Languages (Greyhawk)

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The languages of Greyhawk have roots that go back to ancient roots. Learning these root languages facilitates the understanding of languages that grew out of that root. Many root languages are lost and not taught.

Human Languages

The following languages are spoken by different human cultures of The World of Greyhawk:

Common

The trade tongue of the Flaness and the standard language of World of Greyhawk campaigns. Spoken in the central and south-west Flaness, it is the universal second language of the Flaness and spoken by most people to one degree or another. Common is a mix of Oerdian, Suel, and Flan, with Baklunish loan words and grammatical influences. As you travel the world speaking common, your language will change from region to region. For a regular traveler, this is not an issue, as you have time to pick up the changes along the way. Traveling by teleport or similar means, each version of Common you encounter is hard to decipher.

  • Polygot: A mix of Tuov, different tribal languages, Amedi, and Flanaess Common. A trade tongue of northern and western Hepmonaland. Sort of the "Common" of that area, but less a separate language than the Common tongue of the Flanaess.
  • Keolandish: This widespread dialect of Oeridian, based on the speech of the ancient Kalgonite tribe, has absorbed local Kalgonite, Diembre, Suel, and Flan expressions. It is spoken in and around Keoland, and is the forerunner of the Common tounge.

Oerdian

The language of the recently dominant human people, now spoken mostly in the feudal areas of the central and eastern Flaness.

  • Aerdi: The original dialect of the Aerdy, the main tribe who settled the Great Kingdom, especially the southern and central parts. Aerdi is sometimes refereed to as "High Oerdian" and was the court language of the Great Kingdom.
  • Diembri: What is now Andoran was mainly settled by the Diembri tribe, worshippers of Pholtus. In the time of the empire, this dialect was considered rustic, but with the emergence of the republic, Diembri is now the official language of Andoria.
  • Ferral: An old Oeridian tribal language of the now spoken only by officials of the Iron League. Ferral is used for military command purposes and is not a living language. Many fear that infiltration by agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood has compromised this code-tongue. The main interest in Ferral today is that it is the basis of signaling.
  • Keolandish: This widespread dialect of Oeridian, based on the speech of the ancient Kalgonite tribe, has absorbed local Kalgonite, Diembre, Suel, and Flan expressions. It is spoken in and around Keoland, and is the forerunner of the Common tongue.
  • Nyrondese: This Oeridian dialect is spoken in rural areas of Nyrond. It is the primary language of peasants, shopkeepers, and other common folk who distrust outsiders.
  • Velondi: A dialect of Oerdian, originally spoken by the Vollar tribe of Oerdians, it is still spoken in Veluna and western Furyondy.

Suel

The language of the ancient Suel civilization and their few surviving modern descendants. An important historical and magical language. The main concentration of modern speakers is in the Tilvan penisula in the north-east and the Drawmidj Ocean region.

  • Amedi: Only Suel of the Amedio Jungle speak this corrupt form of Ancient Suloise. Its few written symbols are Suloise alphabet characters.
  • Cold Tongue: A dialect of Suel spoken by the Suel barbarians of the north-east. It is usually written using Dwarven runes.
  • Lendorian: This obscure dialect of Suloise (influenced by Common and full of nautical terms) was spoken in the Lendore Isles by humans before they were deported by elves in 583 CY. Only human refugees know it now. It has no relation to the Cold Tongue and is not written.
  • Qudran: Spoken in the desert lands on the far side of the mountains of the Nippon Territories.
  • Zankri: Spoken by the divine class of Zindia, descendants of Suel invaders.

Flan

The language of the original natives of the Flanaess, spoken as a secret language by peasants and tribespeople everywhere. Only a few remote lands, mostly in central northern Flanaess, still have Flan as a first language.

  • Druidic: The druids' tongue of the Flanaess shares roots with Flan, but it is specialized and static, focusing only on the natural world and agriculture.
  • Ur-Flan: A dialect of flan with influences from Necril. The Ur-Flan was a civilization with Flan roots characterized by necromantic magic and small castle-cities. They were destroyed by the Aerdy and no known living people speak this dialect today, but it can be found in ancient writing and spoken by ancient undead.

Baklunish

Spoken by the civilized successor states of the Baklunish Empire in the north-west of the Flaness. Written Baklunish is very uniform. The spoken tounge has dialects, and it is generally quite easy to place a speaker by his accent, but most speakers can understand each other quite easily.

Paynim

A second language family of the western plains, Paynim is spoken over a very wide area.

  • Ordai: This dialect shared by the Wolf and Tiger Nomads bears some resemblance to Ancient Baklunish, but it is most similar to dialects spoken among the distant Paynims. Its written form is based on Baklunish script.
  • Ulagha: The language of the Uli is a debased form of Paynim. If written, it is usually in Abyssal characters.

Rhopan

Unrelated to any other human language, Rhenne speak Rhopan, as do some natives of the Shadowfell.

Chakji

Spoken by arctic peoples.

Nipponese

Spoken in Nippon, a land of anthropomorphic animals to the west of the Pearl Sea. It has many influences from Beast Speech, but without the physiological oddities.

  • Wrang: is spoken by the natives in the Nippon Territories. It originated as Nipponese, but has absorbed Celestial, Qudran and, Zindran influences.

Olman

Olman slaves of the Sea Princes or Scarlet Brotherhood speak this strange tongue, their masters hate it. Its huge, complex "alphabet" is really a vast set of pictographs. It is heard most often in the western Sea Princes' lands and in the Amedio Jungle.

Osirian

The language of ancient Erypt, a land dominated by the dead and by the ruins of a glorious past. This is actually several different languages of the early, mid, late, and current Osirian cultures.

Tuov

The trade tongue of Hepmonaland and the language family of the Tuov peoples.

  • Polygot: A mix of Tuov, different tribal languages, Amedi, and Common. A trade tongue in northern and western Hepmonaland. Sort of the "Common" of that area, but less a separate language than the Common tongue of the Flanaess.

Zindran

Spoken in Zindria, the civilized jungle nations south and west of the Amedio jungle.

  • Zankri: Spoken by the divine class of Zindia, descendants of Suel invaders.

Demi-Human Languages

The languages of non-human humanoids, from giants to gnomes.

Dwarf

An ancient language related to Primordial and thus to the elemental powers of creation. It is written using runes, which are keys to magical power, especially curses and enchanted objects. Sagas are not written down but learnt by heart. Dwarf is closely related to Giant and its various dialects.

  • Cloud Giant: The giants of air consider themselves nobility. Their language has links to Auran.
  • Cyclops (Ghol-Gan): Cyclops are one-eyed prophetic giants that once had an empire of their own, called Ghol-Gan.
  • Derrosh: is a combination of Dwarven and Suloise, spoken by the derro, evil subterranean dwarfs.
  • Fire Giant: These black giants have the stature of huge dwarfs, and much of the same mindset. There is even similarity in language, tough Fire Giant also has Ignan influences.
  • Frost Giant: A model for the Thillonrian barbarians, frost giants are warriors and raiders.
  • Hill Giant: Just one step above ogres, other giants look down on hill giants and their language is primitive.
  • Ogre: Ogres are degenerate creatures speaking a pidgin version of Giant.
  • Orc: Orcs are not considered giants, but their language is related.
  • Stone Giant: Relatively friendly, Stone Giant is one of the more accessible dialects of Giant. It has influences from Terram.
  • Storm Giant: The royals of giantkind, their dialect is the most advanced. Their language is related to Aquan.

Elven

Elven is an old language of uncertain origin. The long life of elves means the language chances slowly - elven dialects differ in the specialized words for each environment and in idioms and tone deliberately introduced to set tribes apart form each other. In Pathfinder, Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, and Undines are not elves, but in Greyhawk they are.

  • Drow Elven: A mix of elven and the various language of demons and the underdark, used by the dark elves. Drow has a strong influence on Undercommon.
  • Drow Sign: Drow have a of signs and poses, used in battle and intrigue. Each group has their own dialect, hard for outsiders to understand, but there are also common signs used by many.
  • Grey Elven: The noble elves that build the first cities in what is today the Hellfurnaces. Modern Grey Elven is mainly spoken in elven fortresses in the Feywild. Valley Elves also speak Grey Elven.
  • Gruach: Wild elves and wood elves speak this dialect, looked down on by other elves. It has influences from Sylvan, speakers can communicate greetings and simple concepts with each other.
  • High Elven: A successor language of Grey Elven, this is the language of elven nobility and the high elves of the civilized elven nations.
  • Ifrit: The mirage-like fire elves live in the Sea of Dust and Bright Dessert, but many think they are a myth. The language has many influences from Ignan.
  • Lendor Elvish: A language granted to the elves moving to the Lendore Isles by intervention of the goddess Sehanine. It is a mix of Elvish and Primordial. It has no link to the human language Lendorian.
  • Oread: Elves of mountain vales and slopes. The language has many influences from Terran.
  • Sylph: Elves of cloud and mountaintops, these winged creatures are a legend few know the truth of. The language has many influences from Auran.
  • Undine: Sea elves, the most well known of the elemental elf tribes. The language has many influences from Aquan.

Gnome

Sometimes called low elvish, this is the language of servants and commonfolk in the Feywild. Gnome is a low-status language compared to Sylvan and Elvish. Related to Dwarf, Sylvan and Elvish, but also to Goblin. It is sort of the trade tongue of Fairy, but has much less penetration that Common.

  • Barbegazi: Ice gnomes of the north speak this language.
  • Caligni: Dark Folk speak a language named after their masters, the Caligni. Are Dark Folk the gnomes of the shadowfell? The languages show similarities.
  • Goblin: Goblin is strangely similar to Gnome, with influences from Giant. Spoken by bugbears, goblins, and hobgoblins. Less common speakers include norkers and xvarts. Not a united language, Goblin has one dialect for every tribe.
  • Halfling: A malleable language, today's Halfling has much Common in it.
  • Kobold: Small reptilian miners and trappers, the Kobold tounge has been influenced by Goblin.
  • Korred: A wild fey relative of gnomes.
  • Svirfneblin: Deep gnomes live in the Netherworld, their language is heavily influenced by Aklo.

Beast Speech

Beastman is an intricate language spoken by the beastfolk, consisting of vocalizations, body postures, scents, and alterations of fur patterns. Non-beastfolk can communicate only very simple topics in this tongue. Beast-folk are common in Nippon and Wrang, rare otherwise. Advanced forms of Beast Speech become more and more similar to Nipponese.

  • Adlet: Wolf-folk speak Adlet. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Banderlog: Baboon-folk. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Catfolk: Catfolk are adventurous. They are uncommon, but are seen.
  • Chike: Crocodile-folk. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Girtablilu: Scorpion men. Exist in the Bright Desert.
  • Gnoll: Hyena-folk, relatively common in Flanaess.
  • Leonine: Lion-folk. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Sciurian: Squirrel-folk. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Tabaxi: Catfolk native to jungles. Are these the same as Catfolk? Who knows. Very reclusive.
  • Tanuki: Tanuki-folk. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Vanaran: Moneky-folk. Rarely seen in Flanaess.
  • Vishkanya: Snake-folk. Not the same as Yuan Ti. Rarely seen in Flanaess.

Tengu

Tengu are flightless humanoid avians reminiscent of crows or ravens. The most common birdfolk by far, their language is the most well known avian beast speech. Tengu and its dialects is the beast Speech of winged creatures.

  • Aarakocra: Reclusive eagle-folk.
  • Eblis: Intelligent, non-anthropomorphic cranes.
  • Shibaten: Duck-folk.
  • Strix: Hexapetal winged humanoids, hostile to humans. Syrinx is also owl-folk, of the same or a different kind.

Monster Languages

Aklo

Also called undercommon, Aklo is variant of Sylvan with influences of what might be Deep Speech, Aklo is the language of unseelie fairies and the trade tongue of the Netherworld. Aklo is not really a root language for the Netherworld, that might possibly be Deep Speech or Aboleth, but Aklo is a much more common and useful language. The languages of the Aklo language group are widely different, communicated by different means (sound, light, vibrations, scents, psychic) by different creatures.

  • Aboleth: The aboleth once had an ocean-spanning civilization and created the skum. Theirs is a language of illusion, scent, and tentacles.
  • Deep Speech: The language of aberrations, an alien form of communication originating in the Far Realms. When written by mortals it used the gnomish pictograph, as the only way to properly convey the language is with esoteric symbology. It is an extremely complex highly contextual language, reliant heavily on more than just sound, tone, and inflection. It utilizes body language, scents, trilling, gurgling, and a whole manner of unpleasantries that most mortals struggle with. Is this the language of the Far Realm, or a for refugees of the far realm? Sages can't agree on this. All this makes Deep Speech an almost useless language to normal folk.
  • Beholder: Eye tyrants are often telepathic, but loathe to risk having another beholder invade their mind. Their language uses their eyestalks for signaling, but they can revert to normal speech as well.
  • Drow: A mix of elven and the various language of demons and the underdark, used by the dark elves.
  • Elder Thing : Spoken by the Great Race of Yith, this language might be found in written form in the ruins of their civilization, if Yithians ever lived on Oerik.
  • Encephalon: Encephalon gorgers (sometimes known as cranial vampires or star vampires) are brain-consuming creatures. A large part of their language is transmitted by exposing patterns in their otherwise transparent bodies.
  • Flail Snail: Exotic inhabitants of the netherworld, and among the least hostile of all aberrations, but still very hard to communicate with.
  • Flumph: Fungoid floaters originating in another star system, Flumph sometimes appear as messengers or explorers.
  • Grimlock: A race of blind humanoids perfectly adapted to navigating in the underdark.
  • Gug: Huge humanoids similar to giants common in the Dreamlands and Netherworld.
  • Illithid: Mind-flayers are mysterious humanoids with cephalous heads.
  • Mongrelman: A group of misshapen humanoids found in the underdark and Netherworld. This language has a lot in common with various surface languages and can be a good introduction to Aklo of surface dwellers.
  • Myconoid: Sooken by myconoids, a hierarcy of different animate fungi.
  • Nagaji: Spoken by naga and nagaji.
  • Skum: Monstrous fish-men, once serving the Aboleth but today often their own masters.
  • Svirfneblin: Svirfneblin or Deep gnomes live in the Netherworld. Similarities to Gnomic makes this a rather accessible language from the Aklo language family.
  • Vegepygmy: A race of small fungous humanoids speak this language.

Draconic

Draconic is one of the oldest languages; early draconic humanoids had a civilization before the gods fully entered the world. Today Draconic speakers are mostly debased primitives. The Draconic spoken by true dragons is considered the purest.

  • Babbler: Primitive dinousaur-kin, babblers are close to beasts.
  • Boggard: Frog-folk.
  • Bullywugs: Monstrous frog-folk.
  • Kobold: Small reptilian miners and trappers, the Kobold tounge has been influenced by Goblin.
  • Lizardfolk: The most common Draconic-speakers, lizardfolk are pastoralists.
  • Tlaman is the language of the yuan-ti of Hepmonaland. It is largely derived from Olman with phrases from Touv and the languages of snakes, altered to be best pronounced with forked tongues. It uses essentially the same pictographs as Olman, and an Olman speaker can understand approximately two-thirds of Tlaman.
  • Troglodytes: Underground lizard-people. Believed close to primordial Draconic humanoids, but debased.
  • Yuan-Ti: Serpent people that had a primordial civilization. This language is actually rare even among the Yuan-Ti who mostly speak the degenerate Tlaman.

Astral

The hypothetical lost root language of the languages of the deep astral plane that scholars think splintered into Celestial and Infernal. The best a student of the Astral can do is to learn Celestial and Infernal. There are claims that High Astral are made up of the Words of Creation, a language whose words are so precise they can only be spoken once, ever, at the creation of the world. Note that Abyssal is now in the Primordial language family, since demons are now Primordial beings.

  • Celestial: The language of the higher spheres.
  • Daemonic: The language of fiends that are not devils.
  • Garuda: Garuda are bird-like outsiders of good.
  • Infernal: The language of devils.
  • Modron: The language of modrons and other creatures of pure law. This is an algorithmic language of almost pure logic.
  • Samsaran: Celestials living in physical form on the material plane.
  • Slaadi: Slaadi are chaotic frog-like outsiders native to the chaotic regions of the Astral.
  • Sphinx: Sphinx is a mysterious language, suited to philosophical discussions and statements. Potentially this could be the oldest of all languages, a mixture of High Astral and Primordial. Or it might not be.

Primordial

The earliest "language" of the ethereal realms, Primordial is not a language for conversation, it is more suited to dramatic exclamations and words of power. The other languages of this family are more mundane and suitable for everyday use.

  • Abyssal: The language of demons and the Abyss. This language is a development of Primordial, making it capable of conversation, if limited one. With demons becoming ethereal beings, their language is a development of Primordial, not Astral.
  • Aquan: The language of water.
  • Auran: The language of air.
  • Druidic: The druids' tongue of the Flanaess shares roots with Flan, but it is specialized and static, focusing on the natural world. While related to Flan, it is also close to Primordial.
  • Ifrit: The mirage-like fire elves live in the Sea of Dust and Bright Dessert, but many think they are a myth. The language has many influences from Ignan.
  • Ignan: The language of fire.
  • Lendorian: A language granted to the elves moving to the Lendore Isles by intervention of the goddess Sehanine. It is a mix of Elvish and Primordial.
  • Oread: Elves of mountain vales and slopes. The language has many influences from Terran.
  • Sylph: Elves of cloud and mountaintops, these winged creatures are a legend few know the truth of. The language has many influences from Auran.
  • Sphinx: Sphinx is a mysterious language, suited to philosophical discussions and statements. Potentially this could be the oldest of all languages, a mixture of High Astral and Primordial. Or it might not be.
  • Terran: The language of earth.
  • Undine: Sea elves, perhaps the most well known of the elemental elf tribes. The language has many influences from Aquan.

Shadowtongue

The language of creatures native to the Shadowfell.

  • Caligni: Dark Folk speak a language named after their masters, the Caligni. Are Dark Folk the gnomes of the shadowfell?
  • Necril: A language of undead and the Shadowfell, Necril is a useful language for necromancers because of its large vocabulary on the subject.
  • Rhopan: Unrelated to any other human language, Rhenne speak Rhopan, as does some natives of the Shadowfell.
  • Shae: Shae, and the half-Shae known as Fetchlings are spirits of shadow.
  • Ur-Flan: A dialect of flan with influences from Necril. The Ur-Flan was a civilization with Flan roots characterized by necromantic magic and small castle-cities. They were destroyed by the Aerdy and no known living people speak this dialect, but it can be found in ancient writing and spoken by ancient undead.

Sylvan

Also called First Speech or Fey, Sylvan is the language of the fey, including dryads, brownies, and leprechauns. It is also the root language for the languages of many intelligent plants. It uses the Elven alphabet.

  • Gruach: Wild elves and wood elves speak this dialect, looked down on by other elves. It has influences from Sylvan, speakers can communicate greetings and simple concepts with each other.
  • Thriae: Humanoid bees.
  • Treant: Animated trees.