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Invented Linguistic Distinction

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In Real Life, even when people from different places speak what is considered to be the same language, they don't always all talk the same. People from different regions, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic strata have different pronunciations, rhythms, slang terms, and idioms. In some works of fiction, this isn't true; they adhere to the Planet of Hats linguistically. On the other hand, there's this trope, where a work creator has created variety within the languages used in The 'Verse, typically as a means of Worldbuilding.

Bob, from New York, speaks with an American accent. This contrasts him with Aerith, who comes from a magical alternate reality hidden inside of a wardrobe, who speaks with a British one, despite not actually being from Britain. All of the people from Aerith's world speak similarly to herself, with maybe some variation between the different kingdoms or social classes of her land. The point is, people from Aerith's world have linguistic quirks that set them apart from people in the Bob's world as a result of the distance between them. Though the quirks in this example are inexplicably borrowed from a real world place that supposedly also exists in the setting, the proper creative intention is there and it still counts as an example.

If Bob and Aerith are both from fictional places, say they're both from two different planets in a sci-fi setting totally disconnected from the real world, and these differences still apply, then that's also an example of the trope. If the author goes a step further and has them speaking in two different real world languages, or using two different real world writing systems, or even both speaking and writing in their own separate made up languages, that also applies. The point is that the author invents unique linguistic traits for a fictional group of people, whether they be recycled real world linguistic traits or made from scratch, to make them more realistically foreign to the audience and/or each other.

The creative decision to more realistically define a fictional culture through language, where such distinctions do not already inherently exist due to the culture not existing in the real world, or existing in the real world, but being far enough in the future that major changes in language are justified, is key to the trope. Localizing linguistic differences to characters based solely on personality or to more accurately depict real world locations and cultures is not this trope. If Aerith only sounds British to show that she's a genius, not because she's fictionally foreign, then that isn't the trope. If Bob is from modern New York and Aerith is from past France and they both sound appropriately different and accurate to what a person from those times and places should sound like (or they don't, but that was the intent) that's just regular old realism, not the trope. It has to be fictional cultures, but realistically utilized linguistics.

A Subtrope of Multicultural Alien Planet. Compare Aliens of London, another trope that deals with giving accents to fictional races. Contrast Smart People Speak the Queen's English, where an accent is used as a shortcut to show a character's personality rather than because of their nationality, Aliens Speaking English, where people from fictional populations from outside of Earth speak Earth languages without explanation, or Anime Accent Absence, a tendency in Japanese media to not bother giving foreign characters distinguished accents at all. See also Fictional Accent.


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    Fan Works 
  • The War of the Masters
    • The dominant local language of Moab III is Viet, which is Vietnamese mixed with various human and alien tongues including Klingon and Hebrew. (It's usually rendered as Romanized Vietnamese due to Translation Convention.)
    • Recurring character Captain Sandra Pickens has a thick Funetik Aksent (based on Appalachian West Virginia) due to her upbringing on the Earth colony Beaumonde.
    • In "Remembrance of the Fallen", Kojami Sobaru notes Kanril Eleya, both of them Bajorans, to speak their mother language Bajor'la with Kendran accent. In Create Your Own Fate Eleya notes that Reshek Gaarra has a Dahkuri accent.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: The planets of the Galaxy have different dialects, sometimes barely intelligible to one another. Magnifico, for example, speaks with the accent of the galactic core, conveniently rendered as Flowery Elizabethan English.
  • Diane Duane developed a partial Romulan Conlang for her Rihannsu novels. In the final book of the series, Uhura remarks to Kirk that the dialect of the language spoken on the rebelling planet Artaleirh has diverged so far from the version spoken on Romulus that she doubts the warbird crews sent to crush the revolt will understand one word in ten.
  • Star Wars Legends: In X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar, the eponymous Lost Colony speaks a dialect of Galactic Basic with slightly different pronunciation: "Rad Flat" is heard in an early scene, referring to Wedge Antilles's Red Flight. Later, he greets another officer, who responds with an accent described in Wedge's Internal Monologue as "clipped, precise, Imperial", and Wedge recognizes him as being from the Imperial Remnant. (The latter references the Star Wars films' use of Evil Brit.)
    • Other works generally reconcile this (along with Obi-Wan and C-3PO's accents) as having a refined British accent as being the local pronunciation for the elite of Coruscant and those seeking to emulate them (such as Padme or Leia acting as a senator): a mark of prestige.
  • In The Wheel of Time:
    • Several mainland nations have linguistic quirks common to their natives, like Illianers' liberal use of "do" and "do be" as auxiliary verbs and Taraboners' tendency to end sentences with a "...yes?"
    • The Seanchan invaders have a highly distinctive slow, drawling accent, and several of them remark on how mainland accents are incomprehensibly fast and clipped by comparison.
    • The Sharans speak in a Creepy Monotone when their army shows up out of nowhere to fight for the Shadow in the Final Battle.
    • The Aiel are on Full-Name Basis with everyone: among themselves, they don't have surnames and consider it a very intimate gesture to use an abbreviated pet name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Krypton, all the Kandorians have British (or in one case Irish) accents. While English Kryptonians have appeared before (Susannah York's Lara; Terrance Stamp's Zod; David Warner's Jor-El, Terrance Stamp's Jor-El...), the consistent use here appears to be at least partly to distinguish them from the one Earth character, Adam Strange, who is American. Episode 5 introduces a Kryptonian sect living in the Outlands beyond Kandor who have vaguely middle-European accents (although still played by British actors).

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Inner Sphere generally speaks American English with very little variation. The Clans, on the other hand, have a very different accent. First of all, Clanners speak in a way which comes across as somewhat stilted and highly formal to the rest of us. There are also differences in vocabulary, most notably the use of "aff" and "neg" (abbreviated forms of "affirmative" and "negative") instead of "yes" and "no". Adaptations with recorded sound also tend to give Clanners British accents, to further hammer home the three centuries of linguistic drift in play.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Quest VIII features many accents to liven up the various regions of the world, most European in origin. The most common one is the standard British accent used for King Trode, Jessica, Angelo and many NPC's. Other examples include the people of the snowy Orkustk region having Russian accents, Morrie having an Italian accent, people from Pickham such as Yangus and Red having Cockney accents, Ascanthan natives having a Yorkshire bent to them, People from Baccarat having American accents, and Dragovians having a Chinese accent to emphasize the distance their land has from the rest of the world among other accents held by notable NPC's.
  • Dragon Quest XI takes it a step further than VIII by giving each city a consistent national accent: Spanish for Puerto Valor, Italian for Gondolia, Scandinavian for Sniffleheim, etc. It actually works for foreshadowing - you can figure out parts of several characters backstories before the relevant reveals from their accents, although at least one tries (with middling success) to hide his accent for just such reason.
  • NiNoKuni has each game’s earthling character speak with American accents while the residents of the world where the game takes place have British accents. The fairies have heavy Welsh accents.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: In keeping with the films' frequent use of Evil Brit characters, Sith Empire characters in the game tend to speak in British- or British-descended accents, but with a much wider range than usual (everything from Scots to a couple of Australians). Republic-affiliated characters tend to speak with either American or Canadian accents. This gets lampshaded a couple times: at two points in the Imperial Agent storyline, Cipher Nine affects a "Republic" accent while undercover (both male and female Agents normally speak with an English accent), while Imperial PCs of all classes can pull a hilariously bad Brief Accent Imitation to make fun of a Republic character on Belsavis.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: The English dub has two examples. Though all of the characters sport accents from across southern England, most of them are distributed based on character rather than nationality (despite living together for most of their lives, siblings Fiora and Dunban speak in Estuary and Received Pronunciation accents, respectively, for example). The first exception and example of this trope is the High Entia race, who all speak in Upper Received Pronunciation accents and are the sole users of it. As a very long-lived and somewhat isolationist society of High Elfish people, the language difference checks out. The other example is the Nopon race, who aren't so different accent-wise, but speak in their own unique dialect full of broken English and strange terminologies.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles X implies that the various alien races encountered on the planet Mira have their own languages, but an unexplained phenomenon on the planet translates them all, so we mostly end up getting everyone speaking the same language in the same way. Some quirks still manage to make their way through though, such as the Ma-Non tendencies to repeat conjunctions or phrase sentences as questions, or the many oddities of the ever present Nopon dialect.
    • The English dub of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 kicks things up a notch by giving every one of the fictional nations of Alrest their own set of dialects taken from the real world:
      • Gormotti - Welsh
      • Urayans - Australian
      • Ardainians - Scottish
      • Leftherians - Northern English
      • Tantalese and Tornans - Received Pronunciation
      • Indoline - Mid-Atlantic
      • Blades - American
      • The Nopon return yet again sporting working class southern English accents, presumed to be the native dialect of the Nopon founded Merchant City of Argentum, as well as their unique broken speech patterns and terminologies.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Justified, as the two nations of Keves and Agnus are descended from the characters found in the worlds of the first and second games respectively.


    Western Animation