Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Languages of Valador: Monster Languages

Monster Languages

The Valadian Empire considers any race that is not dwarf or elf as a "monster," decreeing they should be eliminated on sight. Though some places may be more accepting of halflings, or a shopkeeper may have a goblin slave, they are still always considered nothing more then monsters. However, many of these "monsters" have cultures and societies of their own and with them, a development of language. While most Valadians and their allies would have no use for learning such languages, many adventurers study and learn these tongues, as they are more likely to run into such creatures out in the wilderness and dark places they explore.

Fey: Fey is the basis of the Elven tongue, so much so that those that speak Elven can often understand the basic concept of something spoken in Fey. However, while the elves codified and shorten the language to more effectively communicate with the shorter lived races, Fey have had no need for that. Fey remains a lyrical, floating, long language, beings that live forever have no need to speak in clipped phrases and sentences. Ask a fey how it is feeling and it may be an hour before she finishes her answer, explaining each nuance in her feelings, allowing each word to resonant and carry on the wind. Fey are also ever changing, like nature herself, they are always changing and their words change with them. Words change in tone and strength, flow and length, making the language hard to pin down accurately. Unlike the pure Chaos tongue, however, words generally maintain the same ideal, meaning that when one learns the root of a word, they cause usually adapt to any changes after hearing it a few times. Still, the length of the language and its massive vocabulary so depending on pitch, tone, and cadence makes Fey one of the least learned languages, often requires decades to master even the simplest structure.

Goblin: While goblins are scattered into numerous tribes throughout Valador and their languages has hundreds of dialects, it does come from a common root. Goblin has a distinctive rhyming quality, with many of their words ending in vowel sounds and a short range of consonant, mostly hard sounds. Many words in Goblin also features swallowed sounds and clicks of the tongue and emphasis is given to certain words and commands by repeating a word twice. Goblins have a very simple vocabulary and because of this, they often steal words from other languages to identify things they don't often come into contact with. These words tend to still take on a Goblin sound however as goblins often inject vowels to separate syllables in their borrowed words, particularly "u" sounds. While dialects vary, it is often in terms of borrowed words, making each dialect easy to figure out if one knows the root and what other races exist around them. Goblin is one of the most often learned "monster tongues" because of the simplicity and large number of goblins found in Valador.

Gnoll: The Gnoll tongue is, unsurprisingly, mixed with a many canine traits; yips, howls, growls, even posture, showing of teeth and rising of hair factor into the gnoll language. Gnolls, being a slaver and raider race, have a lot of words used to describe people and items taken from others, words based on their worth, usefulness, and selling price. Conversely, gnolls have few words for working and creating things themselves. Art, as a whole, is a foreign concept to gnolls and they have few descriptive words in their vocabulary besides base emotions and primal urges. Gnoll is a particularly hard language to learn, for it is much like learning the language of a wolf or dog. While figuring out the intent of a word is simple, the need to be expressive in body and fur dynamics as well as vocal sounds makes it difficult to discern the actual words. Gnoll is only learned on a very simplistic level by those races that bother to try it, as some concepts, phrases, and words are simply impossible do to without a thick coat of fur. Most of the Valadian Empire and their allies would rather kill a gnoll then trying to talk to it anyway.

Orc: Orc is a deep, harsh, guttural language, punctuated with growls and fierce delivery. Much of their words relate to killing, death, and the glory of bloodshed. While this is not unexpected given the orc's nature, what does surprise scholars is how much the language resembles early human tongue. Not quite Valadian and not exactly what was used by humans before, Orc certainly shares some common ancestry with these languages. For many scholars this poses a question if orcs also share a common ancestry with humans, something hard to determine with a lack of written or coherent oral history of the orcs. However, the similarities makes this an one of the easier tongues to learn by many humans. Along with Goblin, this is the most common of the "monster tongues" learned by adventurers.

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