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Languages of Antaron
In casual D&D games, language is not a major issue. The party kills monsters, hunts treasure, and wields magic with abandon. For the ease of gameplay, it is oftentimes assumed that most—if not all—intelligent creatures can understand one another. Indeed, the very concept of the language "common" arose in an effort to justify this view and has been continually defended by many avid D&D fans for years despite its realistic improbabilities. Due to this crutch, language is often only mentioned on the character sheet of the spellcaster who seeks to list many languages in an effort to prove his character's intelligence!
Of course, history tells us that such is not the case even among human cultures within a few hundred miles of one another. Add in the fantasy element of wildly different races, and the concept of common just doesn't make much sense.
This is not to say that there are not "trading tongues", of course, or that some languages are not more prevalent than others. In modern day Earth, English is spoken across the vast majority of the world for the very reason that a shared tongue eases communication. However, Audalis does not enjoy the benefits of the Internet, of long-distance phone carriers, or even of mass literacy. As a result, most people speak their own language unless they have good reason to know another. Following is a guide to the major languages spoken in Antaron.
The Five Kingdoms
At one time, all of central Antaron was ruled by the ancient Anathari Empire, which gave way to modern day Drannon. Until Sendria seceded, both nations flew one flag (and naturally, spoke one language). As a result, humans from both Drannon and Sendria speak variations of Drannese.
The remaining three kingdoms—Ertain, Coria, and Pardinal—were all colonized by settlers from across the sea, who brought their own language and customs with them. Therefore, citizens of these three countries speak Apanonese (from the Sylvari term Apanonar; indicating the third race of men). Of course, the dialects vary from country to country, and even from region to region; but the language itself is essentially the same.
Apanonese is the closest thing to a common tongue in Antaron, due to the fact of the spread of culture from the nations that natively speak it. In many situations, this is the language of choice for trade between parties of different nationalities.
The City-state of Bayris
Bayris is a unique case, due to both her geographic isolation and her position as a trading power in Antaron. Bayrisians do not possess a unique language, relying instead upon Apanonese. However, their contact with other cultures requires them to be the wordsmiths of the seas. Many Bayrisians speak at least some Drannese, and certain phrases of Chindari, Vidarak, and even Sylvari tongues can be found in their speech.
Native Human Cultures
The various remaining human societies, by and large, have little to do with outside cultures, and thus do not speak their languages for the most part. For example: the xenophobic Yanathera speak their own language, and seldom anything else. Likewise, the fierce Vidarak rarely have any use for the tongues of outsiders.
The Chindari and Arvox Corrolya languages share a common root, but much like modern Italian and Spanish, the link between the two is significant only to scholars.
The island-dwelling Lendoreans speak their own language, as well, though they tend to speak at least a smattering of Apanonese due to their trade relations with Pardinese and Bayrisian sailors.
The Sylvarian Empire
There is but one tongue among the long-lived Sylvari: taurna'bath, or the high speech. Predictably, other peoples simply call the language "Sylvari". Sylvari from northern Alloryn tend to speak a slightly harsher dialect of the language, whereas those from southern Maelamin have an accent that features a bit more of lilting pronunciation, but all told, the language is the same.
Editor's note: the Sylvari tongue is difficult to learn, let alone master for those not of the blood. A common description of a human attempting to speak the language is often compared to the sound of a wild boar chewing on a stump. Therefore, most trading transactions are carried out in either Apanonese or Drannese.
The Khordaldrum have their own traditions, culture, and way of life; naturally, they have their own language, as well. Most Khords have no need to speak anything but Khordaldrum, and those that attempt to speak other languages usually only manage to do so with heavy accents.
It is believed that the extinct Chakrandrum spoke a common tongue with their western brothers, and that the language had few, if any, differences, but proof of such things has been lost to time.
The language of the Cidals is an interesting one to listen to, as it is not really a distinct language, but rather a mix of many tongues. Cidals use many Sylvari words side by side with Khordaldrum, Brathunspar, and words from various human dialects. It is almost as if the language is a mesh of acquired words that the Cidals have put together into their own. Not surprisingly, Cids frequently have an easy time picking up on almost any language.
Stumps within Goodhome have a particular dialect, noticeable in the way they tend to pronounce long "e" as "a" and long "a" as "e". Thus a Stump will say "Have e good Dey." Picks, probably due to their traveling and greater exposure to other cultures, tend toward more human pronunciations of words. Loavens of Goodhome often talk with a slight accent, changing their e's and a's only once in awhile.
The reclusive Brathunspar speak their own language, though many of them speak Sylvari, as well—a people with whom they have a good relationship.
Naturally, creatures of all ilk, shape, and size reside within the lands of Antaron. Each of these speak their own sordid dialect varying from the harsh, guttural barks of the crunaik to the rolling, snorting, slurred growls of the common orc. Some of the more intelligent of these species pick up words from the races they watch… and hunt, but most refuse to speak those languages unless it is absolutely necessary to communicate their desires. Those situations are very far between and most aren’t intelligent enough to learn additional languages preferring hand gestures, grunts, and shoves where a common tongue would be used on other worlds.
Thanks to t_catt11 for this contribution!