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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Languages of Pellatarrum: Common

Not truly a language of its own, Common is a syncretic fusion of the other four tongues as well as a patois of other forms and dialects. It came about as a result of the ambassador races (humans, gnomes, kobolds, etc.) needing to find common ground. By having a separate language of diplomacy, they avoided the need for arguments over which language would be spoken during negotiations. This inherently neutral tongue soon became the preferred language of trade, and then travelers.

Common uses the Draconic alphabet (chosen for its flexibility), the Dwarven system of numbers and counting (chosen for simplicity and efficiency), the Elven system of cases and tenses (to give the greatest depth possible for diplomatic discourse, although in casual conversation only a handful of the most common are used) and Orcish sentence structure and grammar (so you can easily tell whose thing is doing what to whom).

The majority of Common's vocabulary is comprised of a mishmash of words taken from the four major languages, based on ease on pronunciation and how well they fit the subject at hand. (For example, while casual profanity is in Orcish, all of the insults most likely to start a room-clearing brawl are in Dwarven.) Other words are either borrowed whole-cloth from other languages to appropriate particularly useful or rarefied pieces of vocabulary, or are unsightly portmanteaus of other words cobbled together as necessary.

As such, Common is a highly vulgar vulgate, and most of the elder races wince in horror when they hear it spoken. Imagine the reaction of a proper Victorian lady as she watches Jersey Shore and you have the right idea. Despite this, it is still the easiest of the languages to learn, and provides a handy jumping-off point for learning other languages.

Orcs think Common sounds effete.

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