International languages

Hi there!

I am reading the Sundered Eagle sourcebook (very cool so far!! even if I found the mundane history too rushed for my own tastes) when I reached the section of languages.

there is a mention of a lingua franca used throughout the Mediterranean (IIRC) as a commerce language. I had some ideas that such language existed, but had never read much about it. Being a bunch of fairly active travellers, PCs would benefit a lot from knowledge of stuff like that.

From Wikipedia:

We have always had at least one interpreter in our covenant, and most characters end up accumulating 2-4 languages besides their mother tongue. Latin is the most used language for international communication IMS.

So, it seems we have been doing it wrong. Is lingua franca what we should be aiming at for international travel? besides a local interpreter to be understood by uncultured people,t hat is.


How long after character creation do they learn other languages , INYS?
Are they fluent or just have languages acquired by exposure xp?

Most people is fluent in 2 languages (level 4-5) and has a functional knowledge of another one (3).
Non-educated people can have those numbers as well, or mother tongue at 5 and a second at 3.
Expert travellers can have something like 5, 4, 3-4, 3, 2, 2. That tends to be reserved to Redcaps, sailors and tradesmen.


Xavi, thanks for the post. I wouldn't have even known to go looking for that.


I was suprised as well, so this is why I am asking :slight_smile:

I thought latin would be the only international language, really, but it seems it was not outside the scholarly/eclesiastic enviroment. (and Norman in the norman courts)

Certainly not the language for use in travels indeed! Guess why its not counted as a "Living language"... :wink:

Its the language of the church and of many scholars(far from all) but little else.

Thats probably quite accurate/realistic historically. Anyone who traveled much(OR dealt with people who travel much) tended to know many languages, and with more distinct dialects then than today, "one language" could in reality be more like some or even several dialects clearly apart even though related.

Thank you for posting that. What little i once read about it pre-internet, well i wish it had been as clear, consise and realistic as your wikiquote.

As the wikipedia entries make clear, that lingua franca would be mainly in use around the Mediterranean (that is, in ports) and probably among sailors and possibly merchants. The international language in Catholic Europe was Latin: every village had a priest with at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language (mass was conducted in Latin exclusively), and most often a working one, so a traveler would be able speak with at least one person in ever village. Latin was also the language of educated people. In Muslim lands, Arab (the language of the Koran) was the international language, and Greek in what was left of the Byzantine Empire (but as I recall, the Orthodox Church used the language of the land, not Latin).

So, unless your magi live in a port city and have extensive contact with sailors, I would say they are doing it right after all. The references to lingua franca as the language of commerce and diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean are from a later period, I would say after the final collapse of the Byzantine Empire: as long as it stands, Greek should remain the common language among its (shrinking) dominions.

Within the church and between priests yes, but apart from that very limited part, no it wasnt.

Guess why its a dead language?