forum What excuses could be made for everyone in a world to be speaking the same language/ able to understand each other
Started by Ali Trutwin

people_alt 97 followers

Deleted user

I read a book (set in the future) that was set in another country (Japan, I think) and when they had to communicate with a character from America, they used a translating device that they put into their ear. If it has magic you could use a spell or an enchanted talisman, or if it is set in more modern times you could use a translator similar to what I described. If it is magic, it could only work for a certain amount of time to let your readers rember that they don't actually speak the same language.

Elle F. Wade

How big is the world you're talking about? An entire planet? A unified country? An island? The scale can be a factor.

Also, you want conflict in your scenes – why is it important to have everyone speak the same language and understand one another? Having multiple languages allows for plenty of miscommunication and espionage.

@andrew health_and_safety flash_onAdmin

A low-tech solution is to have each of the languages (somewhat recently) stem from a single parent language.

One extreme example is countries like Croatia/Serbia/Montenegro – they all have their own languages (Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin), although each can understand each other quite well, because under the hood, the languages all branched from the same language: Serbo-Croatian.

On a smaller scale, we see this across all languages with loan words and things like proper nouns. McDonalds is called McDonalds no matter where you go or what language you're talking about the fast food chain in. In english, we use loaned words from other languages all the time as well, like typhoon/tsunami, karaoke, emoji, sushi, etc.

If you actually want everyone speaking the same language, there's a lot of arguments for it being made in the real world today that you could repurpose and run with, too. I think they mostly run along a utopian vibe: everyone can understand each other, do business more efficiently, not lose anything in translation, move around freely, etc. With enough pros, you could easily conjure up a world in which everyone agreed to learn a single language designed for everyone. :)

Ali Trutwin

Thank you all, these have all been super helpful! For the questions. Its set in a fantasy world where i would like the entire planet to understand each other because my characters will be all from different countries in it.


Language of business, like English.'
Universal translators, like the Babel Fish of Hitchhikers' Guide
Tight-knit culture and communities making there be only one true culture across a world (though that doesn't make for a good story)
Main character (in 1 person) or narrator (if you've got a sarcastic one) are simplifying it for the reader (though that involves breaking the 4th wall a bit)


In Magi (yes the manga and anime, please be aware of spoilers) even though it's not really clear until later on when a character mentions it, everyone is speaking the exact same language. They're not being translated into Japanese. The reason for this was that in the original world (Alma Toran) all the different cultures and language barriers caused conflict, so Solomon created the new world with only one language, so everyone can understand each other. You could think of something similar to that, with your own spin on it.

Deleted user

There's plenty of good reasons for there to be one language. I like all ideas already presented here.

I do agree with Elle F. Wade that language is a great device for conflict. Is it possible that perhaps everyone is forced to speak the same language? Lots of conflict potential there.

Generic Username

Links and trading between different places could result in the majority of the population learning some of the other's language (if that explanation makes sense).


Links and trading between different places could result in the majority of the population learning some of the other's language (if that explanation makes sense).

A sort of pidgin language could've become the most common, and eventually dominating language. Take English. It's a mix-n-match of a bunch of languages (though it is technically Germanic), and it's one of the most commonly known languages in the world.

@The Enigmatic Wayfarer

My own justification for everyone speaking the same language (or at least similar enough to understand). Is that it was the primary language spoken by the survivors of humanity's great destruction.


It could be a "new world". And by new, I mean that it could be a world that the gods just created, therefore the very start of everything. There is only one language.

Isaak van Daalen

There's really three options I can see.

The first would be, as I believe others have already said, would be to have some form of technological device or magical spell which can auto-translate anything someone says.

The next option would be to have a Common language. The language of Trade. Many societies used third-party languages for trading purposes, because it put the two parties on equal footing. If each character had their own native language, but also knew a Common language that almost everyone knows, then that's problem solved.

Finally, you could do something like Chinese, where there are many different dialects for the same language. In Chinese, you use the same 'alphabet' to write, the the symbols don't represent sounds, they represent concepts or ideas. In this way, each culture could have a completely different verbal language, but could still communicate through writing. Obviously, this is not really ideal for story-telling, but it's a cool idea.

The other option is to obviously just have one universal language, perhaps from some grand world-conquering empire.


maybe there's some sort of telepathic web that connects everone's thoughts, to a degree. like even if they're speaking Estonian or something, so you can understand their meaning. this could also add an element of humor for people who speak the same language; whenever people tried to imply things it would just come out as what they really mean, whether its flirting or space mafia death threats.


abigail dara, sort of, but different. if someone was talking to you in Japanese, you would hear Japanese, but you would get the rough meaning of what they were saying.

Deleted user

I see. Maybe you can have a law where in schools, you need to learn a common language, and getting a job will depend on how many languages you know. So, you can have millions of tounges, but one Standard Language.

@The Enigmatic Wayfarer

As usual, languages evolve to serve the purposes of people using them. If you set up the world to benefit the use of a single common language then it will naturally become more and more dominant among the population. There is no point in speaking something that someone else won't understand so any extra languages will be confined to specific groups of people like a secret code or sacred practice. In my world everyone speaks the same language because they are confined to a single continent and must trade resources to survive. Only extremely isolated and rare self-sufficient groups have their own language and often learn the primary language anyway for the benefits it provides.


What I did is they each have their own languages but there is a "common tongue" that like 90% of the population speaks so they can communicate


@child_of_fire that's what I have in my universe. My world is made up of multiple different species including wolves, a few different types of dragons, and a variety of big cats. Each species has their own language, with slight variations depending on location, but the wolves essentially took over that area and created a language that all of the species in the area now speak.


Jumping on this super late: You could have a sort of dystopian reason why everyone understands each other. Suppression of native language is a tried-and-true colonial tactic here on earth. See also: Ireland, Hawaii, Native American/First Nations boarding schools. If these characters all come from countries that were colonized by the same empire, or if some come from the colonizing country and some from the colonized, they'd probably all speak the same language.