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

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    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 Iíd use Solamnic rather than Ergothian) and Dragonarmies/Knights of Takhisis (though Iíd use Nerakan instead of Istarian). It wouldnít 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 donít agree with making languages have as little variation as to be understood over so long a distance. I just donít 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 isnít the novels, the 3e Dragonlance Campaign Setting does have a languages chart that includes several human langages. (pg. 195 Ė Table 6.5). Iím 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.
    I actually did use the 3e languages chart and abstracted it based on their written forms. I was running D&D 4e at the time, and I wanted to put less emphasis on languages (which are harder to acquire under that game system) so I followed the same route of the 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. In the end, I liked having only three "root/core" main human languages (Common, Ergot and Istarian) since it made language relatively important but not an overwhelming concern (and there would still be plenty of RPGing fodder with the local dialects even though they are not formalised into game mechanics.)

    As a (southern) Italian, I am fully aware of the complexities of languages (with Neapolitan having been recently recognised as a full language), although at least in Italy true communication problems were and are really rare, to the point that we still study and understand poetry and literature of the early middle ages in their original forms, although Italian wasn't even a language back then. Were problems do arise, they really only concern remote areas and ancestral bastardized dialectal forms.

    All in all, I am not really interested in bringing so many linguistic nuances at the table (in particular I don't like very long lists of languages). The most workable and realistic language system I have seen to date is the one appearing in the Time of the Dragon boxed set.
    It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you [...] YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER.
    E. G. Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bguy View Post
    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.
    Well, I read this before Christmas, but was too busy to reply immediately. That was probably a good thing, because I got a chance to turn it over in my mind and think about it for a couple days. In doing so I've come to the conclusion you might be correct.

    In the DLCS where it talks about languages, it mentions that Common was pre-cataclysmic, existing as a spoken language only. If we tweak that a bit to be just "Vulgar Istarian" a lot of things start fitting together. Solamnia and Istar melded into a single state in the 218 PC. Istar controlled then pretty much all the lands directly except for the Nordmaar jungles, certain isolated regions of the Khalkists and Estwilde, certain parts of Kharolis and the Shu lands, Icereach, and the Ergothian Empire. That would match up pretty well with the novels, as "barbarians" have their own languages but for the most part you can speak a common language from one side of Ansalon to another.

    We would have to assume that Solamnic is a dead language, but that is fine by me. That matches what we see in the novels, where Solamnics seem to slip into "Old Solamnic" when talking about the Oath and the Measure, but not when they are talking to each other. Ergothian would endure as its own language because Istar never took over adminstrative control of Istar, but that's fine too because Ergoth is rather isolated by the sea and doesn't really play a role in the the novels.

    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.
    I can't agree with this though. There would of course still be language differentiation, even though language doesn't change quickly, simply by means of geographic isolation. The people of Ansalon did not do much travelling for 3 hundred years due to political fragmentation and flourishing monsters. No trade, no large empires, no widespread education. That is still true.

    I would recommend listening to this podcast on how Latin became the romance languages, which I'm drawing a lot of my ideas from.

    https://art19.com/shows/tides-of-his...-ae3050cf345c/

    Now that we are all on the same page, we can see that Vulgar Istarian's breakup into languages is inevitable, primarily due to geographic isolation. Slang, favouring one word over another, alternate spellings, accents, loan words (from monsters and pre-Istarian native languages) and shifts in word meanings would cause a dialect continuum within regions and successor languages in different regions.

    Romance languages can share 75%-85% of their root words, but that does not ensure mutual intelligibility, as shown from the wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_intelligibility Language as a tool for communicating is a very complex and fragile construct.

    There is also the fact that sometimes people understand each other better when they write down their separate languages rather than speak it, that some branches of the language family understand better than others (ie. Romanians understand other romance languages better than any other romance language can understand Romanian).

    So if we want to the use the DLCS as a source, it describes human languages based on Istarian (Kothian, Kalinese, Nerakese) but mentions them as seperate languages, which I think is about right. Kalinese would be influenced by the Dravini language of the Khur, while Nerakese and Kothian would be seperated by extreme distance and poltical control.
    mod
    If "Modern" Solamnic is Istarian it is still probably influenced by "Old" Solamnic, and seems to be still written in Ergothian script. It would maybe be fun to assign modern Romance languages to Krynnish languages in terms of how people would be able to understand each other using the "common" language. This would not be a matter of matching cultures of course, but just giving a sense of language drift.

    Northern Solamnia - Occitan French
    Southern Solamnia - French
    Abanasinia - Norman French
    Nereka - Spanish
    Ogrebond - Romanian or English
    Kothian - Italian
    Blodehelm - Romansh or Aromanian
    Tarsis - Gallo or Romansh or Quebec
    Balifor - Catalan or Portuguese

    That level of language differentiation seems about right to me.
    The Nerekans and the Kothians would be able to speak to each other quite well, but have a harder time speaking with Abanasinians and Solamnics.

    Abanasinians and Solamnics practically have the same language. But a regional accent for the North seems likely, given the thus/thas thing.

    Balifor (Kalinese) would be influenced by Khur the way Spanish was by Arabic, but I don't expect a huge language meld because they seem to be distinct regions and the Companions (from Abanasinia) seemed to be able to get by without speaking the language. How Baliforians has been able to keep the Khur from simply taking over is a mystery though.

    Ogrebond seems to have been dominated by ogres since soon after the cataclysm so they would be heavily influenced by the language until it is Romanian at the least, or English at the worst. (We still have Latin as about 60% of our language).

    Tarsis was a protectorate of the Solamnic Knights before the cataclysm, and the Companions were able to speak in Common with them despite there being no contact with Tarsis since they kicked the knights out... so I would assume that it is at least got a strong base in Istarian.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turambar View Post
    I actually did use the 3e languages chart and abstracted it based on their written forms. I was running D&D 4e at the time, and I wanted to put less emphasis on languages (which are harder to acquire under that game system) so I followed the same route of the 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. In the end, I liked having only three "root/core" main human languages (Common, Ergot and Istarian) since it made language relatively important but not an overwhelming concern (and there would still be plenty of RPGing fodder with the local dialects even though they are not formalised into game mechanics.)
    All in all, I am not really interested in bringing so many linguistic nuances at the table (in particular I don't like very long lists of languages). The most workable and realistic language system I have seen to date is the one appearing in the Time of the Dragon boxed set.
    I can understand not wanting to overload the characters with language requirements to get around, but I think there is something lost thematically with a common language. With no communication problems it doesn't really feel like exploration and discovery anymore. Without language fragmentation the cataclysm has very little impact.

    I am particularly bothered by Common arising in this fractured world as it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If Common is Istarian and most human languages are simply dialects of a single language, I can get behind that. It makes much more sense than a "merchant tongue" that everyone speaks as a second language from the lowliest peasant to the highest lord, across regions that haven't been in contact with each other in 300 years.

    If Khur, Karthay, Icereach, Ergoth, Estwilde and the Que-Shu are the only ones with full on different languages the way Germanic or Slavic are different from Latin based languages, with most of the "civilized" lands speaking different dialects of Istarian, I can accept that as making sense.

    However, I think there should be a rule to reflect that dialect continuum. How about this:

    Within 100 miles of your place of birth, you can speak with people in Common Vulgar Istarian without any difficulty. Within 500 miles, you have to use intelligence checks to understand/be understood (with advantage if you are trained insight). Outside of 500 miles you make that intelligence check with disadvantage (negated by training in insight).

    If you don't want to make those checks, you pick up the human language (such as Nerakese or whatever), or you cast magical spells of comprehend languages or tongues. That seems like it wouldn't be too burdensome, but still be realistic enough to represent what would happen to a language in a fragmented world.

    As a (southern) Italian, I am fully aware of the complexities of languages (with Neapolitan having been recently recognised as a full language), although at least in Italy true communication problems were and are really rare, to the point that we still study and understand poetry and literature of the early middle ages in their original forms, although Italian wasn't even a language back then. Were problems do arise, they really only concern remote areas and ancestral bastardized dialectal forms.
    I am glad to have you chime in because I am not a romance language speaker at all, and am just a monolingual speaker of English. Let's say you were dropped into Spain, France, or Romania, how easily would you be able to get around to do what adventurers do? Would enough be intelligible to buy food, secure lodgings, get your car fixed, or pawn a valuable item? I am told by the internet that the Spanish and the Italians find it easiest to speak to each other.

    I would also like to know how well you can understand the early middle ages poetry. Old anglo-saxon english is pretty much unintelligible to us now. Middle English after our language was inundated with French is readable to the average native English speaker, though you have to read slowly and each line a couple times to undertand. Shakespeare is pretty much readable and understandable to modern English speakers, but those who don't read much will complain about having to read it. So where on that continuum can the average Italian speaker understand proto-Italian poetry or Latin for that matter?
    Last edited by ferratus; 12-27-2017 at 01:36 PM.

  4. #14
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    Just to minor note,

    Ferratus, have you watched The Story of English? It's a bit old, but watching it left me with the same impressions you've have in this thread. If you haven't watched it, I recommend it. it's on youtube

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj9jJiPwsp0

    Sorry I haven't responded. I'm just keeping quiet, letting you come to your own conclusions. Basically a long time ago, I have a language chart much like the Taladan language chart.

    http://www.mindspring.com/~granakrs/...ansalonian.jpg

    In my language charge, in broad strokes, I started with four main languages based on Elf, Ogre, Human, and Dragon. Ancient Human, is strongly Ogre, because of human enslavement back in time. Reorx's choosen humans then created forge speak. I imagine it's like ancient human but with enough technical vocabulary that unchoosen wouldn't understand much. Like taking about oxygen, atoms, pressure, temperature, quarks, mesons, gimps, dimps, etc. That would eventually become gnome-speak.

    I must admit, I lumped a long of local human languages as Plainsman (Barbaric). It should be branched into every region. I'm missing Khurish, Nerakan, Dairly, etc. I'd certainly create subdivision between Northern and Southern Ergothan. And Lord help me I never changed spell-corrected "ancient."
    Last edited by Weldon Chen; 12-27-2017 at 05:08 PM.
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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    I am glad to have you chime in because I am not a romance language speaker at all, and am just a monolingual speaker of English. Let's say you were dropped into Spain, France, or Romania, how easily would you be able to get around to do what adventurers do? Would enough be intelligible to buy food, secure lodgings, get your car fixed, or pawn a valuable item? I am told by the internet that the Spanish and the Italians find it easiest to speak to each other.

    I would also like to know how well you can understand the early middle ages poetry. Old anglo-saxon english is pretty much unintelligible to us now. Middle English after our language was inundated with French is readable to the average native English speaker, though you have to read slowly and each line a couple times to undertand. Shakespeare is pretty much readable and understandable to modern English speakers, but those who don't read much will complain about having to read it. So where on that continuum can the average Italian speaker understand proto-Italian poetry or Latin for that matter?
    Communication is not simple, although learning Spanish and French, say, if you speak Italian is generally simple; quite a few words are commonly understood (even though with different spellings). And given the complex grammar of these languages, learning the grammar of a language like English is generally a very simple task (many high schools teach English to a good proficiency level with only a few hours per week devoted to lessons.)
    Scientific and Classical High Schools teach Latin (I did a 5 years course), which provides an excellent framework to understand the general structure of Romance languages. In general however, with the exception of some phraseology and terms that have entered the Italian language, Latin is not readily understandable unless you have studied it. Classical High Schools also learn Ancient Greek. Both Latin and English are also useful since many scientific terms have Latin and Greek origin. I attended a Scientific High School, and in hindsight Latin proved useful for my subsequent Computer Science MSc and Mathematics PhD studies.

    On the other hand, we do read Middle-age proto-Italian poetry without many difficulties; it's not a simple read, but most anyone will be able to read and understand a poem or story.
    It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you [...] YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER.
    E. G. Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979.

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