Created By: Jordan on November 9, 2011 Last Edited By: Jordan on September 10, 2012

Noble Tongue

A language spoken by nobility in addition to whatever the common language is

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Trope
This is definitely Truth in Television, as in European history, Latin, French, and Italian were this, and Persian has had this role in the Muslim world. However, I was more thinking of the use of this for a Con Lang in fantasy works. Often, whatever the common language is will be 'translated' as English, but this language will actually be shown. In light of the real life examples of this, one of these will often sound Latinate.

Examples:
  • In Mistborn, there is the Latin-like High Imperial
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, in addition to speaking the "Common Tongue" (i.e. English), Westerosi nobility are shown knowing High Valyrian, the Latin-like language of a likely Rome-like lost civilization. It often functions as a lingua franca in the series, as dialects of Valyrian are spoken on the continent of Essos, and so Westerosi who travel there will draw from their knowledge of Valyrian to communicate.
  • Serioli is this in the Dragaera series, although not only is it not at all like Latin, it is a Starfish Language that is painful to listen to.
  • In Discworld, the Quirmian language is basically French and aristocratic young women generally go to boarding school in Quirm. Also naturally in aristocratic use is the old Ankh-Morpork language of Latian.
  • In The Elric Saga, it is frequently specified when someone is speaking The Common Tongue, or The High Speech of Melnibone.

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • November 9, 2011
    Generality
    • The Wheel Of Time has the Old Tongue, though even nobles aren't fluent. It's a mark of status rather than a usable form of communication.
  • November 11, 2011
    aurora369
    War And Peace has many pieces of dialogue spoken by the nobility in French.
  • November 11, 2011
    Koveras
    Can overlap with Language Of Magic, if magic is associated with nobility.

  • November 11, 2011
    Bisected8
    • Greek, Latin were more along the lines of academic languages, since most of the older documents were written in them.
  • November 11, 2011
    EvaUnit01
    Added Elric example.
  • November 11, 2011
    Premonition45
    How about Noble Tongue?
  • November 11, 2011
    Jordan
    Good suggestion, changed the title.

    You know, based on these examples, I'm going to say that it seems very frequent that whatever language is "translated" into English will be called the Common Tongue and the aristocartic language will be High Whatever.
  • November 11, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Would this count?

    Film:
    • In Braveheart, the royals speak French while the other characters speak English. This is historically accurate, except for the fact that it wouldn't have been modern English, many of the conquered groups had their own language, etc.

    Compare / contrast Common Tongue.
  • November 11, 2011
    StarryEyed
    • In Tolkien's works, Quenya (High Elven) sometimes functioned this way for the elves of Middle Earth, who otherwise would speak in Sindarin. Similarly, Sindarin acts this way for the nobility of Gondor, who otherwise speak Westron.
  • November 11, 2011
    Andygal
    the Mistborn example needs to be relinked to The Alloy Of Law, as that's the only book so far that has that.
  • November 11, 2011
    Jordan
    ^Sorry. I had read that example and having not read the Mistborn series, assumed that was something mentioned in the main series too.
  • November 12, 2011
    fulltimeD
    The various aristocracies of Dune used special languages for war, IIRC.
  • November 14, 2011
    Antigone3
    ^ Unless something changed in the written-by-son novels, Battle Language was closer to codetalking.
  • November 16, 2011
    Rytex
    Well, in My Inner Life, the King, and the Great Deku Tree spoke in Ye Olde Butchered Englishe.
  • November 16, 2011
    Rytex
    The King and the Great Deku Tree spoke in Ye Olde Butchered Englishe in My Inner life.
  • November 16, 2011
    TBeholder
    I'm unsure about "noble" part, since there are non-hereditary-aristocratic variations of the same.

    Tactical languages, however, is an old and entirely separate thing.
  • November 16, 2011
    Folamh3
    • In Real Life, the British monarchy for many years spoke French exclusively.
  • November 16, 2011
    Generality
    ^ There are TONS of real life examples. If were were to try to compile them, it would take up most of the page. I think we would be best served leaving them off.
  • November 17, 2011
    Chabal2
    ^ Why's that a reason?

    • In the centuries before the US' rise to (super)power, French was the international language for diplomats and nobility.
    • Warhammer 40 K: the Imperium's language is Gothic, of which there are two forms, low and high. Low Gothic is the one transcribed into English and used by all classes, High Gothic is the fake-Latin one used by the more aristocratic, ecclesiastic and technotheocratic classes.
  • November 17, 2011
    Generality
    ^ Because a page consisting entirely of a list of things that really happened is not a trope page. A page that consists mostly of such a list might be, but it would also be cumbersome to read. At least that was my thinking. But I suppose, as long as the Real Life examples were on the bottom of the page, it probably wouldn't do much harm.
  • November 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    So, what exactly it's going to be?
  • November 28, 2011
    Generality
    It's up to the op, I suppose.
  • November 28, 2011
    LarryD
    The Norman Conquest (1066) made the Norman dialect of French the official language of Britain. This was a major factor in the evolution of Old English into Middle English.
  • September 10, 2012
    TBeholder
    @aurora369: that's because this trend was overwhelming at the time... to the point that some nobles were caught as "French spies" because they didn't talk Russian well enough to pass as natives. Oops.

    • In Dark Sun the court of Lalali-Puy uses an archaic dialect, presumably from the age of her youth, which they are taught when ennobled -- the sorcerer-queen of Gulg is known to be a little quirky in general.
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