Once in a while, I will post some random gaming-related tidbit. I do that. Here is another one.
This came about a little while back when I was pondering on how languages and cultures would impact one another when forced to mesh in the slave pens of the Dark Elves, since these people are very important in my Legacy campaign. As a geek, I did some research on how languages mix before I wrote this. It’s short, but gets the basic concepts across. One could probably write a whole book on the subject, but I just wanted to organize my thoughts on the subject rather than work on an anthropology or linguistics thesis.
For many centuries, the Dark Elves have relied upon slavery and plunder as the primary driving forces of their economy. They have roved the world over in search of victims and treasure, and accordingly the slave-pens, cities and fields of the Druchii are filled with living beings from across the globe. Asur are their most prized victims, but hardly the most numerous. The greatest proportion of the Dark Elves’ slaves is drawn instead from the teeming ranks of Humanity. Old Worlders are chained next to Hung and Ikadians (New Worlders), and men from Cathay and Nippon must labor alongside Arabs. Most common are representatives from those lands closest to Naggaroth: the tribes of the Northern Wastes, the New World and the peoples of the Old World. With the discovery of the connections between the Underworld Sea and the west a few centuries ago, an ever-greater influx of slaves from Nippon and Cathay has begun to alter the mix. Naturally, many lifelong slaves are of mixed ancestry. There are also representatives of nearly all of the world’s major nonhuman races, especially Goblins.
This sorry mass of slavery must live, work and die at the pleasure of its masters, and families and social groups are often divided merely out of spite. Though many of the slaves keep to their own ethnic and linguistic group as much as possible, they frequently have little choice in the matter. Accordingly, the slaves of the Dark Elves have developed a wide range of pidgin and creole languages to allow them to communicate amongst themselves. Most of these are built with Dhar-Elthàrin (the language of the Druchii) as their superstrate, since that is the one tongue that most slaves at least share a rudimentary knowledge of. Substrates for these mixed tongues are of course the dominant tongues of the lands from which most of a given area’s slave population is drawn.
Larger populations of slaves such as the huge workforce kept at the logging fields of Clar Karond tend to develop reasonably stable creoles among their principal groups, reinforced when new slaves are born and raised with these as their first languages. The Druchii derisively refer to these mixed languages collectively as Fechàrin, “slave-talk,” and take their existence as evidence that their slaves are inferior by virtue of their failure to completely adopt Dhar-Elthàrin, never mind that few Dark Elves would bother to provide proper tuition to a slave. Slaves with a reasonable grasp of one of these tongues, however, should be able to communicate on at least a rudimentary level with any other group of longtime slaves that they should be shuffled into, and to pick up the local dialect before long.