Questions tagged [language]

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

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5
votes
5answers
219 views

How can three separate magic systems benefit over an all-inclusive one?

In the land of Gnosticia, legend speaks of a messiah who would lead his chosen people to greatness as a far flung empire. This prophecy came to pass when a child was born to a virgin woman, and would ...
17
votes
8answers
5k views

What happens when two languages merge?

I'm trying to work out what two languages merging would look like. Obviously, I know about pidgins and creoles, but these generally require the presence of a third, dominant language. Here, I'm ...
79
votes
18answers
28k 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 ...
8
votes
9answers
444 views

Magic and Language Problem

So I wanted my magic system to have spells based within different religions, each of which rooted in (but not limited to) the country of the race it corresponds too. example Dogfolk have their own ...
0
votes
3answers
91 views

How do runescribes activate the desired effect from ideographic runes with multiple, different meanings?

There exists a radical offshoot of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet called kig-anr (“stone-symbols”) that evolved into an ideographic form consisting of over fifty different characters. People who use ...
0
votes
6answers
144 views

Future evolution of an English Language and writing system

In a future where a large company is launching a series of interstellar colony fleets to nearby star systems, would it be feasible if they modified the English writing system and Earth kept to the ...
15
votes
13answers
7k views

How would a theoretically perfect language work? [closed]

Suppose a species gets together to make the most efficient language possible. The species is culturally able to accept it, the logistics of getting it to everybody has already been taken care of. ...
5
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10answers
216 views

In a cultural worldbuilding scenario, what would turn a whole multitude of languages to sound virtually nothing like their common ancestor?

Allow me to clarify by starting with the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article on "Proto-Indo-European language": No direct evidence of PIE exists – scholars have reconstructed PIE ...
62
votes
24answers
13k views

Is it plausible to have two written forms of one spoken language that are so different as to be indecipherable?

For a story idea in my head to work on paper, a character has to be able to fluently and eloquently speak a common language, to the point of being able to turn a phrase or make plays on words ...
6
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9answers
951 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
581 views

Could an alien evolve to speak through its anus?

Humans can speak making precise movements of our tongues, teeth and vocal chords. I want a sentient creature whose carnivorous mouth-parts are completely unsuitable for speech to be able to ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

Proto-German name for Plant People

I was considering calling plant people in a setting, "skoagraz," which is a combination of the words for forest (skogaz) and flood (agraz). Flood seemed a good word to imply inclusiveness, ...
46
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22answers
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 ...
11
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6answers
627 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. (This technology includes stuff like grey ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Natural gas based communication

In the faraway land of Backeye, people have developed a secretive language called Pasgas. Rather than enunciating words, or forming them with gestures, Pasgas speakers communicate by passing wind. ...
3
votes
2answers
122 views

Biologically classifying a gene-spliced creature?

In my world, new wildlife and creatures have emerged due to the presence of radiation, genetic engineering, and have lead to new mutants and dangerous beasts stalking the Wastelands. A scientist in my ...
8
votes
7answers
659 views

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

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 ...
11
votes
6answers
492 views

Are human languages influenced by the climate?

Sometimes when building a world, and in particular since Tolkien, one may wish to create original languages for the inhabitants. There are some information around the site about the creation of ...
7
votes
11answers
2k views

Bidimensional thinking

Is there a way of more advanced minds start to count with complex integers, instead of naturals? This way such a society would never think of $2$ as prime since $2=(1+i)(1-i)$. Notice that more ...
87
votes
48answers
18k views

Why would “dead languages” be the only languages that spells could be written in?

Note: this is an in-universe explanation, not media in general. Media in general tends to have magic written in archaic, usually dead, languages. In my world, magic is best described as fickle; most ...
13
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
160 views

What phonemes could an intelligent fox produce?

What phonemes could an intelligent fox produce? This assumes that their vocal tract is the same as real life foxes. They have human intelligence and have built a civilization that has reached the pre-...
9
votes
2answers
268 views

Linguistics in a society with contrapositive thermodynamic philosophy

Our philosophy is based on the concept of energy as a positive, because we generally live on a planet in a low energy state which does work via fuel. As such, we don’t really have articulate language ...
31
votes
12answers
3k views

Universal Language

If I want to have multiple intelligent species (with different languages for each), how can they exchange each other? Some species may not have eyes, legs, hands, ears, ... so is there a way for a &...
1
vote
2answers
124 views

How to decide what language(s) to use for place names? [closed]

I have a homebrew world for a TTRPG where I have generated languages for each of the cultures populating the planet. When referring to those places (on a map, in the player's guide, in-game, etc.), I'...
2
votes
3answers
269 views

Should I attempt to make my aliens all have their own language? [closed]

I am creating creating a universe similar to Star Wars. It is not like Star Trek where new planets are always being found, it more like Star Wars, where the planets are known, so are the aliens, and ...
7
votes
6answers
304 views

Would it make sense for Dragons to be able to learn to speak the common language of Dwarves, Elves, Humans etc. And vice versa?

My world is a medieval high fantasy setting. Dragons are one of the many denizens of the world. They speak a complicated language. Humans and other common races know most dragons to be cunning, ...
3
votes
2answers
136 views

It is feasible that a (human) civilization at the end of time uses English, Latin, etc. words but considers earth history as a myth? [closed]

When universe is close to ending (only few solar systems remain), I can see how Earth history (or the current galactic civilization beginnings) could become a myth. However, does that mean that some ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How would an Immortal's language/accent change/develop amongst normal humans?

In a world much like our own (basically, identical humans, points in history, etc) where humans live 80 or so years, we have developed a wide array of languages around the planet as well as very ...
4
votes
1answer
124 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 matters, ...
19
votes
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
182 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
votes
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
7k 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
votes
4answers
354 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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
3answers
333 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
votes
23answers
7k 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 ...
27
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
votes
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
195 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
votes
1answer
64 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 ...
24
votes
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
129 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
votes
5answers
2k 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
votes
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
93 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 ...

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