Languages of the Forgotten Realms (Topic #6426)

Forgotten Realms of Adventure (#1051) > Realms Extras. (#6083) > Languages of the Forgotten Realms
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May 5, 2003 14:12 (PostID: 26338)   Like this postNumber of Likes0

Languages of the Forgotten Realms

The languages used by the people of the Realms are numerous and diverse. Knowledge of the language that a people use can give some insight into the psyche of these people. Additionally, there are issues such as common and root languages that need to be addressed. This document sets out to list the languages used in the Realms. Though not exhaustive, it is certainly thorough.

In many cases, the area where the language is used is the only information given. In other cases, some limited information has been given about a language to illuminate a certain deserving aspect. This is not to imply that one language is better than another, just that most campaigns will get more use out of some languages than others.

Common Languages:

From a stand point to ease the basic communication problems of the realms, "common" languages have developed as a thrown together mishmash of words and structure that can communicate basic meaning and intents. They serve primarily as a trade language, with little ability to communicate any thing like emotion, feeling or desire. The skill cost to develop a common language is half (round up) normal. They can be developed to 6 ranks, but no further.

A root language for a common tongue may act as the number of ranks in the common tongue. There is no rank limit on this communication.

If a character with a common language is speaking to a character without that particular common language, treat the communication as one half the number of ranks in one of the root languages (round down). Different common languages treat each other in this manner as well.

Similar Languages:

Differing dialects may be developed more easily when a related language is known. As one half of the ranks of a specific dialect may be treated as skills in a different dialect, development of the new dialect starts at one half of the ranks in the original dialect plus one. (eg, if Uma speaks Qualinesti to 10, the first rank she purchases in Silvanesti is rank 6)

Human Languages

Common (Human)
A simple trade language incapable of expressing complex ideas, but sufficient to secure lodging and make most business transactions. Derived from assorted portions of Draconian, Bocchi, Krenite, Cattani and Thorass.

A common language in the counties of Dambrath, Durpar, Estagund and Var the Golden. Some Takanesti influences have seeped in over the years in Dambrath resulting in a somewhat whispery, wheezing accent. Also occasionally seen in Ulgarth.

Calimshan. Seems to be derived from the language spoken by the inhabitants of the elemental plane of air. Soft, lilting language. Very easy on the ears.

This language is used by the men of the frozen land of Sossal.

The nomads of Anaurach call this collection of babbling syllables a language. Just about everybody else calls it noise.

A language of exacting meaning and strict grammar used in the Sword Coast and the Western Heartlands. Some passing similarity to Larik is present.

Sespech, Turmish, Chessenta, Chondath, Unther, and Mulhorand use this language as a bond that links all their common heritages. It is descended from Rauric, just as Mulhorandi and Untheric are, but condenses and simplifies meanings as well as eliminate the pictograms for the more easily used characters common throughout the realms.

A sharp, easily understood, loud language used by the inhabitants of Chessenta. A very useful battlefield language because it is still discernable at great distances. Written language uses a set of characters unique in the realms.

There are so many widely varying dialects of this language spoken by the natives of the Chult that there is great difficult communicating even between tribes. The result is invariably war. Good for talking about plants, animals and rain, but lacks concepts like metal, county, or magic.

A clear, concise, choppy tongue suiting the folk of the Dalelands quite well. Not very eloquent. Appears to be a boiled down and softened variant of Draconian.

A guttural, although smoothly flowing human tongue common throughout the heartlands. Principally spoken in Cormyr, Sembia, Impiltur, Thesk, Aglarond, and Altumbel.

A guttural, yet lilting language that is very difficult to learn by non-natives. Oriented towards oceans, warfare and agrarian life, but capable of rousing emotions when needed. Although it is used in the North as well as the northmen of the Northern Moonshae Isles, it does not have forty words for snow.

A language derived from Netherese. Very complex and not easily learned by non-native speakers. Used exclusively in Halruaa.

High Shou
This is a language spoken in various dialects throughout Kara-Tur.

Sharp, exacting language spoken by the inhabitants of Ulgarth. Not commonly used outside that county. (Think Latin)

Thay, Ashanath, Narfell, Damara, and Vaasa use this language. It is a language with simple grammar and a vast vocabulary. It can also be used to give exact meaning, or to insinuate with double meanings. Very useful for threats and intrigue.

Common in the lands surrounding the Moon Sea, this soft, whispering language is heard nearly everywhere from the lips of Zhent assassins. Renown for the ability to easily deliver vulgar insults and curses as well as eloquent dressing downs of subordinates.

A pirate and sailor derived language spoken exclusively in Lantan. Seems to be an extension and enhancement of a early dialect of the Thieves' Cant with new words and grammar added to make it easier to discuss everyday affairs. Replete with jargon.

A language of a wide range of pitch and tone used by the Ffolk of the Southern Moonshae Isles. Shares some vocabulary with Bocchi, but has much relaxed and simplified grammar. Good for expressing and evoking emotions. Preferred language of bards. Seems to have evolved from Bocchi.

Zakharan (south, beyond the great sea) common. Very similar to the real world languages of Swahili and Arabic. Spoken in Durpar, Estagund and Var the Golden frequently.

Mulhorandi (Mulani)
Mulhorand. Preserves much of the mother tongue ( Rauric ). Is an inflected language with many verb tenses and cases; word order is relatively unimportant. It is often thick and slow compared to other languages. Mulhorandi writing consists of complicated picture-glyphs. (Think ancient egyptian)

Rasheen (Rasheemi)
A lilting language with complex syntax and grammar, rarely known by anyone outside of Rashemen.

Amn, Tethyr, Calimshan. This language is capable of exact meanings, but has very informal grammar and a plethora of adjectives and adverbs with similar meanings.

A babbling tongue with influences from Cattani and Chesso that is used by the herdsman and fisherman of Threskel. Written form is in a primitive, oversimplified set of pictograms, similar to those used in Mulhorand, but with much more general meanings leading easily to misunderstanding.

Also known as Auld Common. An ancient human language from when the world was young. Bears structural and scriptural resemblance to Silvanesti (half ranks, round down both ways). Very common language in Amn.

Unther. Secondary language to Cattani in Chessenta. Shares same roots as Mulhorandi, but has evolved over the centuries. Uses runes entirely different from Mulhorandi. Runes are syllable-glyphs rather than word glyphs that Mulhorandi uses. Bore some influence in the development of Thorass.

This language is spoken exclusively by the Uthgardt Barbarians of the frozen north. Very few outsiders are familiar with this tongue.

Dead Languages

Language of Anauria, richest of the lost kingdoms.

Language of Asram, second richest of thet lost kingdoms.

Elder Tongue
Root language from which all dwarvish sprang. VERY old indeed.

Language of Hlodath, the most northern of the three lost kingdoms.

Language of the lost kingdom of Netheril. Bears similarity to many elfin languages with added, subtle and duplicate meanings. Very good language with which to discuss magic.

Language of the ancient humans in the areas now in and about Mulhorand and Unther.

Elfin Languages

The elfin dialects and the areas they are used are Silvanesti (Fair) South High Forest, Qualinesti (High) North High Forest, Kagonesti (Wild & Wood) Aglarond, southwest Elven Court, Dargonesti (Great Sea) Shining Sea, Dimernesti (Fallen Star) Sea of Fallen Stars, Lyranesti (Moon) East Elven Court and the High Forest, and Cudynesti (Gold) Principally in Evermeet, trace settlements in Rawlinswood. Regal Elfin is the primary language of Evermeet.
Common (Elfin)
An elfin trade language, principally spoken by humans wishing to trade with elves. It is derived from some of the more archaic parts of Silvanesti, Qualinesti, Lyranesti and Cudynesti. The elves make no efforts to modify this trade languages as it suits their needs.

Regal Elfin
Regal Elfin is the language of the Elfin Court and the language used most often between elves of differing clans or tribes. It tends to be quite formal, though not cumbersome. This language combines the best aspects of the elfin dialects into a smoothly flowing, easily recognized language. Regal Elfin can communicate with all other elfin dialects to rank 8, but is not limited when the other speakers are using Regal Elfin as well.

Espruar (special)
Silver Elfin Runes. A runic language used to express elfin thoughts. Like Dethek, all elfin languages (not common elfin though) are the same when written.

D'Nesti (Aquatic)
Though some aquatic elves spend most of their time high and dry, most inhabit the depths and shallows of the waters. As the spoken tongue does not carry well underwater, the aquatic elves have developed a language combining body motion with sounds derived from Regal Elfin, its parent tongue, to convey meaning.
Where a dry elf would say something like "I am going to the house", an aquatic elf would say his name while making gestures to indication movement and then house. Because of this non-verbal streamlining, aquatic elves sometimes have difficulty expressing themselves to their cousins.

Migonesti (Grey)
The grey elves have been out by the Frozen Forest for so long, they have become their own independent quasi-nation. Their language has diverged from Regal Elfin so much that is incompatible. The language itself is sharp and harsh to be easily understood over the howling winds.

Takanesti (Dark)
The drow use this language that has evolved to their underground environment into a usually soft, whispering spoken language. A variety of facial expressions and hand or body motions have been given meanings enabling drow to communicate in complete silence. The drow, alas, are nearly everywhere in Underdark.

Dwarven Languages

Common (Dwarvish) / High Dwarvish
Like Elfin common and Regal Elfin, Dwarf common and High Dwarvish are used to communicate between trading partners and all dwarves respectively. All Dwarvish tongues are very loud, booming languages that can carry for great distances underground. High Dwarvish can be used to communicate in any dwarf dialect to a rank limit to eight. There is no limit when all speakers are using High Dwarvish. The mountain dwarf dialect is known as Urthek. The hill dwarf dialect is known as Mithek. Aspects of these two dialects compose the common tongue.

Dethek (special)
Runic method of recording dwarvish speech. Interestingly enough, all dwarvish dialects are identical in written form (excluding dwarf common).

Derro (Dark)
These dark diggers have developed their own language and runes that serves them particularly well. The also use a series of hand signals that allows them to communicate basic meanings silently (rank 3).

Gnomish Languages

Gnomes usually speak the language of their neighbors, be they dwarves or elves or humans. Gnomes do not feel the need to reinvent something that someone else has provided for them.
For purposes of conveying scientific or engineering knowledge, gnomes have a universal language of science. It cannot communicate emotionally or eloquently, but it certainly can be exacting of quantities and methodology.

Halfling Languages

Halfings are far too busy to bother with a language of their own. They use human tongues mostly, though will use the language of their neighbors in any case.

Monster Languages

A language spoken by traders of Underdark.

This language is spoken by all members of the Seelie and Unseelie courts, among human tongues they may have learned.
Aarakocra, Beholder, Bullwug, Centaur, Dolphin, Firenewt, Gargoyle, Genie, Giant Eagle, Jermlaine, Ki-Rin, Kobald, Korred, Kuo-Toan, Lammasu, Lizard Man, Locathah, Merman, Minotaur, Morkoth, Nixie, Ogre, Ogre Magi, Otyugh, Owlbear, Pegasus, Remorhaz, Sahuagin, Sphinx, Tasloi, Thri-Kreen, Treant, Triton, Troglodyte, Troll, Umber Hulk, Urd, Wemic, Whale, Yuan-Ti

Conveniently enough, the various goblinoid races speak very nearly the same language. Whether this is by design or some sinister plot is unknown, though it is generally thought to be from celestial influence. Lugroki is short on manners and names, but expresses commands and insults quite well.

Goblin, orc, hobgoblin, gnoll, bugbear and koalinth.
Giant Common
Giant common is actually a language all giants use everyday. Particular dialects might have certain words or expressions not seen in other dialects, but all dialects share identical grammar and basic vocabulary. When speaking the same dialect, there is no rank limit. With differing dialects, treat giant common as a common language with one half the ranks from the specific dialect. The various dialects are Cloud Giant, Fire Giant, Forest Giant, Frost Giant, Hill Giant, Mountain Giant, Stone Giant, Storm Giant and Water Giant
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