There is no Common!Edit
In many fantasy settings there exists a common language that is spoken or at least understood by everyone everywhere, often called just Common. Such a language does not exists in this world.
Most countries have their own language or languages and some countries share a common language. Like in the real world there are different language families, often common to specific geographical regions. Countries neighboring each other often have similarly sounding languages.
A few languages have gained a strong cultural influence and are being taught in schools in other countries. Similar to English in the real world. Still, just like in the real world, not everyone has a talent for languages and just because a language is taught in school it doesn’t guarantee that people will be able to speak it.
Another parallel to the real world is that the stronger languages in a region are often used in lyrics and poetry. Again, similar to English in the real world.
“Latin” the language of scienceEdit
In the real world no one really speaks Latin these days (yes, I’m sure there are exceptions). Latin is however used a lot in the sciences, often for naming things. The same applies to this world.
It’s not actually Latin. It’s an old dead language that was commonly used in classical times and which is now used in the sciences (including wizardry) for naming purposes. For practical reasons translating it into a real world language results in something akin to a mix of Latin and Old Norse (I was gonna go with just Latin but Old Norse is cool too). I may try to come up with a different name for this language, something like Elder Classic or Nastlirn.
For fun and education I put a couple of English words through Google Translate. Check out the results here.
I’ll try to add my own versions of the translations as comments to this post as and when I make them up.
For now I’ve decided that the world Elves translates to the word Vaettir (from the Old Norse word Vættir).
2011/06/03 at 00:19
And all that so that I could have a reason use the name Ursus Maritimus Vaettir for a race of beings that is a mix between elves and polar bears. They’ll get their own post some other day – once I’ve fleshed them out in more detail.
2011/06/03 at 00:51
What the elves call themselves is not yet known (though I might make it up at some point). All elves originally spoke the same language, as the ones that arrive here all came from the same city. Over the ages this language has evolved and mutated and there are now many different versions of the language. These different versions are just dialects though. At the core the grammar and the words are the same. It is the pronunciation and the rhythm of the language that has changed. Two elves from different backgrounds may not be able to speak with each other, but give them a pen and a paper and they will be able to communicate in writing.