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Questions tagged [language]

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

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13 votes
13 answers
4k views

Could an Alien decipher human languages using only comms traffic?

Could a hiding alien ship decipher all of our languages only using the comms traffic of our civilization without our cooperation(assuming our civilization has expanded across the solar system, to the ...
Bubbles's user avatar
  • 1,666
13 votes
11 answers
4k views

Opposite 'Fire Magic'?

Not 'Ice Magic'. Ice is just frozen water and fire magic goes beyond water. But, for the sake of explaining in this question, let's go with "Ice Magic". In a world where these two magics are ...
EMS's user avatar
  • 287
9 votes
5 answers
2k views

How to make a sign language that only uses three fingers

I'm not sure if this is too broad, but a character I have in my story is mute. This character only has three fingers on each hand. They probably aren't going to be able to use ASL or other sign ...
Talbot's user avatar
  • 709
6 votes
6 answers
2k views

Is it possible for a humanoid to learn English within a few days, just from observing conversations?

A humanoid woman from another planet accidentally stumbles through a portal to 2024 Earth. I want her to be able to learn English in just a few days from overhearing my characters speak. Is there any ...
www's user avatar
  • 1,525
4 votes
1 answer
149 views

The rebirth of a language from a group of mute people

I am toying around with a corner case of a well explored scenario: post apocalyptic world human re-population. The added complication this time is that the group of survivors, by a sheer strike of ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 291k
9 votes
5 answers
3k views

How many distinct colors would tetrachromatic birds have?

I'm creating a world where the primary conscious species are essentially just ravens. Birds, in general, have tetrachromatic sight (extending in the UV range), meaning they see 4 base colors. My ...
The Zip Creator's user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
3k views

Do language-builders construct a system for new words?

When world builders are building a fictional language, do they typically create a mass of words in order for it to be useable or do they create a system for crafting new words from English? Example: ...
Timothy Huber's user avatar
13 votes
12 answers
6k views

How would computers develop in a society where a Cherokee-like language is the dominant lingua franca?

I am writing a book set in a parallel universe where English is not the dominant language and the dominant language is a complex polysynthetic language that makes use of a complex system of word ...
Galactic's user avatar
  • 4,454
19 votes
4 answers
4k views

How Would Linguists Plan to Overcome the Language Barrier in a First Contact

A spaceship is headed for Earth. We detected it with a few months' warning. Messages have been sent to and received from the ship by radio, but we haven't deciphered anything they've said, and don't ...
John99's user avatar
  • 307
8 votes
6 answers
1k views

Biological human-alien language barrier

Something I've been pondering- spacefaring humanity makes contact with alien species who, while being intelligent enough to learn to understand human languages, their throats or vocal cords (assuming ...
king of panes's user avatar
25 votes
8 answers
5k views

How can explorers determine whether strings of alien text is meaningful or just nonsense?

A group of xenoarchaeologists is studying the remains of a bygone civilization with the aim of understanding its culture. So far, isolated artifacts have been found, such as metal plates with symbols ...
user73910's user avatar
  • 943
5 votes
3 answers
308 views

How would Universal Translators affect the development of language?

In my sci-fi setting there's a Universal Translator similar to does seen on Star Trek and Farscape (basically working with nanoprobes) thus, once inyected on the bloodstream people who speak different ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 603
6 votes
2 answers
598 views

My character grows large upper and lower canines, how might their speech be effected?

I've read this answer and it was insightful, but I'm describing a character who undergoes a one off transformation rather than being from a whole new species. She grows fangs (both upper and lower ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
3 votes
7 answers
934 views

How could real-time sentence translation work if using a "common middle ground" language?

Previously I'd developed a concept for a translation process that uses a common language, but is perceived (using technology or some other sort of device/substance that can alter mental processing) to ...
inkwell87's user avatar
  • 941
2 votes
10 answers
1k views

Must a sapient species rely entirely on language to advance? [closed]

Humans, unlike other intelligent species, have a unique reliance on our language. Is this required? Could a species, with language, realistically advance to human-level technology without having a ...
Ichthys King's user avatar
  • 16.2k
17 votes
12 answers
5k views

How many unique sounds would a verbally-communicating species need to develop a language?

A species with limited capacity for making different vowel/consonant sounds, pitches, vocalizations, and so on, has a limited capacity for the creation of different words in a compositional language. ...
inkwell87's user avatar
  • 941
0 votes
6 answers
290 views

Could a substance (drug, chemical, etc.) instantly teach a language?

A more specific off-shoot from something I previously asked, about instant interspecies translation. If I wanted some sort of substance to be able to affect or "rewire" the user's brain to ...
inkwell87's user avatar
  • 941
13 votes
13 answers
4k views

Numeral systems based on different colors rather than different symbols?

I want to portray a culture with a significantly different method of perceiving their own mathematical concepts, yet not so as to say something like just "they used a kind of number very often, ...
Kristian Berry's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
147 views

How would a "universal language field" work? [duplicate]

Looking to work with the topic of interspecies translation, covering a very wide variety of alien types and biologies, with a "universal translator"—but rather than a universal translation ...
inkwell87's user avatar
  • 941
7 votes
6 answers
1k views

Orthographic change over time

This is related to a previous question of mine: Rate of linguistic change among geographically separated descendants of a common language If you had 4 groups of humans with the same language and ...
DMacc1917's user avatar
  • 956
2 votes
4 answers
250 views

Rate of linguistic change among geographically separated descendants of a common language

I'm developing a story set on an exoplanet where a relatively small terraforming expedition is forced to settle on the planet due to some catastrophe 20,000 years before the story's events. They ...
DMacc1917's user avatar
  • 956
5 votes
4 answers
450 views

Is it plausible for constructed languages to be used to affect thought and control or mold people towards desired outcomes?

In 1984, newspeak is used to control thought, and to make certain ideas impossible to express, or even to think. I'm imagining a future totalitarian state which develops custom languages which it ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 443
15 votes
14 answers
4k views

What replaces Mr/Mrs/Ms as a title courtesy/respect in a world that cares less about gender?

I'm trying to create a mildly utopian setting. When my characters need to address someone formally and I realised that the default English "Mr" or "Ms" I was using is full of ...
glenatron's user avatar
  • 5,325
3 votes
2 answers
212 views

Need Help with a Fictional Modern Baltic Country’s Name?

I want the name of the country to mean “eastern border/land”, but I’m not a professional in the Latvian/Eastern Baltic languages. As an example, would it be Austgale or Austrumgale (gale meaning “...
MilotheCatligula's user avatar
4 votes
7 answers
362 views

How to make my hyperfast-immersion language-learners still be fooled by code-words & cyphers

In a story I'm writing, I have a group of beings who can learn any language by just listening to voice-recordings* of someone speaking that language over-and-over again** (almost like a highly ...
Jarren_Takar's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
282 views

What do you call fishing on a planet where there are no fish? [closed]

When Plato gave Socrates the definition of man as “featherless bipeds,” Diogenes found and plucked a chicken and brought the poor creature into Plato's Academy, placed it on the ground and announced, “...
Jacob Badger's user avatar
  • 2,333
-2 votes
2 answers
148 views

How would a sapient species with two tongues organize their language? [closed]

I created a species of catlike aliens called Raachtunami (singular Raachtun) or Tutoans. They have extremely perceptive ears, a syrinx, and two tongues. This allows them to use several human phonetics ...
Jobah_HigherMind's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
202 views

What are some of the most culturally universal names? [closed]

This is mostly a shower-thought type query rather than an active problem I'm looking to solve, but here it goes. Say I have a character that gets an opportunity to choose his own name, and he wants to ...
spyguy001's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
299 views

How to name an Ancient Egyptian Prince?

I have created a character and only still need his name. I've spent the past 3-4 hours googling stuff about Ancient Egyptian royal naming conventions, and it's a lot! @_@ The character is a young man (...
user avatar
0 votes
5 answers
3k views

Why is English the only language spoken?

Long: So in a previous question (HERE), I asked the plausibility of a disease killing off everyone who could speak a language other than English. This time, I’m asking if there’s a point in history, ...
Blue Skin and Glowing Red Eyes's user avatar
17 votes
17 answers
5k views

How would a language-based disease work?

I was trying to find an explanation as to why all the characters speak English, and this popped into my head. Could a disease (bacterial or viral or whatever) affect only people who don’t speak ...
Blue Skin and Glowing Red Eyes's user avatar
13 votes
8 answers
3k views

Could a pure sign language society be as advanced as a speaking society?

I remember reading about how a lot of the early paleolithic societies and proto-human species like Neanderthals and Homo Erectus used sign languages before spoken languages. It made me wonder how a ...
Rhymehouse's user avatar
  • 3,679
16 votes
8 answers
3k views

Can a lone alien entity develop an internal language?

I'm imagining a hypothetical lone organism on a planet. Something like Avatar, the movie's Eywa. I am envisioning it as a massive organism covering the entire surface of the planet but biologically ...
Aditya Prakash's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
492 views

Could intelligent parasaurolophuses form a primarily sound-based language?

I was thinking about how parasaurolophuses could make sounds using their cranial crests. Then I thought that if they were intelligent enough, maybe they could create a spoken (honked? bellowed?) ...
Alphys's user avatar
  • 193
1 vote
8 answers
3k views

Why would a language lack gendered given names? [closed]

Most real life human languages only have gendered given names (they can only be female or male). In my world, there is a species of Euarchontoglires from the Homo genus named merfolk (their scientific ...
mammifereviolet4694's user avatar
11 votes
10 answers
2k views

Universal Phonetic Alphabet

In the story I am developing, there is an intergalactic community with a plethora of different sentient species, each with its own languages that vary depending own its vocal anatomy. There are ...
Paulo Raposo's user avatar
  • 1,211
4 votes
8 answers
766 views

What do you call a biologically assisted robot? [closed]

A droid is short for android, often a mostly humanoid robot. A cyborg is a biological being which is improved by robotic elements as part of their body. The word being derived from cybernetics which ...
Demigan's user avatar
  • 45.4k
4 votes
2 answers
237 views

What Would Be the Most Practical Way for a Pre-industrial Civilization to Communicate With a Sentient Race of Bees?

I am currently writing a story about the very unique relationship between a sentient race of bees and humanity. Humans, through bartering and trade, have grown to have a close relationship with these ...
SmartBulbInc's user avatar
  • 1,503
6 votes
8 answers
1k views

What words to describe the three monomolecular structures

So there's technically 3 things a monomolecular structure can be: an edge a single atom thick which consists out of many molecules in a row to create the edge, often described for weapons with the ...
Demigan's user avatar
  • 45.4k
4 votes
3 answers
699 views

How do you come up with various meaningful names from different languages for a multicultural fantasy world?

I want to introduce cultural diversity to my fantasy world, taking inspiration from various cultures in the real world. To make my multicultural fantasy world believable, I need to come up with ...
user141240's user avatar
2 votes
4 answers
304 views

Equivalents word for Human centric words in a world with multiple sapient species [closed]

In world with humans, elves, warewolves, cat people, dwarves, sirens, merfolk and other humanoid sapient species (Non-monstrous and peaceful) What terms would be used to convey meaning of Human-...
SparkShredder's user avatar
3 votes
5 answers
2k views

How Much is Too Much Land for One Province?

The Aurean Dominate is a sort of federated elective monarchy that rules all of the Planet Aurea (an approximately Earth-sized world but one where all the land is in the southern hemisphere and the ...
The Weasel Sagas's user avatar
6 votes
13 answers
2k views

Would a culture inhabiting the abandoned homeland of another people adopt parts of the previous inhabitants' language? [closed]

The Vareyn once lived in a fertile land at the head of a great desert, subsisting off of a great river and its bounty - until they were forced to leave after a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Many ...
INPU's user avatar
  • 1,339
1 vote
2 answers
186 views

How to create a custom gematria system for a world? [closed]

I just recently asked What are the origins of the various forms of Gematria? and What are the rules for constructing a gematria system? Now I am wondering how to create a custom gematria system for a ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 211
-4 votes
2 answers
125 views

How many languages would it take to unite the Mammal Kingdom?

The mammilia class is tired of just being a class. They want to be a kingdom. However the problem is: they can't communicate very well. The humans didn't want to give up their powerful syntax, but the ...
Jacob Valdez's user avatar
5 votes
6 answers
4k views

Why would a language created by humans lack both the /s/ and the /z/ consonants? [closed]

In my story, there are a strange species from the Homo genus: hematophagous humans often called vampires (their scientific name is Homo haematophagus) (so, they are still humans, just not Homo sapiens)...
mammifereviolet4694's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
129 views

What would a language spoken by a tortoise-like sapient species sound like? [closed]

In my world, there is a species of massive bipedal (with a hunchbacked gait because of their shell) turtles with human-level intelligence (I do not mean humans with profound intellectual disability ...
mammifereviolet4694's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
431 views

Why would a language have three rhotic phonemes?

In my world, there is a mammalian species from the Homo genus called "ogres" (their scientific name is Homo obesus) (they are still humans, just not Homo sapiens) (Homo obesus means "...
mammifereviolet4694's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
474 views

How does a whistle language written with latin script work?

so for context this kind of alien possess no vocal cord to make sound like human had instead, they communicate by making sounds akin to whistle,chirp,and clicks. this kind has no native writing ...
faddllz's user avatar
  • 1,822
21 votes
10 answers
4k views

The deaf prisoner got her secret message and the pirates never knew. How was that possible?

I have a Category 3 problem in my world This is an escape from pirates problem. The story requires a secret message to get past pirates and I don’t know how to design the captivity for it. Setting: ...
Vogon Poet's user avatar
  • 8,169

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