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  • First Tongue questions

    Some important stuff concerning First Tongue comes in my game, so here are questions.
    1. WHEN Uratha truly learn to speak First Tongue? White Wolf wiki on subject points they get basic understanding upon First Change night - but there is difference to instinctively know that 'Uratha' is People or 'Ur' is Wolf - than to complete conversations in it. How much time must pass from First Change to operate complex statements and ideas in Tongue?
    2. Should this untrained Uratha after First Change roll like Wits + Occult to understand complex statements in First Tongue? Example if complex text I give below.
    3. Can First Tongue express truly complex statements? Something like text I plan of my Dragon Idigam to said to Viking characters:
    "I crossed the world to return to this place. Having resurrected in Greece, I have come continents, seas and forests to return to this place and complete the works that I have begun, eons before. Now you killed my children, bastard sons of Wolf! Die, you monsters!"


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  • #2
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    Can First Tongue express truly complex statements? Something like text I plan of my Dragon Idigam to said to Viking characters:[/LIST] "I crossed the world to return to this place. Having resurrected in Greece, I have come continents, seas and forests to return to this place and complete the works that I have begun, eons before. Now you killed my children, bastard sons of Wolf! Die, you monsters!"
    I've always played it out as a true, living language that characters can communicate in as easily as their human languages. It's not like High Speech where it's fragmented and unknowable. (YMMV)



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    • #3
      1. Edit: I misremembered which side we came down on this issue. P57 sorts it out.

      Immediately after the First Change, a werewolf can understand Uremehir, at least enough to get the gist of the speaker's message. He can learn fluency in the language from another Uratha who already knows Uremehir, or by bargaining for the favor from a spirit.

      2. Sure.
      3. Yes.
      Last edited by Bunyip; 11-23-2017, 04:32 AM.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bunyip View Post
        1. Edit: I misremembered which side we came down on this issue. P57 sorts it out.

        Immediately after the First Change, a werewolf can understand Uremehir, at least enough to get the gist of the speaker's message. He can learn fluency in the language from another Uratha who already knows Uremehir, or by bargaining for the favor from a spirit.
        So, generally, safe is assumption that new Uratha need at least few weeks of practice to speak correctly Uremehir, yes? Before it would be more Wits + Occult roll for complex statements?


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Yossarian View Post

          I've always played it out as a true, living language that characters can communicate in as easily as their human languages. It's not like High Speech where it's fragmented and unknowable. (YMMV)
          By the definition of a living language, it isn't one at all. A living language is one that changes with time and use, evolving with the speech of the users through time. For me, it would be as Latin or Classic Greek. You can speak in it fluently and for complex content, sure. But it is pretty much static, mostly the same everywhere, used with mostly strict adherence to its formal grammar. The definition of a dead language.

          The only thing I would change would be the Occult roll. Though I do think that a character could use Occult for search on the subject and learn from several sources, to understand it on the fly would be an Intelligence + Wits roll, instead, or Academics at most. In use it is as any other language, and I see no reason for the knowledge on occult lore to play a role in grasping meaning on a speech or writing.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
            By the definition of a living language, it isn't one at all. A living language is one that changes with time and use, evolving with the speech of the users through time. For me, it would be as Latin or Classic Greek. You can speak in it fluently and for complex content, sure. But it is pretty much static, mostly the same everywhere, used with mostly strict adherence to its formal grammar. The definition of a dead language.
            I actually meant more that it's a living language in the technical sense, in that there are native speakers of First Tongue, unlike Latin or Ancient Greek. A "living language" is one that has at least one native speaker, as I recall, rather than referring to the evolution of language. First Tongue is weird because it's a first language via spirit magic (spirit language acquisition is a topic that's probably not actually as interesting as it sounds), but it does have, er, creatures who are born speaking it, and some that have spoken it since Pangea. You're of course right that it's not a language that experiences change over time, but that's not quite what I meant.
            Last edited by Yossarian; 11-25-2017, 07:42 PM.



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            • #7
              Larger question is First Tongue able to evolve and add new concepts? Like can, after creation of it's culture, term 'Greece' can be used by spirit with Uremehir? 'Greece' was clearly invented AFTER Fall of Pangea.


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              • #8
                Greece is a name so it could be just named Elláda (the Greek name for Greece), but it's an interesting question. Many languages adopted the word television, which is an English word with a Greek prefix, but Icelandic uses its own root words to create new words for new concepts. The Icelandic word for television is sjónvarp from the Icelandic words sjón (meaning vision) and varp (meaning projection). I'd guess that if First Tongue do expand to take in new concepts, it'd probably do it the Icelandic way.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                  Larger question is First Tongue able to evolve and add new concepts? Like can, after creation of it's culture, term 'Greece' can be used by spirit with Uremehir? 'Greece' was clearly invented AFTER Fall of Pangea.
                  It can, if everything has a spirit, new things need to be named, old things get extinct. And there's been a number of sources in 1e directly stating that there are even regional and idiosyncratic differences in pronunciations.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Yossarian View Post
                    I actually meant more that it's a living language in the technical sense, in that there are native speakers of First Tongue, unlike Latin or Ancient Greek. A "living language" is one that has at least one native speaker, as I recall, rather than referring to the evolution of language. First Tongue is weird because it's a first language via spirit magic (spirit language acquisition is a topic that's probably not actually as interesting as it sounds), but it does have, er, creatures who are born speaking it, and some that have spoken it since Pangea. You're of course right that it's not a language that experiences change over time, but that's not quite what I meant.
                    What I used was a technical sense, but one I learned here and wrongly assumed to be still correct in english. In Brazil, "Língua Viva" is used exactly as I said, and is a technical term for linguistics. I just did some research and, indeed, in English it is used mostly to refer to modern languages, and is actually far less technical. One publication, SIL Ethnologue, uses it strictly to refer to what you said, "a language with at least one living speaker to whom it was the first language".


                    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                    Larger question is First Tongue able to evolve and add new concepts? Like can, after creation of it's culture, term 'Greece' can be used by spirit with Uremehir? 'Greece' was clearly invented AFTER Fall of Pangea.
                    Hard to say with so little information on how it actually works. But it is likely that at least it adapts enough to accommodate new meanings.

                    Accents are a probable outcome. It is less likely that so many distinct spirits and other beings talk it the same way, and way more that you have a lot of variations in pronounce. It is true even for dead and artificial languages, so even without canon sources on the matter, it would be safe to assume that there are accents.

                    Since it is a language that can be used for fluid conversation, it either have built-in structures for development of new concepts, space for neologisms, or both. Most likely, both. Names of places, like Greece and Japan, probably are simply neologisms, since they don't need to work otherwise. Proper names are linked to knowledge of the actual named thing, so no need for translation at all.

                    But there is one consideration for this level of detail. If there are new words, then there are speakers who are not familiar with such words. As Malus stated, Uremehir is linked to spirits, so it is possible that the language supernaturally incorporate new concepts once they start to exist, at least for the denizens of the Shadow, and that smooths out things, but you still have to think about how someone learns it, and when. If a spirit learns Uremehir at its conception, or need some level of contact with a new concept, then this spirit can be ignorant of some words. Uratha learn it just by instinct when they Change, but it is stated that they have just a tenuous grasp at first, so it is safe to assume that they certainly won't know new concepts through the same supernatural means. It can actually be indicative that few words and structures in Uremehir are "supernatural", and maybe advanced stuff is like in a normal language even for spirits. Finally, you have humans and other beings without link to the Shadow that do learn Uremehir by other means. Are they affected by supernatural changes in the language?

                    Those are questions without canon answers that you need to define yourself to better tune your chronicle. As a rule of thumb, the more flexible it is to let regionalisms, neologisms and accents to develop, the less it should be reliable world-wide. The stronger you make it as a "universal language for its speakers", the more it should be rigid. The means to make it more or less rigid, more or less universal can explain variations, but is ultimately fluff.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                      What I used was a technical sense, but one I learned here and wrongly assumed to be still correct in english. In Brazil, "Língua Viva" is used exactly as I said, and is a technical term for linguistics. I just did some research and, indeed, in English it is used mostly to refer to modern languages, and is actually far less technical. One publication, SIL Ethnologue, uses it strictly to refer to what you said, "a language with at least one living speaker to whom it was the first language".

                      Appropriately, we both got a little lost in translation.



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                      • #12
                        Is there some canon source on Uremehir as phenomena, beside Werewolf The Forsaken corebooks? I tried to look in the Lore of Forsaken for both 'First Tongue' and 'Uremehir' - and did not get any more extensive hits than one sentance mentions.


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                        • #13
                          What do you mean by ‘as phenomena’?


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                          • #14
                            There is mentioned many times words of Uremehir, not how they come to being, how it's evolve, etc. general facts about possibility of using Uremehir in the first place ( how, where, why ) and how it came to being - than the sentences itself.


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                            • #15
                              I think wyrdhamster means how they developed the First Tongue as a language.

                              As the Shadow is a reflection of the real world it stands to reason that the First Tongue is, in turn, a reflection of language ingrained to every spirit or spirit-borne entity.

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