The Demesnes - Languages
The humans of The Demesnes speak several major languages and many minor ones. These languages have changed over
the millennia as the people who spoke them mixed and natural drift occurred within each language. In ancient times there
was one Suloise language, a handful of Baklunish and Oeridian ones, and many mutually incomprehensible Flan languages. The
main languages spoken today are:
There are several other languages in use in the Demesnes, but they generally have very few speakers or are confined to tiny
locations at the edges of the continent. There are also a few languages which are not spoken, but are studied in written
form by scholars who need to deal with ancient texts. These include:
- Suloise - The ancient Suloise Empire established a single uniform language across all its territories.
It all but died out with the fall of the Empire, and there are no native Suloise speakers today. The language is still
considered a major language though, since it is often learnt by scholars and sages for the study of ancient manuscripts.
It is considered the most magical of all the human languages, and many spell scrolls and spell books are still written
in it. It is not commonly spoken, but sometimes serves as a de facto trade language when scholars of different native
lands meet. Wizards may also instruct their apprentices in Suloise.
- Oeridian - This is actually a descendant of the language now called Old Oeridian, with several borrowed
words from Suloise and ancient Flan languages. It is the established language of the central Demesnes regions and the
closest thing to a common trade language across the continent. Oeridian is the mother tongue of a third or more of the
people in The Demesnes, and understood by a great many more.
- Baklunish - The most commonly spoken language of the Baklunish peoples, this is the native language of
most people from the sultanates of Zeif, Ekbir,
Tusmit, Ket and surrounding regions. It is also
spoken by enclaves of people who follow the Baklunish religions across the northern Demesnes - indeed some Baklunish
religions require worship and prayer to be in the Baklunish language.
- Paynim - Another Baklunish language, this is spoken by the semi-nomadic tribes of the
Many Paynims will also understand various amounts of Baklunish, but the further south one heads the more likely only
Paynim will be used. The remote Uli people also use Paynim, almost exclusively.
- Aerdan - This is the major descendant of a Flan language in wide use today. It is spoken across most
of the eastern Demesnes, in regions populated by the migrating Flan people, particularly the
Great Kingdom and surrounding regions. At least a quarter of the population of
the Demesnes call Aerdan their mother tongue. There are three major dialects: Standard, Northern, and Southern. Southern
Aerdan differs from Standard mainly in pronunciation, and mutual comprehension is not too difficult. Northern Aerdan
uses many borrowed words from The Cold Tongue and some strange inflections which make it almost a different language.
- The Cold Tongue - The language now spoken by the barbarian kingdoms of the far north-eastern Demesnes.
It is a descendant of an old Flan language particular to the tribes who originally inhabited this area, and is
incomprehensible to speakers of most other Flan tongues, the exception being a few common words with Northern Aerdan.
It also uses some borrowed words from the common dwarven langauge Dängmir.
- Flan - The descendant of the particular Flan language chosen by the united Flanae Kingdom as a common
language of the Flan people. It never really caught on, but the modern version is still spoken in some parts of the
central Flan areas of Nyrond and The Pale.
- Ranapo - Another Flan language, this time spoken by the nomadic descendants of Flan populations in the
northern and north-western Demesnes, such as the Tiger Nomads,
Wolf Nomads, and the Rovers of the Barrens.
This is quite a widespread tongue, and most Ranapo speakers will not speak anything else.
- Perren - A Flan tongue with a partial admixture of Baklunish, spoken only within
Perrenland. It is partially comprehensible to Baklunish speakers, but bears
no resemblance to any other Flan language. It is the official court language of Perrenland, so spoken widely within
the country, but almost unheard of outside. Many Perrenlanders also speak standard Baklunish.
- Velondi - A close relative of Old Oeridian, this language sounds archaic but almost understandable to
modern Oeridian speakers. It is kept alive in rural backwaters of Veluna and parts
of Furyondy near the border. Although not widespread, it is encountered fairly
frequently because of the busy trade routes and adventuring opportunities in the area.
- Celenic - This is basically a strong dialect of Oeridian, spoken in the northern parts of
uses a lot of words and idioms borrowed from the elven language Cerebor, making it difficult for both Oeridian and
Cerebor speakers to understand. Anyone who speaks both Oeridian and Cerebor will understand almost all of what is said,
but will have serious trouble constructing comprehensible sentences in Celenic.
- Keolandish - This is the closest langage to a modern descendant of Suloise, but uses many Old Oeridian
words and syntactic elements. This, and natural drift over the millennia have rendered it unintelligible to Suloise or
Oeridian speakers. It is spoken in some areas of Keoland and the surrounding
countries to the south, mostly by direct descendants of the Suloise refugees of the
Rain of Colourless Fire. Well-travelled Keolandish speakers will also speak
Oeridian, but rustic stay-at-homes probably won't.
- Lendorian - An obscure Flan dialect mixed with some southern native tongues from the jungles of
Hepmonaland, this is spoken across the
Spindrift Isles. It is utterly incomprehensible to mainlanders.
- Old Oeridian - This was the most widespread language spoken by the Oeridian people before the Suloise
Empire began encroaching into their territory. It is usually only encountered in written form, which uses a different
writing system to modern Oeridian. If pronounced out loud, however, a modern Oeridian speaker can discern some meaning
from the language. Some long-lost magical scrolls and ancient spell books are written in Old Oeridian.
- Middle Oeridian - This is essentially Old Oeridian adapted to the Suloise alphabet in common use today.
As such, it can be read by Oeridian speakers and understood with difficulty. A full understanding requires study of Old
Oeridian words and grammar however. Being a younger language than Old Oeridian, scrolls and spell books written in it are
somewhat more common, but potential users must beware because the Middle Oeridian pronunciations are different to those
of modern Oeridian - and mistakes can lead to misunderstandings or disasters.
- Old Baklunish - Baklunish has remained a remarkably stable language for a long time. The language
known as Old Baklunish is not a direct ancestor of modern Baklunish but rather an old dialect which has since died out.
It is known only to relatively few scholars and texts written in it are rare.
Human Writing Systems
There are a handful of main writing systems in modern use by human cultures in the Demesnes, and some used only for
dead languages. In general, most humans are illiterate. Literacy is likely to be found among scholars, nobles, wizards,
clerics, merchants, scribes, and diplomats. In a large city, members of the artisan classes are sometimes literate.
- Suloise Alphabet - The alphabet of the Suloise Empire. This was imposed on the Oeridian people during
the Suloise expansions and eventually adopted as the alphabet of Middle Oeridian. It is used widely today for the modern
Oeridian language, as well as several other small languages (including Velondi, Celenic, and Keolandish).
- Aerdan Alphabet - This alphabet shares most characters with the Suloise Alphabet, but uses different
symbols for some letters and a few extra runic symbols. It is the alphabet of all dialects of Aerdan. Readers of the
Suloise or Aerdan alphabets can sound out about 75% of words written in the other alphabet - though the meanings will
remain opaque. This can lead to some dangerous mishaps with spell scrolls and books.
- Baklunish Script - Baklunish is written in a flowing script with each word represented by a line shaped
to indicate consonants and marked with diacriticals to indicate vowel sounds. The form of the script has not changed
significantly since ancient times. Paynim is written in a slightly modified version, but Paynim is not written much.
Perren can also be written in Baklunish Script, but is more commonly written in Suloise characters. Baklunish speakers
have a greater tendency to be literate then speakers of other human languages.
- Old Oeridian Syllabary - This was the original written form of the Oeridian language. It used
cuneiform-like marks to indicate syllables. It is not used today.
- Old Flan Pictograms - The ancient Flan languages were not written as such, but a pictographic system
was used to convey basic meanings in many of the Flan tribes. These were often representational and so easy to decipher.
- Flan Ideograms - The modern Flan language has developed a complicated system of ideograms from the
original pictograms. This is a difficult written language to master and not used much. Most literate Flan speakers now
use the Suloise alphabet to write out the sounds of their words.
- Cold Runes - The runic writing system of the Cold Tongue. Some runes represent consonants, others entire
syllables - there are no individual vowel runes. The runes are clearly derived from dwarven runes. The system is in
use in the Cold Tongue lands, though hardly anyone there is literate.
- Ranapo Script - This resembles a more angular version of Baklunish Script. It incorporates some
individual syllable marks, while other syllables are built up from consonants and vowel diacriticals. It is used only
for the Ranapo language.
- Lendorian Alphabet - The organic-looking blobs which make up this alphabet are illegible to people
not trained to read them. The alphabet is used exclusively for Lendorian. For proper shape, Lendorian must be written
with a thick brush, not a sharp quill.
With their extremely long lives and stable culture, the languages of the elves have changed almost imperceptibly since the
beginning of the Elven Reckoning. Instead there has been a slow but steady increase in the use of Cerebor at the expense of
less utilised languages. The main elven languages in the Demesnes today are:
- Cerebor - What began as a local elven language in the
Celadon Forest has spread to become the common
shared language of the elves across most of the continent. It may not be his first language, but any elf met will almost
certainly speak Cerebor. Cerebor is commonly known simply as "Elven" among humans.
- Udorebor - A local language of the elves of the Udoru Forest. It has
borrowed a few words from Baklunish,
mainly words to describe desert and barren geographical features and concepts such as aging and murder.
- Rieuebor - Another local language, this time of the Rieuwoods area. It developed in isolation and is
like no other elven language. Elves of the Rieuwood and
Menowood are those most likely not to speak Cerebor.
- Derrumbor - The language of the dark elves. This is shunned by other elves for the most part, but some
scholars research it in an academic way. It was originally a local elven language, the parent version of which
was deliberately forgotten after the War of Separation.
Elven Writing Systems
Almost all elves are literate. Exceptions would have to be unusual cases, such as orphaned elven children raised by humans.
- Cerembwar - Almost all elves use this graceful alphabet to write their languages. Non-magical texts
composed by elves are usually written in this. Non-elves who wish to read and write Cerebor are taught this alphabet.
It is a stunningly beautiful script with delicately rounded characters and subtle artistic effects.
- Ollembwar - This script is also used to write Cerebor, but almost always for magical purposes.
It will usually only be known to elven wizards. Elves will not teach it to non-elves. Although Ollembwar
represents the same words as can be written in Cerembwar, the structure of the shapes is so ingenious that no meaning
at all will be apparent to someone who only knows Cerembwar.
- Rieubwar - The unique method of writing used by Rieuebor speakers. This more closely resembles the
Lendorian alphabet than any other elven script, and some sages speculate on a connection between the two since
they are also in the same general geographic region.
- Derrumbwar - The dark elf script is descended from Cerembwar. It is basically a pared-down version
with some angular lines and omissions for speed of writing. Other elves find it clumsy and ugly. It is legible to a
reader of Cerembwar, but no elf would ever admit to it, and the meanings are opaque unless the Derrumbor language is
The dwarves have long established a common language which is known by all. In addition, widely separated populations of
dwarves have developed their own languages in order to foster a sense of community within the smaller group. When dealing
with dwarves from their own area, dwarves use the local language, but switch easily to the common language when required
to speak with outsiders. They will not usually use the local language unless all people who can hear them know it.
- Dängmir - The common dwarven language. Any dwarf met by a non-dwarf will certainly speak
Dängmir. The language unites the dwarves as a race and they take great pride in it and the literature which has
developed in it. To many humans, the language is just called "Dwarven".
- Þorkellen - This local language is used by dwarves in the Griff
and Corusk Mountains regions.
- Krengtað - A local language of the dwarves of the Yatil Mountains.
Unusually for a dwarven language, it uses some borrowed words from a human langauge - Baklunish.
- Joten - Used by the dwarves of the Jotens.
Dwarven Writing Systems
Most dwarves above the ranks of massed workers are literate. This means that most dwarves who come into contact with
other races are literate. Common workers usually cannot read or write.
- Füneth - A set of rune characters used for all the dwarven languages, although languages other
than Dängmir are seldom written. Dwarven runes are easily recognised as such by anyone with a passing familiarity
Other Demi-Human Languages
Gnomes have two major languages of their own: Geyrin is the most common, used in the western and central
Demesnes; Tarreji is restricted to the east. Many gnomes also know Dängmir or the most common human
language in their region. The gnomish languages are written with runes descended from dwarven runes, but traced in an
unusual cursive style. Most gnomes are literate.
Halflings generally use whatever human language is common in their area. In some cases they will primarily use Dängmir,
if they are close to dwarven populations. Lettered halflings use whatever script is used for the language they speak. Rustic
rural halflings are not commonly literate, but populations closer to humans or dwarves tend to be literate.
Lizard men have three different languages; the one they use is based on their habitat. Thus desert-dwellers speak the
tongue known as Passhar, jungle-dwellers use Ss'mlak, while those who live in swamps
speak H'chlaa. This distinction is the same across the entire Demesnes, leading some scholars to
postulate that the lizard man race separated into these environments based on some ancient caste distinction. The
languages seem mutually incomprehensible to non-lizard men who have learnt one or more of them, but lizard men meeting
fellows from a different environment seem to be able to communicate easily. Whether all lizard men know all
three languages but only speak one is a mystery still unsolved by humans. The puzzle is further complicated by the fact
that humans speaking one lizard man language do not seem to be able to make themselves understood by lizard men who
speak the other two languages. Each language is written in the same highly stylised pictographic script with several
thousand distinct symbols, but only leaders and shamans are commonly literate.
Orcs have as many languages and dialects as there are orcish tribes. Many share a common core vocabulary of words useful
for trading, negotiating, arguing, insulting, threatening, and planning battles. Upon this base, each tribe builds a
selection of lesser-used words which vary from region to region. Nearby tribes will probably be able to understand one
another, but distant tribes will most likely be restricted to discussing concepts contained in the core vocabulary. (Not
that this is much of a problem for orcs.) The core vocabulary is commonly known as Orcish among other
races, and is really the only useful part of the language for a non-orc to learn. Orcish writing generally uses near
vertical scratch-like marks arranged in patterns, sometimes vaguely based on local human writing systems. It is an
imprecise art and even the best writers sometimes have trouble reading even their own words later. Few orcs have even
this level of literacy.
The orcs living in the hostile environment of the north-eastern Demesnes (in the barbarian lands beyond the
Griff Mountains and the Rakers) do not share
the Orcish vocabulary. They have a more uniform language called Gra'nakk. On the odd occasion this
is written, it uses the Cold Runes borrowed from the humans.
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