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    The Development of the Common Tongue
    Posted on Wed, September 21, 2005 by Dongul
    smillan_31 writes "Ever wondered why the common language spoken in an Oeridian-dominated world is a combination of Ancient Baklunish and an Old Oeridian dialect? This explains it.

    The Development of the Common Tongue
    By: smillan_31
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    The Common Tongue is the language most often used in the Flanaess between peoples of different nations and cultures. Unlike many lingua francas, Common is a complex language with a rich literary tradition. This is not to say that most current speakers utilize it on this level. Most who use Common today only know enough to convey basic ideas, though there are many among the educated classes who do use it in its full form.

    Common's oldest roots are in the Ancient Baklunish tongue. In the early part of the period of the Migrations and the formation of the Oeridian tribal kingdoms in the Flanaess (c. –465 to c. -200 CY), the most stable nation left in the known world was that last remnant of the Baklunish Empire held together by Azor’alq the Knight (-419 CY). In the first half of the next century (c. -400 to -340 CY), the merchants of that land fanned out through the Flanaess to establish trade with the nascent Oeridian kingdoms. With the death of Azor’alq (-340 CY) the Baklunish Empire finally ended and that state split into the nations of Zief, Ekbir, Tusmit, and Ket. By this time many of the expatriate Baklunish merchants had permanently insinuated themselves into the fabric of the Oeridian-dominated kingdoms of the East, making themselves indispensable to any ruler wishing to establish commerce between his nation and others. Though this merchant class adopted many of the customs and values of the Oeridians they lived amongst, they remained essentially Baklunish. Contact between these widely spread groups necessitated a means of communication, which they facilitated by maintaining a form of the Ancient Baklunish language, seperate from the evolution of that tongue in the West into what is referred to in modern times simply as Low Baklunish.

    The status and form of their language, referred to by scholars as Old Common, continued relatively uninterrupted until the dramatic rise of the Great Kingdom. Though much can be said of the battle prowess of the Aerdi and the other Oeridians they absorbed to form the core of their conquering armies, their skills at administration and the other everyday tasks needed to run an empire were decidedly lacking. So it was that when the Great Kingdom came to dominate much of the Flanaess, the need for administrators to govern its far-flung provinces was obvious, and who better to serve the needs of the viceroys and governors of that state as secretaries and bureaucrats but members of the established Baklunish merchant class. As time passed some of the bureaucratic Baklunish families rose to high influence in the Great Kingdom, and even, as in the case of the Yragernes of the Province of Selintan, to the post of Viceroy. Along with the establishment of the ethnic Baklunish bureacratic class came the official adoption of their tongue as a language of administration, used to cement the disparate provinces together. It was during this period that the numerous Aerdian influences in Common took root, transforming the primarily Ancient Baklunish Old Common into a form known as Middle Common. Outside of the Great Kingdom, in the western areas of the Flanaess, dominated by Keoland, the Baklunish merchant class continued to use their own language, adopting the changes being made in the East. Middle Common was even adopted by the hierarchy of the Great Kingdom's pantheon as a liturgical language for the ease with which it helped missionaries spread the proper and true faith throughout the empire and eventually, the entire Flanaess.

    So it was that with the fragmentation of the Great Kingdom's empire, Common remained as a language of diplomacy, liturgy, scholarship and trade throughout the Flanaess. In the intervening centuries it has remained strong and has evolved further until we have the form spoken today, known simply as Common.
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    Re: The Development of the Common Tongue (Score: 1)
    by Woesinger on Thu, September 22, 2005
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    An interesting heresy*. :)

    Common, as presented in the canon setting, really doesn't make a lot of sense. If it was Sueloise and Old Oeridian or Flannae and Old Oeridian, it'd be a little more plausible (since those were the peoples that acutally mingled in the Flanaess during the Great Migrations). Adding Ancient Balunish to the mix is way out of leftfield.

    So how to explain it? A wandering Baklunish scholarly element as suggested above is one explanation. Not one I agree with, but each to their own (it does have a vague parallel to the real world, where Islamic scholars - especially in Spain - helped preserve and pass on the lore of the Greeks and Romans).

    For me, Common has to be a Pre-Migrations tongue - reflecting contacts between the Oerid tribes in the West and their neighbours at the time, the Bakluni. If you posit an Oerid culture that was a) tribal and fragmented to the point where different Oerid tribes spoke their own dialects (there's evidence for this in references to Oerid tribal languages like Ferral and Nyrondese) and b) open to Baklunish influences, you could then suggest a hybrid Oeridian-Baklunish tongue used to communicate not only with the Bakluni (with whom the ancient Oerids surely traded with and served as mercenaries for) but between different tribes.

    So under this idea, when the Oerid Hetmen met to discuss the Great March to the east, they'd have spoken in a form of Proto-Common.

    Common became common because of the success of the Oerids in overrunning two thirds or more of the Flanaess (and having an important role in the one third they didn't totally dominate). The Aerdi carried the seed and then propagated it with the empire. Though Old Oeridian would have been the langauge of record and the Court, Common was what the merchants and lesser administrators used to glue the empire together.

    That's my take, but like I say - each to their own. :)


    *: I say that as there's references in Canon to the Yragernes being Sueloise IIRC. Also, there's no reference to there being a Baklunish bureaucratic class in the Great Kingdom. Doesn't mean there wasn't, but it doesn't strike me as being overly likely. You'd have thought the courtiers in Rauxes would have preferred to trust their own people, rather than Bakuni "outlanders", certianly to the extent where they are there in such significant numbers that their language becomes the Common tongue.

    Re: The Development of the Common Tongue (Score: 1)
    by Wolfsire on Fri, September 23, 2005
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    Thanks for the article, smillan_31.

    Re: The Development of the Common Tongue (Score: 1)
    by mtg ( on Sat, October 01, 2005
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    Some discussion about languages and a couple of cites to this article are available at

    Re: The Development of the Common Tongue (Score: 1)
    by smillan_31 on Wed, October 05, 2005
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    Thanks for all the comments. I like to use alot of real world influences and references in my version of Greyhawk, so the primary real world model for my take on Common is Aramaic. It went from being the language of a small nomadic group in what's now Syria to the common language of an empire in just about 200 years. It wasn't spread by conquest until it was adopted by other peoples. The Arameans weren't conquerors, they just found themselves useful as administrators in the Assyrian Empire. From that establishment Aramaic went on to become the official language of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. As far as the Baklunish merchant class, I based their existence on the various ethnic groups who have done similar things throughout history - Jews in Europe and North Africa, Armenians in West Asia, Chinese in South Asia, etc.

    The adoption of Baklunish elements into Old Oeridan simply through contact between the cultures doesn't seem likely to me based on real world models, although nothing Canon I know of says how much of Common is Old Oeridian and how much of it is Baklunish, so who knows. I'm sure at some point Gaulish was somewhere in between Gaulish and Vulgar Latin before it died out. Languages are funny critters. As Woesinger said, to each his own.

    Also, Woesinger, thanks for the ref to the Yragerne's being Suloise in Canon. I'll probably just keep them Bakluno-Oerid for my version. It works for me.

    Re: The Development of the Common Tongue (Score: 1)
    by abysslin ( on Sat, January 21, 2006
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    This is really interesting. Something I've never really thought of before...

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