In the show "The 100", the Grounders speak a language called "Trigedasleng". This language is intended to be a descendant of modern English, and we are to understand that it arose through natural linguistic drift.

Over the course of 97 years (between a nuclear apocalypse and the beginning of the series' run), Trigedasleng has evolved into a language with a lexicon and grammar that varies so much from modern English as to sound unintelligible to modern English speakers.

However, how come the language spoken by the "Mountain Men" did not also undergo a similar (albeit separate) set of changes? Should the people of "the 100" / "Sky People" (who have been isolated in space for 97 years and had no contact with anyone on the ground) not also experience problems communicating with the "Mountain Men" (who have spent those 97 years on earth), due to linguistic drift? In the show there do not appear to be any gaps between the versions of modern English spoken by these two distinct groups of people.

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    Honestly it makes no sense at all for there to be a new language, the majority of the grounders seem to be able to speak normal English so why would they have another language... English has hardly changed in the past 150 years so while I'm not a linguist I have no reason to see why it would have changed in the 97 years from the show. In that amount of time it's even possible for someone to have been alive before the disaster. I assume the in universe answer is that the Mountain Men and the Skye People both had relatively rigid schooling using the same materials as before the war.
    – Probst
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 19:51
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    @Probst I have to say, I also find it strange that the Grounders have developed such a radically different language in a relatively short space of time. But then, I am not a linguist. If there is interest I could open another question e.g. "Is it realistic for the Grounders' language as depicted in the show to have developed within 97 years?" to get an out of universe answer. But as the show establishes that one language has changed, I am interested in an in-universe explanation as to why other languages in the show do not. It seems inconsistent. Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 19:57
  • @Probst while I think that is a reasonable inference about the schooling (I've had similar thoughts myself), I'm not sure it can be assumed. And I'm unclear as to why the grounders would by contrast lose all access to schooling/written learning materials themselves. Did no books whatsoever survive the nuclear fallout? Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 20:00
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    @TheGiantofLannister I think that would be a good question as well. I would imagine it has something to do with the grounders being in a savage state. No schools, books, or television shows and probably reduced cultural interaction with other, larger groups would accelerate language drift.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 20:01
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    I am pretty sure the best answer to that is that they had actual schools with text books and stuff, you see the Mountain Men's school at one point and the Sky People's school has at least been mentioned even if I'm not sure whether or not it was shown. If they kept teaching from the same text books etc then the language would not have changed. I don't think there is anything explicitly explaining it, they don't talk about the languages that much which I assume is to avoid the unrealism of the grounders literally developing a new language while continuing to use the old one at the same time.
    – Probst
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


The linguist who created the Grounders' language for the TV show (David J. Peterson) has addressed aspects of this question via a blog post on Tumblr How did the Grounders' language change so fast?

The difference between the Ark/Mount Weather and the Grounders is non-linguistic. Specifically, society remained pretty much intact on the Ark and in Mount Weather. Yes, they had to change the way society worked, but, for the most part, they were all safe and could retain social institutions like education, recreation, etc. In addition people had the ability to live quite a bit longer in both locales, provided they followed the rules. There’s certainly no one there who will have been alive during and remembered the old world (or most likely? Perhaps if they were very young, they could’ve survived in Mount Weather), but I bet there are a few that are one generation removed. I doubt if that’s true on Earth. Everyone on the ground had to worry about the very basics of survival. All social institutions were overturned. Mortal danger became a real part of everyone’s everyday lives, and illnesses could run rampant. Frankly, it’s quite surprising anyone survived at all. (And, as we’ve seen, not everyone survived perfectly; some have mutated.) It’s my guess that there are few if any second generation Grounders alive. The result is that not as much information is passed from generation to generation. Furthermore, innovations from the younger generations are much more likely to stick around if there are fewer older speakers to gainsay them. There’s less push for them to assimilate to any cultural norms if (a) they’re not being passed on as readily, and (b) they’re just as likely to be creating it on their own. Thus the language evolves a bit more quickly. Recall that with Latin, as much as society back then was less technologically advanced, the social institutions were just as strong as they are now. There was no societal collapse the way there was on Earth 97 years before the setting of The 100. It’s a different environment. The last piece of the puzzle is a bit of fiction we concocted. Given that we’re in a small geographical area, there are features that are present in the modern language that are a direct result of conscious change on the part of early speakers. In the chaos that prevailed in the early days, there were direct innovations created so that survivors could determine if someone new they came across was one of them or wasn’t. Those that organized early developed vocabulary that would allow them to easily identify other group members—in addition to being able to communicate with group members without giving away what they were talking about. It was basically a code. Many of these old code words eventually became the new words for what they referred to—defeating the original purpose of the code, of course, but by then it no longer mattered. The fittest had survived. Lastly, the warriors specifically retained their fluency in English in order to be able to understand everyone else (e.g. the Mountain Men). They’re reluctant to speak English in front of outsiders, though, because they don’t want to tip their hand. This is why it took Lincoln so long to actually speak in season 1: He was gathering information on the 100.

(Bold is my own emphasis.)

So in summary, the Grounders were subject to unique environmental pressures, their population had different sociocultural characteristics and priorities, and they made strategic choices that all contributed to the development of a distinctive language.

The Ark and Mountain Men populations were not subject to these same conditions.


I don't feel like you considered the native accents and dialects present today.

The Trikru "i like Octavia" for I am Octavia sounds more like a Valley Girl dropped the Uhm and Am from the I in I am Octavia. The real present slang/dialect of that region is called Geechee. While the Geechee American English would have rapidly changed in that course of time to something different, it wouldn't have been that different. That's just from the etymological stand point.

We have Sanskrit documents precisely for the purpose of those priests desires to retain their original dialect for official and religious services, and yet, most Sanskrit is easily understood by most Hindus today, even though its rarely spoken, because it hasn't changed THAT much despite the changes it has experienced to produce modern Hindu, and modern Indian languages can still be easily traced back to their Sanskrit origins, especially if we ignore the Webster and Shakespearean definitions and inventions in the English language.

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