View Full Version : [D&D] IRL Languages vs. In-Game Languages

Deth Muncher
2009-11-03, 12:52 PM
So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm not the only one who thinks that certain racial languages lend themselves to certain real-life languages. Am I? If not, how do you associate them? Mine is as follows:

Common: English, or possibly Mandarin Chinese
Elvish: French
Orcish: German
Dwarvish: Drunken German. Or, possibly, Russian.
Druidic (Or Druish, if you prefer :smallwink:): Gaelic
Gnomish: No idea.

And then, of course, there are the Planar languages, which don't so much associate with IRL languages, but rather sounds.

Infernal: Hissing, dark sounding language that causes you mild discomfort.
Abyssal: Chaotic random-sounding language that drives you mad trying to comprehend.
Ignan: Angry, often accented in random points (like Tagalog, for those of you who know it)
Aquan: A flowwy, cool language.
Terran: Another gruff language, like a mixture of German and Russian, but even more staccato.
Auran: Pretty much like wind blowing.

What am I missing? What do you think?

2009-11-03, 12:56 PM
Infernal should sound like Celestial, but in some way "off-key" in a way that causes discomfort. Like if Celestial sounds like music, Infernal sounds similar but with lots of dissonant intervals.

2009-11-03, 01:30 PM
Halfling: Romani
Dwarven: Irish
Orcish: Russian
Undercommon: German
Elvish: French
Draconic: Latin
Druidic: 1337-5p34|< yeah, no

2009-11-03, 01:33 PM
I think Italian would work better for Elvish.

I mean, Italian is more "flowing" than French (in my opinion), and it makes good music.

Seriously, everything sounds beautiful in Italian.

2009-11-03, 01:36 PM
Well, Tolkien's two Elvish languages were based on Finnish and Welsh, so that's a place to start. And dwarves are usually depicted with Scottish accents, so...

2009-11-03, 02:00 PM
Orc, deep and guttural. It has been compared to German, but I don't hear it.
Dwarf, Scottish or deep Arabic, depending on the setting.
Elvin. Drawled like a light upper-class Brit/mid Atlantic. Crisp.
Halfling Lilting.
Gnome:Only gnome I played so far was Wee Free Men expy, so his Scots accent is probably not typical.
Human, Depends on characters culture. Right now I am playing an Arabic counterpart culture paladin, and he has an accent, especially when he's yelling challenges to his enemies in the name of his faith, that spontaneously developed. It's a bit Arabic, and yet not.

2009-11-03, 02:01 PM
It's obvious that Tolkein's dwarves speak a Semitic-inspired language. The Khuzdl word-system revolving around three-consonant roots is distinctive.

Tolkien said so himself:

I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue...

I really have no idea where the stereotypical Scottish accent comes from.

Deth Muncher
2009-11-03, 02:29 PM
As a real-life Jew, I think that from now on all my characters must be Dwarves by default. :P But I digress.

I think that Celestial/Infernal being similar makes sense.

2009-11-03, 02:31 PM
Terry Pratchett's dwarves also have a strong relationship to Jewish or Islamic communities.

2009-11-03, 02:40 PM
Well, Tolkien's two Elvish languages were based on Finnish and Welsh, so that's a place to start. And dwarves are usually depicted with Scottish accents, so...

Take the extra step and just use Quenya or Sindarin. There is enough material available to speak Quenya at least. Thing is, while Tolkien's elven languages draw upon both (and Latin), it's very far from both, Finnish and Welsh. It is basically Welsh words with Finnish grammar and Latin denotation.

A Finn can't really even begin to understand the words; they're nothing like Finnish. However, once you do learn the vocabulary, the grammar comes to you naturally...because it's the same you've used all your life. If you're a Finn anyways. Otherwise, you're in for a ride.

A Welshman, on the other hand, has little trouble figuring out the words; they're quite close to their Welsh counterparts, really. However, he can't form sentences for the life of him 'cause the grammar is so different.

As a Finn, I claim that Finnish just isn't beautiful enough to be Elvish. And Welsh isn't morphic enough. I think the combination works great though.

2009-11-03, 05:13 PM
I think Gnomish should be Dutch.

2009-11-03, 05:26 PM
I think Gnomish should be Dutch.

I totally agree with this.

As for Halflings, who are often described as a nomadic/gypsy population, I think it would be most appropriate for Halfling to be a Romani tongue.

Dwarves, though often with described with a Scottish accent, probably are more closely related to German.

Orcs I see as speaking either Russian or Mongolian.

Elves would probably be either by French or Italian.

Them's my 2 coppers. Take as you will.