PDA

View Full Version : Development of Language



Morof Stonehands
2021-04-08, 04:52 AM
I have an underground setting, which came about after the races from the surface moved below due to the surface becoming uninhabitable. That happened 150 years ago. Almost all of the communities are made up of these races, in addition to a couple that already lived underground.

As written in the books, of the races I use, only gruwaar have Undercommon as a language, dwarves and kobolds have it as a bonus language, and Humans and Illuminati have Any as a bonus language.

How long do you think it would it take for the other races that donít have undercommon as a bonus language to get it as a bonus language?

Mastikator
2021-04-08, 05:44 AM
Single generation assuming they live relatively together. If they live separately then not at all. And somewhere in between if they are somewhere in between

MoiMagnus
2021-04-08, 06:17 AM
Anybody raised in a society that talk another language for common affairs will learn it in few decades, and most likely teach it to their children. So 1 generation if the population are mixed and interacting on a daily basis.

Otherwise, it will depend on individual backgrounds. Merchant, scholars, and most peoples in power will learn in in one generation or so. But 150 years later, the average guard might still not know more than few words of it.

However, unless you got rid of the common language on the surface, D&D linguistic is already not realistic at all. It's much more consistent with the D&D rules that any race that lives underground and would talk common if it was on the surface now also talks undercommon when underground. So, I'd stay 1 generation in every case for consistency with the D&D universe.

jjordan
2021-04-08, 09:50 AM
Depends on how you approach the language. I tend to view common as a pidgin language designed for use in trade. Modern examples would include: Bamboo English, Tok Pisin, and Kamtok. It varies from place to place and picking up the local version can take a week or so, but it can be picked up in a week or so. In some settings I've had common be a constructed language intended for communication between different language groups. Modern examples would include: Eseperanto or Toki Pona. Pidgin languages are inherently second languages. Some pidgin languages become creoles. A creole language is one which is the first, and primary, language spoken by a group of people. Creoles are linguistically more complicated than pidgins and take longer to learn. DnD has always treated common as a sort of remnant language that was once widely spoken by a larger political group that no longer exists. The obvious analog is Latin.

Because linguistic hurdles are fun to roleplay for only a very, very small subset of players I suggest that the other species be able to pick up undercommon in a week or so if they don't already have a familiarity with it.

Martin Greywolf
2021-04-08, 11:11 AM
I have an underground setting, which came about after the races from the surface moved below due to the surface becoming uninhabitable. That happened 150 years ago. Almost all of the communities are made up of these races, in addition to a couple that already lived underground.

As written in the books, of the races I use, only gruwaar have Undercommon as a language, dwarves and kobolds have it as a bonus language, and Humans and Illuminati have Any as a bonus language.

How long do you think it would it take for the other races that donít have undercommon as a bonus language to get it as a bonus language?

To take medieval Hungary as an example, Magyars arrive in ~900 AD, able to talk to local Slavic and Germanic populations and vice versa because some of the more enterprising merchants/adventurers/nobles already knew, if not Magyar or a specific Slavic dialect, at least some other Slavic or Turkic language. Magyars had very little reason to know Latin, however, and we do indeed see missionaries sent to them (most speaking greek and latin) needing translators, sometimes several - IIRC there was a greek-slavic-turkic-mongol chain of translators in at least one case, albeit in ~1200 AD, well after this period.

When 1000 AD comes, latin has become widespread enough to write a book of advice for the king's heir in it.

The idea is, if a language is actively used around people, they pick it up lightning fast - few years tops, in many cases only a few months, especially if you already know a similar language. The amount of languages spoken doesn'tmatter as much as you'd think, nobles in medieval Hungary routinely spoke five or more of them, as did merchants and any travellers (latin, german and magyar as base, and their pick of the several slavic langages, greek, hebrew, italian or several turkic languages). Even commoners were usually trilingual or more (pick from their local language, latin, german and magyar).

As long as these underground newcomers keep living in communities split along the same cultural lines as languages are, there won't be a major merging of languages, you need something that will erase the ethnical divides for that to happen. As an example, you have Slovak, Czech and several other Slavic languages that weren't spoken in any sort of even semi-autonomous state, but still survived for a few centuries of that.

You will see quite a few loan words, however, especially in underground-specific terminology the original language has no language for. Magyar has a Slavic term for bear (no bears in their part of the steppe), and English has a Magyar word for coach, coming from Magyar Kocs - because medieval Hungary is where the coach was invented. Actually, sabre is such a loan word as well, although Magyars, Slavs and other assorted eastern European nations argue fiercely who invented the word.

As for what language is understood everywhere, there is no easy answer. There will be areas where one language will play a major role (e.g. this is dwarves' turf and since everyone around trades with them, dwarvish will serve you well) and you may well see some professions that use a specific language for a variety of reasons (e.g. elvish for gardeners that try to make above the ground flora work). Whatever language the ruling class uses for their administrative needs is also in a good position, but that may not necessarily mean everyone speks it - while medieval Hugnary had a lot of commoners that did speak latin, there were still some that didn't.

Which means the world is your oyster, really, and you can create a pretty vibrant culture down there, one where any language will be useful. I'd as far as to give a pretty sizeable bonus to diplomacy if you speak the local language, because people tend to appreciate that quite a lot, even in a community that speaks several languages. Every bigger village is also pretty likely to have at least someone who married in from big city over yonder and speaks the language your linguistically-challenged party needs to speak.

As a last note, this widespread multilinguality seems strange to a lot of us, but here's the thing - we don't need to be multilingual that much any more. Most of the modern countries underwent a sort of a centralization of administration and languages, and we have such a thing as official, proper English/German/insert other language. Even so, I personally still speak three languages with full fluency (one of them in official and a dialect version), one not all that well and can understand a few more closely realted to my main three - and I'm perfectly average in this regard where I'm from.

Batcathat
2021-04-08, 12:26 PM
To take medieval Hungary as an example, Magyars arrive in ~900 AD, able to talk to local Slavic and Germanic populations and vice versa because some of the more enterprising merchants/adventurers/nobles already knew, if not Magyar or a specific Slavic dialect, at least some other Slavic or Turkic language. Magyars had very little reason to know Latin, however, and we do indeed see missionaries sent to them (most speaking greek and latin) needing translators, sometimes several - IIRC there was a greek-slavic-turkic-mongol chain of translators in at least one case, albeit in ~1200 AD, well after this period.

Huh, trying to not just communicate but actually convince people to change religion through what's basically a four languages deep game of Telephone must have been an interesting experience.

Clistenes
2021-04-08, 03:03 PM
We need to learn more about the setting...

Are the surface races a small minority among the subterranean races, or did enough of then descend underground that they outnumber the subterranean races?

Do surface and subterranean races live together, or are they segregated?

Are subterranean and surface races allies, or enemies?

Are there self-suficient cities and countries, or do people live in small hamlets spread around in small tunnel and caves?

Depending on all these factors, surface races might learn Underconmon, or subterrabean races might be the ones learning Common, or they may communicate very little with each other...

Morof Stonehands
2021-04-08, 07:18 PM
We need to learn more about the setting...

Are the surface races a small minority among the subterranean races, or did enough of then descend underground that they outnumber the subterranean races?

Do surface and subterranean races live together, or are they segregated?

Are subterranean and surface races allies, or enemies?

Are there self-suficient cities and countries, or do people live in small hamlets spread around in small tunnel and caves?

Depending on all these factors, surface races might learn Underconmon, or subterrabean races might be the ones learning Common, or they may communicate very little with each other...

Elves, halflings, humans, illumians, gnome, darfellan, buomman, warforged and changelings all moved down into the Underdark after the surface became uninhabitable. Most of them went to live in the great dwarven cities, which were already slightly mixed with gruwaar and kobold (each have their own cities underground as well, though smaller, thus less refugees went there). Thus, dwarves are not outnumbering all races combined, but they do have the royal families in charge of the cities.

As a whole, the races are allies. There is no inherent evil race trying to live there.

The dwarven cities are self sufficient, though they do maintain trade with each other, and with certain communities around them. The city my players started in and are based out of trade with a myconid colony. There are no countries, just cities with tunnel/cave wildlands for miles in between. The cities and their trading partners existed long before the exodus down into the Underdark, and maintained trade and relations with the cities on the surface when they existed.


Everything else that was said by everyone else.

These are some really good insights and great stuff for me to think about, thank you all.

Mastikator
2021-04-09, 02:47 AM
Elves, halflings, humans, illumians, gnome, darfellan, buomman, warforged and changelings all moved down into the Underdark after the surface became uninhabitable. Most of them went to live in the great dwarven cities, which were already slightly mixed with gruwaar and kobold (each have their own cities underground as well, though smaller, thus less refugees went there). Thus, dwarves are not outnumbering all races combined, but they do have the royal families in charge of the cities.

As a whole, the races are allies. There is no inherent evil race trying to live there.

The dwarven cities are self sufficient, though they do maintain trade with each other, and with certain communities around them. The city my players started in and are based out of trade with a myconid colony. There are no countries, just cities with tunnel/cave wildlands for miles in between. The cities and their trading partners existed long before the exodus down into the Underdark, and maintained trade and relations with the cities on the surface when they existed.



These are some really good insights and great stuff for me to think about, thank you all.

Maybe they all pick up the dwarf language instead of undercommon?

Morof Stonehands
2021-04-09, 05:35 AM
Maybe they all pick up the dwarf language instead of undercommon?

So yes, this is most likely what would happen. The only reason I asked about Undercommon is because one of my players was wondering if the races would have picked it up as a bonus language option

Mastikator
2021-04-09, 05:48 AM
So yes, this is most likely what would happen. The only reason I asked about Undercommon is because one of my players was wondering if the races would have picked it up as a bonus language option

IMO they picked up either Dwarf or Undercommon as a bonus language option depending on their background.

Clistenes
2021-04-09, 04:20 PM
In most settings Dwarves usually know Common already, so most refugees may not need to learn a new language.

However, those refugees who wish to prosper and rise socially may learn Dwarven, which probably remains the language of government, administration and the army (because the royal family, and hence the government, remains dwarven...).

Beleriphon
2021-04-16, 01:37 PM
Based on what we know about immigration for real? Four generations at most.

If a person moves from country A to country B and Beeish is the language there rather than Aonese then they will likely have to learn Beeish to really function. Their children will likely be bi-lingual in Aonese and Beeish, by the time grand children arrive the grand children likely speak only Beeish unless grandma and grandpa make a point to speak Aonese to them. By generation four they're speaking Beeish since the need to speak Aonese by the previous two generations is gone.

MoiMagnus
2021-04-17, 05:54 AM
Based on what we know about immigration for real? Four generations at most.

Not always true for large scale migration. More than 10 generations have past since the start of north America's colonisation, and the average person still doesn't speak any of the native American languages.

Martin Greywolf
2021-04-17, 07:14 AM
Huh, trying to not just communicate but actually convince people to change religion through what's basically a four languages deep game of Telephone must have been an interesting experience.

Yeah, there's an ongoing academic debate about how the goals of Mongol and Papal delegates were essentially diametrically opposed and what that means for the negotiations and so forth. Can't really talk about it for fear of forum rules, but you can go forth and look it up, if you are interested.


Based on what we know about immigration for real? Four generations at most.

If a person moves from country A to country B and Beeish is the language there rather than Aonese then they will likely have to learn Beeish to really function. Their children will likely be bi-lingual in Aonese and Beeish, by the time grand children arrive the grand children likely speak only Beeish unless grandma and grandpa make a point to speak Aonese to them. By generation four they're speaking Beeish since the need to speak Aonese by the previous two generations is gone.

This only applies to immigration in the immigration to the US (well, overseas frontier countries like US, Australia and so forth) in the 18th-19th centuries, where you had small sections of a local population moving overseas for opportunities. If we talk about immigration in the sense of medieval migration period (entire tribes/tribal alliances/countries), or even in sense of medieval land grants to foreign settlers, you have whole villages, districts and sometimes cities relocating.

That results in communities that will keep their languages and customs a lot longer - there are many, many cities in eastern Europe (predominantly former Hungary, Bohemia/Czech republic and Poland) that had German-speaking majority until WW1 because they were founded by German settlers in 12th-15th centuries.


Not always true for large scale migration. More than 10 generations have past since the start of north America's colonisation, and the average person still doesn't speak any of the native American languages.

For Americas specifically, it's less of a migration and more of a conquest, and social dynamics tend to be very different between the two, and it also depends on degree of conquest as well. If you replace the top leaders only and let people go on mostly as normal (Mongol conquest of China, Magyar conquest of Carpathian basin, French conquest of England, Ottoman conquest of Balkans), you are very likely to see two languages used in tandem, with a whole lot of people being bilingual.

If, on the other hand, you completely replace the entire administrative structure, i.e. you replace not only the top leaders, but also the intermediate and low level leadership, you are likely to see the former language of choice to either disappear completely or be sidelined to a much greater extent (European conquest of Americas, Franco-Slavic dismantling of Avar Khaganate, early Caliphates kicking out Latin).

There is, of course, the third case where a given language was deliberately targeted for sidelining - this has ethnic cleansing connotations, and is a very touchy topic, and also not really relevant to us here, so I'll just mention it and leave it there.

Jay R
2021-04-18, 12:28 PM
The dwarven cities are self sufficient, though they do maintain trade with each other, and with certain communities around them...

[emphasis added]

There you go. Whatever language is used for trade is a language available to anyone in those communities.