Taja is a language with Verb-Subject-Object word order. However, emperor Kai wants to always be the first, so, he wants all sentences where he is the subject to have a Subject-Verb-Object word order.

Obviously, people at the court follow this rule. Farmers in a remote region probably not that much. If Kai dies a few years later and his successor goes "Stop this stupid word-order thing" this would be forgotten quickly.

If, however, Kai lives long enough (or his successor also likes it this way), other nobles would start to require their servants to put them first as well, eventually even remote regions would pick it up. Finally, it becomes part of the language.

How long does this need to stay in effect until language development integrates it into the language? Such that even after replacing monarchy with democracy, the "Subject-Verb-Object" word order is still used when the subject is a person, and the speaker wants to express his/her respect?


Let me answer the questions in the comments.

  • First of all, Kai is not planning to systematically change the language. He is just pleasing his ego. So while he will punish people who do not do it (if he notices), he is not going to start a large-scale education program.

  • If the emperor is the object of the sentence, the sentence stays as it is. So "peasants must pay taxes to the emperor" stays unchanged.

What is the equivalent Earth date for technology?

agricultural, probably medieval.

How physically and demographically large is the country?

An entire continent. Think about the Roman Empire.

How much trade is there with other countries?

I haven't given this one any thought. I guess less trade helps, so, let' say very little.

How strong is/are the religious influences (a big deal with language)?

weak to medium

How effective is the collection of taxes and the dispensation of justice?

Things are quite organized, however, this is a personal spleen of Kai. A judge (or policemen) in a remote province is very unlikely to sentence/imprison someone for not following this.

  • 1
    Sorta depends how flexible their culture is with wordsmithing in the first place.
    – Carl Witthoft
    May 26, 2020 at 15:26
  • What would happen in the sentence "peasant pay taxes to the emperor"?
    – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica
    May 26, 2020 at 15:47
  • @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Something along the lines of "to the emperor the taxes the peasant pays" I'd imagine.
    – Tom O'Daighre
    May 26, 2020 at 16:01
  • 1
    @TomO'Daighre, that's not "subject-verb-object"
    – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica
    May 26, 2020 at 16:05
  • There's not enough information to give an objective answer. What is the equivalent Earth date for technology? How physically and demographically large is the country? How much trade is there with other countries? How strong is/are the religious influences (a big deal with language)? How effective is the collection of taxes and the dispensation of justice? As written, I don't believe you could objectively choose the better answer between "tomorrow" and "a thousand years."
    – JBH
    May 26, 2020 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Assuming emperor Kai puts a strong pressure on his subjects, having the change permanent would be a matter of one or two generations. Once one generation is brainwashed and use naturally the new form, and that there is no backward trend (emperor Kai's death penalty may be a strong incentive to avoid such trend), consider that adoption should stay.

This however assumes that language is mostly spoken and not written (or you need to change writings as well), that teachers are supportive of Kai and teach the new proper way of speaking to all, etc.

  • Dunno about the writing part. Typically documents, books, etc. are required to follow the rules of grammar more precisely than casual conversation is. In addition, we (that is, on our Earth) don't rewrite existing books just because language or rules change.
    – Carl Witthoft
    May 26, 2020 at 15:28
  • @CarlWitthoft Stalin was very fond of rewriting history, including in books. But more casually, old re-published texts are often adjusted to stay comprehensible by modern users, as the language evolves naturally.
    – Uriel
    May 26, 2020 at 15:38
  • Oh, you may not want to change the old books. Let them remain incomprehensible, just like the dark old times they describe. See a heart-breaking example in The Turkish Language Reform: A Catastrophic Success by Geoffrey Lewis. (The link goes to Amazon, but with enough dilligence...)
    – AlexP
    May 26, 2020 at 18:08

Control the schools and the culture

Education and culture are critically important to language development. Children of immigrants generally speak the local language, including the local dialect and slang, even if their parents struggle with it. If you can control the schools and the culture, you can force a new speaking style. It's tough to know exactly what this would look like without knowing the technology level of your world, but since you want a timeframe, let's say 50 years. That works out to one or two generations (one generation in the modern world is between 19 and 31 years).


Require that "Modern Taja" be used in all schools and forbid the use of "Traditional Taja" in education. Send all teachers to mandatory continuing education classes about how Taja is to be written and spoken. Rewrite all educational materials. Emphasize the importance of education and build schools in areas with poor literacy rates.


It sounds like not everybody in your world attends formal education, even with the expanded schools. The king should sponsor great cultural initiatives, including theaters in the cities, the publishing of books, and traveling theater groups that venture deep into the country. In every instance, emphasize Modern Taja and either don't use Traditional Taja or only have the dumb country rube characters use it.

Several studies (example) emphasize the importance of what a child's friends and parents speak in determining how the child speaks. If Modern Taja is all that someone has seen in school and culture for her entire life and it's primarily what her parents have seen for their entire lives, Traditional Taja will sound really weird.

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