Languages of Iberia

These guidelines were originally developed for a “re-envisioning” of the Iberian Tribunal and by necessity there is some cross-over with the languages of the Provencal Tribunal but official rules for Provencal languages are given in Faith and Flame and should take precedence.

As per the details given in The Lion & the Lily: The Normandy Tribunal, page 143, the following Living Languages, each with distinct regional dialects, are spoken in southern France and northern Iberia. Most characters should take the appropriate dialect as a specialty but Educated or well-travelled speakers will have tried hard to rid themselves of their dialect and may have standard specialties (see ArM5, page 66).

Catalan (Catalan, Aranese)
Euskara
Spanish (Asturian, Leonese, Castilian, Aragonese)
Portuguese (Galician, Portuguese)
Mozarab
Arabic (Andalusi, Classical, Derija)
Hebrew
Berber (Tarifit, Kabyle, Tashelhiyt, Zenaga, Tuareg)

Slightly different forms of the Catalan are spoken in the County of Barcelona and the old Frankish March, the eastern lands of the Kingdom of Aragon and throughout Andorra, Valencia and later in the Balearic islands after their conquest by James I of Aragon. Aranese, is spoken only in the small Catalan County of the Val d’Aran, in the valley on the northward face of the Pyrenees that holds the source of the Garonne.

Basque, known as “Euskara” to its speakers, is spoken on both sides of the western Pyrenees and in parts of northern Navarre. It has a multitude of dialects but for simplicity is treated as one highly distinct language, too unrelated to Latin or it’s descendents to be easily understood by anything other than a native speaker. It still uses the Latin script however.

Various dialects of Iberian Romance referred to here as “Spanish” are spoken in the old Kingdoms of Asturias/Old Leon, Castile and the southern parts of Navarre but Castilian is emerging as the dominant dialect in the newly won central territories south of the Duero and Ebro. Aragonese is spoken throughout the western lands of the Kingdom of Aragon and although there is some influence from Catalan it is easily understood by speakers of Castilian. The older Galician dialect of the Iberian Romance language which would become known as “Portuguese” is spoken only in western Leon (Galicia) and northern Portugal. Portuguese is it’s newer, closely related descendent and the predominant dialect of the Kingdom of Portugal as far south as Lisbon. The terms “Spanish” and “Portuguese” are used here anachronistically to make it easier for the modern Ars Magica player but Iberian characters would never use these terms, insisting that they spoke vernacular Latin, indicating their particular dialect by referring to their place of birth or current home. In terms of game effect, speakers of the various Iberian Romance dialects have little trouble understanding each other. The final Iberian dialect, referred to in the thirteenth century as “Latinus” by its speakers, is actually a collection of closely related dialects spoken in the Islamic controlled areas of southern Iberia until the Christian conquest accelerates after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. It later becomes referred to by scholars as Mozarab and unlike the other Romance languages of Iberia which use the Latin alphabet, it is written using the Arabic alphabet.

The most common Arabic dialect in Iberia is Andalusi, but Derija (Maghrebi Arabic) is spoken in North Africa and by those born across the straits. Classical Arabic remains the language of secular Andalusi scholarship, original poetry and the Qu’ran but is rarely spoken in common day conversations and is being replaced by vernacular such as Latinus and Castilian in poetry and song. Guidelines for using “Arabic as a Hermetic Magical Language” are given in a separate article here.

Although many educated Jews speak and write Hebrew, the tongue used in everyday speech is either Iberian (Castilian) in the Christian North or Arabic in Andalusia and the Maghreb. Most Jews also speak Arabic and the local vernacular of Iberian Romance of the region they live in. The later Sephardic dialect of Ladino (a form of Castilian) is a development of the expulsion of Jews by the later Spanish Crowns in the fifteenth century.

The Berber languages comprise the dialects of Tarifit (Maghreb and Rif), Kabyle (Algeria) and Tashelhiyt (central highlands). Zenaga is spoken by the tribes of south-west Mauretania and the was the primary tongue of the warriors of the Almoravid Empire. Tuareg is a less common dialect of the Berber tribes of the deep south. Berber languages use the North African Tifinagh (Libyan) alphabet or more recently the Arabic alphabet when written. Descendents of Berber families involved in the initial invasion of Visigothic Hispania speak predominantly Arabic – only the warriors and religious heirarchs of the newer Almoravid and Almohad waves speak Berber as their primary tongue and many have a limited fluency in Arabic, equivalent to a Arabic (Derija) score of 3 which permits basic understanding of the Qu’ran and the sermons of the clerics.

Latin remains the scholarly language. Some educated Iberians still speak and write some Latin for formal documents and church correspondence, but particularly in Andalusia, Andalusi Arabic has replaced Hebrew and Latin as the language of scholarship amongst the literate Jewish and Mozarab populations due to the dominance of Arabic literary culture in the 10th and 11th centuries. Greek is found amongst Andalusi, Jewish and Mozarab scholars due to the legacy of translation of classical texts. Spanish (Castilian) will not become the official court language until the reign of Alfonso X.

Same language, different dialects:
-1 penalty to both speakers
Spanish vs Portuguese vs Mozarab
-1 penalty to both speakers
Aragonese vs Catalan
-3 penalty to both speakers

The other pairs are so distinct from each other that comprehension is likely to be based on signing and good guesswork, or magic.

Example: a character from Aragon with Spanish 5 (Aragonese) speaks to fellow Aragonese with an effective score of 6, Spanish speakers with no dialect with an effective score of 5, Castilian dialect speakers with an effective score of 4, Portuguese or Galician speakers with an effective score of 4, Catalan speakers with an effective score of 3 and can communicate with Provencal characters who speak other dialects of Occitan with some difficulty (effective score 2). He can easily communicate with Andalusian Christian speaking Mozarab as his effective applicable score is 4 but cannot be understood by speakers of Arabic, Basque, Berber or French.

By contrast, a character from Castile with Spanish 5 (Castilian) speaks to fellow Castilians with an effective score of 6, Spanish speakers with no dialect with an effective score of 5, Aragonese dialect speakers with an effective score of 4, Portuguese or Galician speakers with an effective score of 4, and has only a rudimentary ability to converse with speakers of Catalan (effective score 1). He can similarly communicate with Andalusian Christian speaking Mozarab as his effective applicable Spanish score is 4 but again cannot be understood by speakers of Arabic, Basque, Berber, French or other Occitan dialects.

Finally, a character from Portugal with Portuguese 5 (Portuguese) speaks to fellow Portuguese with an effective score of 6, Galician speakers with a score of 4, Spanish speakers with no dialect with an effective score of 4 and can only ask basic questions in Catalan (effective score 1). She can converse with Andalusian Christian speaking Mozarab as her effective applicable Spanish score is 4 but cannot be understood by speakers of Arabic, Basque, Berber, French or Occitan.

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