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Questions tagged [language]

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

1
vote
1answer
181 views

Is it possible to keep naughty word as legal term? [closed]

In the TV series The 100 there is described a punishment used on multigenerational space ship. Its being described as "To float someone": Given person is put to an airlock without any protective suit ...
9
votes
5answers
322 views

Language Divergence on a Lost Colony

I've read several of the questions about language shifting and diffusion here, and it has unfortunately left me more unsure of things than I was before. Situation: Colonists on an arid planet ...
1
vote
5answers
190 views

How could a sentient species not develop a word differentiating themselves from other animals?

Essentially, I'm in the pre-planning stage of writing a short story where I want there to be a "normal" species (think human) that interacts with a species that for one reason or another doesn't ...
1
vote
5answers
345 views

Possibility of two-way sign language communication between humans and non-humanoid, dexterous alien

I am writing a story where humankind has made contact with aliens, and has been spending some weeks trying to establish meaningful communication. These are the characterisrics of the aliens that I ...
1
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2answers
91 views

Would global connectivity prevent the formation of different languages?

If global communication comparable to the Internet had existed from the beginning of time, would humans still have developed thousands of languages?
-2
votes
3answers
228 views

Is it possible to keep a single language?

For a frame of reference I’ll be using the population and general distribution of the United States Let’s assume the United States spoke English and only English. The country is sealed off and kept ...
12
votes
9answers
4k views

What would a modern civilization look like if they aren't allowed to write? [closed]

CASE: There is a sentient life form that is snake-like in appearance, and cannot have the means to write or perform elaborate body gestures due to a lack of fine motor skills. Their only proof of ...
5
votes
7answers
235 views

The Zoblings and the Case of the Curious Dictionary

I have a race of very non-humanoid aliens, let's call them Zoblings, and they find an English Dictionary. These aliens are being oppressed and exploited as a resource by the humans because they don't ...
14
votes
2answers
346 views

How do I make the grammatical evolution of my language realistic?

We've had questions on constructed languages (conlangs) before--their inventories, sound changes and phonotactics--but we rarely if ever talk about the grammar change. When designing a naturalistic ...
0
votes
2answers
110 views

Subtleties of the Atlantean language

The city of Atlantis is home to a race of people with multiple Cephalopod-like traits. For the purposes of this question only two are important, however. The first is that their hair, including any on ...
3
votes
0answers
62 views

How does one create a realistic language for their world? [duplicate]

Within your world, would you want to create a simplistic language for one society while having English or native "Earth" language be the other? When creating a language, how would you go about ...
7
votes
1answer
241 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
997 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
331 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
146 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
222 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 ...
-4
votes
4answers
145 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-...
1
vote
1answer
174 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
122 views

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

If such a thing would even be possible.
2
votes
2answers
185 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
354 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
120 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
207 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
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 ...
6
votes
6answers
253 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
609 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
119 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
109 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
302 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
152 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
906 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
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k 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
399 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
338 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
236 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 ...
21
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 ...
3
votes
5answers
209 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
269 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, ...
6
votes
4answers
520 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
212 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
287 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 ...