Language in Wesnoth

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max_torch
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Language in Wesnoth

Post by max_torch » November 28th, 2014, 1:00 pm

How is it that in the campaigns all the races seem to be able to understand each other?

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zookeeper
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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by zookeeper » November 28th, 2014, 1:31 pm

Well, simply because it would be pretty difficult to write interactions between the different races if they didn't, I imagine. I don't think it really needs to be explained in-universe.

However, clearly the elves and dwarves on the Great Continent speak it (and didn't simply learn it from the Prince of Southbay, that'd be ridiculous) as do Wesfolk and orcs, so whatever common ancestry the language has would be pretty far in prehistory.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by Chewan » November 28th, 2014, 9:30 pm

max_torch: … all the races seem to be able to understand each other
Well, not all. Remember: bats for sure, rats... and maybe other animals were kept from talking!
(fortunately, not drakes, lizards and gryphons)
This, however, does not mean that those creatures do not communicate with each other.
It's just: Nobody seems to understand them (any more). ;)
Last edited by Chewan on November 29th, 2014, 2:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by johndh » November 28th, 2014, 11:46 pm

This has always been one of those immersion-breaking things for me. How do these different species who have never met each other somehow communicate? The general concession seems to be that it's an acceptable break from realism for the sake of gameplay, since the game is just more fun this way. It's similar to the other conventions the game uses, like occupying villages (why do they stay loyal once you leave?), unit advancements (did he just change his equipment in the middle of the battle?), or long-distance communication (how can they hear what the other guy is saying from so far away?). In most cases, you can think of it as an abstraction -- that they are really going through the tedious process of trying to sort out each other's languages using translators, etc., but it's shown as all happening fluidly for sake of convenience and fun. Now, in some cases the characters wouldn't have an entourage full of translators with them, but I don't foresee an answer to that any time soon, so we just go with it.

It wouldn't make sense for everyone to speak the same language, or even to have them all stem from the same root, since there are clearly different origins for the different races, but it could make sense for there to be a lingua franca or two. Wesfolk, Islefolk, Wesnothians, and Orcs could all share a similar language since they all come from the Old Continent, but Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, and Ogres are all natives of the Great Continent. I don't imagine Saurians, Merfolk, or Nagas mingling enough with the other races to share any common linguistic ancestry. Elves and Dwarves have had enough interaction that they are likely familiar with each other's languages, and Dwarves and Trolls cross paths enough as well. Presumably there would be lots of different languages spoken by separate races, nations, and tribes, but I could see Old Wesfolk and Elvish as being the equivalent of Greek and Latin in the European Middle Ages -- not the primary languages spoken by most people, but languages commonly enough used by scholars, mages, international merchants, etc., that they can facilitate negotiations.

Thinking back to TRoW, I'm imagining that the Wesfolk and Islefolk could have spoken the same language in the not-too-distant past, and thus they could be like the difference between Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian and the related Icelandic -- not quite intelligible to each other in regular conversation, but able to be understood with some extra work. Or maybe not. There can always be oddballs like Finnish. They probably have some Orcish loanwords and profanity as well.

Based on what Kitty et al. developed for Irdyian written languages, we can know a little bit about some of the languages and how they look and sound.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by Andrettin » November 29th, 2014, 9:41 am

johndh wrote:Based on what Kitty et al. developed for Irdyian written languages, we can know a little bit about some of the languages and how they look and sound.
Oh! That's a rather interesting thread.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by kiss » November 29th, 2014, 5:00 pm

max_torch wrote:How is it that in the campaigns all the races seem to be able to understand each other?
mmmm ... can you define race?

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by Nobun » November 29th, 2014, 6:35 pm

Usually the explaination is that the non-human races knows also human local language.
For example, in the "Lord of the Ring" Elves have their own languages, but speak with humans in their languages. The same happens with dwarves. And I assume also orc and trolls speak human language too (even if with poor grammar, usually).

But nice point :D

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by johndh » November 29th, 2014, 7:18 pm

kiss wrote: mmmm ... can you define race?
The real-world definition is arbitrary and anthropologists have discarded it as useless. "Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogeneous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past."

Traditionally, in high fantasy settings like LotR and BfW, race really refers to species (humans, orcs, dwarves) or subspecies (different flavors of elves), though the divide can also be more along cultural lines, particularly in strategy games. I can only guess at your intentions, but you seem to raise the point that different groups of humans and non-humans also likely have different languages, such as the Khalifate speaking a different language from Wesnoth, or elves of one forest speaking a different language than those of another, which is also valid and something that I touched on in my earlier post in reference to Wesfolk vs. Islefolk. I would imagine that the humans of Wesnoth itself all speak the same language because they came from the same island and seem to have mingled enough that the old racial divide has been basically blended away. Even their very first royal couple was an "interracial" one. However, I could see it being an interesting plot point if the player in some scenario runs into an isolated town that speaks a kind of creole that nobody else understands. :)
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by ancestral » November 30th, 2014, 5:19 am

Two things:
  • Nations and cultures employ translators. Likely, at least some humans would be versed in Elven to help translate. And vice versa.
  • People don’t need to understand what the other says much of the time. An Orc saying Quick, we must make our escape! doesn’t need to be translated. It may not even be directed at the Humans, and besides, dialog is simply an aid to the player. The Humans don’t need to know what the the Orcs say (especially as the Orcs may be retreating anyway.) Tone of voice, facial expressions and more importantly, physical actions need no translation.
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max_torch
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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by max_torch » November 30th, 2014, 12:53 pm

zookeeper wrote:Well, simply because it would be pretty difficult to write interactions between the different races if they didn't, I imagine. I don't think it really needs to be explained in-universe.
Well, I really just brought it up because one of the main tropes of a high-fantasy theme/setting is often the fantasy languages

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by Andrettin » November 30th, 2014, 3:15 pm

max_torch wrote: Well, I really just brought it up because one of the main tropes of a high-fantasy theme/setting is often the fantasy languages
We don't know much about the languages, unfortunately.

The river called by the humans "Longlier" is for the elves "Arkan-thoria", so perhaps Arkan-thoria means "long-lier"? Other than this very hypothetical translation, we don't have much AFAIK.

"Knalga", "Kal Kartha" and "Surgha" are all probably in dwarvish, but their meaning is not explained. I imagine the "Kal" in "Kal Kartha" probably means something to the effect of "town", "fort" or "hold".

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by johndh » November 30th, 2014, 7:15 pm

Andrettin wrote: The river called by the humans "Longlier" is for the elves "Arkan-thoria", so perhaps Arkan-thoria means "long-lier"? Other than this very hypothetical translation, we don't have much AFAIK.

"Knalga", "Kal Kartha" and "Surgha" are all probably in dwarvish, but their meaning is not explained. I imagine the "Kal" in "Kal Kartha" probably means something to the effect of "town", "fort" or "hold".
I'd say that proper names are probably the best insight we have into what the various languages sound like. None of them seem to share a consistent aesthetic within the group, which may hint at multiple languages, but some generalizations can be made. Elvish names are vaguely Gaelic-sounding, Dwarven ones have some basis in Norse/Nordic sounds (spoken with an exaggerated Scottish accent), Wesnothian names seem like a mix between Welsh and generically Germanic (maybe the difference between Wesfolk and Islefolk names?), Orcish names are short and guttural, Drake names are long and guttural, Saurian names are heavy on X, S, and Z, etc.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by max_torch » December 1st, 2014, 1:55 pm

Maybe we can have profanities in the form of racial slurs.
Northerners badword: Gobbo. A racial slur for goblins. If you call an orc a Gobbo it's like you're telling him that he's just a weak goblin and it will piss him off.
Knalgan badword: Treeks. A racial slur for elves. Dwarves called elves tree freaks insultingly but shortened it to Treek.
any more you can add?

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by Andrettin » December 1st, 2014, 2:15 pm

max_torch wrote:Maybe we can have profanities in the form of racial slurs.
Northerners badword: Gobbo. A racial slur for goblins. If you call an orc a Gobbo it's like you're telling him that he's just a weak goblin and it will piss him off.
Knalgan badword: Treeks. A racial slur for elves. Dwarves called elves tree freaks insultingly but shortened it to Treek.
any more you can add?
I'm not sure portmanteaus like that would happen naturally over time in an ancient or medieval setting. They seem to me to be a very recent phenomenon, but I could be wrong.

Either way, I would suggest "Breastling" as a Saurian/Drake slur for mammalian sentient races.

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Re: Language in Wesnoth

Post by max_torch » December 1st, 2014, 3:01 pm

Andrettin wrote:
max_torch wrote:Maybe we can have profanities in the form of racial slurs.
Northerners badword: Gobbo. A racial slur for goblins. If you call an orc a Gobbo it's like you're telling him that he's just a weak goblin and it will piss him off.
Knalgan badword: Treeks. A racial slur for elves. Dwarves called elves tree freaks insultingly but shortened it to Treek.
any more you can add?
I'm not sure portmanteaus like that would happen naturally over time in an ancient or medieval setting. They seem to me to be a very recent phenomenon, but I could be wrong.

Either way, I would suggest "Breastling" as a Saurian/Drake slur for mammalian sentient races.
It actually happens in medieval setting. In roman times there were many bad words http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_profanity

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