The Common Tongue — Guild Wars 2 Forums

The Common Tongue

Why is there only one language in GW2?

Like, I understand that Humans had a huge civilization in the past, and that sylvari just know things, but why aren't there Charr who speak in a cat-like growl or a norn speaking some scandanavian-based language. Characters are traveling to far-off continents which have been isolated for centuries and are greeted with a simple "Hello".

In cannon, there seem to be a few languages hinted at (Ancient Dwarven, Skritt, the Quargian's OOO, the Hylec's Mastery Language or Choya dance), but for the most part, the common tongue seems to be everywhere.

If the reason is "Magic" that's fine and all, but at least give a reason.

Comments

  • The common tongue actually has unknown origin. It is not the only language either, Itzel and Nuhoch had developed their own, though they may have diverged from common to the point where mutual intelligibility was lost.

    But where does common come from? Well, it was the language of the Dwarves, Seers, Mursaat, Forgotten and Jotun. The language might be even older than that, but we don't have any sources on that. The charr were apparently speaking common, though it is unknown where they got it from. My theory is, that the prevalence of written language has kept it around, but that is odd, as Tyria did not have a unified writing system until new Krytan.

  • @Castigator.3470 said:
    The common tongue actually has unknown origin. It is not the only language either, Itzel and Nuhoch had developed their own, though they may have diverged from common to the point where mutual intelligibility was lost.

    But where does common come from? Well, it was the language of the Dwarves, Seers, Mursaat, Forgotten and Jotun. The language might be even older than that, but we don't have any sources on that. The charr were apparently speaking common, though it is unknown where they got it from. My theory is, that the prevalence of written language has kept it around, but that is odd, as Tyria did not have a unified writing system until new Krytan.

    Think is, you never hear it. Never really see it. Nothin. It's a sort of "Show don't tell" thing.

    Also, when I said the Hylec Mastery Language, I meant the Itzel and Nuhoch. Thanks for the exact names.

  • Aaron Ansari.1604Aaron Ansari.1604 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 3, 2018

    @MisterCheshire.4029 said:

    @Castigator.3470 said:
    The common tongue actually has unknown origin. It is not the only language either, Itzel and Nuhoch had developed their own, though they may have diverged from common to the point where mutual intelligibility was lost.

    But where does common come from? Well, it was the language of the Dwarves, Seers, Mursaat, Forgotten and Jotun. The language might be even older than that, but we don't have any sources on that. The charr were apparently speaking common, though it is unknown where they got it from. My theory is, that the prevalence of written language has kept it around, but that is odd, as Tyria did not have a unified writing system until new Krytan.

    Think is, you never hear it. Never really see it. Nothin. It's a sort of "Show don't tell" thing.

    Also, when I said the Hylec Mastery Language, I meant the Itzel and Nuhoch. Thanks for the exact names.

    In that sense, it's just for matters of game design practicality- the post where they described all of this to us also said that it's an adaptation of the solution D&D has been running with for decades. When you get right down to it, most people just don't find it fun when they can't understand most of the characters in the game, and it's very hard to prevent that difficulty in a compelling way. Unless you want to conlang entire functional languages, the only options I've seen are to either use a cipher (a la New Krytan) in the chat bubbles, or to have some note along the lines of "You can't understand what this person is saying." like we got with the Itzel and Nuhoch.

    As far as the lore goes? There are other languages out there, but they aren't in common use, so we don't see them. The asura have one that they still use among themselves. The norn and Canthans both have 'dead' languages that are used for names and titles and the like but not used as a method of communication anymore (Elona and Kryta might possibly have the same deal). The Kurzicks also had an ancestral language in GW1 that was at least slightly less dead. The charr may or may not have their own language, but if they do, they're keeping it a secret. Presumably other races have their own languages too, but that was outside the scope of a single dev post on the forum.

    EDIT: Completely forgot to address your question! That post did give a reason for Common. Your mileage may vary on how convincing it is, but:

    @MatthewMedina.5419 said:
    Now, as to where the common language came from and why it’s become so ubiquitous in Tyria – that really goes back to ancient history, at the very least to the last cycle of the Elder Dragons awakening. In the cycle just before the one that Tyria is currently experiencing, we know that five races were shepherded by the dragon champion Glint and survived. Those races too, had their own languages, but as they fought and struggled to survive the predations of the Elder Dragons, they also realized that they would need to communicate, not only amongst themselves in the short term, but to convey to future generations whatever information they learned about the Elder Dragons. It’s not clear whether they adopted one of the race’s languages as the common tongue (in the same way that English or Chinese or Spanish have spread to become more widely spoken), whether the common tongue already existed and pre-dates those races or whether they devised a new “common” tongue that all the races learned and passed on to future generations. But whichever explanation is correct has been lost to history and what we are left with is simply the knowledge that it was that first cooperation among the races who survived the last Elder Dragon cycle which gave birth to the widespread use of a common language that all Tyrians are raised to learn. Over the millennia since the Elder Dragons returned to slumber, it became clear that being able to understand one another was vital for survival, trade, and even war and a common language facilitated this nicely. It probably is appropriate for RP’ers to call this language Tyrian, since its usage (if not the language itself) was initially born of that cooperation between all the races that lived in Tyria at that time, but internally we tend to refer to it most often as “Common” – in homage to Jeff Grubb and the original D&D design team who solved this exact problem years before us. :-D

    R.I.P., Old Man of Auld Red Wharf. Gone but never forgotten.

  • Konig Des Todes.2086Konig Des Todes.2086 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 3, 2018

    @MisterCheshire.4029 said:
    Why is there only one language in GW2?

    There's many, actually. The charr, asura, and norn each have their own languages, but they've all fallen "out of use" more or less. Only a handful of words surviving into the modern language. Canthans, Elonians, Kurzicks, and Luxons also had their own languages, which have fallen out of use for the modern unnamed common language.

    We don't have many examples of these other languages, the ones we got the most of would be Old Canthan and Kurzick, but for example fahrar and Hrangmer are two terms that survived from the charr language.

    Characters are traveling to far-off continents which have been isolated for centuries and are greeted with a simple "Hello".

    Well, sans the hylek in the Heart of Maguuma, everywhere we've been had long standing history with the Central Tyrian human language that is "common". By GW1, Elona was primarily using the Tyrian language, as were norn and asura.

    If the reason is "Magic" that's fine and all, but at least give a reason.

    There isn't a real solid lore on the common language (called "the human language" by charr and called "Tyrian" by Elonian and Canthan humans); what Aaron quotes is the best we got, which is really just an off-hand dev comment; the TL;DR of that quote box being that it formed from the last dragonrise's alliance between dwarves, jotun, Forgotten, Seers, and mursaat (as well as when Glint hid the races for the former four) and it stems from that.

    Building on that quote, from what else we know in lore and the history of the world after the previous Elder Dragon rise, the spread of this language is most likely thanks to the Forgotten first and foremost, as they helped the growth of other races until humanity spread too much and effectively made the Forgotten give up.

    The three Canthan languages (Canthan, Kurzick, and Luxon) are all fairly similar, what little we have seen of them, and the Canthan written language are close the Cliffside Fractals' seals (which is from the earliest days of humanity), so it's likely that the original "human language" derived into Canthan, Kurzick, and Luxon (and probably Elonian), but humanity had taken on the Tyrian language from Forgotten and dwarves over the centuries.

    Despite there being only one main spoken modern language, there are many alphabets still. Though even that is being consolidated for sake of ease among interracial communications (I'm still minorly annoyed that Elonians use New Krytan, which was established after Joko began taking over the region and it got isolated from the Tyrian nations). The most commonly used non-New Krytan alphabet being the asuran alphabet, but the norn, charr, dredge, hylek, Exalted, Elonians, and even Ascalonians have their own writing systems used on ever-decreasing occasion.

    @Castigator.3470 said:
    The common tongue actually has unknown origin. It is not the only language either, Itzel and Nuhoch had developed their own, though they may have diverged from common to the point where mutual intelligibility was lost.

    TBH, the "language masteries" made little sense. You were speaking to Ibli and Tizlak no problem, and there was one for the Exalted who were humans so they would have been speaking that common language (and indeed Ruka does before we have to, plot wise, learn Exalted language mastery!?). The usage of the Itzel and Nuhoch languages was pretty poorly done, as it only affected the vendors and a couple scout NPCs' textboxes.

  • Characters are traveling to far-off continents which have been isolated for centuries and are greeted with a simple "Hello".

    Well, they did make it a point that Elonians in PoF usually greet you with "Ahai" (when they actually talk to you, I did not notice it in written dialogue). That was a nice touch.

  • Ardid.7203Ardid.7203 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Writers are lazy... in a very reasonable manner, I must add, since resources for games are super limited and the player attention span is short and action focused.
    It is still super illogical, but it is a well accepted and kind of necessary trope nowadays.
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CommonTongue

  • Some things just aren't worth overthinking. Just make jokes about it and go along with it.

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