Ikselam's Theory of Related Languages

 High RealmLow RealmWave-tongueFlame-tongueForest-tongueSky-tongueRiver-speakOld RealmHigh Holy Speech
High Realm013333234
Low Realm103333145
Old Realm344444502
High Holy Speech555555520

This table describes the degree of linguistic separation between different languages spoken in Exalted. If language A is your native tongue, the number in row A, column B (or row B, column A) will tell you a couple things.

  1. The difficulty of deciphering language B if you are not already fluent in it. The roll is Wits + Linguistics for spoken word, Intelligence + Linguistics for written. It's also the difficulty of the Linguistics roll (Attribute not yet determined) to make yourself understood by a speaker of language B.
  2. The Linguistics score you need to have in order to learn language B.
    • I have not yet determined how learning languages should work. You might gain them as usual, with a cap -- probably Linguistics, or Int + Linguistics.
    • Or you could pay a small xp fee -- possibly equal to the degree of separation from your native language.
    • You might also just be able to automatically speak any language whose separation is less than your Linguistics.
      • But maybe your Presence, Performance, Socialize, whatever in that language is capped by your Linguistics score (as with combat abilities and Ride).

The assumptions I made about languages in Creation are as follows:

  • Old Realm and Rathess High Holy Speech are not closely related to any modern human language.
  • Riverspeak is closely related to all modern languages.
  • Directional languages are separation 2 if 90 degrees apart, 3 if 180. Realm dialects are separation 3 from all Threshold languages except Riverspeak.

Observations and suggestions:

  • Riverspeak is the magic bullet. If it's your native language, learning anything else but Old Realm a breeze.
  • This theory doesn't really cover Guild Cant or other pseudo-languages/ cyphers.
  • I suggest that unusual dialects of a language increase its degree of separation by 1.
    • Barbarian tribal languages should probably be glossed as dialects of the appropriate directional language.
    • I'm tempted to make Low Realm a dialect of High Realm, or vice versa.
  • Since this system places a lot of importance on your native language, it would be reasonable to introduce a "Bilingual" or "Polyglot" Merit -- or else give Old Realm an alternate prereq (possibly Lore or Occult), since it seems harsh to make people get Linguistics 4 just to talk to gods -- or to talk to anyone else, if Old Realm happens to be their native tongue.