Languages of the Seven CitiesEdit
Tyrian: The language of Tyr, Tyrian is understandable to most denizens of the Tyr Region and is therefore used as a trade language - a relationship solidified by Tyr's role as the primary producer of metal in banana Athas, cementing its importance. (Tyrian Alphabet)
Balican: The language of Balic is common in the Tablelands because Balican traders ply the shores of the Silt Sea. Like Tyrian, Balican still resembles High Tyrian and bears a closer resemblance to the trade tongue than many other city-state's languages. Balican speakers from Altaruk have a notable "provincial" accent. (Tyrian Alphabet)
Urikite: Urik's language has harsher, clipped tones than most of the other city-states, and many of its words are descended from military terms in High Tyrian. Literacy in Urik is particularly controlled, with the templars actively investigating rumors of non-nobles being taught to read and write. (Hamanu's Alphabet)
Raamish: The language of Raam, Raamish is a lyrical language full of allusion and metaphor. Its vocabulary varies slightly by the caste of the speaker; outsiders almost always learn the idiom of the Caste of the Merchant, sometimes sprinkled with metaphors from the Caste of the Warrior. Though it possesses a hieroglyphic alphabet of its own, it is almost always written using Tyrian transliterations. (Tyrian Alphabet, Hieroglyphics of Badna)
Draji: Draj's mad sorcerer-king gave the Draji language to his subjects whole-cloth, declaring it the tongue of the Two Moons. Scholars, however, can detect in it the strains of High Tyrian - it is more as if Tectuktitlay wished to create a new language but lacked the creativity, choosing instead to just alter High Tyrian to create a mad pig-latin mongrel tongue. (Moon Script)
Nibenese: Nibenay's ancient city holds itself apart from Athas, considering itself civilized in a world of savages - and its language reflects its ancient lineage and elitist image, hewing most closely of any tongue to High Tyrian. (Tyrian Alphabet)
Gulgan: Like Draji, Gulgan is a created language, the divine language of the Oba - but it is truly unique, bearing no resemblance to High Tyrian or any of the other city-state's languages, though some scholars suggest a relationship with the tongue of some halfling tribes. It is characterized by its many modifying prefixes and suffixes, attached to a relatively small number of core words. (Oba Script)
High Gulgan: While common Gulgan has adapted over thousands of years of use, the Oba still demands that those entreat her personally speak Gulgan as she first delivered it to her people. Consequently, only the nganga and the most senior scribes speak the tongue, though no few juganda warriors have had to hastily study it when called before the Forest Goddess. (Oba Script)
The Dwarven language is dying: while traditional dwarven families still teach their children their racial tongue, it is not really spoken outside of Kled or the largest dwarven ghettos, and the dwarves have lost the Dwarven script entirely. Dwarven is also spoken by certain desert monsters, such as the mutated hejkins. (No script/Davek*)
The elven tribes of the desert share a common tongue, though tribal dialects are so strong that one tribe may be able to barely understand the words spoken by another. The Elven language remains united only because of elves' relatively long lifespan and the elven tradition of raiding other tribes for mates. Elven dialects are deeply ingrained in their speakers, however: an Elven character cannot shed his dialect unless he purchases a separate language for the other dialect he seeks. (Rellanic)
The halfling language is a complex collection of what others might consider to be insect-like noises and grunts. It is rarely heard by outsiders, and usually a band will have a speaker that excels in the language of another group for trade purposes. It is unheard of for anyone outside of the Halfling community to learn even a few words of their tongue.
Ogo Dialects: The Ogo dialects are spoken by halfling tribes in the northern part of the Forest Ridge, including Ogo itself. Because Ogo sends a mercenary contingent to Urik each year, the Ogo tribal languages tend to have the most loan-words from other languages and the Ogo dialect itself is the halfling language most commonly learned by outsiders. Halflings have an oral culture, but when Ogo is written down it is usually in the Tyrian Alphabet. (No script/Tyrian Alphabet)
Kol-Tokulg Dialects: The Kol-Tokulg dialects are spoken by halfling tribes in the southern part of the Forest Ridge around the great volcano of Kol-Tokulg, where the halfling priesthood who tends the volcano help keep the local tribes' langauges somewhat homogenous. Like all halfling languages, the Kol-Tokulg dialects have no written form, though the volcano priesthood preserves some documents in Rellanic. (No script/Rellanic)
Rul-Thaun: The halflings who live in the vertical cliffside jungles of the Jagged Cliffs have a unified language that bears little resemblance to the tribal languages of Ogo or Kol-Tokulg, as the feral halflings of the Forest Ridge have had almost no commerce with the Rul-Thaun for thousands of years. Unlike feral halflings, the Rul-Thaun have preserved written language, using their own script. (Ghesh-Sach)
Aarakocran: This language consists mostly of chirps and squawks and seems to be the unifying tongue for the Aarokocra tribes scattered throughout the Tablelands. It is a difficult tongue for humans to understand and replicate, though it is not impossible. If there are any dialects of the language, the differences between them are so subtle they would be lost on non-native speakers. (No script)
Ancient Giustenal: The language of destroyed Giustenal, this ancestor-language of Dray is sometimes seen in magical texts looted after the sorcerer-king Dregoth was killed. Characters cannot learn Ancient Giustenal unless they are already literate in one of its scripts. (Tyrian Alphabet, Iokharic*)
Druidic: The secret unifying language of the druids of Athas. Few outside of the enigmatic druid groves can speak it, let alone understand it. (Druidic Runes)
Giant: The giants who walk the Sea of Silt have their own language, though many of the tribes in the Estuary of the Forked Tongue or the mudflats around the Sea of Silt have adopted Giant dialects as their own. It is a slow, sonorous speech that retains some of its gravity even when spoken by smaller-voiced races. Some monstrous species in the desert speak related languages. (Barazhad)
Gith: The language of the desert-dwelling Gith has no connection to any Athasian language, though certain beings summoned from the Astral Sea speak a related language. (Barazhad)
Kreen: The Thri-Kreen language can only be fluently spoken by the mantis warriors, as it includes clicks and whistles that humans cannot accurately replicate. Other creatures can learn to understand Kreen, however, and approximate it sounds well enough to be understood in turn. A related language is Imperial Kreen, spoken by the Tohr-Kreen khanates of the Crimson Savannah. (No script/Chachik*)
Primordial: The language of the elementals, Primordial is spoken primarily by summoned creatures; it has a guttural quality reminiscent of Giantish, with whom it may share some distant connection.
Ssurran: The language of the Athasian lizard-men, Ssurran is sibilant, full of hisses and growls. Characters without forked tongues can never speak the language perfectly. Silt Runners speak a related language, as do several other reptilian creatures. (Barazhad)
Yuan-ti: This language is rarely heard or seen outside of the cavernous depths in which the Yuan-ti of Athas call home. It is gutteral and vulgar-sounding, and many often mistake it for some dialect of Ssuran upon first hearing it. (Barazhad)
Scripts and AlphabetsEdit
Tyrian Alphabet: The most common alphabet in the Tyr Region, Tyrian is a true alphabet with twenty-nine phonetic symbols resembling Ancient Phoenician. Even those languages that do not use the Tyrian Alphabet are sometimes transliterated into its letters. The origin of a writer can be determined by his script; proper, High Tyrian letters are more common in Tyr and Nibenay, while the flowing Balican script used in Balic and Raam adds two more letters but omits some strokes from existing letters.
Hamanu's Alphabet: The Lion God of Urik discourages literacy, but his templars and educated elite use the cuneiform Alphabet of Hamanu, the script which the King of the World used to deliver his Code. It resembles Sumerian cuneiform writing and contains approximately 400 symbols.
Hieroglyphics of Badna: When Abalach-Re abandoned her crown and declared the supremacy of the omnipotent four-armed deity Badna, the new god's priesthood crafted a new pictographic alphabet to accompany the city's religious transformation. Resembling Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Hieroglyphics of Badna - much like the worship of the four-armed god - have never really caught on, and are largely relegated to use by Badna's dedicates.
Moon Script: A pictographic language like the Hieroglyphics of Badna, Draj's Moon Script is heavy on images of blood and animals. It is rarely used outside of Draj, and even among Draji merchants prefer the Tyrian Alphabet.
Oba Script: Another ideographic script, the Oba Script of Gulg sees wider use - even the Forest Goddess' spirit-worshipping enemies in the Crescent Forest have adopted the Oba Script for their tribal languages.
Rellanic: The Elven script, Rellanic has graceful, flowing curves like the dunes of its writers. Its internal structure bears phonetic similarity to the Tyrian Alphabet, though with more letters and sounds. Some scholars believe Rellanic may have been the original model for the Tyrian script.
Chachik: The Thri-Kreen script sees no use among the Kreen of the Tyr Region, who are universally illiterate. It is used only by the Tohr-Kreen khanates of the Crimson Savanna.
Barazhad: The alphabet of the giants, Barazhad is a crude, heavy-stroked script suitable for scratching into mud and stone. Consequently, it is often used by desert tribes to transcribe the trade tongue where the Tyrian Alphabet would be difficult to inscribe, as well as by desert races with no script of their own. Barazhad was almost certainly adopted by the giants from the script of the Elemental Chaos, who also use it for their rare writings.
Ghesh-Sach: The Halfling alphabet of the Jagged Cliffs - literally called "wisdom teaching" - is a phonetic alphabet that bears a strong resemblance to Rellanic, the elven script.
Davek: The Dwarven script, Davek, is unknown to Athasians: while inscriptions in Davek have been discovered in certain ancient dwarven ruins, it has been lost to the dwarves of modern Athas.
Iokharic: Also called the Draconic script because certain tributes sent to the Dragon are inscribed with it, Iokharic is the script of magical runes and writings. Knowing Iokharic automatically places a sage under suspicion of being a mage.