Draconic may be your best bet.
Infernal would actually be the best if you had linguistics maxed. It is ruthlessly precise, but words that sound nearly identical can have disastrously different meanings. Of course, choice of languages may not be an option, especially among outsiders. A devil will not bargain in Celestial or Abyssal.
Your big problems are going be balancing a language with enough nuance to describe What you want done and How you want it done, that you have enough mastery of to avoid miscommunication.
Hire a good contracts lawyer, really. Avoid verbal contracts if you have the choice.
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Actually you want a complex language for contracts because there is less ambiguity in a complex language. If you don’t fully understand the language it will lead to a lot of errors and loop holes, but if you are fluent in the language you will be able to spell out exactly what you want. A less complex language may be easier to understand, but will also be more subject to interpretation.
Infernal may have 15 different words for hello, with each of them being subtly different. A simpler language may use the same word for hello and goodbye. So let’s say the contract requires you to greet the outsider to get past him. In infernal you can specify a very specific greeting to get past the outsider. If the contract was in a language where hello and goodbye are the same he could attack the person who failed to say the appropriate greeting either before entering or when you attempt to leave.
Just make sure that you actually speak infernal and not rely on magical translation for the contract. Using infernal will probably give you an advantage vs an outsider who is not fluent in the language. Devils will of course be very difficult to trick but other may be a lot easier.
Draconic, because it is basically the latin of this game (it is the scholarly language that every wizard learns), and my understanding of how language is treated means that you might get some useful outside resources based on that.
So you could then look for dictionaries and translation books. So you can put in a clause that "all words and phrases of this contract shall be decided based upon their definition outlined in the Hogwarts Common to Draconic Dictionary, 5th Edition."
I would also include a choice in law clause. This is the clause where conflicts of the contract are interpreted based upon the legal standards and practices of a particular location. Include a good annotated version of a local legal code along with the dictionary for reference.
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As I recall, Infernal has exactly one right way to say anything. There's just one way to greet your superior in the morning; one for greeting your underlings, which is different. Therefore, it is used for contracts because it is just that precise. The language is slow to change, due to pressure from its native speakers. That "fiendishly complex grammar" you mention? That's why it's the language of contracts. And devils, who make more of them than anyone else. They can't have some mortal getting their soul back just because they wrote "they're" and meant "their", now can they?
The big difficulty with Infernal is cultural. That angel will likely kill you if you try to get it to sign a contract in infernal. Actually, come to think of it, other than devils, almost anyone might kill you for trying to get them to sign a contract in infernal.
Draconic will likely have less emotional baggage tied to it, and I am sure it has little to do with dragons' predilections toward devouring people who talk badly about them.
I doubt an angel would try to kill you for using a language. Doesn't sound very much like a good deed. I imagine even the angels and archons and other outsiders acknowledge the precision of language of Infernal, even if they can't stand its native speakers, and might well use the language for certain things themselves...but only rarely, as good outsiders probably follow the spirit of the law as much as the letter. Devils...just the letter.
|Chromantic Durgon <3|
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I do love the idea of using draconic with a dictionary. And stating in the contract that all definitions come from said dictionary. I also like the choice in law clause. That could be very important. Perhaps a clause requiring any disagreement be arbitrated by a Kolyarut.
it can be a nice source for adventure seeds if you play with the fact that interplanar contracts can be very 'long term'.
Imagine an outsider coming back 300 years down the line, and you have no idea where to find a copy of an ancient dictionary and the choice in law clause refers to a nation that fell 150 years ago.
This could easily lead to an adventure where you are competing with the outsider's agents in order to track down copies of old books in order to use as evidence, or to try to track down the ghosts of judges from the bygone kingdom to serve as arbitrators.
In the short term though, these approaches work... well enough. I could also see an adventure to stop a devil from manipulating senators (in order to get a vote to change the laws used in the choice in law clause).
I do love the idea of using draconic with a dictionary. And stating in the contract that all definitions come from said dictionary.
I'm not sure if that is a good idea. Because if the meaning of the contract is essentially in, say, Common, but the letter is in Draconic, then you're basically losing the advantage of using a precise language. If the interpretation of the contract is to be based on Common, then writing it in Draconic is kind of pointless.
I believe that, per the OPs original assumptions, Common is an unstable language, both Temporally and Geographically. For a Townie or Villager, this is not such a big deal. To someone in a position to deal with outsiders, it becomes a very very big deal. Now the Draconic Dictionary is an utter fail, as Nixitur has pointed out. If you don't know Draconic, or whatever language well enough to be able to think in that language, it is of no practical use for this purpose. Innate and possibly spell-based Truespeech May Be an acceptable substitute at the negotiation level, but fails when you try to record it if the recorder isn't basing his thinking to your language of choice.
So I have a character that may be looking to write some contracts with some outsiders prone to abuse the ambiguities of language.
What language in pathfinder is the most stable and least ambiguous?
Not gonna lie, when I read that, my immediate response was "protean!"
I love sarcasm...
There is a problem with Gnomish though (beyond, you know, Gnomes being involved)
In terms of the sheer number of words in its vocabulary, Gnome is the largest language known. It has changed dramatically since gnomes first introduced it to Golarion, a process which has by no means halted. It shares certain similarities with both Aklo and Sylvan.
It has changed dramatically, and is still changing. Just having a lot of words does not necessarily lead to precision and clarity, and considering the nature of gnomes, I rather think the reverse is most likely.
Infernal really is designed for contracts, but...
Infernal Contracts have deservedly negative connotations, some unfair, some decidedly fair. At the very least, you are going to be "equated" to those beings who "own" the language, you remember, Devils. To the Celestial crowd, Infernal (and Abyssal) are known, because they are the languages of the Enemy. There used to exist Modronic (Lawful Neutral outsider tongue), but copyrights prevent it in any official material. This would be the language of fair contracts.
You should go with whatever either an Inevitable or Pychopomp uses to speak to each other. Inevitables are naturally obsessed with structure and order, hopefully reflected in their main language, while Pychopomps impartially judge every single creature when they die, so their main language should carry a lot of weight, too.