Are there such thing as `Language Groups`?


Rules Questions


What I mean is like there are Romantic Languages. Someone who knows, say Italian might understand pieces from Spanish. So in this case "Italian" and "Spanish" would be in the same "Language Group".

1) So is there such thing in Golarion?
2) If so could you, if you understood one of the languages in the group reduce the penalty in the Linguistics to understand or Sense Motive to understand?

This definitely sounds like something a Third-party developer would do or something in Kobald Quarterly if it hasn't already been done.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Successful Linguistics check.

Otherwise, houserules, or third party material.

Liberty's Edge

I have seen references that Taldane (Common) and Kelesh share a common origin. Also, I understand that Elvish (the Drow dialect in particular) was one of the key languages that created Undercommon.)

Linguistics is an interest of mine, so I will hazard a few guesses. One way to represent related languages could be by reducing the DC for a Linguistics check to understand a closely related language to one that the speaker already knows. (Maybe have various degrees of relationship in such a system. As a real world example, Spanish and Italian might be one degree of separation and could have a reasonably lowered DC, Spanish and English might be two degrees of separation (one has its root language in Latin while the other is rooted in Germanic), while Spanish and Urdu (both Indo-European languages from distantly related branches. Some words are similar in different Indo-European languages. Indeed, the similarities between Ancient Greek, Latin and Ancient Sanskrit was noted by early linguists. To my knowledge, there are relatively few similarities between Sino-Tibetan languages (such as Chinese) and Indo-European languages.)

In the case of Golarion, a speaker who only knew Ancient Azlanti might have an easier time of understanding Ancient Thassilonian (which has a degree of kinship to Azlanti). Some of the languages of what later became Taldor, home of some Azlanti survivors, might be somewhat harder to understand for such an individual. Modern Taldane might be understood by such a person slightly easier than a typical linguistic check. This might mean a very small lowering of the DC (if any) for such a speaker. (It has been thousands of years after the fall of Azlant, so I would treat Taldane and Azlant as largely unrelated. Perhaps a few simple terms like mother, father, and water might have somewhat similar sounds like pater and father have similar sounds Latin and English. Note that if I was GMing a table and really role playing with someone who had such a fictional character, I might have a Kelish child say Ab, Abba, Abd to refer to his father and hope the player makes the linguistics role.)

The variety of languages in Golarion, including several non-human and non-mortal ones, does make the Linguistics skills, knowing several languages, and such spells as tongues and comprehend languages very useful. (In one Pathfinder Society session, my character's knowledge of Undercommon helped another player avoid a mistake.)


Some languages (such as polyglot and common) are groups themselves, but none are in groups that I know of.

Liberty's Edge

blackbloodtroll wrote:

Successful Linguistics check.

Otherwise, houserules, or third party material.

For the rules as written, it would be a successful Linguistics check. I think a good article in Wayfinder might be useful for those who want an optional system but I am not sure that there would be much demand for such a system in third party materials.


There's no mechanic for it. (beyond a basic Linguistics check)
It's stated that some languages like Skald and Dwarven are partially mutually intelligible.
Those, and several other languages may share written script.
It's not specified,
but it seems reasonable to say that some languages use other languages' words for certain things: e.g. camel.
Taldan/Chelish/Andoran/etc are technically the same language, but you could rule that unless a character is trying to be extra-understandable, some of their phrases may be unfamiliar to a speaker of a different Common 'dialect'.
I would say between all of that, it's easy enough to say that you can understand X% (choosing specific words for them to pick out) and you can make a check to understand/'piece together' the rest, with modifiers to the check depending on how close the language is to your own... So even if you fail the check, you might have some info about what they said, the more so if it's a 'sister language' to your own, and/or the things they were saying used words that your own language has adopted.

Paizo doesn't seem that interested in having language play more of a foreground role in the game,
even to the extent that the idea of regional 'commons' instead of 'Common everywhere' is downplayed,
so I don't expect them to do much else on the subject...
Although I wouldn't mind some love on this skill/RP area whenever PRPG 2.0 comes along.

Scarab Sages

There is some mention of languages descending from a mix of others. For example, Strix is a pidgin of Infernal and Azlant. If you knew (and were fluent in) both then I'd say you could come pretty close to understanding basic Strix though some of the subtler idioms may escape you.
You can also look at the nations history for implied influences. I imagine that all language in Galt is influenced by Chelish to some extent, and so on.

As for strictly stated families, no, but I bet you could develop a language tree with a bit of elbow grease.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

A GM fiat favorable conditions +2 to the Linguistics check is an easy RAW option.

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Forewarning, I am not a linguist. I do, however, find the development of languages over history SUPER INTERESTING. Golarion's simplistic languages are highly unrealistic (because a world with the complicated languages and dialects of the real world would require far a more complicated language rule system), but it's an unrealistic world.

Examining Golarion's languages means we can add color and connections to what is already a highly diverse and fascinating setting. We can take a look at a few of the books (I've got the Inner Sea World Guide and Humans of Golarion open right now) and made a bunch of assumptions, all in the name of fun!

The first human languages in the Inner Sea region would have been the pre-Azlanti tongues spoken by disparate human tribes. These early tongues may be the ancestors of the Hallit tongue spoken by the Kellid people of the far north.

The ancient Azlanti language is the common ancestor of human language in the modern Inner Sea Region. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may not be the natural tongue of humans, that like the Azlanti culture, it was handed to humanity by their Aboleth masters. Regardless, following the destruction of Azlant, the survivors fled to colonies on the shores of the Inner Sea, where the language diverged into tongues such as Cheliaxian and Taldain (the later so ubiquitous, it's now better known as Common).

Survivors of Azlant also colonized modern-day Varisia, and developed the Thassilonian language. This language would later develop into the Varisian tongue, and mix with the Kellid and Giant tongues to become the language of the Shoanti people.

The Giant language itself is a bit complex. It is derived from the language of the ancient pre-human Cyclopes civilization and contains elements of Thassilonian, from their long period of "service" to that human empire. The Cyclopes language may be derived from various planar tongues (as they, and the giants, are said to be decedents of titans and outsiders who made their home on the the material plane). Perhaps the Cyclopes language may even be the root of the first human tongues, if they taught it to the "small people" in the early days of mankind.

Chelaxian invaders would meet and mix with the northern folk, likely Kellids, and the Cheliaxian and Hallit tongues would merge and develop into the Ulfen language of Skald.

Modern Osiriani is a direct descendent of Ancient Osiriani, which may or may not have Azlanti roots (accounts have the ancient Osirian empire co-existing with Azlant), although the modern version of the language likely incorporates much of the Kelish tongue, given their century-long dominion over Garund. Given the ancient Osirans were obsessed with the Dark Tapestry, it wouldn't surprise me if it contained traces of Aklo.

I'm not sure about the origins of the Kelish tongue, seeing as we have yet to even see a map of the Keleshite empire.

The Vudrani tongue is mix of the Kelesh and Tien languages.

The Polygot languages of the Mwangi tribes likely share a root in whatever was spoken by the mysterious sky-city dwelling civilization that once existed above the Mwangi Expanse. That civilization may or may not have a connection to Azlant, it's just too mysterious for us to know!

Tien and the other languages of the east may have no connection with the Azlanti-based languages of the Inner Sea, seeing as humankind wasn't even recorded in Tien Xia until after Earthfall. I would not be surprised if it was derived from Celestial or Draconic, in much the same way that Azlant may be derived from Abolith.

(One theory states that the people of Tien Xia were formed from the souls of the Azlanti who died during Earthfall. If this is the case, there could indeed be residual elements of the Azlanti language.)

Dwarven and Orc (and Goblin, Gnoll, etc.) may have been granted in their purest form directly from the gods (and may share elements with Celestial, Infernal, or Abyssal), or they may have evolved from various tribal dialects (Given the singular nature of most non-human race's languages, I wonder if they share common myths in which every member of the race started speaking the same language - sort of a reverse Tower of Babel").

Halflings on Golirion evolved alongside humans, and their language is stated to be directly descended from human tongues, despite the wild variety of human tongues. Perhaps the Halfling language is actually derived from the original pre-Azlanti human tongue. If that's so, then Halfling may, oddly enough, bear some similarities with Giant!

The Gnome language has similarities with both Sylvan and Aklo. Sylvan itself is one of the oldest tongues, hailing from the fey of the First World, and Aklo is common among both the more sinister of the First World and the unspeakable terrors of the Dark Tapestry and the other unspeakable terrors of the Darklands. And I just realized that the Unseeile courts and aberrant Denizens of the Black may in fact, share an origin. Worrisome!

A mix of Aklo and Terran makes up the Orvian language, spoken only in the deepest vaults of the Darklands. Undercommon, created by the Drow incorporates several Orvian words. Necril, spoken by ghouls and cultists, is derived from Ancient Osiriani. I theorize that it contains many elements of Aklo, as it is both derived from the Dark Tapestry-obsessed Ancient Osirians and is spoken primarily in Darkland necropolises.

So, now Aklo has connections to evil fey, aberrations, AND undeath.

(And for those more familiar with the Golarion's solar system, you may note that the cult of the Whispering Way already has a unlikely and ominous connection with the dead world of Eox and the philosophy of those who seek undeath!)

Speaking of the Drow, Elves brought their language with them from wherever they came from originally. Which isn't Golarion. And I doubt it's Sovyrian.

Dragons have always spoken draconic, and they've done so for a very, very long time.

Planar languages probably just appeared fully-formed the moment the first sentient being pulled itself free of its homeplane. Abyssal is believed to be the oldest, with Infernal, Celestial, and the elemental languages following close behind.

Woo, that got a little out of hand. Hope that helps?

TL:DR The evil fey and Lovecraftian aberrations are in league, and may be one and the same.

Liberty's Edge

brreitz wrote:
The ancient Azlanti language is the common ancestor of human language in the modern Inner Sea Region. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may not be the natural tongue of humans, that like the Azlanti culture, it was handed to humanity by their Aboleth masters.

And, as I realize that the Aboleth also speak Aklo, it may be that Azlanti has traces of that as well. It may well be possibly to trace a few root words in almost every mortal language back to Aklo!

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Are there such thing as `Language Groups`? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.