Questions tagged [language]

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

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8
votes
7answers
551 views

What would it take to make a “true” universal translator?

In Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy I know you put the Babel Fish in your ear and it telepathically translates any language, and the one from Star Trek could translate languages that the Federation ...
0
votes
0answers
18 views

How to make a bird human hybrid language

In my world through the work of magic a group of humans were mutated into half bird people, I've figured out most of the anatomy so I wanted to know how their speech would work. If it matter before ...
19
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3answers
2k views

Which two numbers between 1 and 10 inclusive are the most difficult to distinguish when lip-reading? [closed]

The heroine in my story is a princess who has fallen in love with a commoner, but because of the differences in their ranks, they may not marry under normal circumstances. However, there is a ...
6
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4answers
140 views

Books about Insults Across Cultures

I am trying to come up with insults and swears for some fictional races. Their cultures pretty well mapped out, but I am still having some trouble. I figured the best source of inspiration would be to ...
9
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5answers
1k views

Keeping oral tradition accurate, and preventing language divergence, how long will it last? [duplicate]

So, this is the set up. Communities of wood elves spread out over a large area (think half a continent), with each community having several hundred to several thousand individuals. Communities are so ...
18
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16answers
4k views

How do governments keep people accountable for contracts and oaths in a civilisation without a writing system?

Let’s say we have this fictional civilisation. It doesn’t have a writing system; its traditions are oral and so is its system of government. How do you keep people accountable to what they’ve sworn? ...
36
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. ...
28
votes
11answers
6k 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 ...
3
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4answers
322 views

Creating Language for a Comic

Does anybody have experience creating languages for the world they are creating? I am world building for a comic, and I am by no means a linguist. If I could avoid making an entirely new language I ...
20
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4answers
4k views

Are there any 3000 year old Northern European languages that modern humans could communicate with?

Follow up to Could a well versed archaeologist understand and speak languages that are 3000+ years old? I have an archaeologist who finds some inscriptions that are at least 3000 years old while ...
32
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7answers
4k views

Could a well versed archaeologist understand and speak languages that are 3000+ years old?

I have an archaeologist who specializes in ancient ancient Northern European civilizations. Due to some handwavy mumbo jumbo, he is brought face to face with a supernatural being which still speaks ...
3
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3answers
301 views

Name of scientists that study sapient life

In a fantasy world I'm creating, one of the characters biologist who studies the other intelligent beings. Originally, I was going to name them a Xeno biologist. But that would implies that other ...
24
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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 ...
28
votes
14answers
6k views

Why would a religion make up its own language?

I've been exploring language for the past few weeks, and I came up with what I believe is an interesting idea. Let's say that a fictitious religious sect decides to, for some reason, make a language. ...
52
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13answers
14k 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 sub-population can breed with its neighbors, however ...
1
vote
3answers
193 views

Could an Emotional IPA be created?

So, I just had an idea inspired by This question here while simultaneously listening to a video about language... Could we make a sort of International Phonetic Alphabet for Emotions and States of ...
2
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1answer
59 views

What events would trigger linguistic hyper-evolution in a spacefaring civilisation?

Let's say that in an alternate universe, humans developed on a relatively small supercontinent, so their languages and cultures were somewhat similar. After a while, all of the nations merged into one ...
22
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14answers
5k views

How can a language be prevented from evolving and drifting?

So language drifts enormously over time. With the English of today, little drifts happen fairly quickly in slang, but over long periods of time languages drift and change and move, even changing ...
4
votes
2answers
119 views

Would sound shifts be severe enough for two dialects to be mutually unintelligible after 400 years of no verbal contact?

A group of English-speaking settlers travel to the Earth-like exoplanet of Rataan, which is 5 light years away. They board the generation ship Genesis that will reach Rataan in 200 years (0.25% of the ...
16
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5answers
1k views

Creating a realistic world - Spreading languages

This Query is part of the Worldbuilding Resources Article. Many languages exist on Earth and many languages will also exist in a detailed fantasy world. The influence of some languages will spread ...
17
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19answers
5k views

How do I make a writing system undecipherable, while not intended as such in-world?

It is relatively well known that hieroglyphs were not fully translated, or at all for that matter, until a while after the Rosetta Stone was found. It is less well known that the script known as ...
3
votes
2answers
83 views

How can the effects of a language be linguistically locked?

The ancient Sumerians were the first great empire on earth, worshipping a great elder god called "Mickey". After the empire fell, worshippers of the god went underground and continued to thrive. In ...
18
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20answers
5k views

Language that cannot be divided into words?

For the purposes of this post, "word" is defined as a unit of language such that Has some meaning on its own, often relating to the real world. Complex utterances can be formed simply by transmitting ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Would lifespan have an influence on the rate of language evolution?

Would a race/species that lives twice as long as humans experience linguistic evolution at half the rate of humans? If not, would it be slowed down at all? Would any cultural characteristics have a ...
6
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5answers
443 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
160 views

Should languages ​spoken by two similar races have the same protolanguage, or can they be not related by protolanguage?

Should languages ​​spoken by two similar races have the same protolanguage, or can they be not related by protolanguage? I guess they should be similar for example in phonetics or in some other ...
0
votes
1answer
109 views

What might be a blanket term for all sapient species? [closed]

In the far future the descendants of humanity (homo sapiens sapiens sapiens) have made contact with several intelligent aliens like. The Ergs the descendants of modern humans who have modified their ...
8
votes
2answers
331 views

Are there any algorithms that will build fictitious languages?

I understand how complicated constructed languages can be. I do not want that though. The language would need no grammar or syntax. But I would like to create places/people names and maybe the odd ...
0
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2answers
81 views

How does an intelligent race which can only perceives microwave develops written language?

Imagine a race of humanoid alien living somewhere in the universe evolves weird sensory organ which can only picks up frequency of light ranging from 800MHz up to 2.5GHz which is in the microwave ...
0
votes
3answers
87 views

Could my a highly advance species exist without a written or spoken language

One thing that nearly every multi cellular organism and complex thinking species is communicate, either it be pheromones, chemicals, chirps and sounds, symbols and shapes, to even complex sentences ...
6
votes
2answers
216 views

What language would we expect human-cuckoos to speak?

In my world there is an engineered species of changeling-like shapeshifters. Their lifecycle is similar to that of cuckoos (and the fair folk) of replacing human children with their own, who then run ...
6
votes
7answers
701 views

Different ways of going about worldbuilding besides making up words and drawing maps?

I'm really not interested in creating a language for my world, especially having to make up names for the peoples and places. Or drawing maps. Mainly because I'm neither a good linguist nor a good ...
3
votes
1answer
69 views

Can noises similar to crickets be made well underwater?

So I have this sea creature. It's lower half is lobster-like. It's upper half sort of humanoid. On its lower torso area it has ridges and stuff and multiple pairs of small tentacles to scrape the ...
1
vote
2answers
146 views

How scientifically created new language could be helpful to all of humans? [closed]

It is common in the world for all of us to use English in the STEM field. But for non-native English speakers who are having a tough time to explain certain concepts using that language, Why can't the ...
2
votes
2answers
137 views

Biodiversity how far can you go before a human is no longer human? [closed]

I'm starting a world where humans have traveled to many planets and exhibit as much diversity as dog breeds would. Some changes are merely cosmetic like coloration while others are more drastic like ...
25
votes
7answers
3k views

Would an enduring Inca Empire ever need paper?

In this alternate history, Tawantinsuyo resisted all attempts at conquest. The reason is not very important; let's say a fluke storm killed all of Pizarro's men shortly after they started engaging the ...
-2
votes
2answers
117 views

What would people who have never seen a plane before call it? [closed]

In my story, my characters live in the wilderness, and they have no modern technology. They do see ruins from the past (from now) but other than that they have no idea how advanced other parts of the ...
11
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11answers
3k views

Reasons to not use the “Language of Magic” as a common language

Magic in a certain world works as follows: Elvish is the "language of magic", meaning all magic is chanted/invoked using Elvish To invoke the fire spell, the user ...
10
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7answers
3k views

How would we comunicate with Aliens if we meet them face-to-face? [duplicate]

Let's say that in the near future we come across an alien civilization not much technologically evolved from ours and we decided to send some people to communicate with them. How could we possibly ...
0
votes
2answers
140 views

How could multiple languages be abandoned in favor of a unified common language?

In the world of my RPG, a race of sentient magical beings (Lycans) have inhabited the planet much longer than even those of early humans. Lycans eventually experimented with human biology, and created ...
2
votes
2answers
114 views

Taking notes in a fantasy world that resembles our own early Renaissance? [closed]

In a fantasy world that resembles the renaissance in our own world (let's say 1500-99 southern France) how might someone take notes on the go? Would they have some parchment rolled up in their pant ...
7
votes
6answers
694 views

Why would an intelligent creature, which can use human language, be unable to communicate with nearby humans?

This creature has human-level intelligence, and after spending enough time around humans as a pet, it learns to understand the human language. It isn't hostile and has no wish to attack humans. It ...
21
votes
10answers
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
96 views

What factors affect how easy it is to understand a foreign language?

I'm making a homebrew D&D world where, among other things, there is no "common" tongue. I've always found that concept frustratingly unrealistic. Yes, it prevents a lot of problems for adventurers,...
20
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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:
17
votes
10answers
7k views

How much would a language change over 500 years completely cut off from its source?

In the lore for the book I'm working on, what basically happens is a ship full of Byzantines is expelled from their homeland on a ship and winds up on a small continent (think something around the ...
0
votes
3answers
155 views

What is the scientific name for an intelligent species that can breed with all other known intelligent species? [closed]

Ship log: It has been a year since we discovered the alien species that now are dubbed Venusians. Our first impression was that all of them look like extremly beautiful human females. Our second ...
4
votes
5answers
242 views

Could a language based on absolute pitch develop music?

For those that are arguing that without vocabularly, it isn't considered a language: From Wikipedia: Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex ...
0
votes
3answers
194 views

Could a language have only five verb conjugations? [closed]

As far as I understand with my rocky, basic understanding of linguistics (and my less-basic experience with learning languages), most languages have six verb conjugations: I You singular He/She/It ...
-1
votes
1answer
67 views

How different from reality should a complete fantasy world be? [closed]

Consider a story set in a completely fictional place, not even necessarily on a planet, perhaps an infinite plane of uniform density or something. There is zero connection with Earth and anything that ...

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