Author Topic: Elven and other dialects...  (Read 3080 times)

Silas Rotleaf

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2019, 02:56:19 PM »
Oh and would a core native who isn’t an elf but speaks one of these Ravenloft elven dialects fairly fluently... be able to with work and effort come to understand those other variants of elven (as the character gets more exposed to said dialects)?
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 02:58:59 PM by Silas Rotleaf »

Jeebs

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2019, 03:09:44 PM »
I have very mixed feelings about this. I distinctly remember seeing somewhere that elves from the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms settings had their own very distinct and separate languages, much like Lucadia said. However after quite a bit of digging, I can't seem to find any reference to that. I know that in the Elven Nations trilogy of DL books, Kagonesti and Silvanesti can communicate, but that's because the story was set so far back in Krynn's history that the various elven dialects hadn't evolved yet. So while I really find it very odd that just by virtue of speaking any one dialect of elven you can understand any other dialect, I'm forced to concede that I can't find anything to contradict that assertion and respect the ruling.

Last night when we were discussing it on Discord, I had compared the various dialects of the elvish language to being much like different Latin-based language. Because they have the same root, many of the words and the grammar is similar but they are still very much different languages of their own. For example, someone who speaks French might be able to understand a few words and sentence fragments from a Spanish speaker and they might be able to communicate on a very basic level but having a real conversation of any kind isn't going to be easy if it's even possible. Now I'm finding out it's more like American English and British English where other than a few colloquialisms and pronunciations, it is basically the exact same language. I can live with that, but it just seems weird to even have different dialects of elvish in that case, rather than just one all-encompassing [Elf] tag.

FinalHeaven

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2019, 03:11:51 PM »
Oh and would a core native who isn’t an elf but speaks one of these Ravenloft elven dialects fairly fluently... be able to with work and effort come to understand those other variants of elven (as the character gets more exposed to said dialects)?

I believe a post earlier in the thread explained that if you speak "Elven" you understand all of the Elven dialects.  Race is irrelevant.  But, perhaps further clarity here but be helpful.

Destinysdesire

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2019, 03:14:57 PM »
Oh and would a core native who isn’t an elf but speaks one of these Ravenloft elven dialects fairly fluently... be able to with work and effort come to understand those other variants of elven (as the character gets more exposed to said dialects)?

I believe a post earlier in the thread explained that if you speak "Elven" you understand all of the Elven dialects.  Race is irrelevant.  But, perhaps further clarity here but be helpful.

I think a non elf would struggle a bit more to catch the dialectical differences, but he would generally still understand the very basics of it all.

FinalHeaven

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2019, 03:15:39 PM »
Here it is:

All speakers of any elven dialects can understand any other elven dialect if spoken slowly. So yes, a Dragonlance Silvanesti can understand a Forgotten Realm Drow and vice versa even if they have never seen one another previously.

Euniana

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2019, 02:28:11 AM »
I find it rather jarring that it's insisted that Common isn't English and that languages aren't really their representations despite the evidence in front of your eyes suggesting otherwise, especially when you get into language-centric RP. For example, people use wordplay or confuse homonyms in ways that simply don't make sense if the language isn't English (or whatever). One recent instance is that a character confused the ball in Port with a ball game. There's really no other way that makes sense as it's a quirk unique to English. In language RP, people are going to notice that words like dame, madame, doamnă, domina, etc all sound like they are variants of the same etymon. Either people have to ignore these things staring them in the face, or they have to abandon details, which takes a lot of fun out of language RP.

There's also the fact that the structure and features of a language are inextricably tied to its history and affect what people do with said language. English turned out the way it did because of the way Anglo-Saxon interacted with Brythonic/Old Norse/Norman French/etc, followed by England's history of mercantilism and colonialism. The historical changes to English shifted how people wrote literature. Rhyming, for example, makes little sense in languages without the right kind of syllable structure. In Chinese languages, it is so easy for words to accidentally rhyme that Chinese literary tradition places much stricter rules on what is considered rhyming, formalized via rime dictionaries that adhere to archaic pronunciations. In Japanese, there being at most 5 x 2 ways that a word-final syllable can end, rhyming is so trivial that it's essentially nonexistent. These examples are meant to illustrate that language is a complicated thing that resists the simplistic fantasy cliché of slapping on often-butchered real-world representations while claiming that they're only there for flavour. Not to mention it really is quite insulting for people of those cultures to have their languages appropriated to provide a veneer of exoticism.

There's the drastic option of just avoiding the gratuitous use of 'flavour' real-life language representations and ruling that Common and English are the same thing, but that's just not possible at this point.

Like I've said to people on Discord, people will always have different opinions on how to handle languages. What I would like to see is a non-disruptive approach to this contention that some people have -- i.e. to keep things lax and inclusive and let everyone do as they always have, within reason. The language system is by design extensible, so people who feel that strongly about keeping languages unintelligible to others are free to populate a separate tag. They should also be free to RP that their characters either cannot understand or will not bother to make an effort to understand languages that other players have assumed or DMs have ruled to be mutually intelligible. Unless people get OOC disruptive in insisting that they must understand your language, or that you must understand theirs, I don't see a compelling reason to insist on DMs putting down their foot or players trying to police other players.

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2019, 02:38:31 AM »
We’re aware of the idiosyncrasies; this debate has been had and had again over the many years the server has operated. We introduced the language system in part to be stricter about language, not laxer, as the abuses we observed demanded it. You’re welcome to disagree and to voice your disagreement, but this is and remains a rule.
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Fungal Artillery

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2019, 09:08:45 AM »
What about other racial languages?

For example: Faerunian orcish, Tolkien orcish and Draenorian orcish (Warcraft).
Or dwarvish of the same worlds.

Is it cheesing that I took the D&D Orcish [Orc] for my Warcraft half-orc when there was no other options?

These are kind of different languages, do they understand eachother at all?
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 10:49:06 AM by Fungal Artillery »
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Iridni Ren

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #33 on: January 17, 2019, 10:04:21 AM »
I find it rather jarring that it's insisted that Common isn't English and that languages aren't really their representations despite the evidence in front of your eyes suggesting otherwise, especially when you get into language-centric RP. For example, people use wordplay or confuse homonyms in ways that simply don't make sense if the language isn't English (or whatever). One recent instance is that a character confused the ball in Port with a ball game. There's really no other way that makes sense as it's a quirk unique to English. In language RP, people are going to notice that words like dame, madame, doamnă, domina, etc all sound like they are variants of the same etymon. Either people have to ignore these things staring them in the face, or they have to abandon details, which takes a lot of fun out of language RP.

There's also the fact that the structure and features of a language are inextricably tied to its history and affect what people do with said language. English turned out the way it did because of the way Anglo-Saxon interacted with Brythonic/Old Norse/Norman French/etc, followed by England's history of mercantilism and colonialism. The historical changes to English shifted how people wrote literature. Rhyming, for example, makes little sense in languages without the right kind of syllable structure. In Chinese languages, it is so easy for words to accidentally rhyme that Chinese literary tradition places much stricter rules on what is considered rhyming, formalized via rime dictionaries that adhere to archaic pronunciations. In Japanese, there being at most 5 x 2 ways that a word-final syllable can end, rhyming is so trivial that it's essentially nonexistent. These examples are meant to illustrate that language is a complicated thing that resists the simplistic fantasy cliché of slapping on often-butchered real-world representations while claiming that they're only there for flavour. Not to mention it really is quite insulting for people of those cultures to have their languages appropriated to provide a veneer of exoticism.

There's the drastic option of just avoiding the gratuitous use of 'flavour' real-life language representations and ruling that Common and English are the same thing, but that's just not possible at this point.

Like I've said to people on Discord, people will always have different opinions on how to handle languages. What I would like to see is a non-disruptive approach to this contention that some people have -- i.e. to keep things lax and inclusive and let everyone do as they always have, within reason. The language system is by design extensible, so people who feel that strongly about keeping languages unintelligible to others are free to populate a separate tag. They should also be free to RP that their characters either cannot understand or will not bother to make an effort to understand languages that other players have assumed or DMs have ruled to be mutually intelligible. Unless people get OOC disruptive in insisting that they must understand your language, or that you must understand theirs, I don't see a compelling reason to insist on DMs putting down their foot or players trying to police other players.

The OP did ask for a DM ruling :)

As to some of your other points, I think some of them carry the explanation for the other: "language is a complicated thing that resists the simplistic fantasy cliché."

Clearly, language is an important subject for you that you have strong feelings about. But the same is true for virtually everything that has to be abstracted and simplified to make a playable game. An expert on medieval combat is likely to cringe at how NWN represents that. Or going beyond language, someone who knows 15th to 16th Century France may find all sorts of problems with how Dementlieu is supposed to be equivalent. Vlad the Impaler actually lost against the Turks and was reported to have been cut into several pieces.

Hence, the need for saying these things are not one-to-one but for "flavour." Creating a universe from whole cloth is a rather daunting prospect.

As far as language RP, it's inevitable IMO we will be guilty of cheesing from time to time. In your "ball game" example, would anyone in Ravenloft have the concept of a "ball game"? The dictionary says the first known use of "ball game" was 1760, so...perhaps, but I would argue that the sense of it as a dance would be far more common at least until the 1900s.

IMO much of how this works in practice is context: Are you RPing with players who are being laid back and having some light fun while dungeoning? Or is the scene intense with heavy immersion? In the latter, probably not the time to break out the corny pun that relies on 21st century word meanings.

When a DM is asked to rule explicitly, however, the DM has little choice but to enforce the official rule.

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ZSRunner

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2019, 01:43:45 PM »
Not that my input matters much here, but I like to think of it in terms of languages in the real word.  Different dialects exist across continents.  I speak english fluently, but I have trouble understanding a heavy scottish or british dialect, especially when said speaker has a heavy accent.  Furthermore, I would expect that anyone who is fluent in latin would be able to pick up small pieces of french, english, spanish, and so forth.  Latin is the basis from which much of those languages are derived. 

In character, I assume that my PC can understand other elven dialects, dwarven dialects, and so on.  How easily those dialects are understood comes down to the clarity of speech of the character she is speaking with.  This can be said for the common tongue as well.  Characters who speak with a slur or accent can sometimes be missunderstood because their version of the common language is slightly harder to understand.

Consider this.  In the Midwestern region of the U.S. the term water fountain is commonly used to describe a devise designed to deliver water for drinking.  However, if you live in Illinois and travel up to Wisconsin, you might hear it called a bubbler.  I experience this when my wife and I started dating.  While we only lived about 150 miles apart, there were still different slang terms even within our relatively small region.

King Pickle

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2019, 12:01:52 PM »
Now hold on now. Since English presents common in our game, I assume that English word with multiple meanings, such as "ball", will also have the similar multiple meanings in common, or whatever language tag we are using. Otherwise everything is just going to get really confusing.

Also off topic: There has always been ball games (as in games, played with a ball) all around the globe as long as history goes and longer. Vikings played with a ball as did the the Romans, Mongols, Aztecs...
You need better dictionary Iridni (and larger font plz). Try wikipedia and type in Calcio Fiorentino.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 12:19:20 PM by King Pickle »

Iridni Ren

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2019, 12:36:07 PM »
None of the groups you mention spoke English, King Pickle.

Ancient Latin isn't my forte, but it appears from Google translate, the Romans would have said sphera, for example.

As I said, it is inevitable we will "cheese" from time to time regarding language because the language we use is informed by the milieu in which we live. We don't live in any of the milieux represented in game.  I try not to worry overmuch about the small details and focus more on the big picture.



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King Pickle

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #37 on: February 14, 2019, 12:49:18 PM »
None of the groups you mention spoke English, King Pickle.

Um... So what? We are using English. As Common or what tag have you. Therefore a ball is a ball is a ball.

Iridni Ren

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2019, 01:12:45 PM »
In English, the first known use of "ball game" was not until 1760. It doesn't matter whether the Romans, Aztecs, etc. had ball games. They didn't refer to them as such...and a pun that relies on the English double meaning of "ball" for dance, and "ball game" doesn't work, if we assume Common represents English pre 1760 or so. The etymological dictionary you malign does not deny the existence of sport before 1760, only the phrase on which the pun relies.

Now, having said all that, I don't care. In point of fact, I was responding to this by Euniana:

Quote
people use wordplay or confuse homonyms in ways that simply don't make sense if the language isn't English (or whatever)

The wordplay doesn't make sense...unless the language is supposed to be modern or contemporay English. That's the only language the majority of us are fluent enough in to express ourselves with such virtuosity. But doing so inevitably leads to anachronisms and other cheesing.

It can't be avoided.

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King Pickle

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #39 on: February 14, 2019, 01:48:11 PM »
...I am extremely confused at what your point is Iridni, but that may just be because English is not my first language.

I can assure you though that words for "ball" and "game" do exist  in every language of our planet and they are often used together as a name for many forms of ball games.
Now you may referring to some specific "Ball Game", I don't know. But I can't see how mentioning a ball game as a general concept that has been in every culture in various forms since beginning of time, is in any way poor roleplay.

We use English. Mostly modern English. I don't think making word play or buns is in any way poor form. WE CAN ASSUME that the bun works in our fictive language just as it does in English.




...Also there are far more earlier mentions of ball games in English history. (You really need to start using wikipedia.)

Edit: Kanttleikr translates LITERALLY as ball game, k thnx bai.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 02:24:25 PM by King Pickle »

Iridni Ren

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Re: Elven and other dialects...
« Reply #40 on: February 14, 2019, 02:10:12 PM »
Let's just leave it here.

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