Prophecy: Languages


Despite the great size
of the Flanaess, only six tongues are recognized as actual
languages: Flan, Suloise, Ancient Baklunish, Old Oeridian, Common
and the Rhennee cant. Rhennee is considered less important in the
Flanaess than the other five. A number of dialects exist, but these
are not considered languages due to their close similarity to the
major languages or their limited numbers of speakers.

The foremost authority
on languages in northeastern Oerik is Revort Leyhar at the Grey
College of the University of Greyhawk. His 44-volume work, Exegesis of Linguistic Usage by the Flanaess
, examines each language and dialect in painstaking
detail. A brief summary follows.A language tree showing the derivations of
each language grouping is also available.

Major Languages

Flan:The language of the
original nomadic peoples of the Flanaess, Flan is the oldest
language still spoken in modern times. The current version of Flan,
spoken by the Tenhas, has changed considerably from the original.
Despite these changes, the language is stagnant and inappropriate
for describing modern concepts and technology. The vocabulary and
syntax are not nearly flexible enough to express ideas and objects
that were unknown to the original

Suloise:The tongue of the Suel
peoples, this language is all but dead, thanks in large part to the
Rain of Colorless Fire. The only known modern speakers of Suloise
are the members of the Scarlet Brotherhood (where it is the only
language permitted within its hierarchy), and the lawyers of
Greyhawk. Others who study Suloise do so primarily as a written
language in order to study the ancient tomes of the Suel

This language survives among the Paynim
tribes and certain clans in Zeif Tusmit and others. It is always
used in formal addresses and commercial dealings. Baklunish is one
of the roots of modern Common.

Old Oeridian:One of the
“younger” languages in the Flanaess, Oeridian was believed to be a
pure tongue (having changed very little over the centuries) until
Revort Leyhar proved otherwise. In his essays, Leyhar points out
that a language as widespread as Oeridian could not have remained
free of outside influences. Oeridian is still widely used in the
lands of the former Great Kingdom, and is used almost exclusively
by scribes, lawyers, clerks and similar professionals. Their
critics maintain that the only reason these people still use the
old tongue is to exclude speakers of “mere” Common and to maintain
a monopoly on their professions. Libraries and archives are filled
with official documents and ancient tomes written in

The newest language spoken in the Flanaess, Common is a blend of
Old Oeridian and Ancient Baklunish. It is the most widely spoken
language in Greyhawk, even among native speakers of other tongues.
Anyone who plans to travel across national or cultural boundaries
understands the need to speak at least some Common. This language
evolved, in part, from the need for translations; certain languages
cannot be translated directly to other languages. Common forms the
bridge, allowing a language to be translated first into Common,
then into the target language. It has become the universal language
for trade and diplomacy.

Rhennee Cant:Though usually ignored in most
writings or languages, Rhennee cant was studied by Revort Leyhar in
some detail, using means he does not describe. He did not group it
with other Flanaess languages, instead stating that its roots were
of unknown origin but that it was a complete language, not a true
“cant.’ The private language of the Rhennee has great flexibility
and has incorporated many terms and phrases from other Flanaess
tongues, particularly Old Oeridian and Common, with many
specialized terms borrowed from mariners and thieves. Because this
language has so few speakers (only the Rhennee) and may come from
another world entirely, it is not considered one of the five “true”
tongues of eastern Oerik.


An Oeridian tribal language,
Ferral is now a guarded secret. It is spoken only by officials of
the Iron League, and is used primarily for commands and purposes of
identification. It is not a true living language, and amounts to
little more than a code – a set of signals and labels. Most
expressions are discrete: Ferral does not have the capability to
mix elements to form new concepts.

Nyrondese:Common is the basis for this
dialect, which adds elements from an Oeridian tribal tongue. It is
used in Nyrond,, primarily by peasants and

Fruz (the Cold Tongue): This
dialect is primarily Suloise with Flan influences. It is spoken by
the Frost, Snow and Ice Barbarians. Even fluent speakers of Suloise
find it hard to comprehend.

Velondi: Used only in isolated areas of Veluna and its northern
borders this is an Oeridian tribal tongue with no written

Keolandish: Spoken  in
Keoland  and surrounding areas, this
is a dialect of Old Oeridian. Variations are noticeable from
village to village.

This obscure dialect of
Suloise was used only in the Spindrift Isles but is nearly extinct
at this time. It bears no similarity to Fruz. Spoken primarily by
seamen and voyagers, it has an amazing degree of detail with regard
to weather conditions and phenomena at sea. It has no written

Lendorian Elvish:
This complex language
is used by aquatic and high elves of the Isles. It is difficult to
translate into anything but other elven


assortment of standard symbols has evolved as a pictorial analog to
the Common tongue. While hardly comprehensive, the symbols convey
important information to speakers of any language. They are often
carved or scrawled in prominent places as warnings of danger
nearby. For a drawing of the glyphs, please see the facing page.
Many societies, groups and guilds have their own secret rune or
glyph languages, as well.


The careful
reader may notice that a single entity in the GREYHAWK campaign –
be it a person, place or thing – may have several
similar‑sounding names in different products. Folk common and
learned, great and small, tend to disregard linguistic precision in
everyday speech. Some of the many variations in nomenclature used
across the Flanaess follow. Variations like these may be used in
game play by players to give more flavor to the campaign. The
volume you hold uses the most commonly accepted nomenclature when
identifying people and places.

Some changes
are minor. The Merchants’ and Traders’ Union of Greyhawk is also
called the Union (or Guild) of Merchants and Traders. The Union of
Moneychangers and Pawnbrokers is sometimes called the Union of
Moneylenders and Pawnbrokers, as this union makes loans to guilds
and individuals. The Knights of Holy Shielding are also called the
Knights of the Shield or the Knights of the Holy Shielding. The
Spindrift Isles are lately called the Lendore Isles, though Lendore
Isle is actually only the largest island of the cluster.

The problem
is worse when talking about states and peoples in singular, plural
and possessive forms. Persons from the Kingdom of Nyrond are
Nyrondese, Nyrondel, Nyrondal, Nyronders, Nyrondians or even
Nyrondish. Persons ftom Onnwal (also spelled Onwal, Onwall or
Orinwall) are Ormwalers, Ormwalans or Ormwalish. People of the
Kingdom of Sunndi are Sunnd, Sunndi, or Sunndians; those of Sterich
are Sterish or Sterichers. The Oeridian tribe that founded the
Kingdom of Aerdy was the Aerdi or Aerdy. Persons from Greyhawk are
Greyhawkers or Greyhawk folk; those from the Duchy of Tenh are
Tenha, Tenhas or Tennese. Elves from the Spindrifts are sometimes
called Lendorian or Lendorese.

The names of
the human races are subject to many variant spellings. The Flan are
also Flannae or Flannish; the Suloise are also Suel or Suelites;
the Oeridians are also Oerids. A few racial names change little in
any form (an example: “A Rhennee wearing Rhennee armor joined those
other Rhennee and left on that Rhennee barge”).

enhancements, such as adding “Town” after the name of a village or
city (for example, Hardby Town), are not uncommon. Terms for
communities (hamlet, village, town, city) are casually applied even
in formal speech and writing. Safeton, Narwell, Hardby and Elmshire
might be called villages by those who hold thern in low esteem, or
cities by those who think them important. They are in fact

“creative spelling” is inevitable in such a massive setting as the
Flanaess – or “Flaness,” as some write it. Keoland becomes
“Keoghland: ‘Urnst becomes “Ernst,” and so forth. Personal names
are subject to some creative spelling as well. Sevvord Redbeard,
the grim Master of Stonehold, is “Seuvord” in some sources. Lord
Baron Lexnol of Ratik is ‘Archbaron Lexol” to some. Ewerd Destron,
the szek of Onnwal before the Greyhawk Wars, became “Elverd”; Duke
Karll of Urnst became “Karl”; and the mysterious Mage of the Vale,
Jaran Krimmeeah became “Jason Krimeah” in several
sources. Misspellings
can be repeated
unknowingly in later works, causing careful scholars to pull out
their hair. The actual name of the Lord Mayor of the City of
Greyhawk, for instance, is Nerof Gasgol, but when his last name is
pronounced the “o” sounds like an “a” (Gasgal), and that is what
everyone thinks his name is when they write it out. He has long ago
given up trying to correct the error, so it remains Gasgal

Old names may
change, but they never die. Nyrond was once known as “Nehron,”
after the Oeridian tribe that settled there, and the latter
spelling shows up even today. (Nehron eventually became Nyrond, the
name of a noble house allied with Rax until Nyrond declared
independence.) The Hold of Stonefist is now Stonehold, but many
call it by its old name; its inhabitants, once called Holders or
Stonefisters, are now Stoneholders (or Fists, though this properly
means only the war bands).

the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy and the United Kingdom of
Ahlissa have alternate names; many still call this region “The
former Great Kingdorn,” regardless of the current political
situation. No one is sure what to call the regions once known as
the Duchy of Tenh and the Hold of the Sea Princes, given their
civil chaos and internal military conflicts. The Duchy of Geoff,
invaded by giants and humanoids almost a decade ago, is still
called that by everyone except the invaders.

Murlynd, the most
peculiar hero-god known, was called Merlund or something similar
during his mortal life; variant spellings appear in many works.
Zagyg the demigod is often called the Mad Archmage or identified by
his mortal name, Zagig Yragerne. The castle Zagig built is
variously called Castle Greyhawk, Greyhawk Castle, the ruins of
Greyhawk, the Greyhawk ruins, the dungeons of Greyhawk, Zagiis
Folly and so forth.

In short, the
nomenclature of the Flanaess is like everything else in this
fascinating land: vivid, varied and full of surprises.