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  • #16
    Originally posted by BlueWinds View Post
    I like tribal tongues! They're a great way for some characters to feel local, or educated, to help flesh out some of a region's history in subtle ways.

    As I've done so often, I'll take my current character / game as an example. It's set in the RIver Province, and everyone speaks riverspeak. Like, we haven't encountered anyone who doesn't in the whole multi-year campaign. The multiple languages is not a gate tax. But on the other hand, my character's list of languages is: High Realm, Riverspeak, Skytongue, Flametongue, Forest- tongue, Sijanese, Nibuic, Chaoyao, Linowan, Old Realm.

    She didn't speak Old Realm when the game began, but it was easy enough for her to learn because she already knew Sijanese. Nibuic (the ruling/noble language of her kingdom) is closely related to Forest-tongue, while Chaoyao, the language of the populace, is based on Riverspeak, providing some hints as to her family's past that it's not polite to talk about. She has a habit of speaking to people in their local tongues when possible - what a great way to show respect and foster closeness. Also, the wide variety of languages means she can almost always find some way to secretly communicate with everyone. Net result: the character feels very educated and noble, in a way that doesn't overlap or step on the toes of our loremaster at all.

    It's a pretty sweet use of a couple of background dots (our 2e houserule), and added a lot of flavor to our game. Don't make them "everyone must buy" - make them "and here's a new group and anyone who doesn't speak XYZ will have trouble with their thick accent. Also, you with the linguistics dots, you hear them muttering about guests with no dignity speaking."
    This is an interesting idea, giving City States and the like a Tribal Tongue, like Sijanese, but just assuming they all know River Speak or some such. Its cool, I may adopt this for the reasons you have mentioned. It fits with some of my chinese roommates always saying their home cities would have a dialect but they always used general mandarin as they could interact with college kids from all around.


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    • #17
      I'm reminded of a PBS Idea Channel video talking about language... basically how language is a thing with land, an army, and a navy. The implication that language is... there are things that count as dialects, but are only spoken/written by small groups, and though part of a larger language officially, they wouldn't be able to be understood speaking it. But because they are a small demographic in a nation, they only have a dialect. While very similar languages count as separate due to the nation they are centered in. I remember someone talking about how technically, their country spoke Portuguese but their own use of it diverged wildly in places, becoming almost like another language all it's own. I think it's like that.



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      • #18
        Originally posted by Zelbinnean View Post

        Language issues can come up for relevant plot points (like not being able to communicate with the Ewoks) but otherwise aren't a problem. Because overall language barriers create more frustration than fun when they keep cropping up casually (as opposed to happening for relevant plot reasons).
        I remember the old Stargate TV series initially had as a plot point "one of these guys is a skilled linguist and so he can translate for them whenever they meet offworlders" that was abandoned with amazing rapidity when the writers realized "no, that's idiotic from a narrative standpoint." They had the balls to just handwave everyone in the galaxy speaking english and never, ever bring it up.


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        • #19
          Yeah, this is why sci-fi basically 99% of the time has awesome translators (that are generally invisible for some reason, like they're in your throat or ear or whatever). It's just too annoying otherwise.

          Actually, Star Wars (ironically, as it's a series with sound in space and magical powers) is probably one of the few sci-fi franchises which is somewhat realistic about languages, as it actually has a lot of aliens speaking other languages, and the humans sometimes understanding them and sometimes not, hence needing translator droids.

          I will also mention, as dialects came up, that dialects are often understandable without being completely understandable. I occasionally say things that my American co-workers don't understand (they say things I wouldn't say, but I understand them as I saw them on American TV). We've had some very amusing misunderstandings.
          Scots is much harder than American: there are quite a few words I can't understand. But I'll still understand most of it, and so understand what they're generally talking about.

          Probably this is the easiest way to do languages: people in Gem and Varang speak different dialects of Firetongue, so there are some words that will be unique (giving these societies local flavour), and idioms of course. But generally they'll understand each other. It's not terribly realistic, but it is easier for the game. I guess if you need a reason, you can say it's because the First Age Solars used magical workings to encode the directional languages into the land (or sea) as a bulwark against the Wyld, so the languages haven't diverged since the Contagion as much as you'd expect.
          Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 02-14-2016, 12:12 AM.


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          • #20
            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
            Yeah, this is why sci-fi basically 99% of the time has awesome translators (that are generally invisible for some reason, like they're in your throat or ear or whatever). It's just too annoying otherwise.

            Actually, Star Wars (ironically, as it's a series with sound in space and magical powers) is probably one of the few sci-fi franchises which is somewhat realistic about languages, as it actually has a lot of aliens speaking other languages, and the humans sometimes understanding them and sometimes not, hence needing translator droids.

            I will also mention, as dialects came up, that dialects are often understandable without being completely understandable. I occasionally say things that my American co-workers don't understand (they say things I wouldn't say, but I understand them as I saw them on American TV). We've had some very amusing misunderstandings.
            Scots is much harder than American: there are quite a few words I can't understand. But I'll still understand most of it, and so understand what they're generally talking about.

            Probably this is the easiest way to do languages: people in Gem and Varang speak different dialects of Firetongue, so there are some words that will be unique (giving these societies local flavour), and idioms of course. But generally they'll understand each other. It's not terribly realistic, but it is easier for the game. I guess if you need a reason, you can say it's because the First Age Solars used magical workings to encode the directional languages into the land (or sea) as a bulwark against the Wyld, so the languages haven't diverged since the Contagion as much as you'd expect.

            Yes that is how I normally do it, and is the default of the system. But Bluewinds idea was to also have 1 Tribal tongue for each Nation/citystate like give Sijan Riverspeak and Sijanese.



            The Languages were invented by the Solars in 2nd ed but I really wonder how old they are in 3rd ed? And all those who can speak a language seem prone to learning it easier then Earth so I wonder if it is an aspect of Creation/Loom of Fate/Shinmaic Calibration.


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            • #21
              And with that said I am wondering if I could get the best of both Worlds and use National Tongues, like Orlesian, as well as a common tongue of man like Thedosian.


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              • #22
                Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                And all those who can speak a language seem prone to learning it easier then Earth so I wonder if it is an aspect of Creation/Loom of Fate/Shinmaic Calibration.
                This is an interesting question. See, every time I meet an African I'm shocked by how many languages they speak. My friend from Sierra Leone "only" speaks 4, my Nigerian co-workers (in a supermarket, not like they were rocket scientists) spoke 5 each, and when I was in Kenya I met a guy who spoke 8 languages! And he was just a bus driver.

                There's a number of things here I think:
                1)In the West (as well as other places which only really use one language), we don't prioritise language learning. I mean, in school, I had an hour or two of French and an hour or two of German a week, and later on just 2 hours of German a week. Which is not really that much, considering how much we were also learning.
                Now, educated people in the Middle Ages often spoke a whole bunch of languages*, but by modern standards had very little understanding of science, advanced mathematics, etc. Were they clever or stupid? I think it's just that the their education heavily included languages.
                Similarly, if you're an educated merchant in the Realm, your education probably focused heavily on learning High Realm and Riverspeak, with perhaps another directional language, with lessons on religion, rhetoric, literature and mathematics, but no biology, physics or chemistry.

                *
                Alius vero, qui Germanus erat, retulit, eundem Carolum Quintum dicere aliquando solitum esse; Si loqui cum Deo oporteret, se Hispanice locuturum, quod lingua Hispanorum gravitatem maiestatemque prae se ferat; si cum amicis, Italice, quod Italorum dialectus familiaris sit; si cui blandiendum esset, Gallice, quod illorum lingua nihil blandius; si cui minandum aut asperius loquendum, Germanice, quod tota eorum lingua minax, aspera sit ac vehemens (Indeed another, who was German, related that the same Charles V sometimes used to say: if it was necessary to talk with God, that he would talk in Spanish, which language suggests itself for the graveness and majesty of the Spaniards; if with friends, in Italian, for the dialect of the Italians was one of familiarity; if to caress someone, in French, for no language is tenderer than theirs; if to threaten someone or to speak harshly to them, in German, for their entire language is threatening, rough and vehement").


                2)Anglo-Saxon countries are particularly bad at languages. In Europe, most people can speak 2 languages, and in Switzerland speaking 4 isn't uncommon. My students speak 1-2 languages (Mandarin and a local tongue), plus they've been learning English for years in school, plus they're learning either French or Japanese. British university students generally learn 0 languages.

                3)Speaking a language just means you're proficient at it, not that you're actually good at it. As a game, Exalted simplifies this, but while your average mortal Dynast might speak 3 or 4 languages, he's probably only really fluent in High Realm and possibly Low Realm. It just isn't important enough to need rules. Though I was hoping they'd do languages as 1-dot merit to speak it badly and a 2-dot merit to speak it well.

                4)Some languages are just harder than other reasons. Partly objectively (they're more complicated), partly related to how close they are to your own language. It's estimated to take an average English learner about 600 hours to become proficient in French or German, 1100 in Hebrew, and 2200 in Mandarin. French and German are just much closer to English, and Hebrew's much easier than Mandarin. Spanish is supposed to be one of the easier European languages, while Hungarian and Icelandic are pretty difficult.
                Tribal tongues are actually often quite easy, because they're grammatically similar to other nearby languages, relatively simple (in the grammar), and full of loan-words.

                So, it's probably much easier to learn tribal tongues in Exalted than directional languages. Likely the grammar's similar to the local directional language, and you don't have to learn a whole new alphabet (because probably there just isn't one), and there's a lot of loan-words and not many complicated concepts, because if anyone in that tribe is well-educated, they can probably speak the directional language anyway.
                Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 02-14-2016, 01:48 AM.


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                • #23
                  Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                  Now, educated people in the Middle Ages often spoke a whole bunch of languages*, but by modern standards had very little understanding of science, advanced mathematics, etc. Were they clever or stupid? I think it's just that the their education heavily included languages.
                  Similarly, if you're an educated merchant in the Realm, your education probably focused heavily on learning High Realm and Riverspeak, with perhaps another directional language, with lessons on religion, rhetoric, literature and mathematics, but no biology, physics or chemistry.
                  I think it may have as much to do with the fact that what we think of as advanced mathematics or science hadn't really been formalised back then... Hard to do quantum field theory when the best natural philosophers are still trying to get to grips with Aristotalean theories of motion (which they developed in some fairly sophisticated directions).

                  Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                  British university students generally learn 0 languages..
                  Yn y brifysgol, siŵr. There's an occasional nuance to this that I'm contractually obliged to point out as a troublesome hill barbarian, but I can't quite remember what it is...

                  Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                  So, it's probably much easier to learn tribal tongues in Exalted than directional languages. Likely the grammar's similar to the local directional language, and you don't have to learn a whole new alphabet (because probably there just isn't one), and there's a lot of loan-words and not many complicated concepts, because if anyone in that tribe is well-educated, they can probably speak the directional language anyway.
                  Though not always. You'll occasionally get linguistic isolates that have grammatical characteristics that aren't present in the dominant local language group -- the best-known European example is Euskara [Basque] and in East Asia Korean (probably).

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Iozz-Sothoth View Post

                    I think it may have as much to do with the fact that what we think of as advanced mathematics or science hadn't really been formalised back then... Hard to do quantum field theory when the best natural philosophers are still trying to get to grips with Aristotalean theories of motion (which they developed in some fairly sophisticated directions).
                    Oh sure, there's an obvious reason they didn't study science. But the point is, one of the reasons modern people are rubbish at languages is because we try to learn so much that we don't have enough time to spend on it. If your education consists solely of basic theology, basic maths, famous literature, and foreign languages, you've got a lot more time to spend on foreign languages that modern schoolchildren.


                    Yn y brifysgol, siŵr. There's an occasional nuance to this that I'm contractually obliged to point out as a troublesome hill barbarian, but I can't quite remember what it is...
                    Secondary school students in Wales generally learn English/Welsh, University students generally don't. I mean, I literally went to the University of Wales, and I'm not sure if they even offered Welsh lessons.



                    Though not always. You'll occasionally get linguistic isolates that have grammatical characteristics that aren't present in the dominant local language group -- the best-known European example is Euskara [Basque] and in East Asia Korean (probably).
                    Oh, sure, it's not always, just generally.

                    Also, the thing with those is that they're probably based on some pre-historic language that has since been wiped out by, in the context of the Basques, Indo-European languages. But it still must be based on something, if it wasn't artificial: it didn't just spring out of nowhere, it's just that we don't know what it sprung out of.

                    Now, if everyone in a direction spoke a directional language, then you wouldn't really get these. You might get local languages that have developed strange and radical phenomon, but not these kind of language isolates. Or at least, if you do, then they're going to based on either a different directional language, or Old Realm.

                    Except, of course, for the occasional local language based on some ancient pre-human race who once lived in the area. But that's more likely to be something spoken by the gargants of Dis or the Backbenders or the Lintha than human tribes.

                    Of course, saying all this... there are barbarian tribes who live next to the Wyld. They could speak all kinds of crazy stuff.
                    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 02-14-2016, 07:45 AM.


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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                      Secondary school students in Wales generally learn English/Welsh, University students generally don't. I mean, I literally went to the University of Wales, and I'm not sure if they even offered Welsh lessons.
                      I don't disagree (as in, the bit I wrote in Welsh is agreeing with you on that), but the paragraph equivocates between the number of languages that people in Europe, Switzerland and China know, and the number of languages that British students learn in university, and they aren't really the same thing. Hence the nuance -- some British people know their local language and English. (Yes, I've been hanging around analytic philosophers a lot...)

                      (As for learning Welsh at Swansea University...) (pdf warning)


                      Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                      Also, the thing with those is that they're probably based on some pre-historic language that has since been wiped out by, in the context of the Basques, Indo-European languages. But it still must be based on something, if it wasn't artificial: it didn't just spring out of nowhere, it's just that we don't know what it sprung out of.

                      Now, if everyone in a direction spoke a directional language, then you wouldn't really get these. You might get local languages that have developed strange and radical phenomon, but not these kind of language isolates. Or at least, if you do, then they're going to based on either a different directional language, or Old Realm.
                      That only really follows if everyone in a direction spoke a single language ab initio or if a wizard suddenly made everyone in a direction speak a single language. As it is, unless the directional tongues became dominant through such a method, then you'll probably still find linguistic isolates in various places that arise because all the related languages have died out via the usual mechanisms. (In fact, the directional languages are the language groups of the 'civilised cultures' rather than the things everyone in the direction speaks according to p. 163 of 3E, which suggests more mundane reasons for dominance or percieved dominance than the weirdness that characterised the rise of 2E's directional languages.)
                      Last edited by Iozz-Sothoth; 02-14-2016, 10:01 AM.

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                      • #26
                        So far its actually been a blast including those regional languages. Because you can get four for the price of one its a fun way to have the players get a smattering of languages, and when they stumble into an area when only they know it and can speak to a village elder, or overhear what a giant barbarian shouted as a warcry its like an easteregg.

                        Like for instance the Language of the first city they are in is Miraclebay in the Ranate of Berasal and most people speak Palaka or Seatongue, with some other portions of the nation speak Dog on the frontier. So everyone in the group I believe managed to pick up Palaka and Seatongue, but they didn't start that way. But sometimes they go into the frontier Damas (villages) and encounter folks that speak Dog with only traders or elders speaking other languages, so only one or two of the party knows that regional language and they get some extra time to shine.

                        And for instance since the native language of most of Berasal is Palaka, and Seatongue is the language of Court, and trade they have religious Texts and Law written in Seatongue because they use an adapted Seatongue for books because they never managed to invent their own. Similar to how Korea and Japan adapted Chinese Characters as their writing system. How they use seatongue in writing will be different, but someone that only speaks Seatongue could probably get the gist of what was written, or at the very least understand some verbs and nouns.


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                        • #27
                          Oh hey, a thread about languages just when I had a theoretical language question.

                          What do you think the different languages sound like when actually spoken?

                          Like, is High Realm really posh and flowery? Old Realm majestic and arcane? Firetongue passionate and poetic? Wavetongue flowing and rolling right off the tongue? Riverspeak some glorious pigdin mess of loan words?


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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Prometheus878 View Post
                            Oh hey, a thread about languages just when I had a theoretical language question.

                            What do you think the different languages sound like when actually spoken?

                            Like, is High Realm really posh and flowery? Old Realm majestic and arcane? Firetongue passionate and poetic? Wavetongue flowing and rolling right off the tongue? Riverspeak some glorious pigdin mess of loan words?
                            While in our group's headcannon we ascribe accents to the different languages, we don't actually see them as those region's spoken words.

                            Ie;
                            River is a mix of Cockny/Irish
                            Skytongue is fairly east European/Russian sounding
                            Fire tongue is considered fairly middle-eastern (though this is the one accent I am most terrible at as to my ears it just sounds Russian)
                            Seatongue is played as pirate-tongue for laughs (thankyou keychain of creation) but we've had some surprisingly intense and serious scenes spoken like that so it's not as silly as it sounds.
                            Forestongue is Aztec flavored with its names and words but I don't think we accent it very well.
                            Old Realm is rarely spoken outside of a variant tongue devised by one of the players so I've never thought about it too much.
                            High Realm has never been spoken yet and Low Realm has been considered to be that kind of accentless American most actors use on screen.

                            In retrospect this post is probably utterly unhelpful :S


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                            • #29
                              Well each major language is a bunch of languages/dialects that fit together. But I wager personally that Old Realm has the most dialects and has the most variation in sound as it can be used for Hellghetto, Raksha Legend, and First Age Medical Text.

                              But I see High Realm as a mix of Courtly French, Mandarin and Japanese, a lot of emphasis on tone proper titles, san/sama/sensei/superkamiguru. With Low Realm being more functional used in rural areas and picking up some lone words as the Blessed Isle adds to the peasant population from the their tributaries but kept to the old Earthtongue more then High Realm. High Realm seems to have a much more robust name options which I attribute to Dragonblooded from all over the Shogunate rushing to the Empresses Banner and this became the language of their families. While I imagine Low Realm names more often sound distinctly Chinese or Japanese. So while you may have a mortal Dynast named Nellens Celleveaux, his low born cook may be Li Mei Wu, or Sheru.

                              And Riverspeak I like to think of as English, its a weird mess of a language with weird lone words but people learn it because it the business tongue, and all the cool celebrities sing ballads in it.

                              I like to think Dragontongue is a restructured High Holy Speech combined with cherry picked aspects of High Realm and Old Realm, so sibilant and gutteral aspects are toned down and the language is engineered to sound beautiful and complex for human performances, while Savants and Gods may pick up its ancient origins.

                              Wavetongue I use a lot of Polynesian language schemes so like a Goddess may be named Hanehane, but also some Tagalog, Indonesian/Malay, and Pirate/Spanish.

                              Skytongue I really love doing old Norse style cadence, like you hear them speak in 13th Warrior, but with some Inuit and Aboriginal American tribes and Russian/Slavic.

                              With Flametongue I like to think it is a good language for telling tales with, and I look to Indian Languages, Middle Eastern Languages, and African Languages. Sanskrit/Latin/Greek/Chinese may fit into Old Realm I still use Sanskrit and Tamil dictionaries and like combined with some Swahili and Farsi for Flametongue.


                              So basically I think the regional languages are robust and different dialects can sound like different languages as we Earth Humans would understand. For Creation Language seems mystically anchored and engineered with the capacity for humans to pick them up easier then Earth Humans link together related languages. For instance I've known some people communicate because one knows Portuguese and the other Spanish or Tagalog but its not perfect. Same with Cantonese and Mandarin, different people have told me conflicting things when I travelled. Some sayed they could understand it more or less but other friends told me they couldn't understand. But hey English College beginner Mandarin accents sound attrocious to native speakers and if you speak to them without them actually expecting you to speak Mandarin the butchered words can go right over their head.


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                              • #30
                                Just out of interest since the discussion is here, would we count Gaelic as a single language bought for 3 points that allows you to talk Irish, Scottish, Cornish and Welsh, or would those each be one tribal language?

                                Similarly, are Polish, Romanian, Czech and Russian all one language as Exalted understands them, or are they all just tribal languages with similarities?


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