Campaign of the Month: April 2011
Planejammer: The Spelljoined
Linguistics – New Languages
The Myth of Faction Languages
A blood can find many bashers in Sigil who’d swear Faction Languages do exist, extremely twisted versions of the Cant that members of each faction use amongst themselves. As noted in paragraph C above, this is only a legend, based on the fact that poor sods hearing high-ups speaking in Sophias or hardheads using the Trade Tongue of Law got really confused.
Aegyptos Aegyptos is the language of the Children of Ptah. Al’malamut, Osirion, Hamunaptra, Mulhorrand, and all other ancient cultures worshipping the Aegyptian Pantheon speak a form of this language. It’s written form is hieroglyphs. It is spoken across the Planes and on many PRime worlds as well.
Baatorian, Least This caste of Baatorian is spoken as a primary dialect only by the spinagons. It is a simple language, used to convey basic commands and concepts. Usage of Least Baatorian is considered an insult and mockery to the one being spoken to, implying you consider them of low intelligence and no subtlety. In use, it’s a harsh, barking tone, having evolved largely for shouting commands across a battlefield.
Baatorian, Lesser (Infernal) This dialect is the one known by outsiders as the baatezu tongue. While more pleasing to the ear than Least Baatorian, it still has a sharp, commanding tone to it. This caste of the language is the first to hold the noted complexity of the language, with double-meaning, innuendo, and even wordplay innate fixtures amongst this and all higher castes. All contracts with non-baatezu are required by baatezu law to be written in Lesser Baatorian.In written form, the language consists of 33 purely-geometric symbols, plus a second set of characters for numerals as well as logic and mathematical symbols
Baatorian, Formal (Malbaogni) Somewhat beyond the capability of most mortals to learn, Malbaogni, or “Formal Baatorian”, is a multi-layered language relying on the ability of the baatezu (and other lawful races) to see and predict patterns in order to communicate meaning. Speech in Formal Baatorian is even more layered than that of Infernal, and deriving the natural flow of conversation’s logical end is almost required to understand even the smallest bits of this dialect. A skilled baatezu can carry on an entire conversation from nothing but the beginnings of sentences, predicting the endings based on nothing but his knowledge of his “opponent”. A Malbaogni exchange is oft compared to an odd mixture of song and contract, melodic yet rigid.
Baatorian, Courtly (Mabrahoring, High Infernal) Almost knowingly ridiculous, Mabrahoring is used only by the pit fiends and other baatezu nobles. Taking Malbaogni to its logical extreme, Mabrahoring is used more to challenge one another than for any true communication between baatezu. With the specificity of a full legal arrangement in every sentence, it is nearly impossible to hold traditional conversation in any mortal sense in this caste. Mabrahoring is so elaborate that its written form is in fact the origin of the runic inscriptions first used to form summoning and binding circles; the lines of symbols not words of power, but simply an explicitly well-formed argument as to why the baatezu in question should remain within. Even amongst the highest levels of baatezu, Mabrahoring is rarely actually used but for the most formal occasions.
Cyrunian A language spoken by witchwyrds.
D’ziriak The d’ziriak are insect-like natives of the Shadow Plane who communicate using a language of their own also called D’ziriak. The language sounds quite simply like insect noises: a buzzing and a chittering noise. Fortunately, the creatures can communicate with other races using telepathy.
Elder Thing The super-intelligent elder things, or “old ones”, speak their own language also called Elder Thing. Due to the creature’s alien form, the language is extremely difficult for other creatures to speak; it consists of high pitched shouts and doleful woodwind sounds. The written language is equally alien, being spun in circular patterns looking like nonsensical dots.
First Speech or Feycommon Almost all creatures in the First World that can speak do so in the First World’s ubiquitous, but unnamed, tongue. Outsiders have dubbed this common language as “First Speech” or “Feycommon”. The language is similar to both Sylvan and Aklo to such an extent that those fluent in either language can generally understand First Speech as well, so First Speech may have been the root of both of those languages.
Hellenic The Greek Pantheon is a close-knit one. Although most Greek powers make their home on Arborea, many others reside in other planes, and despite alignment differences, they like to stay in touch. The endless travels of ambassadors, messengers, spies, and even petitioners between the various Greek realms has lead to the establishment of a common language in all these realms. This language is called Hellenic. Since it is a precise and rich language, it has been picked up as a common language for diplomacy in many outer planes. Also, beings speaking Hellenic are often found on Mount Olympus, the River Oceanus, and the Styx. Hellenic has thus also become a useful trade tongue on these planar pathways. The numerous Greek-sounding names for planes and layers attest the diffusion of Hellenic on the Outer Planes.
Koine Sophias Since PlaneSpeak cannot convey complex thoughts, an erudite language used by priests, factols, wizards, bureaucrats etc. in Sigil has developed with time.This scholarly language is called Koine Sophias, or simply Sophias. It is used for most publications, for official notices, and to debate in the Hall. Sophias is almost only spoken in Sigil among educated people. However, it is also used in those burgs or realms devoted to knowledge gods, such as Thot’s realm in the Outlands.
Lower Planar Trade A language developed by the Yuggoloths to help facilitate trading between Baatezu and Tanar’ri. It consists of a blend of Abyssal and Infernal and is known for having some of the most passionate and precise profanity of any planar tongue
Legalspeak Legalspeak may be taken as a bonus language by any starting Guvner. If the Guvner has no bonus languages (or joins after character creation), it may be taken for the cost of a single skill rank, regardless of the Guvner’s class. Legalspeak is obtuse and impenetrable for non-speakers, combining Draconic with The Trade Tongue of Law (but either root language is hardly recognizable as a part of Legalspeak), as well as over a millennium of Guvner jargon and professional terms.
Midani On a remote prime world called Toril, there is a remote continent of enlightened people who know how to properly address Genies, and who respect them. Genies have hence come to like these people and to visit their land with pleasure, and they have come to adopt their language as a useful tool to communicate with mortals. This language is called Midani. Midani is spoken in the Inner Planes and on those Outer Planes where one can find enlightened petitioners.
Planespeak There is a common language spoken across the multiverse which has evolved from smatterings of various planar languages. This language is called PlaneSpeak. Its use has been spread by merchants, rogues, adventurers and faction members all around the multiverse. Since this language is meant to be used by different peoples and races, it cannot convey complex thoughts. For the same reason, this language comprises only simple sounds, ie base vowels (a e i o u) and consonants (sounds like ts, dz, x, zh, pt are not used). The main areas of use for PlaneSpeak are: Sigil (it is the native language); the Outlands (native language or trade language); the first layer of each outer plane, since it is the most visited layer (used as a trade language) PlaneSpeak is much less widely spoken on the less accessible layers of the outer planes, on the Inner Planes, and on the Prime (each prime world tends to have its own common).However, since the Clueless do understand PlaneSpeak a little, sages speculate that the various prime commons might be related to PlaneSpeak.
Tanar’ric (Abyssal) Commonly believed to have originally descended from the language of the osyluth, Tanar’ric is spoken differently by every caste of tanar’ri (when it’s spoken at all), a strange language with a syntax that varies without rhyme or reason. Every speaker tends to put their own certain style on the way they speak, and somehow it usually works out intelligibly after enough practice in the language. It’s been noted that something about the language especially lends itself to new coinings, with the meaning of an entirely invented word oft-times obvious even when the inventor created it from whole-cloth with no connection to past vocabulary. Some suspect this is due to some underlying structure that’s simply yet to be discovered, others claim it’s an expression of the chaotic nature of the tanar’ri.
Tanar’ric had no written form until after the beginnings of the Blood War, at which point they stole the alphabet of Baatorian, distorting it and using it for their own purposes. The Tanar’ric alphabet today holds little-to-no resemblance to the Baatorian alphabet, though the fact still leads the baatezu to seethe.
Tir Tir (or “githyanki”) is the language of the githyanki race. Descended from Ancient Tir, the shared ancestor language of the githyanki and githzerai, Tir is a thriving tongue, serving as the primary language for nearly the entire githyanki race and a secondary language for countless Astral natives. The written form of tir, known as tir’su, has a 27-character runic alphabet. Words in tir’su are written in clockwise circles with the initial character at the top-most point, with phrases and sentences formed by connecting single words (also known as tir’su) in chains weaving from bottom-left to top-left, over and down, and continuing across the page, ending at a right-most corner.
The Trade Tongue Of Law The petitioners in Arcadia love tending their fields; they also like to travel through the agreeable Arcadian countryside and to visit fellow Arcadians (‘tis an easy way to keep an eye on what one’s neighbour’s up to). Unfortunately, although petitioners forget their previous life, they tend to still speak the language they used to speak when they were ‘alive’. This proved unpractical to Arcadians, who spoke (among other tongues) Egyptian, Sumerian, Toril prime common, dwarvish, etc. An Arcadian common tongue grew from the need to communicate with each other, and this common tongue became the standard language in Arcadia, supplanting any other language there.
Dwarven war parties, hardhead adventurers, diplomats, and merchants eventually brought the use of this tongue to Acheron, to Mount Celestia, to the first layer of Baator, and to lawful gate towns in the Outlands. The Arcadian common tongue has thus become to be known and used as the Trade Tongue of Law. Guvners, Mercykillers and Hardheads are known to sometimes use it in Sigil, hence the false belief in the existence of Faction Languages.
Truespeech While not a language per-se, truespeech is a magical form of communication possessed by angels, archons, and azatas, which allows them to speak with any creature that possesses a language. Mortals are not known to be capable of using truespeech, although on very rare occasions, empyreal lords have been known to bestow this power on worthy paladins in their service. Truespeech is also spoken by the undead personifications of death known as grim reapers, and the divine servitor race of Abadar’s called the orsheval.
Yugoloth Though in the same family as Baatorian, Yugoloth is believed to have split from that language at least 500 millennia ago; while the yugoloths maintain it was originally their language, even if this is true, the more flexible nature of the yugoloths somewhat guaranteed its drift from Baatorian. However, it is still largely mutually intelligible with Baatorian, and of course it still holds many of the same characteristics. Most prominently, the multifaceted layers of communication; unlike their use in that language, though, in Yugoloth they are most commonly used to disguise intent from outsiders. Different castes apply different twists of meaning and interpretation, meaning even though the language is largely the same over the entire race, the same utterance from a mezzoloth and a yagnoloth can mean two (or more likely, five or six) entirely different things. No mortal has ever mastered Yugoloth at a level above that of a nycaloth, and it’s unlikely any ever will.