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muir
Acolyte

Canada
41 Posts

Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  16:28:49  Show Profile Send muir a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
How has Draconic, spoken and written by beings of long lifespan and memory, changed over the centuries, the millennia? Does it vary from world to world in the Prime, or from the Prime to the Planes? (The answer to that might depend on acceptance of certain ideas proposed by Fizban’s)

Come to that, how likely are dialects of Draconic, between the different species(?) of dragon, or different continents?

Such questions led me to consider the planar tongues (Abyssal, Aquan, Aural, Celestial, Ignan, Infernal, Terran) spoken by immortal beings. Would they shift at all? Would Law/Chaos alignments play a role? I think of them as akin to Common, there for both the convenience of we humans that play in the Realms and other worlds, and there for communication with beings outside the native speakers’ groups. That makes shifts more likely, l think.

These considerations were sparked by a board game wherein the players are placement agents for dragons that have been reduced to halfling size after losing a war, and now many try to make lives in a human town, helping with crafting things. The dragons and the townsfolk can’t talk easily, hence the need for agents. I found myself thinking of this as an interesting spot on a worldhop gone wrong, then wondered if the dragons there speak Draconic…

Lord Karsus
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Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  17:20:17  Show Profile Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-We don't really have samples or rules and whatever else for all these languages so I mean majority of this is just gonna be opinions. That being said, there are canon different dialects for Draconic that is spoken by different Dragon subraces. Dragons from Abeir also speak their own version of the language in addition. "Modern" Draconic also evolved from Old Draconic, so there will be some differences there as well, otherwise they wouldn't be two distinct languages.

-Planar languages, we do have canon evidence that there is some variation. Infernal, for example, is different depending on how powerful the Devil is that is using it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the language is a variation or a dialect. It could just mean that the more powerful the Devil, the more advanced its vocabulary is and the more knowledge it has of those super evil words of power and whatever else. Same thing with Abyssal.

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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

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Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  17:41:41  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Noble devils also speak Mabrahoring, which is inaccessible to non-devils and lesser ranking devils, even pit fiends. Whether Mabrahoring is related to Infernal or not is unknown.
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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

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Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  17:45:41  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
According to the Fiendish Codex 2, the preamble to the Pact Primeval is written in an ancient dialect of Celestial. Perhaps the rest of the pact is written in the same dialect.

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bloodtide_the_red
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Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  19:08:41  Show Profile  Visit bloodtide_the_red's Homepage Send bloodtide_the_red a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can see Draconic as one of the languages that does not change much at all. It has relatively few speakers, that are not very social and are not very open to influences from other languages.

A typical default world has a number of solo dragons living on it. They might feel the need to speak to another dragon every couple of years, maybe even less for any other race. There really is no "community" to speak of as dragons don't gather much. And few dragons would add a word or such from a "lesser" race into Draconic.

This would also make Draconic near universal across worlds. There just would not be enough speakers per world to change the language much at all.

Abyssal, Aquan, Aural, Celestial, Ignan, Infernal, and Terran are a bit more wacky. When your talking about Immortal Beings, a language would never change. Whatever the being spoke on day one of life, would be what it spoke forever. And the vast majority of immortal beings do the same thing....forever. So they have no need or use to change anything in the language. While many immortal beings live in groups, they are not exactly "living social groups". They are just like minds living together. Immortals also don't have "young", and most often are just "created as adults".

I can see each alignment of planual languages being the same, but have different forms: Good: nice and polite Evil: mean and insulting Lawful: Ordered and overly detailed Chaos: crazy talk

Though, of course, all the living non-immortal races that speak a planual language...well, really would not. Each race would have it's on language and such. I was just some lazy writer that just said "oh everyone speaks X" , though that makes no sense. The planual language would be like Latin, with each race speaking a related language, like French.
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Ayrik
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7650 Posts

Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  23:05:08  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Karsus

-Planar languages, we do have canon evidence that there is some variation. Infernal, for example, is different depending on how powerful the Devil is that is using it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the language is a variation or a dialect. It could just mean that the more powerful the Devil, the more advanced its vocabulary is and the more knowledge it has of those super evil words of power and whatever else. Same thing with Abyssal.

2E Planescape briefly discussed a language called "Lower Planar Cant". Essentially a bastardized and hybridized (and ugly) "common" language used frequently by many dwellers and visitors of the Lower Planes.

It also mentioned that the language of the Baatezu (Devils, "Infernal") was strictly structured, rigid, and "resistant to change". The last three words are not the same as "immune to change" or "unchanging".

And it mentioned that the languages of the Tanar'ri (Demons, "Abyssal") and the 'loths (Daemons) were wildly variable, possibly even corrupted forms of earlier Lower Planar Cants.

It was all of course written in an unreliable narrator sort of context - meant to provide ideas and soft options for the DM in place of hard rules - and Planescape has also been deconstructed, supplanted, denigrated in later editions - so all this stuff may or may not be interpreted as "canon" lore.

1E had "Alignment tongues". Great for speaking about concepts and things related to their specific alignments - and also great for recognizing the same alignments in other speakers, or for communicating with others of the same alignment in ways which those of other alignments couldn't understand.
I've speculated before that these might be diluted versions of the "immortal" languages spoken by celestials, modrons, fiends, etc. 2E and later editions abandoned the notion of "Alignment tongues" entirely.

It seems to me that the changed vocabularies, definitions, and usages across different lore editions is itself a sort of diogetical evidence that the languages themselves keep changing.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 04 Jul 2022 23:30:24
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 05 Jul 2022 :  00:13:01  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Languages change. So long as someone is using that language, it's eventually going to change. Even immortal speakers will change the way they speak -- slowly, perhaps, but they'll still change. So long as those speakers live in a changing world and speak to different entities, their language will gradually change.

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TBeholder
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2207 Posts

Posted - 10 Jul 2022 :  12:37:23  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by muir

How has Draconic, spoken and written by beings of long lifespan and memory, changed over the centuries, the millennia?


How do the languages change, even in living memory?
Weakly-interacting groups, idiosyncrasies, contamination.
All this obviously applies to the dragons.
quote:
Does it vary from world to world in the Prime, or from the Prime to the Planes? (The answer to that might depend on acceptance of certain ideas proposed by Fizbanļæ½s)

Contamination: from any persistent contacts. Yes.
Divergence: they obviously interact less between the subspecies (and world populations of the same) than within.
Idiosyncrasies: obviously present.
The only difference is that long-living species are more likely to use an archaic dialect both as a ritual/specialist language (if the body of magical or religious instructions mostly consists of works that are either old and thus naturally use an archaic dialect, or are derived from those) and for talks between diverging branches, and thus keep it, rather than develop internal pidgins.

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bloodtide_the_red
Learned Scribe

USA
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Posted - 12 Jul 2022 :  02:45:20  Show Profile  Visit bloodtide_the_red's Homepage Send bloodtide_the_red a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't see Draconic, as used by dragons would never change. None of the normal things that change a language happen to Draconic. Just consider dragon life in the Realms:

A dragon is born, often but not always with some hatchlings. They are taught Draconic by their parent(s), and for a short time can talk to the rest of the family. Then the young dragon heads out to stake out a domain and make a lair. Alone. The dragon likely speaks to no one for years, not only as there are few around to speak to, but also the dragon feels no need to speak to anyone. Sure, every couple of years a dragon might encounter an intelligent being, or another dragon, and have a short conversation. But that is about it. Eventually the dragon will mate, and speak a bit to their mate. And the dragon will teach Draconic to it's hatchlings..exactly like it's parents did.

A couple of dragon types are a bit more social, but still dragons don't speak all that much. And a dragon that lives with say elves or humans will speak that race language more. Even if an odd dragon, somehow, spoke Draconic everyday with beings, they would not change their speech at all. Dragons are the Penultimate Old People. Even with a billion kobolds saying all kinds of new hip cool Draconic slang.....the dragon won't change even one word.

What is the world wide dragon population number? It can't be too much more then 1,000 or so...dragons just take up too much room. So even if all the dragons lived together on Dragon Island, there still would not be all that much talking going on.

There are real life examples of such unchanging languages.
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Zeromaru X
Great Reader

Colombia
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Posted - 12 Jul 2022 :  06:42:40  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, that depends. Dragons would be hermits before the Spellplague, but after that things changed. There is Laerakond, a full continent where dragons interact more often with other dragons and other creatures. If we go only by the dragons of Faerun, then you have the kingdoms of Murghom and Semphar, were dragons rule and interact among dragons and with their subjects. Meaning there has been a lot of draconic interactions for the last century.

Then we have other races who speak draconic on a regular basis, changing how Draconic works. Dragons may not be that social, but dragonborn and kobolds are super social. There are dragonborn countries in the Realms, like Tymanther in Faerun and Relmaur in Laerakond, and in other worlds as well (Arkhosia in Nerath, Draconia in Exandria, etc.), meaning there are dialects of Draconic that have evolved to fill the needs of social creatures. And those civilizations interact with dragons, influencing their language in the last century (minimum).

For instance, there are new draconic words that dragonborn have introduced to the Draconic that people in Faerun knows during the last century, meaning that they are well known among even among the current "younger" generation of dragons (this alone means that the current generation of hatchlings and young dragons have been speaking a very "contaminated" Draconic. Even if the older dragons don't change their way of speaking, the next generation has already changed it).

So, even the "unchanging" languages do change, if only very, very slowly. Change is the only constant in the multiverse.

Instead of seeking change, you prefer a void, merciless abyss of a world...

Edited by - Zeromaru X on 12 Jul 2022 06:54:58
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 12 Jul 2022 :  20:26:31  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And only the most reclusive dragons would be entirely cut off from everyone else. Most dragons are still going to interact with others, even if it's only with servitor critters in their lairs.

You've got invading adventurers, other dragons, the dragon's preferred guardians/servitors in their lair, their servants who do draconic errands beyond their lair, the Cult of the Dragon coming by trying to recruit the dragon... Plus a lot of dragons either actively keep an eye on intelligent beings within their territory, and/or actively scry on intelligent beings in other locales.

A dragon would have to actively cut themselves off from everything to not have at least occasional interactions with others. They'd have to be in an uninhabited area, have unintelligent servitors/guardians, never pay any attention to anything outside their lair, and even in their lair, and do nothing -- like reading a book -- that could affect their language.

And even with all that, a single dragon's idiolect can change over time, as they decide they prefer one word over another or forget certain words.

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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
7650 Posts

Posted - 13 Jul 2022 :  02:27:45  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

You've got invading adventurers, other dragons, the dragon's preferred guardians/servitors in their lair, their servants who do draconic errands beyond their lair, the Cult of the Dragon coming by trying to recruit the dragon...

I agree with your general argument. Though it seems to me that all of the specifics in this sentence should learn how to speak in the dragon's language, not the other way around ...

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 13 Jul 2022 02:28:15
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bloodtide_the_red
Learned Scribe

USA
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Posted - 13 Jul 2022 :  02:29:20  Show Profile  Visit bloodtide_the_red's Homepage Send bloodtide_the_red a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Right, like I said, the average dragon has no need or want to speak to others with any great frequency. They might speak as much as a whole paragraph or two a week. Dragons are just not social creatures that chat 24/7 like for example humans.

So not only does the average dragon not have a chance to even hear "new cool slang Draconic words", but even if they did....they would be unlikely to just suddenly and spontaneously start using them. Dragons are very set in their ways. So even if a young teen kobold came over to the dragon to explain that all the Kool Kobolds use the new word "Yeet" to mean "throw something with force". The 500 year old dragon will not start saying that they "Yeet fireballs at foes". "Slay" to a dragon will always be "kill" and not the Kool Kobold slang of "someone who looks amazing".

Compared to say humans, dragons just don't have the population numbers all living together and speaking to each other everyday to really have thier language change at all.

Again, even her on Earth, some languages have not changed much in forever. And it's even more true when you go back to pre-industrial times.

But if you want to say every single language changes as as fast and as much as modern English, then that's fine.
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Zeromaru X
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Colombia
2276 Posts

Posted - 13 Jul 2022 :  05:17:59  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

You've got invading adventurers, other dragons, the dragon's preferred guardians/servitors in their lair, their servants who do draconic errands beyond their lair, the Cult of the Dragon coming by trying to recruit the dragon...

I agree with your general argument. Though it seems to me that all of the specifics in this sentence should learn how to speak in the dragon's language, not the other way around ...



We are talking about dragons here. Even if they learn a new language, they may want to introduce the new words/meanings (or at least the relevant for them) into draconic, just because their draconic sense of superiority demands it.

That's how I imagine Draconic evolved from the old Draconic (Aragrakh) to the current Draconic (Glave). And that was before a "new" civilization of dragons and draconic beings appeared and introduced their own Draconic (Aklave), that had evolved to fill the needs of social creatures.

quote:
Originally posted by bloodtide_the_red


Again, even her on Earth, some languages have not changed much in forever. And it's even more true when you go back to pre-industrial times.

But if you want to say every single language changes as as fast and as much as modern English, then that's fine.



I'm no expert, but investigating a bit for conlanguing and world-building purposes, I read that takes a minimum of 500 years for languages to begin to diverge, and like 1000 years for languages that split from the same "root-language" to be mutually incomprehensible. It does implies a lot of factors that may not apply to dragons, tho. But there are others that do apply.

I guess that's why after 30 thousands of years of registered draconic history in Faerun, there are only two main groups of Draconic, and not that different from each other. Even the Draconic from the other dimension (Abeir) is very similar to the Faerunian Draconic, with a few differences in pronunciation and new words here and there. But this means that Draconic do has evolved.

Instead of seeking change, you prefer a void, merciless abyss of a world...
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 13 Jul 2022 :  05:27:00  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bloodtide_the_red


But if you want to say every single language changes as as fast and as much as modern English, then that's fine.



No one said that. We're just saying that if a dragon ever communicates with another being, there's a chance for linguistic drift.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 13 Jul 2022 :  05:31:22  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

You've got invading adventurers, other dragons, the dragon's preferred guardians/servitors in their lair, their servants who do draconic errands beyond their lair, the Cult of the Dragon coming by trying to recruit the dragon...

I agree with your general argument. Though it seems to me that all of the specifics in this sentence should learn how to speak in the dragon's language, not the other way around ...



I disagree. Why would adventurers wanting to kill a dragon need to speak Draconic? Also, as we've seen in the Wyrms of the North articles, sometimes dragons hide their identity whilst speaking with their distant servants.

And for linguistic drift, it doesn't really matter if someone is using Draconic to talk to a dragon -- a lot of languages don't translate exactly into other languages, and some languages have words for concepts that aren't even named in other languages. So our dragon, even if speaking in Common, could still be learning concepts and words that influence how he speaks in other languages, including Draconic.

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Delnyn
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Posted - 13 Jul 2022 :  20:59:46  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So are brass dragons the main driver of Draconic language evolution?
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PattPlays
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Posted - 14 Jul 2022 :  03:02:00  Show Profile  Visit PattPlays's Homepage Send PattPlays a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delnyn

So are brass dragons the main driver of Draconic language evolution?


I'd imagine all a Brass dragon would contribute is bleeding phrases from humanoid languages into Draconic use after all the taverning and socializing- and getting beer stains on the pages of many a tome.

On Earth I like to imagine that without the 'last celtic hold-outs' of the Isles of sunked Doggerland NW of Europe, the germanic and romantic languages could have dried up their culture pools. Having this corner-land from the distant past seems to have given continental european language families one more breeding grounds to mix and match. Without the Isles further northern language groups might not have had this corner-land for their culture and language to spread southward without being lost on the fog of the german/baltic/dutch band of language families. Wouldn't you know it, English gets more powerful from all of these influences and becomes dominant in centuries to come.

What if Draconic as we know it is the 'English' of the mortal-spoken languages of the creator races, the elemental languages of magic, and even be product of having an enemy language group to put evolutionary pressure on itself in Giant dialects- which still show a stark divide in modern time between magic and language come from Giants and those come from Dragons. Dragons would not have been the first to use the earliest versions of Draconic- such a proto-language would just be arcane shorthand for Sarrukh and potentially other Baet'ith to communicate over their disparate empires following Okoth's plague. I seem to be convinced that in the original timeline before anyone breaks time and space with great magic- the Sarrukh were experimenting on Thunder Beasts around the Lake of Steam from modern Lapaliiya to Tethyr as some kind of project by less radicalized Sarrukh from Mhairshaulk and Isstosseffifil to continue great works for all of Scalykind. If this experimental area was safely distanced from Giants and there was a watery bay to the West in the Days of Thunder, then this Draco-Development region is positioned to be within sight of both the sea-dwelling Batrachi and between both of the Aearae empires.

Something happens during the Batrachi reign that enables the actual Dragon Subtype to break from a doomed lineage of Sarrukh-modified magical thunder-beasts. Using the remains of the proto-Draconic language from the Skins of the World Serpent made by this unified Sarrukh organization (The Baet'ith; who seemed to have stored their secrets in Isstosseffifil when Mhairshaulk started to implode with a second holy war. The most powerful Sarrukh in the north, the future Terraseer, hides these secrets in their outlying territories- where the Batrachi find some of their underground caches and.. well.. there are toad images in the Hall of Mists. Fits.) the Aearae create Wyverns to suit their sky-high needs. When their society falls the Wyvern and other experiments will escape into the wild and flight will forever be a part of the dragons- ironically completing the image of the Sarrukh's flying snake religion. When Dragons rise up as the dominant power after the bird-folk it puts them in the position to push North-East (since somebody broke the coastline and created the modern Faerun) and run into the Giants in force as those creatures attempt to colonize the new Sea of Fallen Stars. Elves and humans are in Tethyr (more or less one big forest from here to the Spine of the World) and we get our first stories of Elves and Dragons as the Giants storm into rival territory to claim the humans as slaves.

This gives dragons tens of thousands of years to sit there, with their magically increased intelligence as thunder beasts, listening to other creatures (intelligent magical lizard conducting experiments on bigger intelligent magical lizard) use this same slowly changing language in the same area and giving your evolutionary lines more power and abilities. By the time they can fly, there is nowhere to go to except the Shaar (Dark elves loved their dragons!) and the north/northeast which starts the Giant Dragon wars off naturally.

Draconic could be an English, formed in the hold-out forever lands of the Lake of Steam and be a combination of all the elemental languages as well as Elven, Tribal human what-have-you, and then once Dragons have no masters above them, they pick up where they were left off and experiment upon themselves using the same language. The Gaints certainly had magic and gods and language so the Dragons brought out magic and gods and language- the only they knew.

The Nether Scrolls preserve a recognizable ancient form of this script that we only now call Dragonic, and the Netherese base their high society off of this script. For as long as Dragons (and Proto-Dragons) have existed listening to the slave-makers and change-makers and learning from them- humans too have been beneath all empires listening- being poked and prodded and enchanted- and escaping out into the world to share memes and genes. Both humans and dragons are stubborn, eager learners. I see the blending of specific Human dialects into single 'Common' languages over vast areas as similar to the Dragons sharing one 'Common' language over their half-of-the-world empire by long before Sammaster's Dracorage Mythal.

"What is Draconic? Why has it never changed, yet has always changed? Draconic is the BEST langauge, it is the FIRST language, it is OUR language, and we shouldn't speak any OTHER language! It is the language of Power- for it made and shaped us. Dragon words make dragons. Look what the humans became when they started speaking it, no?"

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Edited by - PattPlays on 14 Jul 2022 03:52:33
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