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The Young Maester

Potential for different dialects, languages, and cultural identities in Westeros.

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It always bothered me that George never made Westeros more culturally/linguistically different between different kingdoms and regions. 

The north could’ve kept to the first men tongue. Dorne could’ve spoken a language mixed between andal and rhoynar. 

The Vale could’ve been much more culturally different than the rest of the kingdoms. With most of the Andals arriving through the vale.

So much potential for more diverse cultures and languages. It certainly would’ve added more flavour to asoiaf. 

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Don't worry.  Diversity is coming.  But it will happen in the form of refugees from Westeros coming back from Essos at the end of the long winter.  Those people will be changed forever.  Many who went as children will be grey when they return.  There will be people from the Dothraki, Ghiscari, Pentoshi, and many others when our dragon-riding heroine leads them back at the end of the Long Night. 

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Agree wholeheartedly. I would have loved to have seen a little more on linguistic development and etymology. If I recall correctly the North has an accent and unique pronunciation to Westeros. I think it was Ds to Bs. So example could be..

Bran=Duran?

Brandon=Durrandon?

Now I need to research Iron islands to see if they drop the Bs and Ds

 

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14 minutes ago, Skahaz mo Kandaq said:

Don't worry.  Diversity is coming.  But it will happen in the form of refugees from Westeros coming back from Essos at the end of the long winter.  Those people will be changed forever.  Many who went as children will be grey when they return.  There will be people from the Dothraki, Ghiscari, Pentoshi, and many others when our dragon-riding heroine leads them back at the end of the Long Night. 

I always imagined the wall melting and causing a rapid flood. Maybe using the underground tunnels washing away most of the south. The wall is mostly flint and ice on top of limestone. So it could be combustible. Antediluvian. FLOOD FLOW 

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I can't blame the author for avoiding that complexity.

7 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

It always bothered me that George never made Westeros more culturally/linguistically different between different kingdoms and regions. 

Westeros is not so big a place as to isolate the people. 

7 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

The north could’ve kept to the first men tongue. Dorne could’ve spoken a language mixed between andal and rhoynar. 

They had close to 10 thousand years to blend. 

7 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

The Vale could’ve been much more culturally different than the rest of the kingdoms. With most of the Andals arriving through the vale.

So much potential for more diverse cultures and languages. It certainly would’ve added more flavour to asoiaf. 

The flavour is in the East.  The diversity is present from the weepy Qartheen to the murderous Ghis.  Eastern cultures in the novel are more colorful and interesting. 

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7 hours ago, James West said:

I can't blame the author for avoiding that complexity.

Westeros is not so big a place as to isolate the people. 

They had close to 10 thousand years to blend. 

The flavour is in the East.  The diversity is present from the weepy Qartheen to the murderous Ghis.  Eastern cultures in the novel are more colorful and interesting. 

It seemed to me that George didn’t bother with different languages for the convenience of the story. He wanted all characters to be able to communicate with each other. But cultural differences between southern kingdoms especially would’ve been nice.

Westeros isn’t small neither. Obviously due to the andal invasion, most of the southern kingdoms adopted the same faith and tongue. But even still different dialects couldve come out of it. To me it doesn’t make that sense that a peasant from the southern reach speaks the exact same dialect as some other peasant in the vale. 

Agreed that most of the flavour is in the east. However Westeros is the focus of the story, and in a realistically scenario, at least 3-4 different languages would be spoken in Westeros, with some diverse culture. 

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GRRM messed up when he made Westeros the size of South America. I don't think its very plausible a continent that size would all speak the same language.

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13 hours ago, Eliscat said:

I always imagined the wall melting and causing a rapid flood. Maybe using the underground tunnels washing away most of the south. The wall is mostly flint and ice on top of limestone. So it could be combustible. Antediluvian. FLOOD FLOW 

I doubt if the water would reach the mole's town

17 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

It always bothered me that George never made Westeros more culturally/linguistically different between different kingdoms and regions. 

it would take additional 500 pages to write nad additional 2 years to wait, no thanks

Edited by broken one

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Actually, Westeros does have a fair amount of diversity. There's the whole First Men/Andal/Rhoynar thing, that builds three cultures into the story right from the start. The North still has a different religion from the rest of the realm; and Dorne has a distinctly different culture in terms of its food, legal system (prince instead of king), and other distinctions such as allowing women to rule and different sexual taboos (or lack thereof). And in the far North, we have the giants and some other groups who still speak the Old Tongue,  as well as the COTF with their own language, culture, and history.

And across the narrow sea, of course, its Diverse-o-rama. A number of characters from these places (Varys, Melisandre, Jaqen, Sallador Saan) have made their way to Westeros, where their religion and language find their way into the story.

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22 hours ago, James West said:

Westeros is not so big a place as to isolate the people.

It's bigger than Papua New Guinea or Australia. Do you know how linguistically diverse they are? Westeros even as an enormous Wall at its northern border, but the wildlings nonsensically speak the same language all these years later.

Quote

They had close to 10 thousand years to blend. 

10 thousand years would normally mean MORE linguistic diversity. The real South America is less linguistically now compared to the past is because the Spanish & Brazilians colonized it mere centuries ago.

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17 hours ago, broken one said:

I doubt if the water would reach the mole's town

Agree. If the underground tunnels span all of Westeros it may serve as an irrigation system. Polluting with snow melt. Fire and ice.

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7 hours ago, Eliscat said:

Agree. If the underground tunnels span all of Westeros it may serve as an irrigation system. Polluting with snow melt. Fire and ice.

I imagine block of water 200 metres tall,  30 metres deep/thick (how thick is the wall anyway?), the width is unimportant, it would fall along the whole width. gotta divide it by 2 as water would flow north and south (depends on slopes). As it falls and goes in both directions its really not that much and the water level would drop down quickly. I think some black brothers would even survive

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Yeah, George really dropped the ball having the Northers speak Andalish. It makes absolutely no sense.

Cultural differences among the different kingdoms would have been needed too. Seven kingdoms that have been independent during thousands of years shouldn't suddenly become homogeneous after just three centuries. We are told that Jaehaerys the Conciliator united the kingdoms by unifying the legal codes and building roads, but we are never told which were the differences to begin with, or if there was any resistance to the change.

(Given names are a pet peeve of mine: how can there be Rickards at Winterfell, the Arbor and Cape Wrath? Why are there Jons, Jeynes and Donnels absolutely everywhere in Westeros?!)

On 10/20/2020 at 12:05 PM, The Young Maester said:

It seemed to me that George didn’t bother with different languages for the convenience of the story. He wanted all characters to be able to communicate with each other.

It shouldn't be a problem at all. Nearly all the characters of the books are educated noblemen, so all of them would speak Andalish. The Stark kids would be completely fluent, since it's their mother's tongue.

I can't think of any conversation in the books between one commoner from the North and one Southener.

Edited by The hairy bear

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On 10/19/2020 at 8:55 PM, The Young Maester said:

It always bothered me that George never made Westeros more culturally/linguistically different between different kingdoms and regions. 

The north could’ve kept to the first men tongue. Dorne could’ve spoken a language mixed between andal and rhoynar. 

The Vale could’ve been much more culturally different than the rest of the kingdoms. With most of the Andals arriving through the vale.

So much potential for more diverse cultures and languages. It certainly would’ve added more flavour to asoiaf. 

Not only flavour, but the fact that Westeros is so homogenous is completely unrealistic. I wrote in more detail here:

https://militaryfantasy.home.blog/2019/12/11/worldbuilding-problems-westeros/

Basically, Westeros should have at least ten times as many linguistic / ethnic groups as it currently has.

19 hours ago, Aebram said:

Actually, Westeros does have a fair amount of diversity. There's the whole First Men/Andal/Rhoynar thing, that builds three cultures into the story right from the start. The North still has a different religion from the rest of the realm; and Dorne has a distinctly different culture in terms of its food, legal system (prince instead of king), and other distinctions such as allowing women to rule and different sexual taboos (or lack thereof). And in the far North, we have the giants and some other groups who still speak the Old Tongue,  as well as the COTF with their own language, culture, and history.

And across the narrow sea, of course, its Diverse-o-rama. A number of characters from these places (Varys, Melisandre, Jaqen, Sallador Saan) have made their way to Westeros, where their religion and language find their way into the story.

No it doesn't. Westeros is ridiculously undiverse. It is area the size of Europe, yet its linguistic and ethnic diversity suggests something smaller than Great Britain. I wrote about it in the link above, but suffice to say: for the continent so large, having only three ethnic groups and associated languages is impossible.

On 10/20/2020 at 12:05 PM, The Young Maester said:

Agreed that most of the flavour is in the east. However Westeros is the focus of the story, and in a realistically scenario, at least 3-4 different languages would be spoken in Westeros, with some diverse culture. 

Try 30 - 40; see above for details.

Edited by Aldarion
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3 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Yeah, George really dropped the ball having the Northers speak Andalish. It makes absolutely no sense.

This is what bothers me the most. Like the northmen definitely disliked the andals. So why adopt the language of your mortal enemy. If anything they should’ve modernised the first men tongue like the normans did with the old English tongue. 

3 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

(Given names are a pet peeve of mine: how can there be Rickards at Winterfell, the Arbor and Cape Wrath? Why are there Jons, Jeynes and Donnels absolutely everywhere in Westeros?!)

This is another issue. However for me it’s understandable, because I can imagine how stressful it most be to come up with lots of fictional names. Especially if you are going to separate each name into different unique cultures.

3 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

It shouldn't be a problem at all. Nearly all the characters of the books are educated noblemen, so all of them would speak Andalish. The Stark kids would be completely fluent, since it's their mother's tongue.

I can't think of any conversation in the books between one commoner from the North and one Southener.

You can use the scotts as an example. I’m not sure in which century during the Middle Ages exactly. But I remember reading somewhere that Scottish nobles were taught french. This helped communicate with both English and french nobles (the nobles they interacted the most with). Also because France was, as you would say the most influential kingdom in Western Europe.

3 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I can't think of any conversation in the books between one commoner from the North and one Southener.

Probably in the rare occasion in which a northern fisher finds himself on the fingers of the vale. 

1 hour ago, Aldarion said:

Try 30 - 40; see above for details.

Thanks will give a read.

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5 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I can't think of any conversation in the books between one commoner from the North and one Southener.

Nage and the man-at-arms in King's Langing (escorting Jaime)? It might have been Walton, still the criterion is met I think.

Edited by broken one

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On 10/20/2020 at 4:23 AM, James West said:

They had close to 10 thousand years to blend. 

With whom?? Certainly you don't see waves of migration to either side of the Neck, the only ones that would've blend to a certain extent would be the nobility. But truth be told, not even during the Targaryen/Baratheon era the North mixed so much.

But if the Realm was as diverse as OP wanted it to be, you can only have an Austria-Hungary type of situation, that's just a tinderbox.

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5 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Cultural differences among the different kingdoms would have been needed too. Seven kingdoms that have been independent during thousands of years shouldn't suddenly become homogeneous after just three centuries. We are told that Jaehaerys the Conciliator united the kingdoms by unifying the legal codes and building roads, but we are never told which were the differences to begin with, or if there was any resistance to the change.

I don't really think the South was ever different, there's simply no difference between the Reach, Westerlands, Stormlands, Crownlands and the Vale. Absolutely none, they were never different, before the Andal came they were the same but followers of the Old Gods, afterwards the same but followers of the Seven.

The North big as it is, ditto.

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10 minutes ago, frenin said:

But if the Realm was as diverse as OP wanted it to be, you can only have an Austria-Hungary type of situation, that's just a tinderbox.

Austria-Hungary lasted several centuries, longer than many much smaller and culturally and ethnically more homogenous states (Croatia and Hungary joined Austrian Empire in 1527., and Austria-Hungary as such was formed in 1867. and lasted until 1918.). But closer approximation I think would actually be Roman Empire, though in that case you would not see forcible suppression of language (meaning all the dozens of tongues I noted would still be spoken). Specifically for Britain, Celtic did not die out until Anglo-Saxon conquest while on continent it merged with Latin, so you would have the situation where North still speaks tongues of the First Men, while southern kingdoms have some blend of First Men and Andal languages.

4 minutes ago, frenin said:

I don't really think the South was ever different, there's simply no difference between the Reach, Westerlands, Stormlands, Crownlands and the Vale. Absolutely none, they were never different, before the Andal came they were the same but followers of the Old Gods, afterwards the same but followers of the Seven.

The North big as it is, ditto.

It wasn't, but it should have been.

Edited by Aldarion

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Just now, Aldarion said:

Austria-Hungary lasted several centuries, longer than many much smaller and culturally and ethnically more homogenous states (Croatia and Hungary joined Austrian Empire in 1527., and Austria-Hungary as such was formed in 1867. and lasted until 1918.). But closer approximation I think would actually be Roman Empire, though in that case you would not see forcible suppression of language (meaning all the dozens of tongues I noted would still be spoken). Specifically for Britain, Celtic did not die out until Anglo-Saxon conquest while on continent it merged with Latin, so you would have the situation where North still speaks tongues of the First Men, while southern kingdoms have some blend of First Men and Andal languages.

That it lasted longer doesn't mean it was never a tinderbox, it was. 

I agree on the rest.

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