Dying of the Light
The Languages of Tramath are a complex affair with dozens of dialects and widespread fragmentation mostly due to the recurring nature of the Cycles. Yet they can be divided into four big families, separated by the geographical boundaries of the mountain Chains.
The main language in the West is the Azalai tongue, also known as Westron, a language that has evolved greatly over the past few centuries. Westron has several intra-imperial dialects including coast, glade and uphill. They are mostly mutually intelligible with only some very localised varieties presenting a challenge.
The language of the Dark-worshipping Azbethi is also a dialect of Westron, though one further removed and hard if not impossible to understand for the Azalai. They also maintain a far older language, a denaturated version of Intali, that is used as a secret Language.
North of the Azalai empire the languages change. Though Westron is largely spoken as a trade tongue the native tongue of the Witherfort and what settlements exist in the eerie wasteland of the north west are Intali-derived and quite different from one another. The Monastery of the Covenant has kept the linguistic orthodoxy for centuries and only Intali is used within their walls though the mages inevitably learn Westron and a host of other languages.
Truly strange is the language of the Ulfmir barbarians, a strange dialect that seems eerily related to the Stonefast language far in the south. Though these barbarians roam the north-west mountains and valleys on both sides of the range their language seems to be of the same family as that of the Southern autocrats, a mystery lost to the ages.
One of the most united areas, linguistically speaking the South is dominated by a mutually intelligible Steppe language generally referred to as Southron. Despite mostly associated with the tribes in the central steppes variations of the language, often wildly different dialects are present throughout the Southern Steppes, the Highlands and the coastal areas. Most are mutually intelligible to some degree. A standardized, highbrow version of Southron, possibly it’s more ancient form is the language of the Seat of the order referred to as the ‘seat dialect’ despite being equally distinctive due to its high number of words and concepts missing from Southron and intelligible with a lot of the barbarian dialects due to a strong central linguistic core. The coast dialects and especially the Rogueport one are so different as to be considered a different language though the coastal regions have a standardized form of writing as well, not based on the Seat one, surprisingly. This is called the ‘coast dialect’.
Further to the north it is the Stonefast Language that dominates. A strange laconic language with a simplistic phonetic alphabet based on pictograms the Stonefast language has little in common with the rest of the south but it had been readily acknowledged and accepted by many of the Stonefast’s dependents.
The north is an oddity. Ruled by ruthless mages often at war with one another the Magocracy that rules most of the North still has some linguistic cohesion with most people speaking folk Intali. Of course this only applies to larger market settlements on market days. In reality, the languages of the north are just as fragmented as you would expect them to be in a large, sparsely populated and deeply divided land. Cants, dialects and whole new languages sprout up everywhere, the situation particularly interesting in the large glades of the north-west where neighbouring villages often speak different languages altogether. The eastern part of the north is mostly barren and nowhere as vibrant as the west so both the population and the linguistic variety is lower. Oddly enough in the far east there is a fortified village that speaks an almost unadulterated Intali, adheres to Covenant teachings and claims to have survived the last cycle.
The east is an ethnographer and linguist’s dream. Filled with different populations of different cultures and appearances the East is melting pot for both languages and peoples. Several empires ruled the east over the ages leaving their linguistic footprints behind. Most have fallen and their contributions have been lost forever but some languages remain.
Olden is a prime example. Once the language of an empire that stretched from the sea to Old Thiofan it is now one of several trade tongues around the region and the official language of Old Thiofan and its Tower. The city and fledgeling empire around Prayer, in the south has invented, reformed its own language, now known as the Speech. Its old language, still found around the south is now known as Old Speech a language the ‘new men’ of Prayer disdain as backwards and full of defeatist adjectives. Meanwhile the Speech has taken off as a regional lingua franca, bringing a bit of unity to the extremely fragmented south. In the Areas around the central sea another language, Valathi is well established. Once the language of a powerful republic it is now fragmented and the only place where a somewhat literary version is still spoken is Vithar, the inner sea’s greatest trade port.
Further south-east , along the coast and the cracked helm mountains the Algar language rules supreme, both in the small holdfasts, fishing villages and trade ports as well as in the larger cities like Evengliaea where Valathi is also spoken by nearly everyone. Further north all along the eastern coast a greatly denatured dialect of vernacular Valathi is spoken called Portspeak. Further still to the north Portspeak itself breaks into a dozen different barely recognizable local dialect along wit hthe main language. Portspeak is also a common core language of most sailors along the south and easts coasts and the de-facto language of the Errant Fleet alongside the Southron ‘coast dialect’.
The far North East is home to many different local languages, too many to properly tell apart. One in particular stands out, though, a vulgarised and simplified version of Olden spoken by the Thiffar called Thiffa by many traders.