See also: Languages (D20) for roleplaying rules
The languages of the Realms have a long history and great depth, even if most people understand each other. The greater differences are really found between races such as Humans, Elves, Dwarves and so on.
- 1 Human Language
- 2 Elven Language
- 3 Dwarven Language
- 4 Halfling Language
- 5 Dragon Language
- 6 Hawk Language
- 7 Language of Magic
- 8 Ratel Language
- 9 Black Language
- 10 Roleplaying
- 11 Names
- 12 Language History Notes
Wide trade and exchange has kept the individual local dialects fairly similar, but they still have distinct tones and even different words for things between Kingdoms and even cities (or city districts!).
Common and its dialects
Normally called 'Common', the way to speak decently to one another, the 'language' is understood by just about everyone. It is similar to modern Swedish and Norwegian; Swedes and Norwegians can understand one another in speech and text, but it's also clear they are different languages.
The dialects are not as different as modern Swedish/Norwegian, nor as different as some of the Anglo/Saxon languages of the Anglian kingdoms, but they are different enough to be an important social implication when speaking to people. However, this similarity makes the differences more important! If you have an Oakshield accent speaking to people from the Kingdom of Haldean, they will treat you worse than if you had a Vasj accent, and would even treat you well if it was a Wyny accent. Naturally, if you speak with an Haldean accent, you will be treated like a local (that is, friendly as long as you have the right paperwork).
Each kingdom has a dialect, and each dialect sounds sort of similar to dialects of the kingdoms surrounding that dialect. Though it's perfectly acceptable to speak a Kingdom's general accent, Even within one Kingdom, there are different dialects in each city and land area (within and without the walls of Capitoleum there are even entirely different dialects). There can be many advantages of being able to speak a particular accent at a particular time.
Much of the Common language is based on Lingua, a now dead language that was spoken in the distant past in the Realms. Poetry, naming of things, religious sermons and similar uses are now the only things the language is good for. That and certain scholars with an interest in talking down to people in a truly elegant manner.
When Lingua was a living language it did of course have dialects and etymologists can see a change in the language over time, but anyone reading, writing or speaking it today make no such distinctions.
The language known as lingua was one used in the mythical height of civilization during the 9 kings, before the great wars. It was concentrated mainly in the south at the time and dominant languages in the north were more "barbaric", leaning towards celtic, gaelic, breton and germanic or north germanic. This language became obsolete but was specifically picked up again with the Emperor and his court, keeping it alive in official business. Southwestern and mid - eastern kingdoms have word traditions related more closely to lingua but all languages were moulded more closely together with the Emperor, even if nobody speak Lingua any more outside of church and academics.
Elven language evolved from Quenya, the language given to them by the goddess Belindril, the Mother of Elves. Like Lingua, it is a language mainly used by officials for rituals, to engrave buildings or to write laws. It is a language only elven scholars learn and perhaps the most die-hard elfophile.
Sindarin is the language most used by elves, though it also has minor dialect differences between places, similar to the human Common language. Each of the Lofty Peaks have a particular dialect and each of the five elven cities as well.
Elven culture is generally more strict, however, and it is very hard to hear the differences between their dialects for an outsider. An elf will immediately know if a person is a native speaker or not, depending on the use of dialect, even if most others would just hear "Elven".
Work in progress. :) A language that has changed only slightly over time and is still spoken by dwarves. Since most humans believe the dwarves are extinct, only scholars carry on the knowledge of this language and not very many of them. Primarily the field of archeology needs to know the language.
Language of Magic
It's impossible to gain any significant amount of skill in Spellcraft without knowing Veni, but it's also a dangerous language as just speaking it can activate the magic hidden within it. Generally, it is only every written down in mundane ink on mundane paper and spoken in safe phrases and words when discussing spells, not whole sentences.
- See main article: Languages (D20 SRD)
Languages in Hökaland are the results of culture and historical events in the world and is obviously not English. For this story setting the languages have been simplified and shortcuts have been made to use English to represent the "common" language, so a town like Southshore has a "label name" in English that represent a name meaning "southern shore" in common. Similarly, words and other names are used with labels. In cases where a name is "odd" in our own world, it can be seen as the actual name in Hökaland.
If a name has non-English sound, it's a name closer to what it would be in the world, like "Greenweald" literally means "Green Forest" in many Old English or related languages.
Many names are bastard mixes of different schools of thought, much like in our world.
Generally, individuals in Hökaland do not have additional names other than their given name and any nicknames. Sometimes the nickname stucks and becomes like a surname, but only noble houses REALLY have surnames. The most common names are either "son of father" (like "Johnson") or "of birthplace" (like "of Wellbarrow"). Sometimes these can be combined, and a third option is to be named by one's profession, like "Roric the Smith of Wellbarrow" or "Roric Smith" or "Roric of Wellbarrow". All of these "surnames" really is like a second given name and children by said person is usually not going to inherit it.
In all cases, "surnames" are very subjective and varied. It makes bookeeping hard but nobles have still not "approved" regular people using surnames, feeling that it would make their own names "common".
Merchant families are living in a vacuum between crafting and nobility. They lack the same advantages as a noble person has (less tax, etc) but still see themselves as "more" than most others. Often they do take a surname, hoping to elevate themselves to peerdom eventually. Some families even start using heraldry-like econography, all in preparation for their "destined" noblehood.
If a person comes across someone who introduces themselves with first and surname you can be fairly sure they are of noble birth or at least a well-to-do merchant family. Depending on the person, merchant families often have more to prove and can more often use their "surname".
Noble families generally have a family name in addition to a given name. In the cases where there isn't such a line, they are often identified by some anscestor's first name, and, in essence, do have that as a surname.
In the cases a non-gentry individual is raised to nobility (usually through knighthood) they can create their own name. Usually this is taken from some attribute they feel they have or aspire to or some ancient forefather they look up to (who may or may not actually be a physical relation).
Quite often a family will have several individuals with the same name over a few generations. In those cases there are two main ways to differentiate them.
- By a unique epiteth, like "the Strong"; usually associated with very old houses like Vasj, Wyrd & Wyny.
- It's also used by young houses that want to seem more esteemed. This, in turn is often made fun of by others: "Know thy place".
- By a numeral, like Hanna Asmeagan I.
- For more humble very young houses, like Tally, they wait with adding numerals until they have a few generations of heads of house.
Barbarian & Tribe Names
- Full article: Northern tribe: Names
Naming in the Borderlands is similar to the "civilised" world. Northern tribes have some differences in naming, however. Usually after their lineage, tribe and homeland, like "Gunnar Wolfheart Berntson of the Molar Crow Tribe".
Language History Notes
The language known as lingua was one used in the mythical height of civilization during the 9 kings, before the great wars. It was concentrated mainly in the south at the time and dominant languages in the north were more "barbaric", leaning in style towards celtic, gaelic, breton and germanic or north germanic. Lingua became obsolete but was specifically picked up again by the Emperor and his court, keeping it alive in official business. Southwestern and mid-eastern kingdoms have word traditions related more closely to lingua but all languages were moulded more closely together with the Emperor, even if nobody speak Lingua any more outside of church and academics.
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