Linguistics & Language

Representing Multilingual Worlds

Civilizations of the past have tended to be multilingual, sometimes with more than one common language along with various local languages and dialects. What are some ways to represent this diversity in a fictional text? How can linguistic diversity enhance other facets of storytelling?

Translation Slam

Many of us enjoy reading speculative fiction in translation, but don’t appreciate the nuanced work that goes into creating it. In this translation slam*, each panelist has translated a piece from its original language into English. They will share their translations with the audience and discuss their decision-making process and the nuances that went into… Continue reading Translation Slam


What makes a language alien, or at least non-human? This may involve grammatical systems not found (so far) in natural human languages, or even modes of communication distinct from spoken, signed, or written language. Will aliens have different understandings of the context in which a communication takes place?

Lost (or Gained) in Translation?

Translation is more than simply replacing words. Translators must ensure that the target audience can understand the work, while communicating the author’s voice as closely as possible. Panelists will discuss the creative art of translating and how translation can enhance, detract from, or even recontextualize an original text.

Language in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

From The Languages of Pao to Embassytown, authors from all eras have explored the limits of humankind’s greatest invention: language. In this panel, linguists and language experts discuss what works and what doesn’t, and how to walk the line between science and science fiction with respect to language.

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