Yesterday I asked for writing prompts, and Lew Delport responded: “Shapeshifters with language that changes according to shape” and upon follow-up questioning: “No idea, you’re the writer! Seasonal, maybe?”
So I got to thinking:
V. nonhuman idea: alien sophonts go through cyclical metamorphoses with season. E.g. larva to pupa to imago then back to pupa and larva, then the whole thing starts again. Memories are retained, but drives and emotions change.
Human/magical idea: zóoanthropes are cursed with shapes that shift depending on what planets are currently visible in the sky. Different astrological combinations produce complex but predictable morphology cycles.
In the first case, the problem of the story is that some people can’t transform the way everyone else does. They’re stuck in one shape, which means only one vocal aparatus is available to them, which means that in the dry season, they’re stuck in wet-season form can physically can’t pronounce the words for “sand-storm” and “sunburn.”
In the second case, it’s the opposite. Zóoanthropes have to come up with codes that allow them to pronounce their native language (let’s say it’s Greek) when they have the beak of a bird or the muzzle of a wolf. Then there’s this one island where everyone is a zóoanthrope. What sort of language do they speak?
These ideas are too big for me to deal with this week, but keep an eye out for the coming weeks, and tell me if you have any other ingredients to add to this stew!