Jane's Glorantha: Sun County languages

What language do they speak in Sun County? I've seen quite a few guesses at this over the years, from "they all speak Firespeech" to "it's just Sartarite with an accent, innit?" And the NPC stats given don't make things any clearer. In fact there's a sentence on page 6 that should explain it all, but is often overlooked: "They are distinguished further by their language, a dialect recognisably Sartarite, but heavily influenced by Old Pavic and Praxian".

I'd like to solve this one by looking at both the history of Sun County and at the stats given for the existing NPCs (since we don't want to have to re-write published material).


"Local" Firespeech Trade Pavic New Pelorian Sartarite Praxian
Solanthos 96/88 88/59 33/00
Invictus 64/36 50/25
Vega 45/37 67/35 17/-
Belvani 75/67 90/90 57/33 13/-
"Guardian of the North" 87 23 32
"Standard Templar" 37/13 25/- 20/-
"Standard Militiaman" 32/- 07/-
Haloric Longfarm 25 13 39 13
Lynnell Turri 07 32
Deleshi Koris 11 39
Promidius 02/00 32/16
Vathmar All-weather 07/00 30/00

A quick look at that should make it clear that "Local" is functionally identical to Pavic. Both are derived from Sartarite, with influence from Old Pavic (Auld Wyrmish) and Praxian. But, that doesn't make them the same language. Functionally identical and mutually comprehensible, yes, but not the same. Let's take a look at a bit of history to see why, and how this can add to the fun of roleplaying in Sun County.

Oh, and let's give this "Local" a name. "Sunnish", say.



When the Sun Domers originally came here in 877, they came from Dragon Pass as allies of the EWF city of Pavis. They would have spoken a Theyalan tongue, the ancestor of modern Sartarite and similar languages. They would also have used words derived from Auld Wyrmish, especially for religious matters, as did their Pavic allies. And, of course, the men would have used Firespeech, the women Earthspeech.

The fall of Pavis and of the EWF lessened the impact of Wyrmish languages on Sun County. Those words which were actually lost due to their draconic origin (and were still needed!) would have been replaced, probably from Firespeech. But during the Solitude of Testing, Sunnish developed separately from Sartarite and Pavic, with a much greater Praxian influence. For decades at a time, Sun County was ruled by Praxian-speaking nomads. The elite would have spoken Praxian: Sunnish was for the commoners. I doubt if the Praxians ever tried to ban the language, as there are no signs of its having been weakened the way Welsh has in the RW, but changes would have occured. Think of the English words for domestic animals and the meat they produce: "cow", "swine" to the Saxon farmer, "beef", "pork" to the Norman overlord. To add another influence, the Sun Domers deal with the river-folk, trading grain for irrigation. No doubt many of their water-related words are derived from Boatspeech.

Then New Pavis was founded, and a flood of Sartarite Sun Domers came to Sun County. They took over. And they spoke pure Sartarite. The new overlords had arrived!

[A quick interjection here: modern Pavic is the language that arrived from Sartar in 1550, and has been reinforced by more Sartarite immigrants every year since. If it differs from Sartarite at all, it has had only 70 years in which to do it. Modern American English has been separated from real English for several centuries, and they're still basically the same language, as is Australian English. So as far as I'm concerned, Pavic = Sartarite, with only a slight accent and some odd phrases to add game interest.]



Modern Sun County is, of course, a meritocracy. With no bias at all. Honest. Well, maybe just a little bit....  So we can conclude that:

How you represent these languages is up to you and whatever stereotypes you and your players associate with accents. If most of the PCs are speakers of Sunnish, then Sartarite/Pavic should have an accent associated with brash newcomers with too much money: personally I'd use an American accent. If most PCs are Sartarite, then make modern Sunnish something bucolic with plenty of slang: West Country, Yorkshire, whatever you can do consistently without giggling too much. And Old Sunnish would be very formal English with an Oxford accent. But then, if you're not from the south of England like I am, this lot may have totally different meanings for you. Go on, make it up. The only rule is to have fun.

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