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UncleChu Describes Creation's Tongues to YOU!

Each of these is a description of how I think the languages of Creation might be structured and spoken. After that is an idea of how an accent would sound of a person that speaks this language natively (for the purpose of Lingusitics rolls made because of the lack of an exclusively purchased dot). Each description ends with things I was thinking about while I brainstormed the language. If I included an example of a translation, it would be for someone communicating from a successful Linguistics roll, as opposed to having learned the tongue family with a dot purchase; that would allow for flawless, though possibly still lightly accented, speech.

High Realm: A wide range of consonants, but limited vowels, spoken in a consistent, machine-gun style pace, every syllable receiving its own beat. Pitch remains constant and controlled, to better mask feelings and lies, as suited for a Noble language. All sentence content is expressed in elaborate vocabulary and grammar. Unconscious hand gestures and body-language are close to non-existent. A High Realm accent can be identified by clipped-sounding speech, with subtler vowel sounds getting overgeneralized into the five Realm vowels, and a strange stillness while speaking.

  • Inspirations: the English-based alphabet of the Realm with Japanese vowel limits, the controlled orderliness of Earth.
    • Spoken quickly, "ah-yee woodoo la-yeekee too peh-roo-zoo yo-ro weh-reh-zeh" (I would like to peruse your wares.)
    • "yoo wih-lih suh-fuh-ruh foro chih-sih inifireh-keh-shuh-nuh." (You will suffer for this infraction.)

Low Realm: Though the range of sounds is the same, the grammar, vocabulary and syntax is so simplified as to be incomprehensible compared to High Realm. Also, clear, crystalline changes in pitch are used to differentiate meaning between the imposing number of single-syllable words. Words alone often don’t carry the whole meaning, and much must gleaned from facial expression and specific pitches. Native Low Realm speakers have the same limitations on vowel pronunciation as High Realm, but almost seem as though they are subtly singing random melodies as they attach pitches to foreign words.

  • Inspiration: making it a degraded form of High Realm, allowing for more emotion in pitch and tone to more easily betray feelings and intentions.
    • "SHO mee wah-choo GAH-toh" (I would like to peruse your wares "Show me what you got")
    • "yoRO ah-SAH ee-ZEE gah-rah-sah" (You will suffer for this infraction, "Your ass is grass")

Old Realm: Power. Versatility. To hear this language spoken by essence-wielders is to hear the sublime. Human tongues can recreate the sounds, but they cannot capture the resonance and force of the spirits and Fair Folk. Entire complex, abstract concepts can be conveyed in a few words, thus its use in spellcasting. As the foundation of all language, it has every conceivable vocal sound, the simplest of grammar, and an overwhelmingly large vocabulary. Native Old Realm accents don’t exist as other accents, the language is a Babel-like key to other languages. Native speakers are often supernatural and can master the subtlest nuances of foreign tongues. The closest that can be attributed as an accent is a tendency to be succinct and to use advanced, extremely nuanced words and phrases, or to be particularly poetic.

  • Inspirations: Babylonian, any made-up fantasy spell words ever uttered, the language of the Protoss and pre-Peewee-style “Flight of the Navigator” spaceship
    • "Your vendibles shall be scrutinized." (I would like to peruse your wares)
    • "The recalcitrant receive retribution." (You will suffer for this infraction.)

Riverspeak: Like Old Realm, Riverspeak contains nearly every sound a human mouth can make, but instead of sounding powerful, it sounds like glossalia or an infant’s babble. Grammar is arbitrary, as the large number of immigrants struggling to learn the language bring their own grammatical misunderstandings that perpetuate easily through jokes and quotes. Geared towards commercialism and business, speech tends to flow quickly and leaves plenty of room for misunderstanding, while at the same time aiming to be simple for anyone to get the gist. Native Riverspeakers talk too quickly in other languages, and often add unnecessary particles, articles, syllables, and other small parts of words from the habit of trying to accommodate all forms of grammar.

  • Inspiration: American English, where we can basically understand limited English regardless of most accents, and use hilarious caricatures of other languages in humor.
    • "I am wanting for the to browsing go at your wares."
    • "I will the punish give for to you for offense at me!"

Skytongue: This language is soft, murmuring, and structured so that the mouth opens as little as possible to retain warmth. Vowels are short and often indistinguishable from each other, with humming sounds frequently employed. However, there is an entire sub-system of grammar to conjugate verbs and declinate nouns for the purpose of shouting with clarity over the roar of windstorms. Skytongue cussing is based on imperative commands and vocabulary used for hunting and survival. (Arkinn hit his finger while hammering and cried out in pain, “MMMOOSE AHEAD!”) Skytongue accents sound like the person is muttering, hardly opening their mouth, and they tend to hold on to M’s, N’s, and guttural L’s. However, when provoked or in urgent situations, they are quick to start roaring as loud as they can.

  • Inspirations: Ventriloquists, sitting in the office quiety speaking to myself in an attempt to figure out which sounds work best for muttering. Also, the complex declination system of Slavic languages like Lithuanian.
    • "Mm, just lrooking for *mumble mumble*"

Flametongue: Conversely, speakers of Flametongue keep their mouths open wide (like panting dogs, their enemies say). The more air they can expel in speech, the better. Vowels are strong and long, with the H sound easily being the most common in speech, followed by other breathy or hissy consonants: S’s, SH’s, Z’s, ZH’s, F’s, V’s, TH’s. Flametongue speakers tend to speak a little too loudly and forcefully in other languages, and foreigners that aren’t accustomed will think all Southerners are perpetually angry.

  • Inspirations: Panting, the way the media shows Middle Easterners constantly yelling.
    • "Can I browzzzzzz?!"
    • "Prepare to ssssuffffffer for your infffracssshhhun!!"

Seatongue: Where the languages of the North and South adapt to the temperature of the air, the East and West have more moderate temperatures and their languages reflect different things. Seatongue, for instance, has powerful gender associations. Every noun is either masculine or feminine, and every verb has four different sets of conjugations depending on the speaker and listener’s gender (male-to-male, female-to-male, etc.). Seatongue also has a complex system of possessives, to indicate if something belongs to people because they earned it or made it themselves, if they stole it or were presented with it, if it is communal and free for all to use, or if they found it. This is a result of living in small places where property is scarce, and the nature or origin of possession is more important to acknowledge. Westerners that speak other languages tend to delight in consonants that are in close proximity and stress them (gr, sk, rt, rk, etc.), as well as constantly mix up gender-based pronouns (him, she, etc.) or possessives (mine, hers, Fakharu's, its).

  • Inspirations: “Yarg, swab the poop-deck! This is my (found) booty that used to be Cap'n Redhook's (stolen) booty.”, noun gender in latin-based language, different verb-forms for politeness levels in Japanese. JohnBiles' thoughts on Polynesian possesives.
    • "GRReat, I-she wanTS to eGSamine its PRRoduCTS!"
    • "His will have eaRRned suffering from you... er...me!"

Forest-tongue: Synonyms and diversity. Just as there are a thousand different kinds of trees that, although having small differences, all produce wood, Forest-tongue has hundreds of different ways of saying the same things. Just as there are so many colors and things to describe in the Eastern forests, it has the greatest number of adjectives in Creation. All the sounds of Riverspeak are used, plus a few strange, slightly inhuman sounds. Whistles, clicks, and strange throat-based noises permeate the language, making proper pronunciation especially difficult for outsiders to master. A Forest-tongue accent is a strange thing, as occasionally, especially during bouts of strong emotion, alien sounds slip out in speech, clicks and whistles inserted into a language that has no accomodation for such vocalizations. Forest-tonguers also often string multiple adjectives together in an attempt to precisely convey a Forest-tongue descriptor ("The sunset last night was so sublime-red-beautiful").

  • Inspirations: Really, only the theory of biodiversity and, well, Tarzan, or the crazy throat-clickin' languages of Africa.
    • "Interested-clever-I would like *click* see fine-cheap-foreign goods "
    • "Hateful-evil you will bleeding suffer for your criminal-insubordinate-*whistle*!"

Guild-cant: Superficially, people think Guild-cant sounds like regular Riverspeak. However, upon closer listening, an outsider will realize they can’t understand a single thing being said. Riverspeak formed the foundation of the Guild-cant, but through carefully applied linguistic techniques, the language structure was completely reshuffled, leaving only the general sound the same. No one speaks it as their native language, it must be learned.

  • Inspiration: I once got drunk with an Irish guy and had absolutely no goddamn clue what he was saying, despite his clear use of English words. Similarly, I’d wager Spaniards and Italians can almost understand each other, but really can’t. Same with Lithuanian and Latvian. I’m sure hundreds of neighboring languages are like that.
    • "Yo knock yourself a pro slick, gray matter live performas down now take TCB'in man."
    • "Full blown bear did a flip - flop and is south bound and hammered down."

Tribal Tongues: Tribal tongues each originated from their corresponding direction’s main language. However, just as the Wyld eats away at Creation, breaking up reality itself, it eats away at language, fragmenting speech into smaller and smaller groups as one travels towards the Elemental Poles, until there is no language save what the Fair Folk happen to come up with.

  • Inspirations: my own essay revolving around languages in Creation. I’d allow players to use Flametongue to communicate with southern barbarians without buying the Tribal Tongue ability, but I’d invoke success reductions the further south they went. Also, because there are probably countless, though significant, dialects, I'd say for a dot in Linguistics you could learn one of the eight sub-direction's core tribal language... north-western, northern, north-eastern, eastern, south-eastern, south, south-western, western tribal tongues. Makes them harder to learn, but not as limiting as "languages per dots in intelligence."
    • "I give island, you give fire-water and used blankets? Deal!"

Comments from my Wikifriends or Others

I'd really appreciate new or interesting language insights to rebuild Seatongue and Forest-tongue. I like the gender-importance in Seatongue, and the plethora of adjectival descriptors in Forest-tongue... but come on, animalisms? Who wants their Solar screeching like a seagull when he's upset? What do you think? --UncleChu

Some thoughts-- Move most of the animalisms to the tribal tongues of the east, while keeping a few for the main Foresttongue. After all, there are real languages which contain some weird sounds--African languages sometimes use clicks for example. (N'kambe, the ' stands for a clicking noise). Seatongue seemed fine to me...what was your problem with it? -- JohnBiles
About Guild Cant, as an italian who's been in spain i have to say that i like your image, but spanish is still to comprehensible to me. ^_^ I'm a bit of a linguistics nut, and my ideas are pretty much like yours - high realm as a japanese-ish language, and obviously low realm as a corrupted version of it. But i was imagining Forest Tongue as somewhat chinese with a very complex and convoluted grammar. Flametongue should sound "middle-eastern", maybe arabic, and my idea of skytongue was sorta finnish / tolkien quenya elvish. Oddly enough, i was thinking of seatongue as a mediterranean language, italian/greek/spanish-like. Also, i have this idea of Hebrew as Old Realm and Swahili as Riverspeak. --Della
For Della... when you hear Spanish, do you think, "Wait, shit, I know that word... aw, no, they've moved on, and their sounds are familiar, but I can't figure out what they're saying." I guess the 'modular' part of Seatongue just seemed arbitrary, the comparison to packing a cargo hold a bit forced. The biggest thing I'd like is just an adaptation for speaking on the seas, like how Skytongue conserves warmth and Flametongue expels air to stay cooler. I'll modify the Foresttongue to just add a couple strange inhuman sounds. We don't need any seal-barking... As for your real-world-language-analogies, what exactly do you mean by saying "Its similar to Swahili"? I'd like to know specific, indentifying language structures that make a language unique. This is foremost in what I'd like to assign to Forest-tongue besides animal sounds... --UncleChu
Swahili, like English, is a trade-tongue spoke by more people as a second language than as a native one. Around ten times as many people in Eastern Africa speak it as a second language than speak it as a primary one. Also, it borrows as many words from other languages as English does, giving it a polyglot feel. (I would guess that's why she thinks of it that way, though I won't feign being psychic, of course.) To quote Wikipedia: "As in English, the proportion of loan words changes as the speaker is communicating at a "lower" or "higher class" situation. In English, a discussion of say, body functions, sounds much nicer if you use Latin-derived words with occasional French terms rather than Germanic-derived words (so-called four-letter words); an educated Swahili speaker will likewise use many more Arabic-derived words with English terms in polite circumstances, though the same phrase could usually be said in Swahili using only words of Bantu origin." As for Seatongue, understanding your objective, here's a few comments--I'd suggest making Seatongue Polynesian in flavor, as the western isles are a a place of fundamentally marine cultures like those of Polynesia. Also, the Polynesian languages have some interesting customs--words connected to a king's name may be banned during his lifetime, which can turn permanent if he lives too long, you have a distinction in pronounces between inclusive and exclusive first person, there is a distinction between two forms of possessives--things you acquired by your actions, and fixed attributes/possessions of yours.
Sweet, good idea on the possessives... threw that in there, seems like a much better language quirk. --UncleChu

No real constructive input here (if only I were a cunning linguist). Instead, I just wanted to congratulate you on an enjoyable, clear and really quite inspirational piece. A little more advice on how to emulate accents or babble incomprehensibly in any of the given languages would be great from a Storyteller's perspective, by the way...DeathBySurfeit

With a flattering tongue like that, Death, you'd easily be a master debater. Went through and added samples for two basic phrases as they might be depicted in-game, though I must admit they're on the sillier side. However, if an ST is trying to introduce accents, its probably for caricuraziation purposes anyway. The language systems are a bit more serious, though. --UncleChu
You're a great fella to show us these. The samples are silly, yes, but that makes them all the more memorable. Great job! Incidentally, any chance of Autocthonian making a presence here?...DeathBySurfeit
Probably nothing formal, as I have yet to adapt anything Autochthonian into any of my games. I don't know if you've seen Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, but there's one point where a bunch of AIs are speaking "Chinese" (though I'm not sure if its Mandarin or Cantonese), and its a scary techno-babble. Autochthonians probably speak in a nightmarish tongue that sounds like something completely evil being picked up by a Ham radio... like if you intercepted a radio transmission from a military operation... fast, efficient, content-packed... and totally, completely alien. Those guys are from another dimension. Just cuz their language is scary, though, doesn't mean that they are bad guys. They're just... completely different, and that's scary for anyone. Oh, also, added a note to Tribal Tongues. --UncleChu
Looking at Guild Cant, it reminds me more of Jive than anything else. I now have the immutable mental image of June Cleaver as a merciless Guild factor. --Oberndorf
You're sharp. The first Guild-cant example is lifted straight from the Jive Dialogue in Airplane. A perfect example of english being used in an incomprehensible way, just as the Guild cant is incomprehensible Riverspeak. --UncleChu

I always saw Skytongue as very big on the consonants and gutturals, but your ideas make more sense. I speak from the heart: You are made of win, dude. - Han'ya