Campaign of the Month: April 2011
Planejammer: The Spelljoined
Languages of the Arcane Inner Flow
The Common Tongue
The common tongue of wildspace is an ancient creole of the human language still used today by the Church of Ptah for liturgical purposes (Ancient Ptahvian) and elvish. The language has developed to a point, with loan words from so many other languages, that only linguistic scholars easily recognize the connections today. In general, the language varies little from sphere to sphere, with increasing dialectical differences the farther removed one is from the Radiant Triangle. Of course, the common tongues of other regions of space (illithid controlled space, goblinoid space, etc.) will vary.
Elvish, Imperial Navy
The tongue of the IEN and wildspace elves is closely related to the groundling elvish languages. Most such languages, unless having lost contact with wildspace elves for an extended period of time (and even in those cases, change is usually predicated on some other aspect, such as a lack of settled life), can be considered close dialects for determining conversation ability. The prevalence of elves in space makes Elvish a good alternative to Wildspace Common when needing to communicate with disparate folk. One notable exception are the elvish tongues found in Krynnspace; while similar (most untrained humans can’t tell the difference), they comprise unique languages.
The dwarvish language is not quite as cohesive as elvish. Groundling dwarves maintain little contact with their wildspace cousins, so most worlds with ancient dwarven populations have independent languages (Dwarvish, Faerûnian; Dwarvish, Oerthan; etc.). Each sphere also tends to develop a local dialect of dwarvish; they are fully comprehensible to other wildspace dwarves, however. Krynnspace’s dwarves have multiple dwarvish languages unrelated to wildspace dwarvish, and those dominate that sphere. In addition, those familiar with the Auld Dwarvish tongue of Toril can understand wildspace with only slight difficulty, as the two are mor closely related than the modern groundling tongue.
Much like dwarvish, each world has an independent but related halfling tongue (Halfling, Anadian; Halfling, Oerthan; etc.). Unlike dwarves, halflings from sphere to sphere do not develop distinct dialects. Furchin is the only groundling halfling language to be found in noticeable numbers in multiple spheres.
Groundling gnomes are even more isolated from their spaceborne cousins than halflings or dwarves, so it is no surprise that Wildspace Gnomish and all groundling tongues are different languages. Wildspace gnomes also tend to develop very distinct dialects from sphere to sphere, with some being very difficult to understand. Deep Gnome, the language of the svirfneblin, is virtually unknown in space.in many spheres, Wildspace Gnomish may be uncommon or rarely available.
The tinker gnomes of Krynn are far more common in wildspace than rock gnomes of other worlds; while they appear much the same, they are actually unrelated. Similarly, the tinker gnome language is unrelated to standard Wildspace Gnomish. It is surprisingly cohesive, due in part to tinker gnomes being able to spread changes relatively quickly. While technically commonly available, almost no one else willingly learns the language, despite the prevalence of tinker gnomes in wildspace (if they were any other race, their language would give Elvish and Wildspace Common healthy competition as a valid lingua franca).
The language of the giff is typically only learned by those who maintain command of hired platoons for very long periods. Most giff, especially those who lead platoons, are able to speak Wildspace Common, making learning their language unnecessary for most employers.
As traders, rastipedes tend to learn as many languages as they can, making it mostly unnecessary for others to learn their tongue, which is difficult for many humanoids to master. However, doing so is advisable for those who must deal with them frequently, as it can offer some degree of protection against their notorious “bargains.” As a side-note, the rastipede tongue is distantly related to the vocal portion of the language of the arctic-dwelling sha’az of Toril, indicating that the two races share an ancient common ancestor.
Aperusan is like Tinker Gnomish in that it is surprisingly cohesive despite the wandering nature of itss speakers. In addition, like Tinker Gnomish, almost no other race is willing to learn it. While the aperusa are not especially populous, their constant travel makes it fairly easy to find one willing to teach their tongue, should one want to learn it.
Much like Rastipede, few others learn the language of these penguin-like merchants. Those who do tend to be under long-term contract with the dohwar, such as some giff platoons. Since dohwar trade out of their home sphere, there is virtually no divergence of language from sphere to sphere.
The lizard man tongue changes very slowly, so spheres colonized by the same extended group of lizard men will see very little difference between languages. The lizard men of Coliar appear to be the major source of spacefaring lizard men in Realmspace, Greatspace, Refuge, and Pirtel, while another population from outside Known Space appears to have colonized Greyspace Winterspace, and Krynspace. However, it should be noted that in Greyspace and Realmspace, a number of native lizard men tribes from Oerth and Toril have ascended to space, and their languages could be considered Rare in those spheres. Bakali could be considered Very Rare for much the same reason in Krynnspace.
The Trade Illithid tongue is a creole of Standard Illithid, lacking the psionic component of that tongue, and an older form of Wildspace Common. It is typically used by illithids when dealing with their slaves and non-illithid traders within the spheres that fall under their influence. Outside of those spheres and populations, it is not often learned, although some arrogant illithids (especially those who have only recently left Falx or another center of illithid power for the first time) refuse to conduct trade in anything else. As with the languages of other trading races, Wildspace Common tends to dominate this language, although it can be useful for those with extensive trade contacts with the illithids, or those venturing into their space.
The native language of these dragon-centaurs is a relatively new tongue in the Known Spheres, but young dracons are happy to teach it to willing students. While related to the languages of dragons, it is so far removed from those tongues that only scholars of language can discern the reaction.
Human, High Shou
This tongue is one of the few groundling tongues that is widely spoken in the Known Spheres. It is a fairly new tongue, carried to the stars by the large number of explorers and immigrants from the eastern portion the largest continent on Toril within the last century, where it is the common tongue of the land. Whether it continues to be as widely spoken in the centuries to come as the immigrants who speak it become integrated with the existing wildspace culture remains to be seen. There are a handful of similar tongues spoken by humans from outside Known Space (as well as some minor tongues from the same lands on Toril, but these have generally been subsumed and replaced by High Shou. The tongue is most useful to those who deal extensively with merchants or residents of Shou enclaves, those who join crews of Dragonships or Junks, or those who plan to include Shou cities on Toril on their trade routes. It is also useful for thieves who wish to deal with (or eavesdrop on) yakuza branches in cities like Bral and Dragon Rock.