Gods' influence on language Language in Divine Tyranny | World Anvil

Gods' influence on language

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In theory, everyone in the world speaks the same language and write it in the same way. Reality isn't too different; while we might struggle to understand each other's accent and puzzle over the unnecessary frills of our letters, mutual intelligibility is always possible. What not many realise, is that this is the result of a lot of efforts from the gods.  


According to what I gathered from the archives, languages are, in fact, supposed to evolve. And just like accents, this evolution would depend on location, leading to different variations of the same languages appearing. Over time, they would continue to drift apart from each other until speakers of different groups would not be able to understand each other.   The troubles this would bring are not, however, the reason why the gods are set against this. The gods are obviously immortal. This means that, without intervention, language would keep changing around them, and they would have to constantly waste efforts to catch up to what's going on, otherwise they themselves would not be able to understand their own worshippers.   This is also why, if more mortals understood what's going on, most would agree with the gods' actions. Can you imagine not being able to pray directly to your gods, and share words of thanks or polite requests with them? Yes, scholars and priests would undoubtedly be able to speak the old tongue and communicate with the gods, but using them as intermediate would make all prayers bland and identical to each other, preventing you from standing out and being rewarded. Never mind the trust you would have to put into the priests to make sure they would actually say what they're supposed to!   More importantly from the gods' perspective, not understanding us would mean they would not know when they're being insulted and when they're supposed to smite mortals down! Can you imagine the horror?


Thankfully for everyone, in their high wisdom the gods have decided to do away with the entire problem by simply fixing the language. The way this works in practice is easy to understand, as we've all followed those rules all our lives: using proper grammar and vocabulary is essential, and this is an extensive part of the mandatory schooling programme.   When a new invention requires a new word to be added to our dictionaries, approval is granted to all mortal rulers by the gods themselves after those at the top of their hierarchy in the gold realm have agreed to the necessity and settled on what the word is going to be. Whether us, poor mortals, appreciate the new word or not is irrelevant—and while it is never wise to voice that out loud, quite a few of those new words are very cringe-inducing!   Of course, there are always a few objectors that don't understand that the better part of valour is discretion. Those idiots insist on showing off with fancy new words or expressions when we all know that anyone above 5 years old doing so is definitely going to be smitten down. Not that the rest of us don't all enjoy a good betting on when and how exactly this is going to happen...

Opinion from the archives

All of that is the official version, of course. In practice, the gods can't possibly be everywhere all the time, and so long as people are discreet, they can manage to get away with a new word for a while. However, the most popular solution has always been to use pre-existing words but to twist their meanings and concepts out of context.   This is especially used by those who wish to criticize the gods themselves. In such cases, people don't use obvious nicknames linked to the gods' nicknames, of course, or they would be discovered immediately. Yet, with gods able to both lurk around us, invisible, spying on all our discussions, as well as to read a mortal's every single thoughts as soon as they possess us, no secret is ever safe...

Cover image: People speaking by AmélieIS with an image from vetcteezy


Author's Notes

The idea behind this article might have been inspired by the Académie Française :p

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17 Dec, 2022 21:18

Fun idea to have the gods keep language the same out of their own interest. Why should they use their precious immortal lives to learn languages!

Feel free to check out my Orena 'Raitin Bane' page and my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
18 Dec, 2022 10:30

Exactly! All those baby mortals constantly wanting to invent new ridiculous words to sound cool! XD

To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
24 Dec, 2022 17:35

Funny... I love the voice of your archivist in these articles... they're on the edge of sarcasm, I wonder if the gods displeasure is risked!   I also really like the subtle protest focusing common words but changing meaning... would love a sample of that :)

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
27 Dec, 2022 13:46

Thanks :D Cécile's POV is very fun to write! But yes, none of what she says here is anything she could risk saying out loud with how susceptible the gods are XD   Regarding the words, I'll have to come up with some for my novel, but I was out of inspiration when writing that article XD I'll update it when I think of something.

To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
Jacqueline Yang
31 Dec, 2022 23:38

I like how you had the gods become interested in the lives of men, through language. I think it's a rather clever way to introduce the gods, if you were writing a book or something like that. And as someone who loves sarcasm and uses it on a daily basis I appreciate the sarcastic comments in this article.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
29 Jan, 2023 10:36

Thanks :D Yes, my main character, Cécile, is very sarcastic; it's always fun to write form her POV XD My gods are very interested in mortals' life because immortality is very boring :p

To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
2 Jan, 2023 14:14

Cool explanation of why everyone has the same language! I wonder how it works in practise. Do the Gods always agree with each other? What if a god disagrees and gives conflicting instructions to their followers?

Check out my Summer Camp 2023 wrap-up here!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
29 Jan, 2023 10:41

Thanks for the comment! No, the gods don't always agree, but they have some hierarchy, both a global hierarchy in their realm, and then a local one in the mortal countries that interest them. The major gods need to agree together and then they impose their decision over everyone else.   Of course, sometimes they make mistakes and share the wrong info with their followers - or sometimes they deliberately say something wrong because they disagree with the official decision. In those cases, it's the mortals who are going to suffer the consequences.   However, if a god has the reputation to cause all their followers to die, they won't have a lot of people wanting to worship them, and this will make them lose prestige and the magical boost they get from prayers, so it's in the gods interest not too mess up too much.

To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
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