I have been informed that using the Writing Meta site as a Sandbox is allowed. If not, let me know and I'll make some structural changes. Here's the question:

When writing a fictional world, is it okay to use words of a different real-world language than that of which you are already using. Example:

Referring to a sword as a katana. "Katana" is a Japanese word, and my story takes place in a fictional world where English is the language, among other, fictional languages.

Here's the other word: "Casus Belli", meaning "Cause for War" in Latin. The reason for my wondering is that these have etymological origins in the REAL WORLD, and there is really no explanation for why a character would deviate from the "English" language in the fantasy world to say these words, as that world never had a samurai period in Japan or a Rome.

So, is this fit for Writing SE, or is it fit for Worldbuilding.

  • 1
    Are you looking for an in-world excuse to do so (WB question), or are you asking whether it is stylistically a good thing to do (Writing question)?
    – NofP
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 16:18
  • 1
    The latter. @NofP
    – A. Kvåle
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 18:00
  • On topic for Writing, off topic for Worldbuilding. As long as it's not a duplicate (and I haven't done the search), and as long as you make it a bit more general, not just about getting feedback on your two examples, it's a good question for Writing.
    – Cyn
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 2:02

2 Answers 2


Very broadly speaking:

  • Worldbuilding is for questions about the setting in which your story is set, but not the story itself
  • Writing is for questions on how to get your story or point across (including the later parts of that process, such as publication), but not necessarily the specifics of your writing (as opposed to general questions about getting a point across)

There's also the language-specific sites, such as English Language & Usage, which, again broadly speaking, are about the linguistic constructs themselves.

You're asking if it's okay to write using words from a language other than the main language your writing is in. That appears to me to be a question about how to get your story across.

Writing's subject scope includes, among other things:

  • General copywriting, style, and organization.
  • Questions asking for help expressing a concept or an idea, within limits. (See this meta post for more information.)

A question such as the one you're proposing would seem to fall into those categories. It also doesn't seem to me to be a critique question, or a question about the strictly interpreted correctness of English (or any other language) grammar or syntax.

To my mind, therefore, it should be on topic on Writing.

Since the question is not asking about an element of the world within which your story is set, nor itself has any bearing on the world within which your story is set, but is rather purely a question about how to tell the story to the reader, it does not appear to be a good fit for Worldbuilding and (in an ideal world, and in my opinion) would likely end up being closed as "too story-based" if it were asked on Worldbuilding.


In Worldbuilding this would end up as a plot question about why there were so many loanwords being used in a particular setting; that doesn't work within the Worldbuilding site guidelines.

Here its a question around style it's more on topic but I think prone to closure for being Primarily Opinion Based.

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