Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 174 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [language]

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

7
votes
1answer
234 views

What would Alien Talking Heads sound like?

We know from the International Pronunciation Alphabet (IPA) and the research that gave us the IPA, what sounds typically used in human speech (certainly not all sounds that can be made). This is all ...
14
votes
3answers
969 views

How would a vertical jaw and multiple tongues affect sound production?

Working on a creature with a very strange mouth. He has a vertical jaw, compared to the human horizontal, as well as they have "two" tongues, imagine a snake's forked tongues where the splitting point ...
-1
votes
2answers
320 views

Consequences of the disappearance of writing [closed]

Imagine a world where every form of written form - alphabet, books, documents, epigraphs - is gone. I'm thinking about a today-like world, like 21st century western society. The reason of this ...
5
votes
2answers
120 views

How would having pronounced lower tusks affect or impede language?

I am currently in the early stages of mapping out a conlang for a race of boar-people. I was stumped trying to think of what limitations, if any, having pronounced lower tusks would have on the ...
2
votes
2answers
203 views

How would a culture with a continuous language behave? [closed]

Suppose that there is a race of humanoid beings whose mouth parts are able to make a wide, continuous range of sounds (as opposed to humans who I'm considering to have a medium-sized discrete range of ...
-5
votes
4answers
142 views

Little-endian number display system [closed]

What would be the effects on a human civilization if its convention of number display is little-endian, i.e. its people represent one hundred and twenty-three as 321...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

What is (if any) the commonly accepted phonetic set for a fictitious language?

I am working on developing a fictitious language, and was wondering if there exists a commonly accepted set of phonemes which could be used. I specifically don't want it to be similar to Indo-...
0
votes
1answer
162 views

How would English language develop in an apocalypse? [closed]

I'm planning an English-speaking apocalyptic world, where only a handful of survivors exist and serve as anchors for past culture. Interestingly I've lately noticed how strange the language in many ...
-2
votes
3answers
114 views

What are reasons a mer-person might speak English? [closed]

If such a thing would even be possible.
2
votes
2answers
164 views

Would a society of empaths have names?

My world has a society of mages that can only communicate through empathy. They communicate by reading and projecting the "internal voice", effectively deriving their information from telepathic ...
23
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 ...
6
votes
9answers
348 views

What could make celestial object name become a taboo? [closed]

In the same vein as Harry Potter's "you-know-who", "he-should-not-be-named", and such, sometimes certain words become taboo, even when in private conversation. In a tribe, what could cause celestial ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Two-Channel Communication [closed]

I want a sufficiently alien language for the Eliski, natives to an alien planet. They live in small, closely-knit family groups of about a dozen that travel, hunt, and gather together. I'm using that ...
24
votes
7answers
4k views

Scientific Naming Conventions for Alien Creatures

I'm a xenobiologist going on an expedition to a habitable planet about 14 LY away. We don't expect to find anything amazing - maybe some bacteria to study - but lo and behold, the place is teeming ...
3
votes
1answer
200 views

View of Death in Respawning Species [closed]

See this question for what I'm talking about: Realism of this Respawning Creature How would these people view death and future events? They would probably have two or more words for it, one being ...
86
votes
15answers
13k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
232 views

How Would A Language Without Word Order And A High “Dropped Word” Rate Work?

Most communications systems are intensely dependent upon the order in which you transmit information. For example, a binary code, like Morse Code, cannot convey information unless the order of the ...
10
votes
5answers
589 views

Language mixing, shifting, and drifting (Space colony lingua franca)

My space colonists (160 people) are mostly scientists with at least two advanced degrees and some research experience. They all speak English because it is a language of science today. However, the ...
4
votes
2answers
112 views

How might spoken language (vowels) be different for Fire Breathers with fine temperature control?

I'm writing up a conlang for a story wherein there exists a society of foreign creatures who are very physiologically diverse. Some are mammallian, others avian, reptilian, and some more fantastical. ...
-3
votes
1answer
103 views

Universally weak/feeble name for a prey species [closed]

In many languages words have similar patterns, even with different language roots, e.i. Indo-European or Sino-Tibetan. An example being the words for the universal family unit of a male and female ...
2
votes
6answers
278 views

How would one write languages based in sounds not typical of human dialects?

In my world, I have considered the possibility of making the "god's language" that enables spellcrafting/magic rather atypical of human languages, and have considered sound effects being the basis for ...
1
vote
3answers
146 views

How would a 99% illiterate town/fortress cope with sudden muteness of its population?

Imagine a society at a medieval technological level, with a fully populated town enclosed by stone walls and including a fort. One day the population wakes up to find none of them can speak, or make ...
9
votes
2answers
903 views

What factors would influence a cultures scripture to be written either left to right, right to left etc?

So I have been thinking about this lately, and I've been wondering what exactly are the reason for a culture to write in a specific format? Script form (curvy letters, straight letters), writing ...
10
votes
6answers
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
772 views

How long does it take for languages to diverge?

How long does it take for languages to diverge from each other to a point where they are no longer mutually intelligible? Is there some distance where a languages will begin to separate, how does ...
8
votes
3answers
385 views

What would a language spoken by caninoids sound like?

Basically, when designing alien and fantasy races, I tend to try and figure out how they would sound. I originally figured that their language would be made of growls and barks, but then I realized ...
1
vote
3answers
296 views

How would Martians speak English? [closed]

A team of 50 humans visit Mars via a flying saucer. They discover canals and a city teeming with Martians. The Martians speak English, but how?
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Common pattern by which species come to name their home planets? [closed]

An interesting aspect of world-building I haven't felt very exposed to is what the native race(s) of a planet would call their own world. On Earth, we call it Earth, after the stuff beneath our feet. ...
5
votes
1answer
233 views

An Anglo-Greek Language? [closed]

I had some great advice from here a short time ago and I’m back again! I’m trying to imagine an ‘English’ language that evolved, not from Old English and Norman French but from Old English and ...
14
votes
8answers
2k views

Could two populations maintain a common language over hundreds of years following sudden isolation?

Background A previously subjugated population flees a region, settling in an extremely remote location and remains isolated for a few hundred years. The population, upon fleeing, speaks the same ...
20
votes
14answers
2k views

Justifications for a language learned via magical transference?

Say I've got a hero who's been summoned to another world. The inhabitants of this world have been expecting his arrival, and are armed with the knowledge that he won't speak their language. So the ...
4
votes
5answers
193 views

Language Creation and Development as a Result of Unification

In my not-too-far-future world, under a treaty from the U.N., participants from several nations (less than 10,000 total, from mainly France, the U.K., the U.S.A., alongside minor contributions from ...
30
votes
29answers
7k views

Would a civilization simplify their languages (eg:English) in order to let their citizens learn more easily?

I know language is not easy to learn, so I have a little bit strange idea: would a civilization simpify their language just because it is too difficult to learn? For example, to simplify English: ...
23
votes
23answers
6k views

What gets lost in translation?

I've got a magic item that translates languages. The rules are this: the closest word to the word used in meaning is given to the listener, unless there's something the other language doesn't have a ...
1
vote
3answers
253 views

Linguistic diversity in the 21st century [closed]

During the 20th century, we have already seen the loss of hundreds of languages in favor of more international and widely-used languages. The United Nations, for example, uses Arabic, French, English, ...
7
votes
4answers
457 views

How long would it take these two languages present in a common area over a LONG period of time to merge?

Note: Sorry if this post is needlessly detailed, I understand a lot of these details don't affect the question much. I thought I'd bring them up anyways since this is quite the unique situation for ...
9
votes
9answers
2k views

Abstract Graphics for indicating emotions

What kinds of abstract colors, shapes, and other compositional elements could be used to indicate various emotions? My story features an artificial intelligence that’s embodied in an industrial ...
-1
votes
3answers
202 views

Make aliens believe that you are not harmful [closed]

Consider one day wake up and find yourself on an Alien planet. Now, you don't wanna die and you don't understand their language. How can you make aliens believe that you are not harmful.
6
votes
1answer
276 views

What are some assumptions we could make about the linguistics of a civilization evolved from birds?

Suppose they have non-flexible beaks, but they still posses vocal cords and a tongue capable of producing the same sounds as humans. Variation of these bird-people are as follows: What types of sound ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Create a civilization out of our domesticated animals - The Dolittle plan

Human civilization really took off when individuals started to interact with each other, in language and trade and settlements. The transition from stone age to our space faring civilization of today ...
4
votes
1answer
153 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
278 views

How could public key cryptography evolve in a biological system?

Pssst! Come here! Imagine an ecosystem where animals have evolved highly developed mimicry of each other’s calls (perhaps they have the universal vocal apparatus discussed in earlier questions). So ...
5
votes
1answer
466 views

What are the limitations/expressive powers of my constructed proto-human like language?

This is a follow-on from a previous question. I've done a bit of research and have determined that I'm interested in creating as expressive a language I can with a limited set of concepts, to be ...
37
votes
14answers
7k views

A believable (and not irritating) proto-language

On an expedition to an inhabited planet, we encounter intelligent life. However, they are not as intelligent as we are. They have language, but it's less expressive and more concerned with the ...
8
votes
4answers
235 views

Vocal hardware required for a single creature to communicate with any land animal?

The Question: So, in my fantasy world, I have a race of human-like creatures that can talk to any land animal. The basic question is what kind of and how many voice boxes would this race need to be ...
10
votes
4answers
261 views

Does anyone have any good strategies for making glyphs? [duplicate]

I could spend weeks trying to make a script and the glyphs are still either extremely ugly or just a bunch of scribbles. Then, I look at things like Moonsong and Sun Script and I have no idea how ...
5
votes
1answer
124 views

How would language evolve in a world of primarily digital communication instead of speech? [closed]

If our society continues on its current trajectory and we arrive in a reality that involves very little face-to-face communication and increasingly stream-lined digital communication, what is your ...
-1
votes
1answer
183 views

This could be the nickname for a nuclear family of females? [closed]

In omegaverse we can have a nuclear family formed by an Alfa Female and a Beta or Omega Female whose kids will be all females. I get the inspiration to call this kind of family "Doll house", but ...
14
votes
4answers
285 views

Grammatical tenses for time travelers

A staple of time travel stories is a moment where the meaning of “before” or “past” can't be taken in the simple normal way, and everyone laughs at the novelty. In reality, a trained ChronoCop Agent ...
0
votes
4answers
181 views

If people forgot how to write, how would the world be affected? [closed]

Suppose that you woke up tomorrow and the world had lost all memory of written communication including how to make paper and how to use pen, pencil, typewriters, colors, keyboards, basically any means ...