I recall reading once a post here on Tumblr, one of those sci-fi ones, and it talked about languages, about when writing aliens people often gave the whole species a single language even though humans have a bunch. And it was interesting insight. But one I kind of glossed over seeing as I’m not a big sci-fi fan.
But I remembered it today and it got me thinking.
When we write fantasy and we make different kingdoms with different fantasy languages, we also often make this mistake. You see, the assuming that a country only had one language is kind of flawed.
Personally, I live in Spain, here we have one primary language which is Spanish, but depending on the part of Spain you’re in they will often have a co-official language, where I live it’s Valenciano (pretty much identical to Catalan but there’s ongoing argument over that I don’t want to get into).
It’s both similar to Spanish, but at the same time closer to French, Italian or Portuguese.
There are places like Canda where depending on where you are they speak French or English.
It’s not one country, one language.
It’s not one country, one culture either.
Countries have sub-cultures. And depending on what part of the country you are from, it will be different.
Where I live in Spain, there is different cuisine to the center of Spain. We have different holidays, where I live in Spain we have mountains and beach but that’s not true of all of Spain. There are parts of Spain with a different climate. Even family relationships change.
So, how do we apply this out fantasy kingdoms? So, as usual, I write YA fantasy so I tend to simplify stuff. In my own book there is the culture of the kingdom the book takes place in, there is a monarchy meaning there are laws that apply to everybody. But as well as that there are sub-cultures.
My book takes place a lot in Aerradra, it’s the city where dragons lived. They have their own cuisine, they have holidays only they celebrate, they have their own architecture and even a local government for matters that they are allowed to change without the monarchy’s approval.
Among the people living there, there’s Emily who’s humana and grew up with a different culture. In one of the short stories in my story “Love, Coffee and Dragons” we see her forget a holiday AGAIN. Because it’s not a holiday she’s accustomed to.
This is sub-culture. A very simple example because I don’t want to have to explain too much, spoil anything or what not.
But the point is, culture so much deeper than kingdoms and countries.
As usual, check out my book, stories I’ve written plus other social medias: here.
What culture do you experience?