Language

Discussion in 'Wheel of Time Discussion - Books 1-14' started by Joyia al'Veren, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Joyia al'Veren

    Joyia al'Veren

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    Does the fact that everyone speaks the same language bother anyone but me? I'm in the middle of a reread and I guess it never bothered me as much the first two times I read the series. I'm not saying Jordan should have made up separate languages for each country, obviously that would just be too much work, but absolutely no language barriers whatsoever?
     
  2. Tehmpus

    Tehmpus

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    Language can be fun to play around with. In my DnD campaign, my group has had two encounters where problems communicating ended up pretty fun.

    In the first encounter, they wandered into a tribal villiage after encountering villiagers out on a dinosaur hunt. None of the characters could speak the barbarian language, but with a lot of hand motions and body language, they were able to rudely communicate. That night, there was dancing and pipe smoking. One character decided to join in on the fun, but didn't realize he was smoking drugs rather than tobacco. He was a cleric of Pelor, so that was pretty funny. Also, young beautiful villiage women would come up and pull away a character one by one for nighttime activies. There was a feast the following morning of which the characters participated...commenting on how good the dinosaur meat tasted. They didn't realize until afterwards that one of their companions never returned from last night's party, nor that these tribal people did not only eat dinosaur meat, but also human flesh as a delicacy. Their companion had been barbequed for the feast.

    In a non-related encounter, they were ambushed by a band of Orcish warriors while guarding a caravan of goods. Once again, none of the characters spoke orcish, but the orc leader could speak some broken common. The resulting convesation was hillarious as the companions and orc leader negotiated a trade of goods & the right to pass through unmolested. The Orc leader kept demanding a "hundred" this and a "hundred" that. It didn't take the characters long to realize that the Orc leader couldn't count that high and that his "hundred" just meant "lots" to him.
     
  3. Midian Venamar

    Midian Venamar

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    That's a very good point Joyia. During the Breaking there were bands of people from all over the world traveling around ... there's absolutely no way that the language held perfectly together, and transformed together from Old Tongue to the current language without any variation. I mean, just look at the difference between old english and shakespearian english ... or shakespearian to now ... now in Canada, the US, Australia, and England ... they're all different ... and that's a fairly new language too. I think RJ likely did it because it'd be way too difficult to get around to visiting the entire world and having it interact like it is while also having language barriers to deal with. The lack of language change that bothers me the most is the Seanchan. I mean sure, they slur their words ... but other than that, they've been across the ocean for hundreds of years dealing with a completely different civilization ... and absolutely no language difference aside from an accent?
     
  4. Martur al'Mortem

    Martur al'Mortem

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    Maybe there is a universal translator in all our books.
     
  5. Joyia al'Veren

    Joyia al'Veren

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    The closest situation to breaking that I could think of was the fall of the Roman civilization, and while a lot of people still spoke Latin the language deteriorated into the Romance languages, which are granted very similar but still different. And so I try to compare it to that in my mind but it still bothers me... I promise I'm not neurotic, I'm just an English major so I tend to over analyze and nitpick what is supposed to otherwise be meant for leisurely enjoyment.
     
  6. Spoke

    Spoke

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    Robert Jordan went into detail on this when questioned at one time. Do a little searching at the various forums and you might be able to dig up the exact quote. But basically, illiteracy leads to language change. English hasn't really changed in the last 200 years, but compared to 400 years ago, it has changed dramatically. The difference is literacy. As a population of people tend to read, language change decreases dramatically.

    In Hawkings time, he had basically conquered the entire world. therefore there was a virtually universal language taught and spread throughout the world (seanchan continent as well). The whole world was united under one language. The language of Hawking's time was the common tongue. With the concept of literacy included, it was understandable that language wouldn't change that much.
     
  7. Toral Delvar

    Toral Delvar Archivist Gaidin

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    Well, literacy is not 100%, but printing survived the breaking, so books have always been fairly widespread, which theoretically will hold back language change
     
  8. Axis m'Troutilas

    Axis m'Troutilas Gaidin

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    A paraphrased quote, but his explanation about it anyway

     
  9. Tazren Talamar

    Tazren Talamar Gaidin

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    What's really interesting is that the Old Tongue is what's viewed as an ancient language that you can't understand. If the language under Hawkwing was basically the same as spoken in the books' time, but during the Trolloc Wars they spoke the Old Tongue (iirc) ... then the language must've changed dramatically during those 1000 years. Since the Old Tongue is apparently very difficult to understand for modern people, it must still have changed a lot, somewhere.

    But is mentioned several times that the Seanchan dialect, at least, is very different from the Randland dialect. Enough that it takes people some time to fully understand it? I seem to recall people "only understanding every other word" or something like that. So there's been change ...
     
  10. Midian Venamar

    Midian Venamar

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    Tazren, it's more of an accent that causes the issue there. Seanchan have a very slow, slurred way of speaking.
     
  11. Axis m'Troutilas

    Axis m'Troutilas Gaidin

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    The Old Tongue can basically be compared to the Common tongue as Latin is to Modern Italian. However even more so.

    Good way to remember it.

    Which is why the Forsaken could pick up the Common pretty easily being well versed in the language it evolved from.

    Agreed its not a dialect for the Seanchan, its an accent.

    Oh and not just any old accent, its actually supposed to be pretty much a TEXAN accent amusingly enough.
     
  12. Midian Venamar

    Midian Venamar

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    Really? I always imagined it like a Chinese or Russian accent of English.
     
  13. Axis m'Troutilas

    Axis m'Troutilas Gaidin

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    Nope.

    Texan of all things which just has to make you smile.

    Here's a few others too.

     
  14. CalebMSmith90

    CalebMSmith90 Citizen

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    the only problem i have with this is that the aiel speak common and hawking did not conquer them
     
  15. Tehmpus

    Tehmpus

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    Another thing to consider is that the world map for the Wheel of Time is actually only a tiny portion of the entire world. If I had to put an area to it, I'd have to guess that it only encompasses maybe the area of western Europe. Just remember how much time it took the group to travel from Emond's Field over to Caemlyn while walking or riding horses. It's not that huge of an area... certainly not the world.

    And remember Jordan's world IS our world. It is the Earth. According to Jordan, we're just living in a different age of the WOT story which is told in Jordan's books.
     
  16. Axis m'Troutilas

    Axis m'Troutilas Gaidin

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    No guessing Tehmpus.

    The world map for reference

    (includes map scale for you too)

    Click to show

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  17. Verscen Ter Sala

    Verscen Ter Sala

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    Did Hawkwing talk in the old tongue though? There is nothing that I recall that actually states he spoke the old tongue. Who knows how old the old tongue really is.

    The only thing that we know for certain is that before the breaking and the imprisonment at Shayol Ghul, everyone was together right? Well that would mean that the Forsaken would speak the language of the land. And they aren't coming out of the Bore speaking the Old Tongue, they are speaking the common language. So before the split everyone spoke it, and now that everyone is separated, their languages are starting to diversify through different accents (Which would lead to new languages in the long run)
     
  18. Midian Venamar

    Midian Venamar

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    Only thing we can be sure of about the Old Tongue is that it was the common language in the Age of Legends.

    Verscen, how do you mean everyone was together? There was one unified nation of the entire world, yes ... but not everyone lived in one localized massive city. I don't remember where to find it, but RJ actually had a quote saying that Aginor and Balthamel were close enough to the edge of the Bore when sealed in that they were still able to sense what was going on around the world, and in that way were able to learn the common language. That means that most of the other Forsaken did actually have to learn the common language from their own to be able to fully communicate with their DF minions. Also, people have been apart for a very long time; ever since the Breaking. That's when people initially traveled the world in small packs, trying to stay alive, until they slowly began setting up nations. Then Hawkwing united them for all of one generation until they split apart again to create the nations we now have. It doesn't make sense that over so many years there is only a slight difference in accent to separate the various languages.
     
  19. Tazren Talamar

    Tazren Talamar Gaidin

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    IIRC, Jordan mentioned somewhere that the Old Tongue was a very complex and sophisticated language? And that the modern language is a degenerated form ... which is supposedly why it's easy for the Forsaken to learn the common tongue, while the Old Tongue is much more difficult to learn for modern people. Not sure if I like that theory, but I'm no linguist ... It just feels like the Old Tongue is made out to be a completely different language, with no relation to the present. That is, people can't even seem to guess what a passage of Old Tongue means. If the simiarities are enough for the Forsaken to learn the language easily, some of those similarities should go the other way as well. I can definitely buy that it's easier for the Forsaken, if the Old Tongue was much more complex, but it shouldn't be easy for them, and virtually impossible the other way.
     
  20. Aurora al'Parr

    Aurora al'Parr

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    I think that it was easier for Robert Jordan to just stick to the same language, and because everyone spoke the Old Tongue back in the day, then since everyone back then spoke the same language as everyone else, it should make sense that everyone should all speak normal (?) tongue now.