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This week, we have a relatively short discussion on the creation and fictional portrayal of multilingual conworlds.  It’s a linguistics-light topic, but we thought it might be useful.




Azul*, guys:
So, I’ve just got done with the Tone episode (#81), and at the end someone mentioned “bogolangs,” which put me in mind of one I had found many moons ago, called Frangléi, which (obviously) is French+English. Anyway, I felt it might merit a look-see. Kind of an old site (2007), so the creator might be a bit elusive.

Home page:
n.b. The three links you’ll probably want to look at don’t work, because of some strange goings-on with the link. If the link has stuff between “” and “franglei,”just delete that bit.
So, the link given for the grammar is this:
But actually, it should be this:

*Azul = “hello” in Talossan. I’m a citizen of the Kingdom and a member of the CÚG (the language committee). I’ve actually been on the show before, though not in person, as I was the person who translated/read “La Coraziun Profanind”/”The Tell-tale Heart” (along with most of the other translations there). 🙂

Iustì Canun

5 Responses to “Conlangery #85: Multilingual Conworlds”

  1. Anthony Docimo

    I am stil salad* with some of people granted permission by CJ Cherryh to begin work on (fan) dictionary English – Atevi (with definitions, if it has a good number association, and if its known to spoken by Ragi/Edi/other regional groups)

    I could ask them how it is progressing, if you like.

    *=the closest concept in atevi (then translated to English) to “friend”

  2. Otto Kerner

    aSoIaF does mention the people living in the Vale who speak a different language natively (you know, Shagga, Timmett son of Timett, etc.). I basically agree that the striking linguistic unity of the Seven Kingdoms seems implausible (I remain curious about the history of Andal and First Men interaction on the Iron Islands, but there doesn’t seem to be much info on that). There are occasional mentions of different accents from different places, but the differences are apparently so minor that they hardly ever come up. Even north of the Wall, everybody but the giants has at least a rudimentary grasp of Common (necessary for plot reasons, I suppose). It’s interesting that the Wall doesn’t constitute a sharp linguistic boundary: the Old Tongue seems to be in very limited use by Wildlings, at least the ones that live further south.

    About the number of languages people in the real world speak, I knew a guy from a West African country once who spoke seven languages. One was his mother tongue, one was the national “common” language, one was the local “common” language, plus French in school and English because, well, it’s English. The other two were just because he’s a genius. If you take out the genius factor, he still speaks at least four languages, and if you take out the modern education, still three.

    Of course, that’s in a modern society of people in states. For hunter gatherers living on productive land, they may have been exposed to even more linguistic diversity. My guess is that the average hunter gatherer would speak 1 or 2 languages very well, another 2 or 3 with partial fluency, and have limited abilities in a large number of others. If they live in an area that experienced language replacement recently, they would be learning different dialects of the same language, which is easier but less interesting.

    Not sure what the effects of endogamy would be if it meant people moving between different language communities. If your mother’s language is different from your peers’, how likely are you to learn her language, or would you just talk to her in her second language?

    • admin

      I’d love if someone could find a passage about this. I may have missed it because of the way language is described — given that none of the characters in the series is a linguist or even particularly concerned about language beyond practical issues.

    • Justin

      The language everyone speaks in ASoIaF is referred to several times as “the Common Tongue of Westeros.” I always assumed it was the descendant of whatever language the Targaryens spoke when they took over, because you do pretty much only hear from the aristocracy for big chunks of the book. So it’s safe to assume that there’s a “Northern” language that the Starks are speaking when they speak to each other, but if they’re talking to someone from, say King’s Landing, they’re speaking Common. Or maybe the aristocracy just speaks Common because that’s the thing to do. There was a time when big chunks of the Russian aristocracy were L1 French-speakers.


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