Skip to main content
230 votes
Accepted

You can control a Demon by knowing its True Name, but why?

Use of their name forces them to be aware of the one truth they can never know. TL;DR: If demons seek permanent power but trust no one, they put themselves in a strange position where mathematical ...
Cort Ammon's user avatar
  • 132k
176 votes
Accepted

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

Immutability A language is dead if it is no longer in current use. One of the effects of nobody using the language anymore is that it doesn't change. Consider latin, for example. A tersorium is a ...
The Square-Cube Law's user avatar
141 votes
Accepted

Does a hive mind race need a written language?

What you describe for a hive mind is also true for a single mind. And yet we all write down things not only for other people, but also for ourselves. The hive mind would not need the first reason, ...
LSerni's user avatar
  • 55.4k
121 votes
Accepted

How would an order of Monks that renounce their names communicate effectively?

They don't actually need names. Names aren't used that often in everyday communication. Body language is very effective for indicating which person in a group you're talking to. And to get somebody's ...
Adrian Hall's user avatar
  • 3,856
120 votes

You can control a Demon by knowing its True Name, but why?

The lecture hall was still and silent as the old man limped towards the waiting chalk boards. One hand was a withered claw, one eye missing and covered by a patch. Conflicting rumours said his limp ...
Tim B's user avatar
  • 77.1k
112 votes

Why would a language be undubbable by universal (machine) translator?

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Though the universal translator (in Star Trek: TNG) can translate their words, the Tamarians communicate only through allegory, which baffles the Enterprise crew because ...
JDługosz's user avatar
  • 69.5k
97 votes

How would an order of Monks that renounce their names communicate effectively?

If your group renounces their personal identity in favor of their work, the obvious thing to call them by is profession. If a particular brother is responsible for the monastery gardens, he's Brother ...
Cadence's user avatar
  • 38.4k
96 votes

Would a "ring language" be possible?

It’s not only possible, it exists as you describe. Italian, French (Provençal, really), Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese (and many local dialects thereof) merge continuously into each other, and ...
Mike Scott's user avatar
  • 20.3k
95 votes
Accepted

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

Simple, make the language Oligosynthetic. Oligosynthetic languages are languages that have 50-200 words and simply combine words to create new concepts. For example; Let's say I want to say hell, in ...
TrEs-2b's user avatar
  • 56.2k
93 votes
Accepted

How to avoid the language barrier when there is no time to learn the other language?

Let's consider a real historical example Let's fix the historical period to the 14th century, and let's say that "language 1" is French and "language 2" is Romanian. Both French and Romanian are ...
AlexP's user avatar
  • 90.6k
92 votes
Accepted

Can the number of letters in alphabet suggest how advanced civilization is?

There's practically no correlation between the complexity of a given language and the complexity of the writing system used to represent it. Japanese and Korean are both very complex languages, able ...
Charles Burge's user avatar
91 votes

What event would cause a huge, dominant nation to adopt the language of a smaller, inferior one?

When the Roman conquered Greece, they were so fascinated from their civilization that they put a straw in that land and started avidly sucking their culture. It was common practice for students to ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 289k
88 votes

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

Your Dead Language is a Programming Language The speech of modern folk is merely meant to communicate with one another, but the ancient tongue is a programming language that directly shapes reality. ...
JustSnilloc's user avatar
  • 2,769
77 votes
Accepted

How can I develop names for my fantasy land?

I would recommend google translate for this little effort. Pick a language that fits the style of your world/or a particular nation depending on your scale. This mainly means find a language where ...
James's user avatar
  • 32.9k
76 votes

Is there a more effective way to build a language than a word frequency list?

I don't have a reference but some philologists and linguists have speculated that you could survive (explain who you are, ask for employment and food, etc.) in a foreign land with as few as 500 words. ...
A. I. Breveleri's user avatar
68 votes

How to avoid the language barrier when there is no time to learn the other language?

The simplest solution is that in both population you have some rare few scholars who speak language 0 and can communicate in this language, even though they do not actually speak each others' modern ...
Alex2006's user avatar
  • 5,569
66 votes

You can control a Demon by knowing its True Name, but why?

Fear. Speaking the True Name of a Demon, tells the Demon two very important things, one you know its name and two you speak the Adamic language. These two things allow you to do something else - speak ...
Scott Downey's user avatar
  • 3,443
66 votes

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

Because they're the original spells and no translation could ever get it right. As an example of a holy book, the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible) is written in Hebrew and will always be ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 20.4k
66 votes
Accepted

How can you tell an AI apart from a human over the phone but not in person?

Compression. Phone line companies want to save money by having each call use up as little bandwidth as possible. This is true both for communication over wire and by cellphones - the more calls you ...
Grollo's user avatar
  • 4,147
65 votes
Accepted

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

First the bad news Archaeologists are not historical linguists, and historical linguists are not archaeologists. It is not at all likely for an archaeologist to have more than an amateur level ...
AlexP's user avatar
  • 90.6k
64 votes
Accepted

Is it practical to make English the global language?

The Russians did it: the Russian Empire, and its successors the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation established Russian as the language for official and inter-ethnic communication. It worked. ...
AlexP's user avatar
  • 90.6k
63 votes
Accepted

How can I explain English existing in a fantasy world?

There are a few ways to go about this... She's not the first Simply put she isn't the first English speaking person to be there, maybe of the few that came before her who spoke English one came into ...
Garrett Gaddy's user avatar
58 votes
Accepted

What happens when two languages merge?

Languages do not usually "merge"; linguistic communities often do There is a reason why your diligent research bore no fruit: historical linguistics does not ever speak of languages "...
AlexP's user avatar
  • 90.6k
57 votes
Accepted

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

Important oaths could be sworn in front of witnesses. Less important oaths would rely on reputation. Reputation would be important to one survival, and if you somehow manage to trick a large number ...
gmatht's user avatar
  • 3,906
57 votes

How can you tell an AI apart from a human over the phone but not in person?

The breath of life and plosives. In real life, unless the person's mouth is right by your ear, you'll not be able to tell the difference between high-quality reproduction and the real thing. On a ...
Escaped dental patient.'s user avatar
55 votes

What royal title can an absolutistic ruler have?

Here are some root words and evolutions from various European languages that have been used for king equivalents: Latin Imperator (meaning one who commands) → Emperor Latin Caesar (from the name) → ...
kingledion's user avatar
  • 85.4k
55 votes
Accepted

How could the English language gradually dwindle to just one word?

Orwell didn't mean that the entire English language would be reduced to just one word, but that each concept would be reduced to one word. That is, instead of having many words with shades of meaning, ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 15.1k
55 votes
Accepted

Why would a language be undubbable by universal (machine) translator?

Language that requires more than sound If your translator works via sound, it would struggle with visual communication. Imagine a language where hand motions indicate the past vs. present, verb ...
Mirror318's user avatar
  • 3,799
55 votes

How should a country introduce a constructed language as the official language?

Languages take immense effort to learn, and people will only learn them if it's socially or economically inescapable. Zompist Choose a combination of stick and carrot depending of how powerfull the ...
slobodan.blazeski's user avatar
55 votes

How to avoid cursing myself with my black magic?

What you want is a Pantograph. This is a device used to scale images up and down. It also lets you work in one space while the real rune is in another. You mention that the rune takes all sorts of ...
Cort Ammon's user avatar
  • 132k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible