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Grimace
13 February 2002, 03:33 PM
*shhhhh...don't tell anyone that it's English*

Anyway, to the topic.

With the winter Olympics being held in America this year, it has just brought a thought to my head. It seems that the "common" language of the athletes is English, or (in Star Wars) basic. Now I can understand why they pick up the language...in order to better facilitate their stay in America during the Olympics. Obviously, though, most of these athletes have learned the language well before they came to America for the games. It occurred to me that perhaps they learn English (American...I'm using them interchangable, even though I know there's a difference) because the United States and other English speaking countries are so powerful....we're the "glue" for the world, so to speak.

This whole line of thought lead me to think of Star Wars. Obviously the Empire spoke Basic (English). Since they are the "glue" for the galaxy, it would benefit other races to learn the language as well. Doing so facilitates trade, diplomatic talks, and so forth. My main questions are this:

1. Who was the cause (which race) of Basic becoming....well, Basic? A person could say Humans, but....c'mon, there's way more aliens than humans out there.

2. Who of you GMs out there utilize "racial" languages more often on planets belonging to the race, contrary to using Basic? Most times, when my players journey to other planets, I have the inhabitants (unless they naturally speak Basic) speak their racial language most of the time, forcing the players to make Language rolls to understand more often.

Sabre
13 February 2002, 04:12 PM
As for #1, I'd probably say some sort of galactic conqueror like Xim the Despot who ruled for a period of 20 years or more during which time Basic was established as the common language and after which it simply stuck due to the convenience of having a common language. I believe I read something about the Empire (very biased against aliens) making the official language of all planets within the Empire basic (meaning all forms, speeches, etc are in basic), but I'm guessing they weren't the first to do this.

As for #2, I tried using the different languages thing in a previous campaign because one of the players had a character who was sort of a languages specialist, but otherwise I tend to stick with NPCs the characters can communicate with due to the inconvenience of them being unable to communicate with people I've introduced into the story for a purpose. Obviously when it fits the plot I'd change that, but generally I for one stick with aliens that can be understood.

Wade Trenor
13 February 2002, 04:38 PM
1) Its like Esparanto(?) where the language was formed from a combination of other languages. Basic (as far as I know) was derived from Duro, Bothan, and whatever language humans originally spoke. It was a joint venture by all species to allow for easier communication and understanding.

2) Our old GM often had Rodians and other alien species talking in their native tongue. It meant sometimes we found it hard to complete the mission because the guy who spoke Rodese had gone off to do something else, or once they knew what the Rodian was talking about, they kept it to themself, hoping to make a buck out of their teammates.

Gulmyros
13 February 2002, 07:51 PM
From what I understand, common languages come with conquerors. They dominate a place, and force their language on the conquered people. From there, it's the merchants who spread the language and encourage others to learn it. So first territory, then commerce.

As to native alien languages.... I like to mix it up. If the area is well traveled then most people will speak Basic, unless their species is incapable of it (ie Wookies). If the place is WAY out of touch with the galaxy, then the use of native tongues is increased.

Something else I find enjoyable is to have aliens speak Basic with an accent, or mimic a particular speech impediment. Something easy to do is pick a nation off our globe, and apply that accent to an alien race. Have your Twi'leks talk like old men from China. Sullustans from the middle east. Sluissi from South America. Ubese from Africa. Want to see something funny? Give your Ithorians a slow, southern Kentucky drawl. :)

The other route is to affect the speech. That is, I give all my Mon Cal the raspy voice that Ackbar has in RotJ. When my Rodians speak Basic, I try to keep my teeth together - makes me use my lips to shape sounds like I imagine having a snout would work.

Doing this helps reinforce racial differences and keeps the galaxy from looking so vanilla. At least, to me.

Reverend Strone
13 February 2002, 08:12 PM
I'm with Gulmyros.

I use language and accents to add flavour to my games. It can help make certain NPCs more memorable to players when the GM uses a particular inflection for a character or race.

This is particularly important in the campaign I'm currently running because it's set on Tatooine just as the Empire is beginning to have greater influence in the Outer Rim, so prettymuch everyone speaks Huttese. Players unfamiliar with the lingo have to rely on their compardres who do speak it, just as one would in a foreign country. On Tatooine, I'm reasoning Basic is a second language to many.

There are also so many colonial groups on the planet like Twi-leks and roidians, many of which are either slaves or live in their own versions of Chinatowns within the planet's settlements, who use their own tongues, so the language issue is a big deal in the game.

It's fun having the PC's work hard, and occassionally gives them an edge- eg; one of the characters grew up around Jawas, so not only does he speak Jawa Trade Language as anyone who has to deal with them would, but he also knows their secret tongue as well, giving the party a little advantage when dealing with unfamiliar Jawas. Another has spent alot of time in the wilderness, enough to learn some basic tusken sign-language (I figure different Tusken tribes woukld have distinct dialects, so a common trade lanuage akin to a sign code would exist). this has hepled the group out of a few scrapes that might have lead to flying gaffi sticks otherwise.

Go with different languages I reckon. Used well, it can add spice and interest to a game.

Corsair
13 February 2002, 09:17 PM
Well .. in my game .. even though Basic is very dominant ... other languages are spoken. The most common has been Shyriiwook(sp?). Although, whenever I use this, our ex-gm now PC always starts growling (he would then repeat the growled sentence in english). It was funny at first .. but then it became annoying .. so much so that every time he did that it brough on a death stare from myself and the common phrase "Just say it in english please."

When you have 9 PCs in a mission (this is a one of thing for the current mission I am playing .. it is usually 7PCs .. but that is going to be reduced to 5PCs) it just makes it easier to say "Ok. Im speaking in xxxx to this guy now." Of course .. only the PCs that understand language xxxx would be able to use the info that is heard. I monitor this quite strictly.

I dont really stress about the language spoken too much unless its like information for a particular PC to hear and then take it upon themselves to tell their team mates. Its kinda hard to get people to tell each other information when your players are all inclined to look out for themselves and dont give a toss about the others. I basically told my players that they had to start working as a team or else they were heading for a big fall. They are finally starting to relay information and using different tongues in order to trade information in public places and such .. away from prying ears.

Oly
15 February 2002, 06:49 AM
Originally posted by Grimace
It occurred to me that perhaps they learn English (American...I'm using them interchangable, even though I know there's a difference) because the United States and other English speaking countries are so powerful....we're the "glue" for the world, so to speak.

I think the reason that English is such a dominant language in our world is that it is the dominant language of Britain and much of the globe was once a part of the British Empire (stands to attention and salutes the rising Union Jack). Where our settlers pretty much wiped out the locals it became the obvious prime language (e.g. America or Australia). In other nations it became the language of Government and Business (as we were pretty much running both).

As the British Empire declined (mantains a stiff upper lip as the flag comes down) two main things happened that ensured that English remained the key world language. Firstly in nations that achieved independance many of them maintained English as either a language of Government or Law. The other factor was the stepping out of America as a dominant force onto the world stage.

Anyhow for a SW conclusion to all of that, I get the impression that Basic is a combined effort by several of the space going races which is distincly different from the situation regarding English. Thousands of years of its existance have seen it creep into most corners of the galaxy. Spread through usage and convinience rather than through power or conquering.

Regards,

Oly

Gulmyros
15 February 2002, 03:21 PM
...I get the impression that Basic is a combined effort by several of the space going races which is distincly different from the situation regarding English. Thousands of years of its existance have seen it creep into most corners of the galaxy. Spread through usage and convinience rather than through power or conquering.I still think that somebody carved out a large piece of space-turf and ruled it for a long time. That set the (pardon the pun) basic framework for a common language.

From there, it spread out into the galaxy. It was probably known by a different name (I doubt anybody's native language was initially called Basic, eh?) but since it lasted longer than the people who started it, it became a common tongue - or basic communication.

But your point about usage and convenience is valid. And the big question is WHY would it be convenient? What was the motivating factor that led other cultures to adopt the use of a different language than their own? For what purpose?

I bet it was commerce and trade. The Merchant's guild and organizations like it are responsible for spreading stuff like this on our planet, in your own country, and in SW - even out into space. Once people are speaking the language of money and, in theory, prosperity, it sticks.

So conquering is only the barest beginning of common languages like this. That has to come before the spread of commerce. But once it does, the merchants are responsible.

Anyway, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

BrianDavion
15 February 2002, 03:43 PM
accccord9ing to the rule book for the SWRPG basic IS a mix of varias languages


read the bothan description "because the bothan language was one of those used in the creation of basic they can speak it easily"

Wade Trenor
15 February 2002, 06:53 PM
If you look, the majority of species that contributed to creating Basic originate from the Core worlds. This is where the Republic began as well. As the Republic expanded, other systems had to adopt the language as well.