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Questions tagged [language]

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

7
votes
2answers
254 views

How does one approach phonology notation for a non-human constructed language?

A bit of background on what I'm developing: I'm trying to develop a language for an alien race with completely different biology to humans. It's still in the very early stages, so the exact form is ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Ease of translating languages with/without similar “Base” language

Let's begin. Humanity reaches for the solar system, but wants to make sure everyone can talk to each other. A "Solar Language" edict is enacted, making one language the default language for everyone ...
5
votes
4answers
293 views

What title can a person who executes greatest actual power in a republic have?

I think this question could be a good complement to What royal title can an absolutistic ruler have?. I have a republic, and I need to refer to its current actual leader somehow. Two obvious choices ...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

Is there a way to translate a language that includes words for things we don't know?

I saw some ideas of translating an alien language, like in the movie Arrival. The steps make sense, but I thought of another scenario: Imagine you meet aliens in space. They speak, but you can't ...
15
votes
11answers
774 views

Writing system of blind, sea dwelling sentients?

So let's consider a species of blind, sea dwelling, squid-like aliens. They are sentient, intelligent and highly social. As their societies develop and their available knowledge increases they ...
19
votes
15answers
3k views

What could cause a culture to change their writing style?

What could cause a culture to change their writing style from left to right similar to English to vertically like traditional Chinese? Example:
6
votes
3answers
689 views

What Kind Of Operators or Functions Should A Magic Language Have?

I am going into considerable detail designing a magic language for a game system. The world is a classical high fantasy type world, with most of the tropes that might be expected from old school D&...
4
votes
4answers
266 views

How dense can a word become?

In the constructed language Ithkuil, entire sentences can be said in a single word. It does this using stress, tones, volume, etc., in the word to make it as dense as humanly possible. Has Ithkuil ...
6
votes
6answers
538 views

How sophisticated could an illiterate society become?

Imagine a society of people every bit as intelligent as people today, on a planet in all material respects identical to Earth. But, on this planet, no one has every invented a written language, or ...
0
votes
1answer
130 views

Will we transcend language and words in the future? [closed]

Will we transcend language and numbers in the future? I just don't get how this could happen. So would symbols be obsolete too? There would be no fun in art or drawing or making basic symbols. How ...
4
votes
4answers
460 views

How many parts of speech are there, really?

Consider a conlang designed for an interstellar transmission to a recipient that will have to figure it out. I’m thinking it will be invented for the purpose, formal, and rigorous. It will ...
1
vote
5answers
318 views

“Alien” superintelligence learning human languages

A quote from Story of Your Life (the short novel that Arrival movie is based on) Colonel Weber frowned. “You seem to be implying that no alien could have learned human languages by monitoring our ...
10
votes
7answers
484 views

How can I explain distinct conlang evolution without using isolation?

I'm planning on having several races in my novel, each of which primarily uses a different language. The idea is that all of these languages were at some point related, and all of them came from one ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
366 views

Are oligosynthetic languages feasible?

Oligosynthetic languages are languages with many suffixes and few roots, often leading to a vocabulary of only a few hundred words. While common in constructed languages, they are not found in nature. ...
4
votes
7answers
488 views

Name of people inhabiting the Kingdom of Bonfrith? [closed]

would people living in the Kingdom of Bonfrith be called Bonfrithians, Bonfrisians, or something else, according to correct grammar?
4
votes
1answer
105 views

Establish common language with Chalcolithic group (Modern man vs copper age group)

How would a single person establish a common language with group that does not speak any language that this person knows? This group is from copper age period and modern man does not have any modern ...
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 ...
3
votes
4answers
217 views

What would you call a catalog of concepts and schema? [closed]

I'm looking for relevant word roots that could be used to make a word similar to lexicon. However, instead of a collection of words, I'm thinking of a collection of concepts and schema. The catalog ...
6
votes
4answers
754 views

What would a purely academic constructed-language be like?

Did you know that i.e. were short for id est? And etc. meant et cetera? These are relics of the Roman occupation of Europe, as far as I know. The Latin expression remained in the academic dialect for ...
8
votes
3answers
260 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
354 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, ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

How much time is needed before a language is no longer recognizeable? [duplicate]

Year 2020, the United States of Japan sends colonists to the outer space to colonize new planets under the name of the Emperor. Long story short, they finally colonized Planet VII of the Lem solar ...
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 ...
15
votes
10answers
2k views

Alternative to writing for creatures without eyesight?

We know that cave-dwellers who live in lightless environments well develop traits such as transparent skins, barely functional eyes (or completely blind) and other enhanced senses to replace eyesight ...
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 ...
5
votes
6answers
365 views

How long would it take for society to forget a language if a new one is enforced upon it?

This is the future, there are two groups of humans and they split (say, one moves to another planet). They stop communicating with each other and the group that split decides it's time to have their ...
2
votes
7answers
838 views

How would a realistic universal translator work? [duplicate]

How could a mechanical or computerized Babel Fish work? I've always been bugged by the lack of ways media can find to explain these sort of things. To be clear, this is about a device that allows two ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

How (if at all) would being able to speak and listen simultaneously alter the structure and development of language?

Spoken communication requires human beings to be able to do two separate things: The first is to understand what is being said to them (including isolating the sound of the other person's voice from ...
4
votes
6answers
351 views

How would a God(-like being) enforce use of a specific language?

Gods in this world are not physical beings, but instead a consciousness that can span a great distance. They think many times faster than a human, but lack the ability to multitask--so they can ...
5
votes
2answers
236 views

Mixed language or creole?

I'm trying to work up a conlang and having some trouble deciding between a creole and a mixed/intertwined language like Media Lengua, Mednyj Aleut or Michif. Here's the set-up situation: Small nation ...
30
votes
13answers
3k views

How could names plausibly change over several generations of humans living in a space station on another planet?

I'm worldbuilding for a story in which a certain portion of the population relocates to a slightly habitable planet due to the complete inhabitability of Earth. It takes place several generations ...
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 ...
9
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 ...
18
votes
13answers
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 ...
3
votes
5answers
352 views

How would a society without linear alphabetic writing have devised human-readable computer inputs?

Computers were originally built and programmed by developers who wrote in the ISO Latin alphabet and as a result all modern computers are biased towards human-readable input in the ISO Latin alphabet. ...
4
votes
5answers
413 views

How does a sighted species explain that they can see

In a world I am building, there are two sapient species, named Ae and Be. Ae are tall but blind, while the Be are short and sighted. While it has been asked how a blind species would discover another ...
30
votes
16answers
15k 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
318 views

Would sharing a common written language reduce the severity of linguistic drift?

In my setting the known worlds have recently begun coming out of a medieval stasis after about two thousand years; the lucky worlds at least. Prior to the event that destroyed their technology and all ...
-3
votes
1answer
188 views

On aliens, how do they speak?

A common problem I have with modern science fiction and fantasy (Halo, Mass Effect, Narnia etc) is that the aliens and animals are somehow able to speak in perfect human speech. How does an alien or ...
68
votes
18answers
13k views

How could a language that uses a single word extremely often sustain itself?

The most commonly used word in english is "the" accounting for about 6% of all the words being used. The second most common word is "be" account for less than 1% of all the words used (see ngram ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

What goes into making a good writing system

We have asked similar questions about languages and about flags, but what about the core of generational knowledge: Writing. Obviously symbols to complex or indistinguishable are bad, just as the ...
2
votes
2answers
422 views

How would telepathy work without a common language?

An ethereal, higher dimensional entity assumed human form and came to present-day Earth for a visit; this entity could not speak human languages nor possessed any sort of universal translator. It ...
4
votes
3answers
444 views

Do we need a language to think? [closed]

I don't know whether this is the right place to ask this question. I have always wondered whether a language is needed to think. When I actively think, I automatically use my mother tongue to do so, ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

What would modern language look like if humans also communicated via bio-luminescence?

Suppose human beings have evolved markings covering the face and hairs. The cells contain a colony of bacterium capable of producing multiple arrays of visible light. Each bacteria reacts differently ...
-1
votes
3answers
111 views

Standardization of a language without standard vocabulary [closed]

So, I was thinking about where to put this question. It has linguistic and political aspects but it also has an impact on many other topics. At the end, I also think that it can't be answered with ...
7
votes
11answers
664 views

How fast can a species communicate using only tapping?

Most members of my species are fairly human-like and can communicate using speech, but many of them possess mutations that make normal speech impossible. These mutations can also significantly change ...
23
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
605 views

Word lists for constructed languages

When building a language for your world, words are "surprisingly" important. All natural language have words of some kind and only extremely experimental constructed languages lack them. Word choice ...
5
votes
3answers
443 views

What is the extent of Featural Writing?

In an earlier question I found out that the earliest I can realistically have a featural writing system is the late Neolithic, or anywhere from 1600 - 800 BC. Working on this languages writing system ...