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Thread: I just realized that Solamnic Empire would have many languages

  1. #1
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    Default I just realized that Solamnic Empire would have many languages

    Hello all, I have been doing a deep dive lately in studying the Holy Roman and Austrian Empires, and one of the key things mentioned about both is how they contained many different nationalities and languages in their borders.

    Comparing the pre-cataclysmic and post-cataclysmic maps, it seems like there would be several languages that would be spoken among the populace and even local dialects of Solamnic itself. Modern Solamnia possesses lands that were part of other countries and regions prior to the cataclysm, and for most of its post Cataclysmic history Solamnia was balkanized with petty city states and manors of knightly lords who owed no loyalty to a central state that would impose culture on the various regions.

    Ergothian speakers should thus still be the language of the peasantry in Coastlund and Southlund, given that most of the territory belonged to Ergoth prior to the Cataclysm. As well, Lemish seems to have been more of a region controlled by the ancestors of Goldmoon's people, and might be the decendants of the Dom-Shu of the Ergothian trilogy, given the Lemish woods are the remains of Zivilyn's carpet.

    You also have regions of the Estwilde (such as Qwermish), the Deserts of Dybbuk in Hinterlund, and a very isolated penninsula of Tanith. After that, you have Solamnic satellites such as Abanasinia, Nordmaar and Kharolis. These would have varying degrees of integration into the empire, but their merchants and soldiers would be present along with their languages in Solamnia as well.

    Made me look at Solamnia a different way, whereas people generally think of Solamnia as only being western European (perhaps more precisely Norman English or French knights) with a monolithic culture. Maybe we should be thinking of each region as its own nation with its own languages, cultures, and sense of identity, though bound to the Empire and the identity of that now centralized state.

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    Actually, I think of all of Ansalon as analogous to Western Europe, which would indeed make Solamnia “England”. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “Solamnic Empire.” You list lots of areas I don’t think of as part of Solamnia (which classically consists of Caergoth-Kalaman-Palanthas-Solanthus-Vingaard). Beautiful post, though.

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    I think he means territories across the border of Solamnia, controlled by Solamnic government. Think Victorian England.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer View Post
    Actually, I think of all of Ansalon as analogous to Western Europe, which would indeed make Solamnia “England”. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “Solamnic Empire.” You list lots of areas I don’t think of as part of Solamnia (which classically consists of Caergoth-Kalaman-Palanthas-Solanthus-Vingaard). Beautiful post, though.
    Based on the pre-cataclysmic map from Tasselhoff's Map Pouch, everything east of the Vingaard mountains is part of Ergoth, including Caergoth which was part of the "Caer Hundred". On the post-cataclysmic map Caergoth is part of "Southlund" while a large territory east of the Vingaard mountains is "Coastlund". Given that there was no central state, you can probably assume that those regions still speak Ergothian, even though Solamnic might be the language of government.

    I would agree that Solanthus/Vingaard is Solamnia's heartland, and Palanthas its most important city. These regions would probably all speak Solamnic uniformally across the population. However I don't that a territory that large would escape dialect changes. France had several dialects, The Holy Roman Empire had scores. I think a clue to this is the fact that we say "Solanthus" instead of "Solanthas". There is probably a dialect shift between those two regions at the very least.

    As for all the territories I mentioned, this is the new Solamnic Empire under Emperor Jaymes Markham in the Douglas Niles novels. These regions are all listed as being part of the Solamnic Empire by the third book. Some regions crushed by the bombards, some submitting voluntarily. Others I mentioned have cultural ties to Solamnia (Nordmaar, Kharolis Abanasinia) while not actually being a part of the empire. For example, the book mentions that archers from the Southern Estwilde (Qwermish) are part of the Emperor's army.

    I was very down on the Solamnic Empire when I first heard about it, because I thought several smaller city states bound by the Solamnic Knighthood was more interesting. However, reading more about the de-centralized Holy Roman Empire and Austrian Empire has really fired my imagination about making each region its own political and cultural unit bound together in a complex web of politics would be even more interesting.
    Last edited by ferratus; 12-11-2017 at 09:03 PM.

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    Interesting question. Is there evidence (from the novels at least) of many different languages?
    From a gaming perspective, I have always assumed the existence of two "main" human languages, Ergot and Istarian, with possible local variations which however don't impede communication (something akin to American English and British English).

    Ergot spoken in: Abanasinia, Northern Ergoth, Kharolis, Ice Wall, Sancrist, Goodlund, Hylo, Plains of Dust, Tarsis, Saifhum, Solamnia (essentially most of the western countries.)

    Istarian spoken in: Blood Sea ports, Estwilde, Khur, Neraka, Nordmaar (essentially most of the eastern countries.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    Based on the pre-cataclysmic map from Tasselhoff's Map Pouch, everything east of the Vingaard mountains is part of Ergoth, including Caergoth which was part of the "Caer Hundred". On the post-cataclysmic map Caergoth is part of "Southlund" while a large territory east of the Vingaard mountains is "Coastlund". Given that there was no central state, you can probably assume that those regions still speak Ergothian, even though Solamnic might be the language of government.
    I would actually assume that over time the main language would shift to Solamnic. Especially after 300 years.

    I think Ergothian would be a dying language in those regions with the destruction of the Ergothian Empire and the rise of Palanthas as a trading power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Turambar View Post
    Interesting question. Is there evidence (from the novels at least) of many different languages?
    Some. Sturm talks in Solamnic when he is reciting the Oath and the Measure. Goldmoon and Riverwind talk to each other in their own language that isn't intelligible to anyone else. Tasselhoff reads a book with magic glasses in “an ancient language” in the Library in Tarsis that the Solamnics themselves can’t identify much less speak.
    Of course every fantasy race has a language on Krynn, but we are talking about human languages here. In the case of humans largely everyone talks in Common, which is so robust and widespread that the Companions can be understood in both the East and West of the continent by every Tom, Dick and Harry they meet, even if there has been no contact between the two regions in 300 years (ie. Tarsis and Abanasinia).

    From a gaming perspective, I have always assumed the existence of two "main" human languages, Ergot and Istarian, with possible local variations which however don't impede communication (something akin to American English and British English).
    Well, I wouldn't assume two languages at all going by the novels. I'd assume that Common is the speech of daily life, with ancestral languages just being snippets that people learn like high school Latin. I'm pretty sure I've seen Solamnic Knights, in Solamnia, reciting the Solamnic oath "Est Solarus oth Mithas" in such a way that it is obvious they have shifted out of the Common they were speaking with each other up until then. In fact not knowing Common (or even having an accent) is a mark of only the most isolated and savage of barbarian tribes.

    If we go by the novels, barbarians from Icewall can argue the finer points of a legal defense in Saifhum or Nordmaar and all points in between without any issues whatsoever. Certainly nobody talks about Coryn’s accent. But... I would argue that this is neither very interesting or very realistic. A common language is a sign of common government and/or common education. Ansalon was supposed to have been a balkanized, post apocalyptic medieval world where travel was rare. That motif really gets undercut when you have no problems with communication.


    Ergot spoken in: Abanasinia, Northern Ergoth, Kharolis, Ice Wall, Sancrist, Goodlund, Hylo, Plains of Dust, Tarsis, Saifhum, Solamnia (essentially most of the western countries.)

    Istarian spoken in: Blood Sea ports, Estwilde, Khur, Neraka, Nordmaar (essentially most of the eastern countries.)
    I would agree with you if you are talking about a general language that can be understood in those two regions, due to the great powers of the Whitestone Council (though I’d use Solamnic rather than Ergothian) and Dragonarmies/Knights of Takhisis (though I’d use Nerakan instead of Istarian). It wouldn’t be languages you could converse with the average man on the street to buy bread and eggs, but most educated people would know them for political reasons. With Solamnic, Nerakese and what I'm going to call "Newsea Common", adventurers would probably be able to get by anywhere on Ansalon.

    I don’t agree with making languages have as little variation as to be understood over so long a distance. I just don’t really buy it unless there is magic involved. There is quite a difference between Romanian and Spanish even though they are both romance languages, and even different regions of Italy found it hard to understand each other in the middle ages due to linguistic differences.

    Also, while it isn’t the novels, the 3e Dragonlance Campaign Setting does have a languages chart that includes several human langages. (pg. 195 – Table 6.5). I’m going to deviate precisely about which languages do and do not exist in my own fanfiction, but I think it shows a general understanding among the fanbase that there are multiple human languages. I would also note that the Ergothian alphabet is used West of the Khalkhists while the Istarian alphabet is used in the east for the various human languages.
    Last edited by ferratus; 12-22-2017 at 11:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ITA_CRX View Post
    I would actually assume that over time the main language would shift to Solamnic. Especially after 300 years.

    I think Ergothian would be a dying language in those regions with the destruction of the Ergothian Empire and the rise of Palanthas as a trading power.
    Well, you'd be surprised. The Wendish Sorbs were Slavic speakers surrounded by German speakers for hundreds of years and they kept their lingustic island up for centuries. The Basques in the Pyrenees maintained their own tongue so long that they aren't even part of the indo-european language family of the rest of Europeans. Then of course, you have the fact that the Habsburgs tried to establish German as their language of Empire and failed.

    That said, obviously there are reasons why people change languages and assimilate, there just needs to be some examination of why.

    Geographic isolation vs. geographic integration - Natural barriers matter for the movement of peoples and the ability of country to enforce central control. It also determines how much trade goes through the region, and how much economic activity spills over to other regions. Thus it is a major factor in assimilation.

    In this vein, Coastlund is actually pretty isolated from Solamnia, being divided by the Vingaard mountains, and has little population outside of Hargoth to suggest a developed economy. In the Rise of Solamnia trilogy, the region is dismissed by the Regent of Palanthas as nuisance filled with pirates preying on the ships going from Palanthas to Caergoth and Sanction.

    Southlund itself however, seems to be connected to Solanthus by a road, has 4 major cities (Lytburg, Starport, Port O'Call and Caergoth). The massive Vingaard river that would transport goods by barge across the empire ends at its borders, so that may indicate a more outward looking duchy, as they would trade equally with Abanasinia as with the empire.

    Economic integration - Since Solamnia was divided into city states, there would have been little communication between the peasantry and anyone outside the nobility and the merchants. What must be remembered as well is that merchants would only trade in high value luxury or portable goods, which is something that is easy to forget in our culture where we trade in low value and high quantity goods. It is the low value and high quantity trade which is required to have a stable monetary economy and to integrate regions. If all you are trading is cloth, jewels, spices and other luxury goods, there isn't a lot of cultural and language exchange. If you have an economy that is interdependent enough to start trading grain and timber though, you've got yourself a stew going of melting pot assimilation.

    In contrast... Tanis was a well travelled man, Elistan was a community leader, Sturm went to Solamnia, the Twins were mercenaries in the East, Laurana and Gilthanas were elven royalty. None of them knew Tarsis wasn't a seaport anymore. How much trade could there be if one of the most ancient and powerful merchant cities of the pre-cataclysmic world (able to contend with Ergoth at its height) hadn't had merchants visit it in 300 years?

    The power of local elites and their relationship to the central government - The Habsburgs were given their empire by Venus rather than Mars, so they generally had to negotiate with elites in their empire rather than demanding terms with a large central army. As such, local elites such as the Bohemians, Hungarians, Slovenes, Bulgarians etc. kept their languages and being polygot became a part of the identity of being part of the Austrian Empire.

    For Solamnia, that central control was also going to be very difficult because of the balkanization after the Cataclysm. Solamnia had no central government for most of those 300 years, with the territory being divided amongs petty lords and city states. There was no king or emperor to say "pay taxes in this way" or "educate your children in that way." So I wouldn't be surprised to see not only Ergothian language to survive, but also Ergothian rights and laws as well.

    That said there seems to be a lot of evidence that Southlund was more politically integrated than Coastlund. Going by the map, Southlund has several castles built that have Solamnic names. (Castle Di Hojan, Castle Di Estra and Blackgaard). In the Rise of Solamnia trilogy the Duke of Caergoth has a large army, if not the largest army, in Solamnia. Coastlund on the other hand pays no real role in the events of the trilogy except a submission to the Emperor in the third book and seems to be politically distant.

    Education and Common Culture - Well, without a lot of political centralization, economic trade, and powerful independent elites who are landed aristocratic warriors, and the complete vanishing of the clergy... where is the common education and literary output going to come from? Having people devoted to writing requires a great deal of resources and organization for an agrarian subsistence society, and there is neither a centralized state, or the the Holy Catholic Church to pool those resources.

    Population Displacement - So... unless we are acccusing the Solamnics of ethnic cleansing, I don't see much evidence for this either. There wasn't an Ergothian retraction from the territory because there was no real place to withdraw to. The seas were new and terrifying, and ogres were taking over Daltigoth. How would word even reach people in Caergoth that there was a successor state on the far side of Hylo? Why would they assume things are any better there in what was the sparsely populated Northern Hundred than here in the Caer Hundred?

    No, I imagine that the way it happened was that an alliance was struck with Solamnics to intermarry with the Ergothian nobility and to build manors on Ergothian lands, offering tax revenue to support mounted knights against various bandits and predatory monsters. As such, Ergothian would endure quite well among the lower classes, and resistance to foreign laws would probably lead to accommodations. I imagine more Solamnics would come later into Southlund as trade with Abanasinia and other parts of the Newsea picked up.

    Final Thoughts
    I can't see any reason why Ergothian would have died out in either of the former Ergothian territories, there isn't any reason why Ergothian should have vanished in those territories, though I imagine more Solamnic was spoken in Southlund than Coastlund.

    Another thing I noticed with a look at the map, is that a lot of Coastlund would have been part of Hylo rather than Ergoth. Certainly that would explain Gander and Witdel, which seem to be good kender names for a town.

    Actually, that might be a good explaination for a lot of wierd names that don't match linguistically with the towns around it. The kender founded them.
    Last edited by ferratus; 12-22-2017 at 02:13 PM.

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    Dumb question, what is the main language in Palanthas? I just assumed it would be Solamnic.

    From my reading, the Knights of Solamnia are in control of the Caergoth and had been for a while at the start of the WOTL. Anyone know if that is true and where it came from? And nevermind, in WOTL it says the KOS have a major presence in Caergoth and are well regarded there.

    Based on your idea, trade in grain being important, the cataclysm and subsequent desperation for food would have meant that trade in grain would have been huge throughout Solamnia.

    The WOTL source book says as much. The Hill Dwarves came out of Kayolin started farming and established trade with every city in Solamnia.

    I think with that you could surmise Southland changed over to Solamnic, but yeah, Coastland may not have.

    Unless there was a significant amount of migration to Coastland for farming, then it probably stayed Ergothian. And I have no idea why there would have been any migration. I think if Coastland did change it would have been because of the shipping between Caergoth and Palanthas.

    I also remember some comment in one of the books where the companions mentioned knowing a Mercenary Common language. It was somehow different than Common. So yeah, Krynn as written had a lot of different languages.

    As always, good threat Ferratus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    If we go by the novels, barbarians from Icewall can argue the finer points of a legal defense in Saifhum or Nordmaar and all points in between without any issues whatsoever. Certainly nobody talks about Coryn’s accent. But... I would argue that this is neither very interesting or very realistic. A common language is a sign of common government and/or common education. Ansalon was supposed to have been a balkanized, post apocalyptic medieval world where travel was rare. That motif really gets undercut when you have no problems with communication.
    But Ansalon did (at least somewhat) have a common government before the Cataclysm in the form of the Holy Empire of Istar. Given how totalitarian and imperialistic the Istaran state was I would certainly expect them to enforce their language throughout their empire and to put very heavy pressure on their allies and trading partners to adopt Istaran, so I've always assumed Common was basically just Istaran which was imposed on the continent as a lingua franca by the then dominant Istarans.

    As for why Istaran might endure as the common language after the Cataclysm, remember that Ansalon is an isolated continent that has almost no contact with the rest of Krynn. It is also much smaller and less populated than medieval Europe. (IIRC Solamnia which is about the same size of France was estimated in the War of the Lance supplement to have a population under a million people. That is a tiny population compared to medieval France which circa 1000 AD already had 9 million people.) With Ansalon having such a tiny population and almost no contact with other continents, you would expect there to be serious intellectual stagnation (after all less people and less foreign contact means less new ideas being thought up/encountered). And if there is intellectual stagnation then there is little reason for the language to evolve.

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