Monday, April 18, 2011

L is for Linguistics

There are dozens of different languages in use on Malaster. Some of them are mutually incomprehensible - the Thri-Kreen can use the audible parts of tradespeech only with great difficulty, and pretty much no mammalian - or most other - species can make intelligible conversation in Thri-Kreen, for example. Most, however, can be learned, and spoken - after a fashion, anyways - by most species. Many (although by no means all) languages fall into one of the following linguistic groups, although over the centuries drift has occurred in nearly all of them - even the most uptight xenophobic elven cultures from the Old Country have had enough contact with other species to pick up loan-words and concepts.
  • Fae - language of the Fair Folk. Members (if somewhat loosely) of this linguistic group include the various Elven tongues, Gnomish (more like influenced by, or possibly starting from a similar root tongue in different directions), certain Human languages, and, oddly, the original Orcish tongue (although that has long-since been subsumed into Darkspeech). The "official" language of Isderay is based off of a variant of an Elven language, and is thus (very loosely) related to the Fae tongue.
  • Malthandirin - sometimes regarded as "Human", this is actually incorrect - it is, however, the case that many of the cultures most represented in the Diaspora came from the same general area of the Old Countries, and spoke languages based roughly off of this root tongue. As a result, many of the current versions of "human" spoken in cultures throughout Malaster are related to - if not directly derived from - Malthandirin. 
  • Draconic - Draconic is one of the oldest languages, and although nearly impossible for humanoid throats and mouths to master, its great age and power has ensured that it influences nearly all languages it comes into contact with. There are a number of dialects of Draconic - perhaps as many as there are sub-species - but they are all basically comprehensible to one who knows any singular Draconic form.  
  • Dwarven - The Dwarven language family primarily includes the various dwarven tongues, of course - but also some languages spoken primarily by humans, and it has had substantial influence on a couple of gnomish and halfling languages as well. 
  • Goblinoid - called 'Gubbrik' in the root goblin language, goblin dialects are primarily spoken by goblins, hobgoblins, gnoblars, dekantar, and various other relatives of the goblin species. Goblinoid is a relatively simple language, and easy enough for humans to pick up - which may be part of what has facilitated the use of goblins by some human societies. 
  • Darkspeech - although referred here as a linguistic family, Darkspeech is really a single language with a number of variant dialects. Crafted by the unseele, and forced upon their various servitor races - in some cases wholly eliminating whatever tongues they may have had before - it is a foul tongue, and difficult even for some servitor species to understand and speak, let alone those-who-would-be-man
  • Acantar - this is the presumptive name of the human language that was primarily in use on the continent of Malaster before the last great Fall. Its forms and structure can be deduced in part from the remnants spoken by various barbarian tribes, and more can be gleaned from documents and fragments recovered from various tombs and treasure vaults. 
  • The True Language - The Language of AO. Largely unknown - and unknowable - today, except for singular words and phrases - which are spells and enchantments of great power and potency. In a way, all languages are members of this sub-group - but in reality only Draconic and perhaps Fae could really claim to be even slightly derivative of the True Language in any meaningful fashion. 
Beyond these main linguistic groups, there are dozens of independent - or semi-independant - languages as well. Some are dead, or nearly so, while others have, in fact, been "resurrected" - Palyrinthran, for example, existed only as a set of (remarkably intact) manuscripts found in a southwestern mining complex, but has since  been translated, and is taught in Palynthra Reborn (itself only a century or so old, under somewhat mysterious circumstances) as their primary tongue.


Sylvia Ney said...

Great post! I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm stopping by from the A to Z challenge and I look forward to visiting again.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Here's to making it this far, congratulations! I have an award for you!!