languages and related languages

I have a few questions:

In Thebes Tribunal:

  1. I have studied Koine Greek, Romanic Greek and Classical Greek and I do not understand why you put them at -2. They are not that different from eachother. Why not at -1?

  2. Say that I have level 5 in Dead language: Classical Greek and then decide to take a class in Romaic Greek (15 xp) for a season. How do I add these to a new language? - Do I get Level 2 automatically and then add my 15 xp, for a total of Level 3

  3. If I later take another class in Classic Greek (15 xp) - How much will I then have in Romaic Greek? Have I learned anything new in Romaic Greek?

  4. Did not Romaic Greek become more prominent language around 1453, from what I understand Byzantine greek were more similar to Koine greek than Romaic greek around 1220?

To my understanding, the Koine (i. e. the Hellenistic Greek of the new testament, of Plutarch and Polybios - in ArM5 is covered by Classical Greek (Attic). In the ArM5 middle ages the Koine is already a dead language.

ArM5 calls the living language of the people of the Eastern Empire Romaic Greek. Todays scholars would call it Medieval Greek ( - but this is not a term which lends itself to use in ArM5. Byzantine Greek is an alternate term for Medieval Greek, which might have replaced Romaic in ArM5. What scholars call Romaic Greek today is the language of the people conquered by the Ottomans.

For the sake of simplicity, there are no ArM5 rules to carry over experience points between related languages: once a character has two related languages on his sheet, they advance separately. Several propositions for improvement of this have been made and discussed on these forums. Whether their added complexity, and sometimes potential to 'game the system', are worth it is for you to decide.


EDIT: There is a significant difference between spoken and written Medieval Greek. What ArM5 calls Romaic is the spoken one, some of which medieval literature conveys. This may account for the -2 penalty in ArM5 between written Classical Greek and spoken Romaic Greek (Ῥωμαιϊκή) - while reading Byzantine documents or scholarly texts with Classical Greek (Attic) might incur perhaps only a -1 penalty.


In our saga we treat certain languages as being defaulted in a manner not dissimilar to GURPS, however. Norman (Noble) French, French and Provencal French, for example, default to each other at -1, with the highest scored one being the one you default from and pay full points cost for.

To improve from the default, the first +1 is 15xp, the 2nd is 30, etc.

Except that provençal french does not exist at all, iirc. Careful with modern day groupings for medieval languages :slight_smile:


As a slang group, it sort of does, AFAIK. I may be wrong, though, my knowledge of the area of Provencal is rather more recent :wink:

More or less like the difference between London English and Yorkshire English today. It's mostly the same, but with an occasional slang word that doesn't fit right, or sounds like it should mean one thing but actually means another.

Shagged, for example. :stuck_out_tongue:

Now if it were the difference between American and English (I REFUSE to accept what the yanks speak as English, it's too different :wink: ) it'd be a bigger penalty.

Think Hot Fuzz, the old farmer who's accent needs to go through 2 translators to understand for most people, but is perfectly clear to those of us who have had to translate stuff like that before.

Quite so. 13th - 14th century Provençal has nothing to do with French, and is a kind of Old Occitan: .
Have also a look here, how it reads: .


Except that I can understand every word you write, and you can understand every one of mine. Your nationalistic passions cloud your judgment. And it may hurt to hear this, but some aspects of American English are closer to the source than modern British English. The only difference really is in accent and in slang. Some trivial spelling differences. The accent, well, it is easier for me to understand someone from London than someone from Louisiana or the deep South (Southerners are not Yankees, only Northern types like me). The slang? I have watched enough Doctor Who that the slang is no challenge.
So, same language. The deviations pretty much ended with the advent of recorded media, and these two dialects have been slowly knitting back together.

As for Greek, the idea that these different types of Greek are different languages is the skewed perspective of non-native speaking scholars. I don't speak much Greek, but my mother and grandparents etcetera did. To them, reading classical Greek was no more difficult than reading modern. Indeed, my yia-yia had an easier time reading Aristotle than I do reading Shakespear. Granted though, this is probably because reading classics was part of her primary education as a child in Greek school at the church (her parents were immigrants, she was born here in Chicago as a "yank" but spoke only Greek until she went to public school).

grin Chicagoans aren't real Yankees! ducks

Old (bad) joke: Hassidic Jew in full garb visits deep South rural town on business. People there are gawking at him, astonished, and finally he says, "What, have you never seen a Yenkee before?"

Wherefore doest thou protest this notion that two languages may be of differing regions and grammar and yet remain mostly intelligible one unto the other? I do recollect from my youth that while I was engaged in the study of French at the institution of secondary learning which I did attend, likewise my cousin didst attend a different such institution and study Spanish, and yet we found that we couldst converse with each of us speaking the language which we were studying, each by their own regimen of education, and hold discourse with little difficulty and naught in the way of miscommunication.

Here's my house rule on the issue:

Say someone has Greek 6. They have effective Ancient Greek 4. If they wish to have Ancient Greek 6, instead of getting Greek 8, (which is still an option), they can spend 15 xp to buy the penalty away.

So, much like abilities, penalties are bought away the same, so:

-1 penalty = 5xp
-2 penalty = 15xp
-3 penalty = 30xp
-4 penalty = 50xp

That way, learning "new" languages doesn't have to incredibly xp cost prohibitive to do so.

On a more serious note, how often is gameplay enhanced by people not being able to understand each other's language?

Sometimes, yes, but I suspect that erring to favor communication is almost always better than erring in the opposite direction, and that very often erring to favor communication is better than being realistic in the opposite direction.

Romanic languages hold many traps for overconfident speakers haphazardly crossing over. Here's a simple example: read "é preciso" first as Portuguese, and then as Italian words. :slight_smile: [spoiler]In Portuguese it means "one has to", in Italian "it is accurate".[/spoiler]


No worse than the man from England almost getting clobbered because he asked an American if his son could come round and "knock up" his daughter.
Or the time I was in Australia and tried to buy a candy bar and was told "No those are chocolates". And who knows how many comedians have commented on the different meanings of the word "fag" or being stuffed....

Nyet. Not disputing that. Disputing understanding the underlying meaning. Which does matter, and I'd be also prepared to accept that by my own ruling, I speak a different language (Northern English) to the poxy southerners :wink: (like CJ :stuck_out_tongue:) which is closely related.

I am entirely aware of this. I'm also well aware that a southern accent in America is pretty close to what the accent of the time in England sounded like. But the fact of the matter is the languages have drifted apart, and only one of our countries is called England, and thus has the right to be considered the heart of the English language :stuck_out_tongue:

Pointless debates are such fun :smiley:

I will concede that England proper should be considered the heart of the English language. Though I also think that England is part of a much larger country called the UK or Brittan or something like that.
But I do dispute your claim that "the languages have drifted apart". Simply because to agree with that statement would mean that I agree that somehow we are communicating in two different languages yet somehow can mystically comprehend each other. We use different dialects of the same language. Things have not drifted into two different languages. Things could have resulted that way if not for things like mass print media of the 1800's followed by the 20th century and the exchange of recorded music, cinema, and television. Then in the modern day we have interwebz (there I just used some American slang I am sure you can comprehend).These things have prevented the dialects from morphing into different languages. Instead, the effect has been to knit the dialects back together into a single tongue. Not only has British media familiarized me with your slang and accent, but it is much easier for me to understand modern British actors than those from the 1960's. But even then, the difference is very slight. All Americans can understand James Bond or Monty Python without needing subtitles or extended language education. But the point here is that we "yanks" have influenced the way you "brits" use our shared language. We have started to speak like you and you have started to speak like us. Case in point, there are British rappers :mrgreen:.
Another point I would like to make is that, in some cases, it is easier to understand a dialect from the opposite side of the Atlantic than it is for one on the same side of the pond. I propose that the London dialect and Chicago/Midwest dialect are both quite neutral and are at the center of the language. It is easier for me to understand London English than Texan English.

If a verb - here: precisare - changes meaning and turns up as an auxiliary in another language, it is a little bit more than a difference in idiomatics. :slight_smile:


Actually, quite different. Linguists have agreed that Portuguese and Iyalian are 2 different languages, while American and England's English is referred as the same language, so not the same. I can understand some things of bot Portugiuese and Italian myself, but I am far from saying that I do not understand a lot of it because their accent and dialectal expressions are weird! :laughing:

Occitan and langue d'Oiel (French) are different languages in the time and period of Ars Magica. Much more than a mere -1.

One thing all the living languages in ArM5 have in common: they are vernacular languages - learned and used among people without any academic interference, and only later grouped into language families, languages and dialects by scholars.
This qualification is trivial, but has spawned a very famous polemic around 1980. And Ivan Illich's contribution to it is now available on the internet for free: ... ml#NEBRIJA . Reading it takes some time, but also helps to understand the function of academic languages in ArM5, when defining the position of magi, their rivals and allies and distinguishing them from uninitiated people.


Yes, Portugese and Spanish are distinct languages, which happen to have evolved along artificial political boundaries. What are the odds?
My point is that like speciation the borders between languages are a bit hazy, and there are certainly cases where some degree of crossover is certainly possible.

"artificial political boundaries" :question: What's that supposed to mean? Before answering, look here: ... ugu.C3.AAs .