Wednesday, May 9, 2018

AD&D Languages

Another big info-dump post. Here's a list I compiled of all the languages mentioned in the World of Greyhawk set and the various AD&D monster books (where creatures are mentioned as "having their own language"). The initial idea behind this was to come up with a more comprehensive version of the Random Language Determination table on DMG p. 102 but there ended up being so many languages to render that impractical (at least for the moment). So instead of a table I'm just presenting it as a raw list.

Human Languages:
Common
Baklunish (spoken in Ekbir, Ket (alongside Common), Tiger Nomads, Tusmit, Ull, Wolf Nomads, and Zeif)
Flan (spoken in Geoff (alongside Common), Rovers of the Barrens, and Tenh)
Old Oeridian (spoken in Great Kingdom (including Medegia, North Province, Rel Astra, and South Province) and Ratik, generally alongside Common)
Rhennee (spoken by the Rhennee people, alongside Common)

Human Regional Dialects:
Fruz (Suloise/Flan dialect spoken by the Frost, Ice, and Snow Barbarians and in Stonefist - 40% compatible with Suloise and Flan)
Keolandish (Oeridian dialect spoken in Bissel, Gran March, Keoland, Sea Princes, the Ulek States, and the Yeomanry, often alongside Common - 60% compatible with Oeridian and Common)
Lendorian (Suloise dialect spoken alongside Common in the Spindrift Isles - 60% compatible with Suloise and Common)
Nyrondese (Oeridian dialect spoken by peasants and shopkeepers in Almor and Nyrond (alongside Common for learned people) - 60% compatible with Oeridian and Common)
Velondi (Oeridian dialect spoken by rural folk in Furyondy, Veluna, and Verbobonc - 60% compatible with Oeridian)

Archaic Human Languages:
Ancient Baklunish (ancient version of Baklunish still spoken in Plains of the Paynims (alongside Common for traders and educated folk) - 60% compatible with modern Baklunish)
Suloise (dead language now read only by scholars)

Human Foreign Languages:
Changoli
Gondurian
Hepmoni
Jahindi
Mulwari
Olman
High Suhfangese
Low Suhfangese

Common Non-human Languages:
Bugbear*
Dwarvish*
Elvish*
Hill Giant*
Gnome*
Goblin*
Halfling*
Hobgoblin*
Kobold*
Lizardman*
Ogrish*
Orcish*

Uncommon Non-human Languages:
(Booka)
Diakk
Black Dragon*
Brass Dragon*
Copper Dragon*
White Dragon*
Gargoyle*
Fire Giant*
Stone Giant*
Gnoll*
(Grimlock)
Jermlaine
Wererat
Werewolf
Manticore*
(Meazel)
Merman
Water Naga*
Merrow (dialect of Ogrish)
(Ophidian)
Otyugh
Sahuagin
Satyr*
(Troglodyte)
Troll*
Xvart

Rare Non-human Languages:
Carnivorous Ape (rudimentary language)
Aspis
Atomie (dialect of Sprite)
Blink Dog
Brownie*
Bullywug
Centaur*
(Crabman)
Dao
Dark Creeper
(Dire Corby)
Blue Dragon*
Bronze Dragon*
Green Dragon*
Red Dragon*
Pan Lung/Shen Lung
Mist Dragon
Giant Eagle
(Firenewt)
Cloud Giant*
Frost Giant*
Storm Giant*
(Grell)
(Grippli)
Harpy
Hippocampus
Hybsil
Lammasu*
Locathah
Werebear
Wereboar
Giant Lynx
Medusian*
Mimic
Mind Flayer
Minotaur*
Moon Dog
Muckdweller
Spirit Naga*
Nixie*
Giant Owl
(Pech)
Peryton
(Qullan)
Salamander*
Shedu*
Sirine
Andro-/Gynosphinx
Criosphinx
Heiracosphinx
Sprite*
Tabaxi
Tasloi
(Thri-kreen)
(Tiger Fly)
Ice Toad
Treant
Triton
Umber Hulk
Unicorn
Worg

Very Rare Non-human Languages:
Aarakocra
Annis
Banderlog
Beholder
Derro
Djinni
Gold Dragon*
Silver Dragon*
Lung Wang
T’ien Lung
Cloud Dragon
Faerie Dragon
Dragon Turtle
Dryad*
Duergar
(Dune Stalker)
(Eblis)
Drow
Ettin*
Firefriend
Foo Creature
Fog Giant
Mountain Giant
(Githyanki)
(Githzerai)
Greenhag (dialect of Annis)
Grig
Invisible Stalker
Ixitxachitl
Ki-rin
Kuo-Toan
Lava Child
Weretiger
Foxwoman
Seawolf
Wereshark
(Meenlock)
(Morkoth)
Guardian Naga*
Nymph*
Ogre Magian*
Phoenix
Pixie*
Quickling
Svirfneblin (dialect of Gnome - 60% compatible)
Sylph*
Titan*
Wemic
Winter Wolf
Xorn*
(Yeti)
Yuan-ti

Other-Planar Languages:
Demonic
Common Tongue of Hades
Modron
Slaad

Secret/Special Languages:
Alignment Languages (nine in total)
Druidic
Ferral (Oeridian dialect now used as a secret code language among officials of the Iron League - 60% compatible with Oeridian)
Subterranean Trade Language (“Undercommon”)
Thieves Cant

Notes:
I drew a distinction between Ancient Baklunish (as described in the WOG Guide p. 16) and modern Baklunish (per the table on the WOG Glossography p. 31).

The "Human Foreign Languages" were all made up by me, based on various off-map lands mentioned in Gary Gygax's Gord novels.

The "common" non-human languages are the nine listed on p. 34 of the Players Handbook plus the three additional languages (bugbear, gnome, hill giant) that have a 2% or higher occurrence on the DMG p. 102 table, which seemed like a reasonable standard. The "uncommon," "rare," and "very rare" lists are based on the monsters' Frequency (with common monsters that don't fit the above criteria included on the uncommon list).

Non-human languages with asterisks are those included in the table on DMG p. 102.

Non-human languages in parentheses are not mentioned in the books but I'm assuming based on the nature of the creatures that they probably have their own language (and note that the DMG p. 102 table includes several monster-languages that aren't mentioned in the Monster Manual: ettin, gargoyle, manticore, naga, salamander, and xorn).

The other-planar languages are mentioned in the books and are not specific to one monster; based on these it can probably be extrapolated that each Outer Plane has its own Common language (that presumably, like the modron language as described on MM2 p. 86, is related to that plane's corresponding Alignment Language(s)).

Various monster descriptions mention the ability to speak with types of animals - burrowing mammals, woodland animals, snakes, birds, fish, etc. I chose not include any of these as languages per se.

11 comments:

  1. There is a lot there. "Undercommon" is a term that I don't really like even though it appeared in UNEARTHED ARCANA (1985). The way that we had played it when it first appeared was that it couldn't be understood outdoors as it was a cant. From SVIRFNEBLIN (D2 Shrine of The Kuo-Toa 1978): "The Svirfnebli communicate with each other by a form of racial empathy when outside their own domains. They have their own language, a dialect of gnomish which a normal gnome is 60% likely to understand. Most Deep Gnomes are also able to converse in the underworld cant (the trade language), and speak and understand a fair amount of Kuo-loan and Drow (tongues of their hated and feared enemies who, along with the Illithids, are the worst threat to any Deep Gnome gem gathering expedition). All of these small creatures can converse with speaking creatures from the Earth Elemental Plane, and it is 90% unlikely that any such creature will harm a Svirfneblin, although the Deep Gnome might have to pay a heavy bribe in precious metal and gems to so escape."

    Another aspect to consider from the above is the frequent mention of dialects in AD&D that can be understood by others. Some examples: Atomie, dracolisk, cloud dragons, gorgimera, fog giant, greenhag and aquatic ogre (merrow).

    A note on faerie dragons is interesting: "All faerie dragons can communicate telepathically with one another at a distance of up to 2 miles. They speak their own language and their alignment tongue plus the languages of sprites, pixies, elves, and the birds and animals in their area. They frequently use forest creatures to help them in their pranks."

    All this text appeared word for word by a fan but in DRAGON #62 (JUN 1982) and mentioned in Gary's letter two issues later (DRAGON #64 AUG 1982) (which also mentioned Roger E. Moore's nonhuman gods were flawed BTW! ;) ) as: "The various dragons were interesting. I particularly liked the “Faerie Dragon” — with a few modifications it could become a part of the AD&D™ game."

    When it appeared in MONSTER MANUAL II (1983) only the Druid levels were modified as being higher by age. Otherwise, that text was left intact.

    The line about "birds and animals in their area" says a lot compared to a criosphinx who:

    "speak their own tongue, that of andro/gynosphinxes, and can also
    speak with animals."

    Otherwise only janee (singular "jann" from DRAG Mag #62 OCT 1982) mention this non-telepathic universal animal language:

    "In addition to speaking the common tongue and the various languages of geniekind, jannee are able to speak with animals."

    Either this is assumed telepathic like the greater shedu (MM2 1983): "In addition to the languages of lawful good, lammasu, shedu, Common, and root languages, greater shedu can speak telepathically with most animals and monsters and can even communicate with plants in an elementary manner.

    NOTE: Greater shedu also speak "root languages". Hey, this is getting really busy! ;)

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    1. Noting which monster languages are dialects of or mutually comprehensible with other monster languages is a good next step (especially since it looks like I was inconsistent about whether I listed them separately or not - I did for Atomie and Greenhag, but not Merrow or Svirfneblin, etc.).

      In order to give this list maximum utility I'd also eventually like to note which other races speak the various monster languages (and which monsters are noted as speaking Common and/or their Alignment Language) but that will take some effort to compile so I probably won't get to it for a while...

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  2. I mispelled "jannee" as "janee" and didn't cite criosphinx from MONSTER MANUAL (1977) . Oops!

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  3. I knew I forgot to mention something. On page 24 of DRAGON #52 (AUG 1981) of the Lakofka article, where all the Greyhawk language info derived, there was a note about altering demi-human languages so that they'd have a choice and the dumb ones would lack the ability. Now whether this is a "Lakofka-ism" of cutting back on everything or not I just thought I'd mention it for the hell of it.

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    1. I just took a look at that. As with almost everything by Lakofka it feels like he's adding a lot of extra complexity in order to weaken character abilities so I can see why Gary didn't adopt that aspect even though he picked up the rest of that article (the dialect languages and the random homeland charts).

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  4. It's neat to see all of these together and I like the break down by frequency.
    Two other oddball races noted as having their own languages in the MM: Giant Owls and Ice Toads, both "Rare".

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    1. Giant Owl is already on the list but I missed Ice Toad, so thanks for that catch. I like all the intelligent animal species that have their own languages - it’s a fun, whimsical flavor element. Even though none of them are on the DMG p. 102 list, implying perhaps that humans aren’t supposed to be able to learn them, I would totally allow a PC to have Giant Eagle or Giant Lynx or Ice Toad or whatever as one of their languages if the player wanted it.

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  5. Sorry, now I see you do have Giant Owl. Others noted as having their own tongue: Hippocampus and Mimic (small intelligent version), each a "Rare"; Otyugh, "Uncommon" (!), and Winter Wolf, "Very Rare". Carnivorous Apes are noted under the Hobgoblin entry as having a "rudimentary tongue", a neat tidbit I never noticed before.

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    1. Ouch! Now I’m wondering how many I missed from the FF and MM2, skipping over entries that “obviously” wouldn’t have a language of their own...

      I thought about whether to include Carnivorous Ape as a language because of the hobgoblin entry but ultimately decided against it since it’s only “rudimentary.” When I revise the list I’ll probably include it with that parenthetical note.

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  6. More crap to chew:

    Here is the text on "invisible stalkers" from MM (1977) pg 55: "Invisible stalkers understand the common speech, but they do not talk any language but their own." Is this air talk?

    About elven not being universal for all elves, under SATYR pg 85 "These creatures have their own tongue and are also able to speak elvish (understandable only to sylvan elves) and the common speech. Satyrs dwelling near centaurs are 80% likely to be friendly with the latter, cooperating with them and speaking their language."

    So wood elf is a dialect, probably better than a surface gnome to a svirfneblin (60% likely), so it is better for surface elves to understand each other but enough difference to make satyrs exclusive to wood elves. This is probably universal: regional and sub-types are language factors that might equal out at times.
    (20% for each? Type+region to get the 60% for svirfneblin?)

    I'm guessing there was a master language chart for all this that was behind the scenes as this seems like an algebra formula where this lost language chart is a letter (variable) that can be extrapolated. Its even in the mind flayer entry:

    "These monsters speak only their own arcane language and several other weird tongues- purportedly those of terrible races of things which dwell in regions of the subterranean world far deeper than mankind has ever ventured."

    Off the chart?

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  7. I made a few edits to add the missing languages, note which monster languages are dialects of other languages, and add notes on the compatibility of the human dialects adapted (simplified) from Len Lakofka's article in Dragon #52 where those dialects were introduced. If anybody spots any more missing languages, please continue to point them out. I want this list to be as accurate and comprehensive as possible.

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