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Questions tagged [language]

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

78
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13answers
12k 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 ...
36
votes
3answers
1k views

For designing a vocal language for an intelligent species, how to decide on phonemes?

When you are designing a language for a species that uses vocal communication, one of the early decisions you need to make is that of which phonemes can be used. How does one determine what phonemes ...
42
votes
20answers
8k views

Would people develop spoken language if everyone was telepathic?

Let's assume for a moment that humans developed telepathy as part of our divergence from apes and becoming bipedal. Like intelligence, that evolutionary trait was powerful, leading to it quickly ...
31
votes
15answers
11k 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 ...
16
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5answers
2k views

Could a lingua franca be possible on a galactic scale?

In sci-fi movies and tv shows, English happens to be the Lingua Franca of most alien civilisations humans come into contact with. Even upon first contact. The obvious reason for this is that these ...
11
votes
4answers
904 views

How long will it take to form a new dialect and language in underground steampunk London?

This is the start of an experiment to see just how useful Worldbuilding Stack Exchange can be. I'm planning a work of fiction, but rather than build the world around the story, I'd like to write the ...
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 ...
74
votes
17answers
19k 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 ...
33
votes
25answers
11k views

Why would a language be undubbable by universal (machine) translator?

A hypothetical speculative fiction setting uses the universal translator/babelfish/translator microbes/whathaveyou as a convenient plot device. However, certain languages are simply untranslatable by ...
23
votes
16answers
6k views

Is a galaxy-wide language possible? [duplicate]

While working on the world I talked about here, I decided to tweak one thing. Instead of having the group of aliens terraforming a planet be of the same species, I decided to have them be different ...
21
votes
15answers
6k views

What royal title can an absolutistic ruler have? [closed]

The world is based on the old norse and 13th century Europe culture (northern places, names and climate and Europian titles, castles and technology). In this world an organized group of people resists ...
40
votes
20answers
6k views

How expressive is a color-based language?

In the answers to this question I learned that some cephalopods communicate via color: Some cephalopods are capable of rapid changes in skin color and pattern through nervous control of ...
8
votes
1answer
483 views

How does one go about developing the sound of a language for a particular culture in a world? [closed]

In Worldbuilding, linguistica communication within and between cultures can greatly affect how the world is shaped. How does one make an invented language's aesthetic qualities sound authentic as ...
14
votes
9answers
676 views

What conditions might cause a natural language to be completely literal?

The world I am building has two highly intelligent, sapient species coexisting (along with a large number of non-sapient species). One evolved from ape-like creatures and is suspiciously similar to ...
9
votes
6answers
379 views

How could scents develop into a full language?

Human (spoken) languages have a great variety in terms of grammar and what the basic elements are, but they have essential features in common in terms of being a time sequence of phonetic primitives, ...
8
votes
2answers
169 views

Phonetic overlap between humans and wolves

This question is a subsidiary of: Shapeshifters - Shared language between human and animal forms There is some of background information in that question, but none of it is critical for this question....
7
votes
3answers
435 views

Shapeshifters - Shared language between human and animal forms [closed]

Some background on the shapeshifters in question: Shapeshifters can shift between a human form and a single animal form; all the members of a given group of shapeshifters shift into the same species ...
58
votes
19answers
9k views

Would it be possible for an Earth-sized world to speak a single language?

We have thousands of languages in the world, which seem to have evolved differently due to lack of communication methods (it wasn't quite easy for a Chinese guy to speak with French people thousands ...
23
votes
8answers
1k views

How do I blend cultures - naming world features?

In my world I have a variety of nations and city states but I also have a history/background that means they are not and have not been completely isolated. In fact there was once a continent spanning ...
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
2k views

Pheromone-based language

On Earth, there are many species that communicate using pheromones - from the simple (cats marking their territory) to the complex (ants conveying information about food, danger, and the current ...
20
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6answers
2k views

What are some tips for designing symbols for a constructed language?

Constructed languages are the life blood of imaginary cultures. If a culture speaks an earthly language, how can we be expected to believe that we are in a different culture? While every detail is ...
33
votes
11answers
9k views

A language made of silence

Currently, most, if not, all human languages use sound to communicate. What if, language A, a language much like English in terms of its global dominance and widespread use, on a planet much like ours,...
16
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5answers
1k views

Creating a realistic world - Spreading languages

Many languages exist on Earth and many languages will also exist in a detailed fantasy world. The influence of some languages will spread over time while other will only be spoken in a small area. I ...
30
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16answers
16k 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 ...
31
votes
16answers
6k views

Why would robots use verbal communication?

Robots (intelligent machines using some form of artificial intelligence), are central to the plot in a snippet I'm working on. These robots do not have to interact with humans on a regular basis: ...
18
votes
11answers
3k views

Exclamations in a nonreligious culture

Suppose elves were the first humanoid species to appear on a planet and the species evolved naturally over time. They developed magic, sapience, agriculture, and the general concept of a stable ...
44
votes
20answers
9k views

How can I explain English existing in a fantasy world?

My hero travels from our world to a fantasy world where people speak English. While there are other nations that speak non-English languages, the particular land she arrives in does. How can I explain ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How to name places that have multiple names?

When designing a world it is convenient to decide how places will be named : Elements like the continents and the oceans. However, it is likely that the different cultures of the world will not ...
12
votes
2answers
988 views

What phonemes would a snouted animal (e.g. dog or cat) be able to pronounce?

Assuming human-style vocal cords, what phonemes would a snouted animal be able to produce? I'm looking at developing a conlang (or several) for a setting, and it has several humanoid species with ...
10
votes
10answers
2k views

How do I keep a language shared by two separate peoples, static for as long as possible? The lower tech-complexity the better?

How do I keep a language from evolving for as long as possible? The world I'm talking about has two separate groups of humans who never meet, but even after being apart for some long time, like a ...
7
votes
3answers
644 views

Phonetic features of human languages spoken by sentient cats

In my world I have a couple species of sentient animals, mainly cats, who among other things are capable of communication with human beings. While I am perfectly happy to resort to explanations ...
8
votes
3answers
272 views

Civilized Dolphins and their Record Keeping

On the Life Ball of my fantasy stories, a particular species of delphinidae- I call them black dolphins- have evolved and advanced at least as much as humans and other intelligent races. A prior ...
9
votes
6answers
495 views

How to explain something like a universal translator

An explorer arrives from a "far away land" where they have "indistinguishable from magic" level technology. Singularity level at least. Of course he would not know the local language, but with the ...
9
votes
3answers
582 views

Overcoming language barrier; no speech

A human (contemporary, western) makes contact with an alien. Not wanting to engage 'governments and scientists' the human wants to communicate with the alien. The alien is physiologically incapable ...
8
votes
3answers
459 views

Is it possible for a language/method of passing information based purely on touch to develop?

Picture a race living in a cave with no light. Their entire existence pivots on remaining quiet and scentless enough that the various (and vicious) predators hanging from the roof of the cave don't ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

How many languages can a person know at one time?

In a galaxy where there are thousands of sentient species and even more languages, a universal translator implant was developed to make communication possible. The software is regularly updated by ...
5
votes
4answers
408 views

Communication of a highly evolved superorganism

Suppose there is a sentient, intelligent species that has developed similar to a superorganism in that there is a species-wide repository of knowledge and individual members of the species are capable ...
59
votes
10answers
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 ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

What are some steps / guidelines for making a constructed language?

I wanted to create a constructed language for a species in my world that other people will be able to speak , but I have no idea where to start at all , and I am very confused. My Question is : what ...
86
votes
15answers
14k views

Does a hive mind race need a written language?

Imagine that human beings in a parallel world evolved with hive mind, so that they can communicate telepathically almost instantly at infinite range. To put thoughts into writing requires effort and ...
45
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20answers
7k views

Is there a reason to believe that programming languages are going to converge?

On Earth today, even though most people speak some English, there is seemingly no reason to believe that future generation's main language will be the same in decades/centuries to come (i.e., we'll ...
23
votes
8answers
2k views

Dragon script/writing system — how would it work?

Let us assume we have our prototypical European dragon representative over here, George. He has four ground-limbs with four clawed digits including an opposable digit on the forelimbs, normally is ...
23
votes
4answers
12k views

How can I develop scientific names for my species'?

I'm building a fantasy world and I am building the animals that inhabit it. Now I am working on the animals that live in this world, and after building their anatomy, I wonder about their names. I'm ...
19
votes
9answers
4k views

How to force a country to use a language that merges two languages that diverged 1000 years ago?

This country currently only has two languages in common use: Language A, spoken by 62% of the population, and language B, spoken by 38%. Both languages have official status in the country, so road ...
16
votes
2answers
564 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 ...
21
votes
17answers
3k views

How alien can a language be - grammar?

While we have notable variation in grammar certain patterns can be found in almost all human languages. For example verbs, nouns and adjectives can be found in some form. They are strung together into ...
20
votes
15answers
4k 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 ...
10
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4answers
967 views

How can I create a realistic linguistic drift effect?

I'm still in the process of building my fictional language. However, I need some help in creating a realistic drifting effect for my language over time. By linguistic drift, I mean the natural change ...
9
votes
4answers
287 views

Does intelligence necessarily lead to an abstract language?

Pretty much what it says in the question title. Suppose a non-human, social species of Earth animal found itself on an evolutionary path that favored increased intelligence of a kind not completely ...