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When do you feel it necessary to make a new Major Language, rather then minor ones?

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  • When do you feel it necessary to make a new Major Language, rather then minor ones?

    So I'm curious has anyone made new languages for their game's setting? When I made my region of Lahat I made several minor languages and spread them around, and it seemed to me after designing it and trying it out in play the continent seemed on the precipice of forming a new Major language, as one of the Minor Languages (Palaka) seemed to be spread naturally and thrive with the cultural dynamics of the continent. As it spread it seemed to have regional dialects of it around say Major cities and country sides, and it could be understood by anyone who knew it it sounded different and used some different words and turns of phrase much like if you look at how the regional Shanghai dialect compares to Mandarin. But then they were in the traditional state of using Seatongue to scribe their books as Palaka evolved from a tribal tongue that didn't develope writing beyond maybe numbers. They also incorporated tribal languages from ethnicities descending from past civilizations turning tribal and then joining a more centralized nation. So while I developed the setting with the intent of making use of minor languages it naturally seemed to evolve to the state were it makes sense that with each year more and more of this new language forms, especially if the Exalted pitched in to help steer it could go from forming in a few more generations to literally codifying in the next generation.

    I was conservative when making Major languages but purposely more liberal in my generation of minor languages, because I felt it was an underrepresented concept. But then I look at Guildcant, its a major language meaning it has multiple dialects and its own form of writing. But its the type of language, like secret Esperanto mixed with ciphers, that you don't really speak at home unless maybe you are a traveling carny or maybe a slave. At home or with loved ones Guild members likely speak a native language, but learning Guildcant is a big investment as its learning a whole language family... I know the Guild is The big corporationish of the Setting but it says a lot that they have Guildcant, I mean honestly Riverspeak would have filled in the niche rather well, because its a big investment for someone to learn an expansive set of secret languages and codes. Because of this you can't really expect all of the Guild to know it, otherwise it would make recruiting dock workers and whores a lot more complicated if they have to first take night school classes in Guildcant 101, and it would also mean increased pay if that exclusivity in knowing the language was a requirement.

    Another Similar set of minor Languages I was developing was the Colored Languages of the Painted World of Galleria, so things like White Tongue and Black Speech. But then I figured they would naturally develop at least a major language as their world is isolated and runs on a faster pace of time, while intermittently having wanderers lost in the world from Creation. So because of that I may make the Colored Languages Major Languages, where before they were going to be minor Languages with a central Major Language of Canvas.

    But its a similar situation when I think of Autochthonia. They would have Old Realm, Autochthonian, and much less often secret codes and what not like you have the Naval code languages, as well as tribal languages spoken by those unsoul gemed mad max tribes outside the Great Nations. But its separated from Creation, and instead of developing multiple languages 40 Millionish people speak one unified tongue.

    But as is the setting seems a bit too conservative with Languages, leaning on oversimplifying. Though at least 3rd ed hints at trying to address this, with the addition of the Holy Dragontongue, and the mention of Brass Legionnaires still understanding many forgotten languages (which makes me think the First age the different Exalted Nations probably had more regional languages customized for them by their Exalted Masters.

    Edit:

    Also I was intrigued when someone suggested the idea of having City States like Sijan have a minor language (Sijanese). The issue with that is you buy Languages as either one Major Language per Dot, or 4 minor ones. My solution is just let them know one Minor Language as either on the house to represent their local dialect if from a City or let them know one of the languages now and have them learn the other three in play but already paid for.
    Last edited by Eldagusto; 07-24-2019, 07:18 AM. Reason: Bit on local dialects.


    It is a time for great deeds!

  • #2
    I don't, tbh. I only use the Major languages in the book; any new languages are minor languages.

    I'll be honest; the way languages work, both in-game and in terms of XP expenditure, while marginally better than 2nd ed, is very unrealistic.

    But it is very practical for a game. So I just roll with that, and if it's unrealistic, oh well, it's ancient Solar directional workings, or something.


    My characters:
    Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
    Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
    Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

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    • #3
      IRL I teach English in Japan and translate English-Japanese. I LOVE languages and I put a lot of them in my game. I'm so excited for this thread.

      So, Major and Minor languages. The book calls Minor languages something like "tribe speak" and stuff, which is effectively categorizing them by narrative importance. And yeah, I get it. You shouldn't force a player to burn a whole Language Dot on "that one snake people village by Lost Zarlath".

      So I keep the Major Languages, Old Realm, High Realm, Low Realm, Ice/Wood/Flame/Sea tongue, Guild cant, etc...
      Minor Languages are fusions, pidgins, and dialects. To make an analogy, if the Player has the Major Language "German" they can pick up the Minor Language "Dutch" with a small investment.

      n my Fajad adventure, Fajadians speak a custom dialect amongst themselves, while doing business in Guild, Seatongue, and High Realm. Players who had Old Realm, OR Seatongue could buy "Fajadian" as a minor language, because it was effectively Seatongue Words with Old Realm Grammar (much like post-Norman conquest England with Old French and Saxon/Germanic). The Players all spoke Seatongue (it's a Western Campaign), while one of them knew both Old Realm and Seatongue going in, so he had only to spend a day or two among the crowds to essentially fill in the blanks and synthesize how Fajadian worked (as in, he didnt need to spend XP). This player was able to understand some extra plot stuff early because people spoke Fajadian around him quiet and quickly to each other (as opposed to Seatongue to him) and he picked up news about the Boy-Emperor, day to day problems, etc. He also got a bonus on a roll to avoid being assassinated because a maid said to herself "Why are the curtains open?".

      Now, for the nonlinguistically orientated, I still facilitate them. Fajadians understand Seatongue. Not all of them are great at it, but they players are not punished for not picking up Fajadian, they just don't get extra goodies. I also go the extra mile and quickly decide how likely someone would fluent with Seatongue, and I have some characters talk much more stilted and basic vocab when they are communicating in a language they only kind of know. A mercenary company from Tusk understood Seatongue like it was Highschool Spanish and so they could only make simple declarative statements "We get hired to guard *barbarbar* sarcafagas on ship. We are not Sailors. We are Guards. No need to fight you".

      I love An-teng for some reason. I made it into South East Asia, sort of Mughal India meets Thai/Malay/Khmer. AFAIK there isn't a proper Antengese language so I made one up. I also made up Corrupted Lintha (which is like degenerate appalachian mountain man pirate speak infused with demon words, filtered through the mouths of shark and octopus people). Both of these are Minor Languages, Lintha because its a dialect of Seatongue and Anteng because its just not important enough to be a Major Language. My justification for the latter is that Seatongue is so prevalent in the West that its been forcing the local languages out and influencing them- Look at Mexico for example. There're around 60 languages there and hundreds of dialects.

      So my Pirate Captain bought the Minor Languages merit and gets 4 minor languages- but I let him fill them out as he needs them. He used 1 to learn Fajadian. 1 to learn Ghost Realm (long story). 1 to learn Lintha Barking (as he calls it) and 1 to learn AnTengese- all of these over the course of many sessions. Literally he got the first one on session 3 and the last one on session 25.

      I have made a few Major Languages though. A Below-Earth campaign where the solars falling into the hollow-earth tunnels and spending a 3-5 sessions with the ancient peoples who have lived there since time immemorial and speak a multi-millenia changed version of Ancient Dragon King? Major Language. The Remnant of a First Age Twilight experiment to call back forgotten shards of Creation los to the Primordial War, revealing a race of Semi-Psionic peoples divided bitterly into Crystal bearers and Metalfleshed? Yeah, Major Language. There needs to be a strong reason why Direction-Tongue and Realm are not applicable for me to consider a new major language.

      So when do I make a new Major Language? I don't, unless the campaign absolutely needs one.

      Meeting some people who live Creation but keep to themselves a bit? Minor Language.


      ..."But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me"

      Message me for Japanese translations.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
        I don't, tbh. I only use the Major languages in the book; any new languages are minor languages.

        I'll be honest; the way languages work, both in-game and in terms of XP expenditure, while marginally better than 2nd ed, is very unrealistic.

        But it is very practical for a game. So I just roll with that, and if it's unrealistic, oh well, it's ancient Solar directional workings, or something.
        Major Languages are more akin to our language families than what we call languages, usually.

        Consider the Ibero and Italo Romance languages. Portuguese, Asturian, Spanish, Catalan, Gascon, Lombard, Italian and who knows how many more.
        They all intersect enough that, with some effort, these speakers can communicate somewhat.

        Germanic languages go the same route, with most north germanic languages being surprisingly similar while also being different languages. West germanic too.

        When you look at language families, there seems to be a fairly universal temporal trend on when they die and become something else entirely.

        So your Lookshyan serf totally is speaking a language different than that Sijanese shoe maker's. But they're both Forest Tongue.
        Last edited by Synapse; 07-25-2019, 10:54 AM.

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        • #5
          Exactly what I was looking for Sorcerous Overlord! I am intrigued by Ghost Realm. :0

          Yeah I get it they have to go with the conceit of narrative importance determining language cost. I have contemplated doing similar things with what you did with Fajad making it so if you know related languages you can pidgin guess it, or maybe even learn it cheaper or free. But I was stuck on the fence on some ideas hence making this. :P

          Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
          I don't, tbh. I only use the Major languages in the book; any new languages are minor languages.

          I'll be honest; the way languages work, both in-game and in terms of XP expenditure, while marginally better than 2nd ed, is very unrealistic.

          But it is very practical for a game. So I just roll with that, and if it's unrealistic, oh well, it's ancient Solar directional workings, or something.

          Yeah I literally explain that either the Primordials, Gods, or Exalted performed a working or just built people in such a way that they naturally cluster their language families and have a lot less language drift. My Headcanon is Creation is pre-fall of Babel and while multiple languages exist language didn't scatter so much that neighbors can't speak to each other.


          It is a time for great deeds!

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          • #6
            When do you feel it necessary to make a new Major Language, rather then minor ones?

            Joking answer? When I am Tolkien.

            Last edited by Uknown DarkLord; 07-25-2019, 11:55 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Synapse View Post

              Major Languages are more akin to our language families than what we call languages, usually.

              Consider the Ibero and Italo Romance languages. Portuguese, Asturian, Spanish, Catalan, Gascon, Lombard, Italian and who knows how many more.
              They all intersect enough that, with some effort, these speakers can communicate somewhat.

              Germanic languages go the same route, with most north germanic languages being surprisingly similar while also being different languages. West germanic too.

              When you look at language families, there seems to be a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVBtIPOnNI"]fairly universal[/URL] temporal trend on when they die and become something else entirely.

              So your Lookshyan serf totally is speaking a language different than that Sijanese shoe maker's. But they're both Forest Tongue.
              Riverspeak, actually, but I do understand your point.

              And while that's a fine theoretical point, it's not really how the game works.

              I speak English, a Germanic language. And doing so allows me to understand about 5-10% of written German, or German spoken very slowly (because I know Germans pronounce w the way we do v, otherwise it'd be a lot less). It also made it easier for me to learn German... but even with lessons in secondary school, my German is still very poor.

              But German isn't even the closest to English, that's Danish. I teach a lot of Danes, and... yeah, I can't even understand Danish. Dutch (the only other West Germanic language, IIRC) is the same.

              I also speak basic conversational Mandarin, but I can't understand a word of Cantonese.

              And Chinese, Germanic, these aren't even full language families.
              That's stuff like Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo, Indo-European.
              Our language family, Indo-European, includes Farsi, Hindi, Norwegian, Greek, Russian... These are not at all mutually intelligible.

              But it's just really awkward for an ST to say that a character from Gem can't understand someone from Ember.

              I find it less ridiculous essentially to say that Solar magic or ancient education systems in the First Age or directional magic or Gods or being pre-Babel, means that vastly seperated people in, say, the North, speak dialects that are 75-90% the same. Like Scots and English.
              As opposed to a character with no dots of the language merit knowing 10 mutually unintelligible languages from the same family.


              My characters:
              Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
              Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
              Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

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              • #8
                Maybe I should have pointed that the family's (or branch, that might be the better node to look) intersection is not perfect nor uniform.

                Anyway. I wasn't saying the game works strictly that way either. I don't even think it was intentional, but more of a happy coincidence (I don't know if the authors back in 1e ever answered that question).
                I was saying you can make the argument that the major languages can be used as a shared commonality of most languages in their directions. Enough to communicate passably, as languages do develop in that way.

                If you want to stick to "major languages are individual languages", their reach can also be explained by them simply being too useful to ignore. English is by far the most spoken second language in the world, reaching just about everywhere, simply because it's the main language of a couple places everyone wants to connect to, and from there it gained traction.

                With the Realm and the Guild around, Low Realm and Riverspeak are languages you could expect to be understood across entire directions.
                Seatongue would have a similar traction given how isolated the West is.
                Last edited by Synapse; 07-25-2019, 03:02 PM.

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                • #9
                  Hmmm, doing it as a language of trade, politics, etc, for the direction works very well. That's a very good point. So people could speak Firetongue to PCs and something else to their family.

                  If you speak, say, English, Arabic, Spanish, French and Mandarin, you can probably speak to 75% of the world, even if many of them don't speak those as their first language.


                  My characters:
                  Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
                  Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
                  Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

                  Comment

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