interesting setting conducive to telling many stories in? Go! Well thought out inhabitants in this setting with diverse cultural backgrounds? Go! A proper noun for any of it? Houston, we ...
15
votes
12answers
4k views

How would people with perfect memory design their language

A race of people was created through magic, their mind was greatly altered, among the abilities that were granted was a memory that perfectly records all sensory information forever. As well as the ...
-1
votes
1answer
163 views

Which languages would be most useful for time travelers to learn? [closed]

Title pretty much says it all. Which languages would be most useful to a time traveler?
52
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20answers
10k views

How would an order of Monks that renounce their names communicate effectively?

In my fantasy world there exists an order of monks known as the Noncara/Non Cara (haven't decided which form looks better). The Non Cara practice a theology based solely on works. By this I mean: ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

Conversational goal of a conscious talking machine [closed]

One Artificial Intelligence tech giant has created a bot much like Alexa or Siri that talks to humans, takes notes, listens to everything and communicates with external sources when instructed by the ...
52
votes
13answers
13k views

Would a “ring language” be possible?

A ring species is a species, in which a population migrates in two directions and the population remains continuous as it migrates so that each subpopulation can breed with its neighbors, however when ...
28
votes
11answers
5k views

Creating Fictional Slavic Place Names

I have a very simple question regarding a small problem I cannot find a single satisfying answer to. I am trying to create a country with a prominent Slavic culture. In my story, an alien world has ...
62
votes
12answers
6k views

Is there a more effective way to build a language than a word frequency list?

I'm in the process of creating my own language, and so far, I've built a basic vocabulary set of about ~200 words. From here, however, I'm somewhat unsure as to what vocabulary I should work on adding ...
1
vote
0answers
24 views

How do tongues affect speech? [duplicate]

If you had your tongue removed, would you still be able to form coherent words? What sounds would you lose the ability to make and why?
20
votes
17answers
5k views

How to make a language evolve quickly?

Imagine a world in which the language barrier is a means of propaganda defence. In this world, one of the primary concerns of each country is the migration of natives, since they know their native ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

How long can language drift before it becomes indecipherable, and how to minimize drift?

A general question here, relevant to many world-building scenarios. Language drifts, to the point that I likely could never understand old English, but I'm not sure how much. I want to know how long ...
6
votes
2answers
332 views

Which sounds could a tongueless person produce?

In my world, officials dealing with sensitive information have their tongues amputated. Naturally writing and a special, government-only sign-language are the main forms of communication, but ...
3
votes
3answers
279 views

A collective noun for a group of spaceships [closed]

A shrewdness of apes, an unkindness of ravens, a murder of crows...I wonder how to call a collection of spaceships often seen in the proximity to my planet that is apparently a fruit of a particular ...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

Would a primitive species be able to learn English from reading books alone?

A species that hasn’t developed any form of written or spoken language learns to speak English, or any modern language for that matter, and it becomes prevalent in their future society. To summarize, ...
19
votes
14answers
4k views

How would a solely written language work mechanically

I am trying to make a language for a fictional world and I am wondering how a species without vocal chords could communicate via written language
31
votes
15answers
12k views

Is mathematics a truly universal language?

The quote has many forms, but is basically "mathematics is a universal language." My question is if this is true? If we met aliens could we use mathematics to talk to them? The fact that we could ...
10
votes
7answers
2k views

The alphabet of a language based on pitch and vocabulary

A world/continent/land/place/location where language has developed slightly differently from earth. Instead of communicating through normal speech, these beings communicate in a combination of ...
20
votes
15answers
5k views

Forcing everyone to speak the same language

Let's say that I own a planet and I have the chance to set up rules before any human can move in. I want to make a law that would welcome anyone to the planet as long as they only speak the decided ...
0
votes
5answers
137 views

Is that possible to make a world in which no one needs to speak? [closed]

In my ideal world, everyone will be very very Intelligent. By that I mean everyone can think and feel what other people around them think and feel, so no one needs to talk with each other. Everyone ...
9
votes
1answer
248 views

How can people adjust spoken language to adapt for the discovery that they live on a non-orientable surface?

Follow up to How can orientation-discriminating people keep their views when it turns out they live on a non-orientable surface? To quickly summarize the world, their are rightie and leftie people ...
-1
votes
1answer
77 views

How would a species with crustacean-like “mouths” sound when speaking? [closed]

What might their language sound like? Would they have any speech impediments to contend with speaking a Common language?
6
votes
3answers
471 views

Is a more visual language possible using spoken words?

I once participated in a contest. People grouped in pairs. The two members of each pair sit back-to-back. They can neither see each other nor what the other is doing. I was the one who opens an ...
30
votes
14answers
11k views

Is it practical to make English the global language?

The Hegemony since day 1 of its formation in 2041 has enforced a single global language for: education, legal documents, announcements, and for communication between citizens across the various states ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

How would language be affected if humans had animal-like mouths?

Every single depiction out there seems to think that animal teeth and/or mouth are no problem for a perfect speech-therapist approved pronunciation. For instance the Cat People. They never have any ...
134
votes
33answers
54k views

You can control a Demon by knowing its True Name, but why?

The power of True Names over demons is unbelievable: A Lamashtu demon can drain you of your blood in under 5 seconds, blend into shadows, and travel at the speed of darkness. Yet it will crumple like ...
3
votes
1answer
181 views

Primitive ant-like species and written language

Consider a fictional species of sapient creatures descended from arthropods that greatly resembled Hymenopterans and termites in both their physical biology and behavior. Their social lifestyle varies ...
9
votes
4answers
601 views

Speaking three sentences at the same time?

TL;DR - I want my angelic race to have the ability to speak in a way in which up to three sentences are communicated at the same time. (Assume English for the sake of simplicity. I want physiology ...
35
votes
17answers
12k views

Can the number of letters in alphabet suggest how advanced civilization is?

Let's suppose we intercepted a message in an unknown language. We were not able to decipher it, but we were able to decode it. Meaning we know the letters but not the meaning of the words in the text. ...
5
votes
2answers
250 views

Verbally communicating with a no-lips, no-nosed, spiked tooth alien

In my world, humans encounter an alien species. They want to communicate verbally with each other, so I'd like to know what sounds could be shared by both species. The species has no/very thin lips, ...
74
votes
17answers
21k views

How can I develop names for my fantasy land?

I'm writing a traditional fantasy novel (minus the cliches). I have a land that the novel takes place in. The land does have a name, which sometimes sounds all right, but most of the time sounds kind ...
2
votes
0answers
189 views

How to create naming conventions for a fantasy society with its own language? [closed]

I'm not a proper linguist or anything, but over the years I've created a fairly basic language for a magic people that I use in my D&D games. So far I've got by with them being ancient and long ...
12
votes
3answers
658 views

What factors would affect the choice of direction of script writing to the inventor of a new writing system?

i.e left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom etc. My guesses so far : righty/lefty person, material on which writing is done, tools by which writing is done etc. But I'm not able to convince ...
1
vote
0answers
102 views

If a civilization lands on a new planet and comes into contact with native tribes, how would their language change over time? [closed]

So around 13,000 years ago, a group of refugees from a planet with Greco-Roman culture and technology were kicked off of their planet by what were essentially space vikings (space travel is done via ...
5
votes
5answers
414 views

Can a separate but related community have the same language as the rest of my world?

Ok, so I have started the worldbuilding process by creating several different communities and giving them each their own personalities. I ran into a problem, though, when I created a desert dwelling ...
6
votes
6answers
332 views

How could a species that breathes through its skin develop spoken language?

I've been working on a fantasy race recently of sentient bipedal salamanders (sorta) and was talking with a friend about them until one of us realised that since they're amphibians they would breathe ...
8
votes
2answers
405 views

Could an alien evolve to speak through its anus?

Humans can speak making precise movements of our tongues, teeth and vocal chords. I want a sentient creature whose carnivorous mouth-parts are completely unsuitable for speech to be able to ...
24
votes
36answers
8k views

Why would a telepathic species use spoken language? [duplicate]

I'm currently designing an advanced alien civilization that has achieved telepathy. The idea is that each one of their species has a small device merged with their brain that can allow them to ...
7
votes
2answers
989 views

Natural gas based communication

In the faraway land of Backeye, people have developed a secretive language called Pasgas. Rather than enunciating words, or forming them with gestures, Pasgas speakers communicate by passing wind. ...
16
votes
13answers
3k views

What kind of/How a secret language could be developed in middle ages by a secret society?

1350 AD. A secret society is recruiting adepts in Rome, Florence, Paris, Wien, Prague and London; well-educated people in high ranks of nobility, catholic church, engineers, professors and knights. ...
-2
votes
3answers
103 views

Derogatory Terms for Martian/Ceresian/Deimosian/etc [closed]

What are some ideas, preferably based in clever word usage, puns, or some such, for derogatory terms or slurs (of varying intensity) for the inhabits of Mars/Ceres/Deimos/Venus/Jovian moons/other ...
30
votes
16answers
17k views

In the future, around year 2500, will only one language exist on earth?

In the future, will only one unified language exist on earth, which will be spoken and used for writing by all humans? Will all the other languages and various forms that language become extinct and ...
29
votes
18answers
9k views

What event would cause a huge, dominant nation to adopt the language of a smaller, inferior one?

Inspired by this question. I was thinking about the constructed language I'm building and a group of countries in the history of my world, and ended up wanting to ask this question. Please do take the ...
7
votes
6answers
902 views

Getting Past Phonetic Limitations [closed]

For the sake of making things much, much simpler, most worlds I'm familiar with have a defining feature of language: there is a common language. This allows for universal communication and overcomes ...
9
votes
1answer
208 views

What would languages descended from Esperanto look like? [closed]

Esperanto itself is mostly derived from/reminiscent of English, Polish, Russian, German, French and various romance languages (or so I’ve heard). In a post-apocalyptic future where the survivors ...
52
votes
13answers
5k views

How should a country introduce a constructed language as the official language?

Story background The government has chosen to use a constructed language as a part of the process of building national identity. They don't want to use a foreign language. They also don't want to use ...