- On Neverwinter Nights
- Next Generation
The Common language was born with the first traders. Around five thousand years before the Great Cataclysm, shortly after many of their dragon masters had perished, the different humanoid races began interacting more with one another and soon began to trade. The Common language started as hand gestures, some as simple as pointing out trade goods and counting with fingers to express value and prices, but even these simple gestures helped the races interact and mingle.
Paradoxically, the Race Wars that raged during these years also contributed to the earliest development of the Common tongue. Scouts and spies served to further the language as they passed information back and forth, and negotiations between leaders often involved bits and pieces of the Common tongue.
Over the years trade continued to grow between the races, and as mercantile transactions between different cultural and racial groups became more common place, a set of common words began to develop between traders of different races. As traders and explorers traveled, these new common words traveled traveled with them, slowly spreading across lands and between races.
Foreign merchants interacted with commoners in their stalls in trade markets across Layonara and even commoners began speaking the language. Education in the new trade language began early; the small child sent to the market to purchase things for his or her mother learned the Common phrases used by the merchants out of necessity.
The structure and origin of Common language is in itself testament to its manner of development. Many Common words began as combinations and bastardizations of words from other languages. Some words derive from a few ' sometimes even three or four ' different tongues. However, other words are distinctly racial in origin. Ores and minerals, for example, frequently have a gnomish or dwarven sound to them, while words associated with forests, animals and magic have stronger connections to the elven language. Each weapon generally has a tinge of the dialect of the people who invented it and used it the most, and terms for food and drink are frequently similar to the local dialect from the region where the goods were harvested or produced.
Religious words developed along the same lines as trade words and the names for goods. As people of faith traveled the lands looking for converts, they spread the language of their gods and goddesses to others. Words strongly associated with a particular deity contain many sounds, syllables, prefixes and suffixes that are indicative of the native language spoken by the majority of that deity's followers. Other races picked up these words and phrases through the teachings of the priests, priestesses, clerics and monks of the land and they became forever part of the Common tongue.
Bards also helped spread the language, frequently traveling the world with missionaries or traders. As they picked up the Common language, they also began to facilitate its spread through their plays and poems in the taverns and markets, and at religious sites.
The Common language was finally codified and written down at the command of Raklin "The True" Diamionar around the year 500 A.C. (after Cataclysm). As trade grew and the world seemed to shrink, the emperor of Layonara realized that he needed to teach his subjects the Common language. Scribes spent better than ten years traveling the world, compiling lists and filling notebooks with the different words and peculiarities of the language, and then fixing them into a uniform text. Raklin then had scores of scribes work to produce copies of the text, and these precious manuscripts were distributed to the libraries of temples, monasteries, and other places of learning across the world.
The Common language, born in the markets of the world and codified in its libraries, became the most widely spoken language in the world. Legal matters, warfare, romance, trials, and most business matters were soon conducted in Common, especially when such affairs concerned peoples of different races.
Most adventurers also learned the Common language before venturing out into the world, and while some only managed to learn a few words and phrases, they were the words and phrases they needed to survive. The old languages were'and are'still spoken in countless homes and in their native lands, treasured by their peoples as hallmarks of their unique cultural heritages, but it was the Common language that allowed the many different cultures and humanoid races of Layonara to understand one another.