A free workshop for science fiction authors and short story competition on the theme of language evolution. This project is organised by Seán Roberts, Hannah Little and Catriona Silvey. For more information, see below or email Seán.

Gwefan Cymraeg


Are you a Science Fiction author? Do you need some inspiration for your next big story? Come to our free workshop on language evolution to discover cutting-edge answers to some of the hardest questions in science:

Experts in the scientific study of language evolution will present the cutting edge of research, giving you the fuel you need to create amazing stories. We'll cover current theories, experimental methods and what we don't yet know. This is not a course on how to create a fantasy language, it's a course on how to think about the way a fantasy languages might be shaped by its speakers, environment and culture.

You can start learning right now by visiting our Online Resources page.

Who is it for? Anyone writing speculative fiction. No prior knowledge of language evolution is necessary.
Does it cost anything? No, it's free!
When is it? 1pm-4pm (UK time, BST), 26th August 2020.
Where is it? Broadcast live on Zoom, contact Sean Roberts.
Sign up: by completing this form.


We want to encourage writers to be inspired by the field of language evolution. This might include engaging with our questions, imagining situations in the past or the future, speculating on how language might have evolved in a different species, or thinking about the consequences of our methods and practice.

The shortlist will be judged by Arthur C. Clarke Prize winner and biological anthropologist Dr. Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow).

The first-prize winner will receive a cash prize of £400 and the story will be published in the New Welsh Review (on an exclusive basis, subject to the usual editorial process). The 2nd and 3rd place stories will also be considered for publication in the New Welsh Review.

Note that there is a parallel Welsh language competition.

Competition Rules

Language Evolution library

A short selection of science fiction stories about language evolution and linguistics.

Stories of Your Life and Others
The Sparrow
The Dispossessed
Native Tongue
Parable of the Sower
Snow Crash
The Color of Distance
The Book of Strange New Things
The Languages of Pao
The Judas Rose
Remnant Population
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories
Always Coming Home

Sean's favorite books »