Languages

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Introduction

A common language and culture defines a state just as much as borders, cities and governments do. Each major nonhuman race speaks its own language and humans have themselves produces a myriad of languages for no other reason than their lands are so widespread and lacking an unified culture.

The oldest languages spoken in Faerûn are nonhuman in origin. Draconic, the speech of dragons, may well be the oldest of all. Giant, Elven and Dwarven are also ancient tongues. The oldest known human language date back several thousand years ago. These languages were spoken by the prehistoric human empires such as legendary Nethril.[1]

The Common Tongue

Nearly every civilized race in Faerûn can speak some degree of common or at least communicate with it. Even in regions as far away as Murghôm most can make themselves intelligible in common. The widespread use of common have cemented it as the universal trade language in all of Faerûn. It is also important to note that while common serves well as a trade language it is ill equipped being used for more complicated subjects. The language is too simplistic to express more delicate wordings.[1]

Alphabets

The humand and humanoid languages of Faerûn make use of six sexts of symbols for writting; Thorass, a human symbology; Espruar, a script invented by the elves; Dethek, runes created by the dwarves; Draconic, the alphabet of dragons; Celestial, imported long ago through contact with good folk from other planes; and Infernal imported through the outsiders of fiendish origin.

A human scribe whose name is veiled in the shadows of history invented the set of symbols that make up the Thorass alphabet. Thorass is the direct ancestor of today's common tongue as a spoken language. Though no longer a living language, Thorass' alphabet has endured as the alphabet of common and many other tongues.

Espruar is the Moon Elven alphabet. It was adopted by Sun Elves, drow and the other elven ethnic groups thousands of years ago. Its beautiful weaving script flowers over jewelry, monuments and magic items.

Dethek is the dwarven script. Dwarves rarely inscribe their runes on anything that which can perish easily. They are often put them on metal sheets or carve them directly in stone. Aside from spaces between words and slashes between sentences, punctuation is ignored. If any of the script is painted for contrast or emphasis, names of beings and places are picked out in red while the rest of the text is coloured black or left as unadorned grooves.

The three remaining scripts, Draconic, Celestial and Infernal are beautiful yet alien since they were made to serve the needs of beings with a very peculiar line of thought. However, humans with ancient and strong cultural ties to dragons, or beings from far off planes have been known to adopt them to transcribe human tongues in addition to the languages they originally served[1]

Learning Languages

According to the rules of Pen and Paper DnD 3.0, a character can only speak as many languages as you INT modifier, aside from Common or their racial/class language (meaning an Elf comes automatically with Elven and Common regardless of intelligence, and an Drow Druid would come with Drow, Drow Handsign, Common, and Druidic). Do realise that your choice of bonus languages must be logical. A half-orc will be not be capable to learn Drow Sign language easily, as it is very difficult to master, and it would be hard to find a tutor.

The list

  • Abyssal - Chaotic Evil outsiders, Demons
  • Auran - Air creatures
  • Aquan - Water creatures
  • Celestial - Good outsiders
  • Common
  • Draconic - Lizardfolk, Kobolds, Troglodytes, Dragons
  • Drow
  • Drow Sign (Usually House Specific; Mostly known only to Drow.)
  • Druidic - Only Druids will know this language
  • Dwarven
  • Elven
  • Giant - Ogres, Giants
  • Gnomish
  • Goblin - Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bug bears
  • Gnoll
  • Halfling
  • Ignan - Fire creatures
  • Infernal - Lawful Evil outsiders, Devils
  • Kara-Tur - 11 dialects
  • Orcish
  • Sylvan - Dryads, Fey
  • Terran - Earth creatures
  • Thieves' Cant - Used by rogues to get meaning across indirectly
  • Undercommon - Underdark races (Drow, Duergar, Etc.)

Regional Languages

(Organized by language, region, and alphabet used.)


Aglarondan; Aglarond, Altumbel; Espruar

Alzhedo; Calimshan; Thorass

Chessentan; Chessenta; Thorass

Chondathan; Amn, Chondath, Cormyr, the Dalelands, the Dragon Coast, the civilized North, Sembia, the Silver Marches, the Sword Coast, Tethyr, Waterdeep, the Western Heartlands, the Vilhon Reach; Thorass

Chultan; Chult; Draconic

Common; Everywhere on Faerun's surface (trade language); Thorass

Damaran; Damara, the Great Dale, Impiltur, the Moonsea, Narfell, Thesk, Vaasa, the Vast; Dethek

Dambrathan; Dambrath; Espruar

Durpari; Durpar, Estagund, Var, Veldorn; Thorass

Halruuan; Halruua, Nimbral; Draconic

Illuskan; Luskan, Mintarn, the Moonshaes, the Savage North (uncivilized areas), Ruathym, the Uthgatdt barbarians; Thorass

Lantanese; Lantan; Draconic

Midani; Zakhara*, the Bedine; Thorass

Mulhorandi; Mulhorand, Murghom, Semphar; Celestial

Mulhorandi (var.); Thay; Infernal

Nexalan; Maztica*; Draconic

Rashemi; Rashemen; Thorass

Serusan; Inner Sea (aquatic trade language); Aquan

Shaaran; Lake of Steam, Lapaliiya, Sespech, the Shaar; Dethec

Shou; Kara-Tur*; Draconic

Tashalan; Black Jungle, Mhair Jungle, Samarach, Tashalar, Thindol; Dethec

Tuigan; Hordeland; Thorass

Turmic; Turmish; Thorass

Uluik; Great Glacier; Thorass

Undercommon; Underdark (trade language); Espruar

Untheric; Unther; Dethek


  • These other lands on Toril are not in Faerun

Notes

Most magical script is written in a mixture of Draconic and Infernal. Draconic symbols resemble a mix between old celt runes and kanji if they got drunk and had a baby. Elven mages tend to write their spells and research in old elven, which is the language of the grey elves Thayvians write all their spells and research in old empire script. This is incredibly hard to read or decipher.

References

[1] Languages

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Page 84-46