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Dwarvish or Dwarven was the name for a family of languages used by dwarves. The dwarves called their own language Dethek,[1] but most other races used that term to refer to the runic alphabet in which the language was written.[2]

Although a verbally dying language by 1400 DR[citation needed], Dwarvish was still found all over Faerûn inscribed into weapons, buildings and mystical items.

The language followed dwarves all over Faerûn and beyond, making it an extremely widespread language. Communities and races that had been separated for some time evolved their own dialects.[3]

HistoryEdit

Originating from the ancient Elder language, Dwarvish saw many incarnations and variations.

Although once a strong and exclusive language, actual Dwarvish words only make up a fraction of the words used by dwarves today. Many dwarves tend to speak common littered with Dwarvish words. Dwarven record-keepers and historians are among the few left that could speak whole verses in pure Dwarvish.[3]

DialectsEdit

Being such an old language, Dwarvish has been subject to various changes over the generations and has spawned numerous dialects. All of these dialects employ Dethek as their written alphabet.[4]

KuritEdit

This dialect is used by arctic dwarves. The language is strongly influenced by Uluik, the language spoken by human colonies in the nearby Great Glacier.[5]

RiftspeakEdit

The dialect of the gold dwarves, Riftspeak is one of the oldest dialects and has barely changed in over 10,000 years. This is probably due to the great care gold dwarves take in learning languages. Gold dwarves are one of the most literate races of dwarf in Faerûn.[6]

DuerganEdit

Duergan originated from Shanatan, the dialect of the shield dwarves. Since the split Duergan has changed dramatically, leaving it as one of the most altered Dwarvish dialects. The drow and illithid influences in this dialect are hard to ignore, having altered its vocabulary and grammatical structure.[7]

ShanatanEdit

Used by western shield dwarves, this dialect could be traced back as far as the founding of Shanatar around −10,800 DR[8]

Urdunnir dwarves used an older version of Shanatan, that more closely resembled the language in its early years.[9]

GalenanEdit

Eastern shield dwarves use a different dialect to their western cousins. Galenan is a form of Dwarvish strongly influenced by the human dialect Damaran.[10]

AuthalanEdit

Wild dwarves use an ancient and simplified version of the Riftspeak dialect. Authalan also has noticeable Tashalan and Chultan influences. Literate wild dwarves are extremely rare.[11]

PhonologyEdit

Little is known about the phonetics of Dwarvish. The Dwarvish language does however resemble Germanic languages of Earth. From this analysis we can presume dwarfish shares the Germanic stress on the root of a word and similar pronunciation rules.[speculation]

Writing systemEdit

Main article: Dethek

All Dwarvish languages use a runic script known as Dethek. Dethek runes are rarely written on paper or cloth due to the short life and fragile nature of such materials. Runes are usually carved or scraped into stone or metal, be it the walls of a building or the blade of a sword.

Dethek example

This example shows Dethek letters, symbols and punctuation.

AlphabetEdit

The Dethek runic alphabet consists of 24 characters. This is because w, x and z are represented by the same character.[12] This may be confusing for humans trying to translate into common.

Dethek alphabet

GrammarEdit

Dwarvish had similar grammatical constructs to common. This was no doubt due to the fact that both languages evolved alongside one another. These shared rules meant that speakers of common would have found it relatively easy to learn and translate Dwarvish.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Thomas M. Costa (1999). “Speaking in Tongues”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon Annual #4 (TSR, Inc), p. 29.
  2. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 156. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ed Greenwood (1990). Dwarves Deep. (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-88038-880-3.
  4. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 22, 24. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  5. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  6. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  7. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  8. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  9. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 22. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  10. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  11. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 24. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  12. Ed Greenwood (1990). Dwarves Deep. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-880-3.

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