Under Feet of Clay
Name of Language – Script – Description and speakers
Aklo – Protesh – The preferred language of sentient creatures of the dark forests, particularly hags and nymphs. Some who expand their arcane power through pacts learn this tongue and speak of vastly more powerful beings associated with the stars and the depths uttering pronouncements in this tongue.
Calopene (Common) – Sophic – The most widely spoken language in Calopius, this is the language forged by the Fire-Thief and the Sophotheon in antiquity. It has local dialects, but they vary in just pronunciation and minor vocabulary. Accents, not unique languages, define the regions of the metropolises.
Celestial – Sophic – The tongue of the gods and their priests, Celestial is the language of the Trisdekatheon and Hupotheon. Priests study this language, and oracles often spontaneously learn this tongue. It bears many similarities to Calopene, but is an elevated form that naturally flows into poetic pronouncements. When written for mortal eyes, the script of the Sages is used. Official documents for the temples, including hymns, homilies, and philosophical treatises, are always written in Celestial.
Cyclops – Titanoch – Rarely heard and even more rarely written, Cyclops is the language of the one-eyed giants who lurk in ruined forts and underground castles. It puts the verb first in every clause, and has no tenses. Instead, temporal modifiers are added after the verb.
Draconic – Ladonic – The tongue of dragons, their lesser kin, cultists, and many schools of wizards, Draconic is a unique tongue with a rich vocabulary for magical phenomenon. Many words to describe magic are borrowed directly from Draconic and into Calopene. While many spellcasters study the tongue, few speak it aloud for fear of being suspected a dragon-cultist loyal to the All-Parent of the Dragons.
Druidic – Druidic – A cloistered script of the druids, little is publicly known of Druidic. Using its own secret script, the language is believed to be able to be hidden in plain sight, written upon the bark of trees or the cracks in stone.
Dwarven – Lithic – A practical language well suited to trade and economics, Dwarven is a fairly simple language to learn and a common one for trading. Even Calopene speakers will prefer the so-called Lithic number system for trade and money, which groups objects in tens and uses a special character called “Zero” in the Dwarven tongue, allowing them to count indefinitely with only ten repeating characters. Many Calopenes criticize the Dwarven language for lacking the neuter gender for nouns, joking that Dwarves “imagine their chairs in skirts,” among other things.
Elven – Elysian – The tongue of the elves is infamous for word order being utterly meaningless in a sentence, with a preference for particular rhythmic phrases instead of intelligible phrases. It is notorious for compounding words together, creating sentences that almost never have more than five words no matter how must description is added. Adjectives attach directly as prefixes and suffixes to their object, with no particular importance given to the order of these additions. While considered ideal for conversations, most elves admit the precision of Celestial or even Calopene in writing their philosophical treatises, though some stubborn elves maintain “pure elven scrolls”.
Giant – Titanoch – A language of titans, giants, and the creatures that are just intelligent enough to imitate them, Giant is a guttural tongue full of hard stops and sonorous vowels. It is almost universally considered harsh to hear and harsher to speak. Famously, the Giant tongue has 59 known words that translate to “kill” in Calopene.
Gnome – Gnomish (Lithic/Sophic) – A unique language that predates a script, the Gnomish language uses a script form of Sophic with supplementary Lithic letters to approximate their spoken language. Language theorists believe it is related to the ancient Halfling tongue and Dwarven, but whatever its origin, Gnomish language is a common tongue for artists, due in no small part to its rich collection of words for colors, shapes, and forms. Those studying anatomy or engineering will dabble in Gnomish due to its deep vocabulary for small items.
Goblin – Lithic/Titanoch – A fairly simple and crude tongue spoken by the goblins of the wild, Goblin when written blends Lithic and Titanoch characters. There is, however, no true Goblin scribal tradition to trace, and where letters could be drawn from either alphabet, Goblin prefers to simply take the one that “fits its neighbors” better. This gives it a surprising aesthetic quality, despite a chittering sound to those listening.
Halfling – Sophic – Though it uses the Sophic script, Halfling is a tongue unrelated to Calopene. Scholars have noted that Halfling and Barbarian tongues have similar verb structures and equal emphasis on consonant blends, leading many to theorize the two may be linked somehow. Halfling authors often omit the vowels from their writings, as most Halflings consider them of minimal importance in a word, but use a unique letter called “Ayn” to signify an open consonant.
High Barbarian (Infernal) – Zorwa – The tongue of barbarian princes, nobles, and religions, Infernal is rarely heard in Calopius save among the best educated Tiefling slaves. Barbarian folklore tells that the tongue was taught by otherworldly beings akin to Tieflings in appearance who were masters of light, flame, and darkness who taught them to mold gold, iron, and steel. Most Calopenes know this is clearly false, a fabrication of deifying living kings.
Low Barbarian (Abyssal) – Zorwa – The common tongue of the Barbarian Lands, Abyssal is a gruffer, simpler form of Infernal with expanded vocabulary for mundane objects. Ill-suited to courtly love poetry or the finer points of narrative, Abyssal prefers a direct and curt form. Citizens of Biasophoros often learn Abyssal, not for love of the language, but to understand the words of barbarian sailors and slaves.
Necril – Elysian – According to legend, some undead gain the power of speech. When their own minds flee them, the undead instead speak in this unnatural tongue. Enough has been preserved by the master necromancers of Chilones that its system can be studied and understood, but it is difficult for living creatures to mimic. Some high-level necromancers converse with their peers exclusively in this tongue as a mark of status.
Orc – Titanoch – What little Orcish is well-known in Calopius is almost exclusively military terms gleaned from the Orcish hordes. Half-Orcs might learn a fuller form of their bestial mother-tongue, but even then the language is incredibly utilitarian with a limited vocabulary. Even among half-orc communities, the Orcish tongue is rarely spoken, save to whisper words among foreigners without detection.
Sphinx – Protesh – The tongue of the monstrous riddle-makers of the mountains, the tongue of Sphinxes is a labyrinthine tangle of rigid forms and subtle meanings. Many scholars study it merely to prove they can master it, and it is famously a topic of ongoing study in Dikethaleos’s College of Rhetoric.
Sylvan – Elysian – Also known as the Wild Tongue. Sylvan is the language of most monsters of the wild, whether the benevolent unicorn, the rapacious centaurs, or the towering treants. In modern Calopius, most people have mixed feelings about learning the tongue. It is unquestionably useful, but many see it as a surrender to the assault of the wilds.
Undercommon – Sophic – A specialized version of Calopene created by cavern-dwelling pockets of dwarves, humans, and fetchlings. Combining slang and an expanded vocabulary for earthen materials and altering the vocabulary to cut down eight verbal forms to two and four declensions to two, Undercommon is a brief and simple language that carries the stigma of the uneducated for those who speak it often.
Vishkanya – Elysian – The tongue of the serpentine people, Vishkanya is rarely spoken outside of family circles. Those who study it notice its preference for complicated verbal structures that mix temporal clauses, yet a near total absence of adverbs.