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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,[3] but most other races used that term to refer to the runic alphabet in which the language was written.[4]

Although the language in its pure form and exclusive vocabulary had fallen somewhat in disuse by the mid‒14th century DR, Dwarvish was still found all over Faerûn inscribed into weapons, buildings and mystical items.[5]

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.[5]

History[]

Originating from the ancient Elder language, Dwarvish saw many incarnations and variations.[5]

Although once a strong and exclusive language, actual Dwarvish words only made up a fraction of the words used by dwarves by the mid‒14th century DR. Many dwarves tended to speak common mixed with Dwarvish words. Dwarven record-keepers and historians were among the few left that could speak whole verses in pure Dwarvish.[5]

Dialects[]

Being such an old language, Dwarvish had been subject to various changes over the generations and had spawned numerous dialects. All of these dialects employed Dethek as their written alphabet.[6]

Kurit[]

This dialect was used by arctic dwarves. The language was strongly influenced by Uluik, the language spoken by human colonies in the nearby Great Glacier.[7]

Riftspeak[]

The dialect of the gold dwarves, Riftspeak was one of the oldest dialects and had barely changed in over 10,000 years. This was probably due to the great care gold dwarves took in learning languages. Gold dwarves were one of the most literate races of dwarves in Faerûn.[8]

Duergan[]

Duergan originated from Shanatan, the dialect of the shield dwarves. Since the split, Duergan had changed dramatically, leaving it as one of the most altered Dwarvish dialects. The drow and illithid influences in this dialect were hard to ignore, having altered its vocabulary and grammatical structure.[9]

Shanatan[]

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

Urdunnir dwarves used an older version of Shanatan, that more closely resembled the language in its early years.[11]

Galenan[]

Eastern shield dwarves used a different dialect to their western cousins. Galenan was a form of Dwarvish strongly influenced by the human dialect Damaran.[12]

Authalan[]

Wild dwarves used an ancient and simplified version of the Riftspeak dialect. Authalan also had noticeable Tashalan and Chultan influences. Literate wild dwarves were extremely rare.[13]

Writing System[]

Main article: Dethek

All Dwarvish languages used a runic script known as Dethek. Dethek runes were rarely written on paper or cloth due to the short life and fragile nature of such materials. Runes were usually carved or scraped into stone or metal, be it the walls of a building or the blade of a sword.[5]

An example showing Dethek letters, symbols, and punctuation.

Alphabet[]

The Dethek runic alphabet consisted of 24 characters. This was because w, x and z were represented by the same character.[14] This may be confusing for humans trying to translate into common.[citation needed]

The Dethek alphabet.

Grammar[]

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.[citation needed]

Appendix[]

See Also[]

Further Reading[]


References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 123. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  2. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 103. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  3. Thomas M. Costa (1999). “Speaking in Tongues”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon Annual #4 (TSR, Inc), p. 29.
  4. 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.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Ed Greenwood (October 1990). Dwarves Deep. (TSR, Inc.), p. 11. ISBN 0-88038-880-3.
  6. 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.
  7. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  8. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  9. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. 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. 22. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  12. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  13. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 24. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  14. Ed Greenwood (October 1990). Dwarves Deep. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 0-88038-880-3.