Greyhawk Languages

Five primary languages are spoken across the Flanaess, with Common (Aerdi) the most prevalent. Most folk are multilingual, though barbarians and the uneducated often speak but one tongue. Adventurers always know Common and learn additional languages in the usual manner.

Aerdi (Common): A combination of Ancient Baklunish and the dialect of Old Oeridian spoken in the Great Kingdom was the basis of this traders’ tongue. Beginning centuries ago as Middle-Aerdi, the language contained many obviously Oeridian elements, and the contributions of Baklunish grammatical structure and vocabulary are clearly identifiable. Regional variations were also pronounced, but all these elements became blended and standardized during the years of the Great Kingdom’s dominance, resulting in the birth of the Overking’s Common Tongue, later simply called Aerdi or Common. Any traveler must learn Aerdi or be greatly handicapped. Very often, a language must be translated into Aerdi before it can be translated into another language.

Baklunish, Ancient: An ancestor of Aerdi (Common), Baklunish bears its offspring little resemblance. Many colloquial Baklunish dialects (some used by the Paynims) are based upon the classical language and collectively called Low Baklunish. Ancient Baklunish, however, is the standard literary form of the language and is used in religion, mythology, and poetry. It is also the language of all official documents and courtly proceedings west of the Yatil Mountains. Despite this, Aerdi is widely known and used in the west, especially by traders and the educated.
Flan: Doubtless the oldest language still spoken to any considerable extent, Flan is used by the Tenha in a corrupt form, and Rovers of the Barrens have a strange version of it. A stagnant language, it is hard to translate modern concepts (such as magic terms) into Flan.

Oeridian, Old: A young language, Oeridian took in few outside influences until a few centuries ago. As a result, translation into any language except Aerdi is difficult at best. Many books and documents of the Great Kingdom are written in Old Oeridian, and in the far east the language is still widely known and used in speech and writing.

Suloise, Ancient: This ancient and widespread language became all but extinct after the Rain of Colorless Fire destroyed the Suel Imperium. Today it is rarely spoken, even by the few scholars who know the tongue. It exists in its written state for those who would delve into the surviving arcane tomes of the Suel people. Transliteration into modern tongues or alphabets is difficult, and dangerous when used in spellcasting, for the significance of certain inflections has been lost over the centuries.

Dialects and sublanguages worthy of note follow. Those who speak related languages have some chance to understand dialects, but little chance to comprehend distorted, mixed tongues.

Druidic: The druids’ tongue of the Flanaess shares roots with Flan, but it is specialized and static, focusing only on the natural world and agriculture.

Ferral: Ferral is an old Oeridian tribal language spoken only by officials of the Iron League. Ferral is used for military command and identification purposes and is not a living language.

Fruz (The Cold Tongue): This dialect is Ancient Suloise with Flan admixture, spoken by Ice, Snow, and Frost Barbarians. It has no relation to Aerdi (Common), and even speakers of Suloise find it difficult to understand.

Keolandish: This widespread dialect of Old High Oeridian has local admixtures. It is spoken in and around Keoland.

Lendorian: This obscure dialect of Suloise (influenced by Aerdi — Common — and full of nautical terms) is spoken in the Spindrift Isles. It has no relation to the Cold Tongue and is not written.

Lendorian Elven: A peculiar new tongue that only High and Aquatic elves of the Spindrift Isles know. It is a highly complex and symbolic language that fulfils the functions of philosophical discourse, religious devotions, and social intercourse. It is said to be nearly impossible to learn as a second language.

Nyrondese: This High Oeridian dialect of Aerdi (Common) is spoken in the rural areas of Nyrond. It is the primary language of peasants, shopkeepers, and other commonfolk who distrust outsiders. Learned folk speak Aerdi as well.

Ordai: This dialect shared by the Wolf and Tiger nomads bears some resemblance to Ancient Baklunish, but it is mostly similar to dialects spoken among the distant Paynims. Its written form is based on Baklunish script.

Rhopan: The language of the Rhennee, Rhopan is also called “Rhennee Cant” because it borrows many terms from other languages, including the argot of several thieves’ organizations. It is not related to any known tongue.

Ulagha: The language of the Uli is a debased form of colloquial Baklunish.

Velondi: This Old Oeridian tribal tongue is known to rural folk near the Furyondy-Veluna border. Those who speak only Aerdi (Common) cannot understand it. It has no written form.

Greyhawk Languages

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