Common Tongue

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The Common Tongue[1][2][3] or Common Speech[4][5] is a language commonly spoken in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. There are regional accents,[6][7] but these do not result in a lack of comprehensibility.

While some free folk who live beyond the Wall understand the Common Tongue, many clans instead speak local languages.[8] The Thenns, for instance, speak the Old Tongue and can only speak a few words of the Common Tongue.[9]

Language

Differences in speech can be observed between the highborn and lowborn of the Seven Kingdoms.[10][11][12][13] These differences can be found in the sound of their speech,[12][6][14] but also in the use of specific phrases and words. An example is the use of "my lord" by nobles, but "m'lord" by peasants.[15] According to Lord Roose Bolton, peasants pronounce "m'lord" as if they have mud in their mouths.[15] Although the degree of which it is used differs greatly between the common born, the lowborn patois can be seen in multiple further instances:

Example 1: "She ast me to, m'lord," Mycah said. "She ast me to."..."It's not no sword, it's only a stick."[16]
Example 2: "She don't know me," he said, "but I knows her, oh, yes."[17]

Regional accents can lead someone to determine where a person has been born.[6] This is not limited to the regions of Westeros (crownlands, Dorne, Iron Islands, north, Reach, riverlands, stormlands, Vale, westerlands),[6] but also specific cities.[18][19] For example, Tyrion Lannister, a highborn man from Casterly Rock, near Lannisport in the westerlands, tries to evade suspicion by claiming to be a noble's bastard son who grew up in Lannisport,[20] thereby accounting for his speech. Another example is Samwell Tarly, who is identified as a highborn by Pypar, who states that Samwell is "southron, most like near Highgarden", based solely on his speech.[6]

The largest difference within the Seven Kingdoms can be found in Dorne, where the Common Tongue is marked by the influences of the language of the Rhoynar.[4][21] This influence can be found all over Dorne,[4] but most strongly among the salty Dornishmen,[21] who have the most Rhoynish blood.[22] The Dornish speak with a Dornish drawl,[23][24][12] stretching, rolling, or lilting some words.[21] Some describe the Dornish speech as charming.[21]

Quotes

Yes, Westeros has regional accents. I played with the idea of trying to depict them with phonetic misspellings (and indeed I do a little of that, with some less educated characters), but that way lies madness. I try to suggest the accents with syntax and taglines instead.[25]

- George R. R. Martin


"I swear it," she said in the Common Tongue of the Seven Kingdoms that by rights were hers.[26]

- Daenerys Targaryen to Jorah Mormont


Tyrion took a mordant pleasure in inventing the details of the colorful life of Hugor Hill, also known as Yollo, a bastard out of Lannisport. The best lies are seasoned with a bit of truth. The dwarf knew he sounded like a westerman, and a highborn westerman at that, so Hugor must needs be some lordling's by-blow. Born in Lannisport because he knew that city better than Oldtown or King's Landing, and cities were where most dwarfs ended up.[20]

- thoughts of Tyrion Lannister


At least in Dorne they speak the Common Tongue. Like Dornish food and Dornish law, Dornish speech was spiced with the flavors of the Rhoyne, but a man could comprehend it.[4]

- thoughts of Tyrion Lannister

References