Languages

Languages are listed below with typical native speakers in parentheses.

Note: Ancestry does not presuppose known languages since it is possible for an individual to not know the languages of their forebears. Language points must still be spent to learn Kindred languages.

All characters start as conversant in the commonly spoken language of Woldish.

Parts of this are paraphrased from the Dolmenwood Player’s Book.

Common Languages

  • Woldish (humans): Described by Otani nun and scholar Saint Agatha of the High Wold in her correspondence with the Bishop of Argot, Woldish is “a language of words looted from other peoples spoken by a people who looted this entire country. Even its name is stolen.” Spoken by the humans of Brackenwold and the surrounding regions of Southern Isurholm, Woldish is part of the Karska language family, mutually intelligible with the others. This language family is centuries removed from the original Karselander language of that wave of human invaders. Vocabulary from Gaffe and Otani pepper the Woldish dialect, distinguishing it from the other Karska languages on Isurholm. It is written in the Werriadi alphabet or Karselander runes.
  • Liturgic (clergy): Derived from the old tongues of lands beyond the Teeth of the Sun and imbued with holy power, the liturgic language was used to transcribe the Lady’s original visions of the Exalted One. Services, scripture, and hagiography still use liturgic. Fairies have difficulty learning the language and it is unpleasant to their ears. It is written in the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Gaffe (shorthorn and mountain breggles): The tongue of breggle “shorthorn” commoners, Gaffe consists mainly of bleats and gurgles in a sing-songy tone. A variant is spoken in the mountains of the Myrdoom among the old breggle mountain tribes. The High Wold variety contains influences from the Sylvan, Otani, and Woldish tongues which differentiate it from the mountain variety, but they are mutually intelligible. It is written in the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Caprice (longhorn breggles): Developed from Gaffe by the High Wold “longhorn” breggle aristocracy with swaths of vocabulary from High Elvish, Caprice can be written in the High Elvish abjad or Werriadi alphabet.
  • Sylvan (fairy-kin): The common language of fairies and woodgrues, it is believed to be distantly related to the Immortal Tongue of Fairy. It is rarely written, but can use the High Elvish abjad.

Uncommon Languages

  • High Elvish (fairy nobility): The language of Fairy nobles, derived from the Immortal Tongue of Fairy. Its grammar is purposefully designed to be complex with myriad exceptions to declensions, conjugations, tenses, numbers, speakers, and so on. Breggle linguist Frem de Hozer describes it in a recent article in Logo: The Journal of Languages as “a highly impractical practical joke” only learnable by the most ancient of fairy nobles. Few mortals or even common fairies ever manage to learn it due to its difficulty. It is written in the High Elvish abjad.
  • Old Karselander (humans): Also known as Old Woldish, the language was spoken by the first Karselander human settlers in Southern Isurholm and Dolmenwood. It is no longer spoken, but scholars still study it and its literature. It is written in Karselander runes and the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Mulch (mosslings, sentient plants and fungi): Amateur linguist and world traveler Giuseppe von Toad wrote of Mulch in a decade-old issue of Logo: The Journal of Languages, “It is a song unique to Dolmenwood, though a cousin of it too is spoken in the swamps of my homeland [of Hoppland]. Indeed the limited sounds that talking plants and fungi can produce limit the consonant availability, which accounts for this similarity, though why the mosslings speak it too when they can speak human languages too is confounding, I must admit.” Mulch is difficult to speak for other kindreds due to its squelching and grinding consonants. It remains a language isolate on Isurholm, neither borrowing nor lending words, and further studies of the Boggish language of Hoppland challenge von Toad’s initial claims of any relationship. It is rarely written, but can use the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Otani (humans): An old human language, long since supplanted by Woldish, spoken by the first human woodcutters and hunters who built their homes among the fairies, breggles, and mosslings of Dolmenwood. It is still spoken in the Otani successor kingdoms in the Myrdoom, called the Dark Country by Karselander invaders. Words and rhythms are shared with the language of Ruislip. The Otani word for Isurholm is Otanslip, and it is still called that by the Ruis humans. It is written in the Otani alphabet.
  • Dwarvish (dwarrows): Spoken by the dwarrows of the mountains of the Myrdoom, it has many loan-words from Otani. The words rumble, hiss, and hum, and can be difficult for humans to reproduce. Written in Dwarvish runes, but can use the Otani alphabet.

Foreign Languages

  • Ruis (humans): The language of the people on Ruislip, an island west of Isurholm. Some words are common with Otani and the rhythms of the language are similar. It is written in the Otani alphabet and Ruis runes.
  • Croakish (froglings): Mossling sailor and amateur scholar Muggy Danklow wrote of Croakish in an opinion piece in last year’s edition of Logo: The Journal of Languages, “What a lovely language! Its croaks and hums are beautiful to hear, and those in the more rural corners seem to borrow some words from Boggish language of their own speaking plants. Reminds one of home. A lovely people, the Hopplanders. How they could have produced such an ignoramus like Giuseppe von Toad I have no idea.” The language of the froglings of Hoppland on the Continent. Some words from Ambrinian have crossed over. A mutually intelligible variant is spoken in the Hameth River Delta. It can be written in the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Ambrinian (humans): The language of the Humans of the Kingdom of Ambrine on the Continent. It takes a large swath of its vocabulary from Werriadi. It can be written in the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Attalander (humans): The language of the raiders from Attaland, a land near Karseland, whence came the ancestors of the Karska/Woldish humans. The words of the language are familiar to Karska- and Woldish-speakers, but the rhythms are difficult to parse. Also spoken in the Aegerlaw, a region in the northeast of Isurholm conquered by the Attalanders. The Attalanders are called Aegerlings by the Karska people of Isurholm, meaning Sea-People in Karska. It is written in Attalander runes or the Werriadi alphabet.

Secret Languages

Secret languages are reserved for backgrounds and kindreds where it would be reasonable to know it. Discuss with the referee how your character might know one of these languages.

  • Drunic (drunes): Von Toad describes Drunic in recently publicized letters to his brother as, “Some spooky nonsense put together by the Drunes. I bet it has some connection to Mulch. Can’t trust those mosslings either. I tell you, if I ever run into that Muggy Danklow, I’ll give him what-for!” The Drunes use the secret language in every day speech, scripture, histories, and “to write all over their creepy rocks.”
  • Mewl (grimalkins, cat-fairies): An anonymous writer wrote in response to an attempted foray into Mewl’s study via a letter to the editor in Logo: The Journal of Languages, “You bozos better stay away from our language.” The results of the study could only discover that Mewl can also be understood by mundane cats, “much to their surprise!” before shutting down very abruptly. They also learned it can be written in the Werriadi alphabet.
  • Undying Tongue of Faerie: The mythical language of ancient fairies, . All folk understand this language when spoken to them, but no mortal or lesser fairy may speak it. They physically cannot. Any who attempt to study it become accursed. It cannot be written down.
  • Dwarvish Sign (dwarrows): The secret sign language of the dwarrows in the mountains of the Myrdoom, the Dark Country. Closely guarded, it is rarely used outside of the depths of dwarf-mansions. It is forbidden to be written, lest the Sleepers learn of it.

Dead Languages

  • Old Drunic: Referenced in a public letter to Giuseppe von Toad, Muggy Dankworth writes of Old Drunic, “You’re gonna be as lost to history as Old Drunic when I get done with you, you goofy mook! Name the time and place!” Samples of the language only survive in ancient vaults kept by a few Drune sages. It is written in a completely different set of letters than modern Drunic.
  • Old Werriadi: The ancient language of the Werriadi Empire once spoken on the shores of Isurholm. It is written, as most languages on the Continent are, in the Werriadi alphabet. Its descendants on the Continent are numerous (like Ambrinian), but it is no longer spoken (though it survives in thousands of records), even in old Werriad where the language has been fractured by competing successor states. Even in the Golden Gulf where a rump state of the Werriadi Empire remains, they speak Argolosi, the language of Argot.