PFS rules question: Is Ettin a valid language to learn?


Pathfinder Society

Scarab Sages 4/5

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Okay, little background first: I, in real life, am a linguistic anthropologist. That is to say I have an undergraduate degree in anthropology, and a master's degree in teaching English as a second language (essentially a linguistics degree, closest my university had anyway.). This might get a little messy, but stick with me, I actually know what I am talking about.

So, in PFS, Ettins' only language is listed as a 'pidgin made up of Giant, Goblin, and Orc.'

Now, this is a misnomer, as a pidgin is a trade language that is a mashup of two or more languages. Once people start speaking a pidgin as their first/native language (such as with Ettins, as it is their ONLY language), it becomes known as a creole. The Louisiana Creole in the southern United States is an example of such a language. Misnomers aside, I want to know if Ettin is a valid language to take in PFS.

It should be, right? Pidgins and Creoles are languages, and it is listed in the Beastiary, so. . .

It is important to note that creoles, from a linguistic standpoint, are 100% completely valid languages. They meet all the criteria for a language, are capable of generating new words to fit an ever-changing landscape, and they are the native language of several million people around the world. They are real languages. What's more, several languages (like English) are creole-like (Modern English is HEAVILY influenced by Norman French, much more than most people realize.)

Lastly, PFS allows a creole already as a language: Polyglot. Polyglot's description basically makes it a creole of Common and several Mwangi languages (which, by the way, is true to life, there are several Creoles of English and various African languages.)

Making Ettin a legal PFS language would not be hard. It would let you understand Ettins, and not Orc, Goblin, or Giant. The rules for understanding Ettin would still be in place if you didn't speak it. I'm just arguing that it should be a valid choice.


Put it on your character sheet. I can not imagine anyone giving enough of a f+!* to check up on it.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hero Lab lists Ettin as a separate language. Most other sources I have seen do not. I agree that it should be, but don't know if there is an 'official' PFS position on it.


VampByDay wrote:

Okay, little background first: I, in real life, am a linguistic anthropologist. That is to say I have an undergraduate degree in anthropology, and a master's degree in teaching English as a second language (essentially a linguistics degree, closest my university had anyway.). This might get a little messy, but stick with me, I actually know what I am talking about.

So, in PFS, Ettins' only language is listed as a 'pidgin made up of Giant, Goblin, and Orc.'

Now, this is a misnomer, as a pidgin is a trade language that is a mashup of two or more languages. Once people start speaking a pidgin as their first/native language (such as with Ettins, as it is their ONLY language), it becomes known as a creole. The Louisiana Creole in the southern United States is an example of such a language. Misnomers aside, I want to know if Ettin is a valid language to take in PFS.

It should be, right? Pidgins and Creoles are languages, and it is listed in the Beastiary, so. . .

It is important to note that creoles, from a linguistic standpoint, are 100% completely valid languages. They meet all the criteria for a language, are capable of generating new words to fit an ever-changing landscape, and they are the native language of several million people around the world. They are real languages. What's more, several languages (like English) are creole-like (Modern English is HEAVILY influenced by Norman French, much more than most people realize.)

Lastly, PFS allows a creole already as a language: Polyglot. Polyglot's description basically makes it a creole of Common and several Mwangi languages (which, by the way, is true to life, there are several Creoles of English and various African languages.)

Making Ettin a legal PFS language would not be hard. It would let you understand Ettins, and not Orc, Goblin, or Giant. The rules for understanding Ettin would still be in place if you didn't speak it. I'm just arguing that it should be a valid choice.

Buddy, you're way over thinking it. The writers at paizo are (most likely) not linguists or anthropologists and would be writing the descriptions in a more informal manner (for the majority of their audience who also wouldn't have a more technical understanding).

As for legality in PFS....well that is a separate issue as many things aren't legal in PFS for no real reason.

3/5

I recently GMed a PFS scenario that had an Ettin. In his statblock, his languages are Giant, Goblin, Orc. This Ettin was living in a mostly-not-Ettins town and had class levels, so maybe there are some feral Ettins in another adventure somewhere that actually speak Ettin.

5/5

Quote:
From the Bestiary PRDEttins have no language of their own but speak a pidgin of Giant, Goblin, and Orc. Creatures that can speak any of these languages must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence check to communicate with an ettin. Check once for each bit of information: if the other creature speaks two of these languages, the DC is 10, and for someone who speaks all three, the DC is 5.

So, in game terms, there is no true Ettin language to learn.


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Yes!

No!

Stupid other head, I said yes!

Other head can shut up, the answer is no!

Who are you calling other head? YOU'RE other head!

I hate you so much, first head.

I hate you too, second head. Now let's go eat a flock of sheep.

Translated from the Ettin original by Quibblemuch


I'd allow a skill point spent in linguistics to learn a pidgin, especially if the other three languages are already known. I don't see the rules disallowing it.

The Exchange 5/5

Is the Ettin language listed in a PFS legal sourcebook? If it is then it's PFS legal. If not then it isn't PFS legal.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Vinyc Kettlebek wrote:
Is the Ettin language listed in a PFS legal sourcebook? If it is then it's PFS legal. If not then it isn't PFS legal.

The debate is whether or not what's listed in their Bestiary entry qualifies, as all languages in Bestiary 1 are legal to learn (except for Aboleth and Drow Sign Language).

Personally, I feel that you can't. Ettins don't have an actual, codified language to learn (as evidenced by the fact their entry explicitly says they don't have a language).

Scarab Sages 4/5

Jeff Merola wrote:
Vinyc Kettlebek wrote:
Is the Ettin language listed in a PFS legal sourcebook? If it is then it's PFS legal. If not then it isn't PFS legal.

The debate is whether or not what's listed in their Bestiary entry qualifies, as all languages in Bestiary 1 are legal to learn (except for Aboleth and Drow Sign Language).

Personally, I feel that you can't. Ettins don't have an actual, codified language to learn (as evidenced by the fact their entry explicitly says they don't have a language).

The thing is, a pidgin (really here a Creole) IS a language. Meets all the definitions of a language. It is capable of infinitely complex communication, is able to talk about abstract concepts, all that stuff. Just because it is not an ettin's racial, independent language doesn't mean it isn't A language. Ettins speak A language, it just isn't their own racial language.


Linguistically it may well be a language, but linguistically isn't really relevant to the rules. It doesn't have a listed language. In fact expressly stated to not have a language of their own. I think you are out of luck.

The rules are stripped down versions of reality. Nearly anyone with a speciality can point out the inconsistencies/inaccuracies in the rules within their speciality, but they are good enough for a game and a layperson to get.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

On the other hand if you have giant, goblin, orc and a decent intelligence, you will be able to comunicate with most ettins quite easily. It's only a DC 5 int check to make yourself understood.

Hmm


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
VampByDay wrote:
The thing is, a pidgin (really here a Creole) IS a language. Meets all the definitions of a language. It is capable of infinitely complex communication, is able to talk about abstract concepts, all that stuff. Just because it is not an ettin's racial, independent language doesn't mean it isn't A language. Ettins speak A language, it just isn't their own racial language.

I think you are assuming some things not in evidence.

Primarily, that 'Ettin' exists on its own, that one Ettin can speak to another Ettin from a different tribe in the 'Ettin' language and be easily understood. That is a possibility, but not the only one, and since it says Ettins don't actually have a language of their own, that possibility seems to deny the text.

Another possibility is that Ettins (who usually associate with Giants, goblins and orcs) end up picking up words and phrases from those languages and do manage to communicate to a degree, but the 'Ettin' spoken by any particular Ettin at any particular time isn't necessarily all that similar to that used by another Ettin. If Ettins don't really share their language within their own community, but only pick it up from other more verbose creatures, and not very completely, then it certainly would not be a creole, and wouldn't even be a single pidgen.

More to the point though, since the game specifically says it is not a language, then you can't take it as a language. Obviously in a home game things could be different, but in PFS it probably won't fly if anyone bothers to care, and the best case scenario is a probably needless argument and controversy over something that isn't worth doing to begin with.

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