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 Toril without the "Common" Language
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SaMoCon
Learned Scribe

USA
210 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2017 :  18:49:02  Show Profile Send SaMoCon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Darnit! I stumbled on this thread too late.

I agreed with the OP about how "Common" makes no sense. Who would learn a regional language when everybody already speaks Common as a language and can be clearly understood on any subject from the most simplistic (that way is North) to the most complex (Waterdeep's harbor moon coins are of lesser value after the Time of Troubles because the smelters used a lower gold content in the electrum alloy in the government's efforts to mint more coins to pay for reconstruction). That interpretation runs counter to how language mashes work and the descriptions of what Common is as provided from the various incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons.

The FR setting has languages. A single common tongue for trade and diplomacy just doesn't exist. In fact, the lore suggests that languages twist and change across distances rather than remaining unified and unchanged so any universal Esperanto would have broken up into regional languages over the roll of years. Languages and their implementation help to convey the fantastic world of the FR, which is why they were included in the campaign setting.

Now, as a DM, I have a choice to how I want to run the game and what I or my players should ignore because playing using all the rules and setting information all the time actually interferes with enjoying the game. From previous posts arguing for Common, I can see a trend of DMs/players deciding that languages are just too much trouble - this is a practical decision of game play. That said, if languages were that much of an issue then why would the DM be running games that would go across borders and through multiple cultures including enemies? I think this is an issue of DM game preparation.

For example, I had made my own change to the 3E rules that makes an honest skill out of the Speak Languages skill. Basically, being understood by someone that doesn't have a shared language is a skill check with a DC based upon how complex the idea is to get across and modified by the yes/no differences in home regions, alignments, races, and creatures types. The possibility still exists for the characters to communicate with any intelligent creature but the effort and chances to fail makes the players want to seek out help for languages they do not know. Thus, "Common" is a mix of pantomime and attempts to use perceived vocalizations of the unknown language but talking to someone using this Common is time consuming and the more complex the subject the more frustrating the exchange for both parties.

Make the best use of the system that's there, then modify the mechanics that don't allow you to have the fun you are looking for.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
29710 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2017 :  19:26:20  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SaMoCon

Darnit! I stumbled on this thread too late.

I agreed with the OP about how "Common" makes no sense. Who would learn a regional language when everybody already speaks Common as a language and can be clearly understood on any subject from the most simplistic (that way is North) to the most complex (Waterdeep's harbor moon coins are of lesser value after the Time of Troubles because the smelters used a lower gold content in the electrum alloy in the government's efforts to mint more coins to pay for reconstruction). That interpretation runs counter to how language mashes work and the descriptions of what Common is as provided from the various incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons.


As I noted earlier, page 84 of the 3E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting explicitly states Common is a second language for those who speak it, and specifically states it is a trade language:

quote:
All speaking peoples, including the humans of various lands, possess a native tongue. In addition, all humans and many nonhumans speak Common as a second language. Common grew from a kind of pidgin Chondathan and is most closely related to that language, but it is far simpler and less expressive. Nuances of speech, naming, and phrasing are better conveyed in the older, more mature languages, since Common is little more than a trade language.


So it is not described the way you refer to it.

quote:
Originally posted by SaMoCon

A single common tongue for trade and diplomacy just doesn't exist.



And the lore does not describe Common as a language for diplomacy -- only as a trade language.

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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

1365 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2017 :  21:37:10  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Lingua franca" is what happens when there's enough of communication.
In FR, there are "Common" (dialect of Planecommon), Undercommon (Underdark pidgin), Serusan (Serosian common pidgin), corresponding to the large communities that deal more on the inside than outside. And if you include Zakhara, also Jannti (genie common). Sounds about right.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

1365 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2017 :  21:58:43  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In FR, there are "Common" (dialect of just happens to mostly coincide with Planecommon), Undercommon (Underdark pidgin), Serusan (Serosian common pidgin), corresponding to the large communities that deal more on the inside than outside. And if you include Zakhara, also Jannti (genie common). Sounds about right.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
13261 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2017 :  22:35:30  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Latin used to work very much as the 'trade language' in Europe, and today English takes that spot (even though more people speak Chinese, and Spanish is more widely spoken). I have many international friends and they all speak English with me ('stupid American' that I am). English is also excepted as the language of the sciences, so there's that as well.

So a 'common tongue' does exist, and eventually, if we don't blow ourselves up. we'll all be speaking local dialects of a universal pidgin tongue.

Except for France... they have rules about that. Silly France.

Personally, I never cared for the way everyone can simply communicate easily in Scify and fantasy. Its not very believable. I like the way it was handled in the well World novels (and perhaps borrow a bit from Doctor Who, in regards to planer travel - you just start speaking whatever is the most common tongue on the other end... say its just some sort of 'cosmic thing'). In the Weel World novels, they had some sort of psionic-based crystal that grew naturally in one of the places, and they could place inside your throat and people would be able to understand what you are saying (two-way communication was only possible if both parties had a crystal). And some races didn't have bodies in the physical sense, or were 'too alien', so it was an imperfect solution. I had planed to adopt that for my own homebrew world (something very similar, not the exact same thing). Maybe in FR/D&D use an Ioun Stone, or even a gem set in the forehead could serve the same purpose.

Something as simple as that would go a long way to solving the 'no-one really needs to learn any languages' thing which always bugged me. Whats the point of having all those nifty D&D languages when every bugbear and beastie can speak YOUR language?

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 29 Mar 2017 22:46:23
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SaMoCon
Learned Scribe

USA
210 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2017 :  23:48:30  Show Profile Send SaMoCon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
So it is not described the way you refer to it.

Let me try restating my position and see if that clears up this point of misunderstanding.

How Common is used is not how it is described because the system does not differentiate communications via Common versus any other language. Common is used in the game for PCs to FULL ON TALK TO, PERSUADE, NEGOTIATE WITH, ARGUE AGAINST, AND BULLY NPCs. When and how do you limit the use of Common by saying that it is just "a pidgin" and only a "trade language" when it has all the same use as a full real language? And why would anyone learn any other language if EVERYBODY already speaks Common?

How long does a language need to exist before it is "mature" as the FRCS states? Is there a new Common every decade or every century or did Common not exist in the FR prior to the 13th century DR? Wouldn't Common be a fully matured language after the century jump? It does not make sense for Common to exist... period. Especially in not such a static setting as the FR.

And as far as lingua francas are concerned, everyone might do well by looking at real world examples of them and seeing that each one is a full language. From wikipedia: "Examples of lingua francas remain numerous and exist on every continent. The most obvious example as of the early 21st century is English, which is the lingua franca in most parts of the world. There are many other lingua francas in particular regions, such as French, Spanish, Urdu, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, and Swahili." If anything, the language of the culture that has the most dominant influence in the region becomes a lingua franca.

Just by looking at the wiki I can see that what would count as "Common" would be the language available in a character's home region that is spoken by the majority of nearby regions or the most powerful nation in the region. By that standard, Chondathan would have sway over many heartland areas in pre-Time of Troubles Faerun with Illuskan being the common of the Northwest, Alzhedo in the South & Southwest, Damarran in the North & Northeast, and Mulhorandi in the Southeast & East. That would make far more sense than a thing called "Common" that is the same in Samarach as it is in Narfell and by orcs and giants as it is for humans.

Make the best use of the system that's there, then modify the mechanics that don't allow you to have the fun you are looking for.
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
5124 Posts

Posted - 30 Mar 2017 :  00:11:43  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

In FR, there are "Common" (dialect of just happens to mostly coincide with Planecommon), Undercommon (Underdark pidgin), Serusan (Serosian common pidgin), corresponding to the large communities that deal more on the inside than outside. And if you include Zakhara, also Jannti (genie common). Sounds about right.



If you include Zakhara, its Midani, which is their version of common as a trade language.

And according to the wiki for Midani
"A version of Midani, known as Uloushinn by some scholars, was also spoken by the Bedine."

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
29710 Posts

Posted - 30 Mar 2017 :  01:09:01  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SaMoCon

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
So it is not described the way you refer to it.

Let me try restating my position and see if that clears up this point of misunderstanding.

How Common is used is not how it is described because the system does not differentiate communications via Common versus any other language. Common is used in the game for PCs to FULL ON TALK TO, PERSUADE, NEGOTIATE WITH, ARGUE AGAINST, AND BULLY NPCs. When and how do you limit the use of Common by saying that it is just "a pidgin" and only a "trade language" when it has all the same use as a full real language? And why would anyone learn any other language if EVERYBODY already speaks Common?


Just because the game system does not enforce strict language rules does not mean the existence of a language makes no sense.

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

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I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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