This is an Amazing Gaming Production’s development blog, I am Mark!
Today, we’re going to tackle language for world building.
There are many different considerations for languages when you create your world.
Languages are only codes that people interpret once they learn the language, so you can go nuts. Every region in the world uses different words and expressions describing their experiences.
You could describe this picture as dog, cute dog, chine, in or gǒu, or my favourite – Calvin Klein. Words are symbols that define the world in a way everyone who can speak or read the language can understand.
In Multi-cultural areas, is there a common language? Are there several different languages for different regions – like in Europe? Are languages written (or a code) or spoken or both? And what about non-verbal languages, like sign language and other gestured based languages?
For both infants and emerging sapients, gesture languages come first.
Pointing at something to say, I want this, or look out, or to say something is important, is vital for the growth of both a species and a child.
As time goes on, gestured language can help people who find it hard to communicate – like people who are deaf or find it hard to talk. Sophisticated cultures may go out and create new gestural languages, like American Sign Language.
And certain non-verbal gestures can convey lots of different meanings, like giving someone the finger.
After gestural language, you need to think about the next stage, spoken language. You may not need to write out different languages, but you need to ensure your reader knows when someone is talking in a different language.
Two elves could have a private conversation in a human town by speaking Elven. You don’t have to spell out the Elven, say what they are speaking while they are using it and say they are speaking Elven.
And then you can add a surprise. In the scene, a local human ranger could answer them, shocking them.
Speculative fiction has a variety of different languages. Most Trekkies know QaPla! Far Scrappers understand the word Frell.
Languages can be magical, psychic or mundane. What kind of language would telepaths use if a race was could only communicate through telepathy? What about a magical language where you can spin entire experiences as you speak?
As a culture matures, they will find more and more ways to share agreements and ideas with each other. Writing is inevitable in this situation.
Again, is the language a code for members of a group, like thieves, mages, techs? Is there a common written language for multi-cultural areas? How did the written language develop? Is it only certain classes of individuals – only nobility can read and write?
Language and codes are a huge part of speculative fiction – they could prevent a war, start a new one, give birth to a new culture or idea. You should think about all the implications of language when you start developing your world.
Language is an important aspect for world building.
Whether it is a non-verbal prompt and languages for different people, and spoken and written languages – we need to think about how these can change a story.
You can add entire levels of depth thinking about language, how it builds or tears down walls, how it can push a story forward?
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