forum Any tips on creating different dialects?
Started by @Musicologykiss

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I made a simple naming language for a small project, and since I decided to use it for every continent, I want to diversify it a bit by doing dialects. I tried looking it up but nothing came up. Any tips or suggestions?

Mt. G router

Boy oh boy, where to begin?!

  • Phonological variations: Dialects often have different pronunciations for the same words. You can introduce phonological variations by altering the sounds of consonants or vowels, or by adding or removing certain phonemes. For example, one dialect may have a sound that is not present in another, or the same sound might be pronounced differently.

  • Morphological variations: Dialects may have different word forms or grammatical structures. Introduce variations in conjugation, declension, or the formation of compound words. You can also play with affixes (prefixes, suffixes, infixes) to create unique morphological features in each dialect.

  • Vocabulary variations: Introduce words that are unique to each dialect. These can be slang, idiomatic expressions, or words for local flora, fauna, or cultural practices. Be mindful of the environment and culture in which each dialect has developed, as these factors will influence the vocabulary.

  • Syntax variations: Dialects may differ in word order or sentence structure. You can experiment with varying the order of subject, verb, and object, or by using different types of sentence structures, such as passive or active voice, to create distinct dialects.

  • Historical and cultural influences: Dialects often evolve due to the influence of other languages or cultures. Consider the history of your world and how different peoples have interacted with one another: even simple things like available resources can affect writing systems and dialects. I always think of how beautiful and flowy written language is/was in paper-abundant places like Japan versus how simple and straight lettering was when e.g. carved or etched into harder resources like stone.

  • Geographical distributions: Dialects often develop in isolated communities or regions. When designing your dialects, consider the geography of your world and how it may have influenced the development of distinct dialects. Mountain ranges, rivers, or other natural barriers can lead to the evolution of unique dialects. They can also be a great way to hammer in distinct areas you want to separate for other cultural reasons.

  • Social factors: Social class, education, and occupation can also contribute to the development of dialects. Think about how these factors might have influenced the language spoken by different groups within your world. Do rich people speak any differently than the poor? Do workers in a particular profession develop a shorthand or alternative way to speak?

  • Language change and evolution: Languages and dialects naturally just change over time. When designing dialects, consider how they might have evolved from a common ancestor or how they might continue to change in the future. This is especially notable if you have any locations that've been cut off from communication with others. Dialects of a language that don't often mix might diverge more drastically, while dialects often interchanged (via trade, travel, etc) will probably be way more similar.

So many ways to create variations – it's up to you and whatever makes sense for your world. Hopefully these give you some (or too many) starting points though!