A language is a lexicon of words that various characters use to speak to each other and communicate. In World of Warcraft, most races have a unique language they speak that only they can understand. Each faction shares a common language of the dominant race (Orcish for Horde and Common for Alliance). A language may or may not have an associated alphabet for writing. Several languages may share the same alphabet, or may have a specific alphabet used only for that language.
It should be noted that traditionally (in the RTS games and the pen & paper RPG) almost all intelligent races speak Common. The ability for player characters to learn additional languages was planned early in World of Warcraft but was not developed, likely due to the tendency of cross-faction communication to be insulting and profane. The Forsaken were originally able to speak Common and thus communicate with Alliance players, but this was removed with the introduction of Gutterspeak due to, once again, the tendency of cross-faction communication to be insulting and profane. For a long time, it seemed unlikely that this functionality would ever be added.
Years later, when the pandaren joined the Horde and the Alliance, players could speak the same language, but not understand those of the opposite faction. With the introduction of the demon hunters, however, who all speak Demonic, Alliance and Horde cross-faction communication was reintroduced to the game. At the same time, the language barrier that had come between Horde and Alliance pandaren was lifted. With the Thalassian speaking void elves joining the Alliance, yet another channel for cross-faction communication was opened. Cross-faction communication is restricted to say and yell, and players will not be able to understand custom emotes from players of the opposite faction.
|Stormwind humans, Gilnean worgen, Kul Tiran humans
|Ironforge dwarves, Dark Iron dwarves
|Gnomeregan gnomes, Mechagon mechagnomes
|Darnassian night elves
|Exodar draenei, Lightforged draenei
Other known languages
|Races from Kalimdor
|Krenka Clan Centaur
The subject of this section did not make it out of the beta stages.
Changing chat language
The language a player's character speaks, for those with more than one, can be changed by going into the chat menu. Clicking on the "Chat Bubble" on the chat box toolbar, then highlighting "Language" with the cursor, will make a list of known languages to appear. From there, the player can click one to choose which language they prefer to speak.
It may be worth mentioning that when the language is changed, it only affects say, yell, guild, and party chat. General and whispers will be unaffected. Also, it tends to irritate a player's guild when they speak their "native" language.
Early on in classic World of Warcraft, the language filters between factions did not change numbers and symbols, only letters. This allowed for communication and, more frequently, insults to be shared between Alliance and Horde players until it was eventually patched.
European realms and real-world languages
European realms are each associated with a real-world language such as English or French. In battlegrounds and the Dungeon Finder, players are grouped only with players of the same language. However, Alliance players in a battleground may speak a different language than Horde players. In that case, even being able to translate between Common and Orcish would leave another barrier for many players.
As with many other features of the Warcraft setting, many of the languages are derived from early fantasy or the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game — not in the sense of the actual languages, but in what kinds of languages are present in a given world. This connection is mostly obvious from the shared culture and parallels or outright duplication of language names, primarily on the outer reaches of Warcraft lore that appear in the Warcraft RPG — which started out as an offshoot of Dungeons and Dragons.
- Language names that are the same or re-used from in Warcraft
- Early in World of Warcraft's development, Blizzard planned for player characters to be able to learn the in-game languages of other races, including those of the opposing faction, as part of a secondary skill. This idea was scrapped, and characters ended up only being able to speak their race's starting languages. However, as a leftover of the original idea, languages continued to be displayed as a learnable skill in the skills tab—even though they were maxed out by default and no new languages could be added—up until patch 4.0.1, at which point they were moved to the Spellbook.
- ^ Frankal Stonebridge#Quotes
- ^ Honeyback_Hive#Finding_the_hive
- ^ Okir gossip
- ^ The Sundering, pg. 215
- ^ Origins
- ^ Day of the Dragon, pg. 167
- ^ World of Warcraft: Traveler, pg. 53
- ^ Cukkaw
- ^ http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/speakLanguage.htm
- ^ Justin Joseph 2003-05-14. King_of_Dragons Notes from 2003 World of Warcraft preview. MMORPG.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-31. “Languages will work like this: Orcs start out speaking only Orcish, any characters of another race's text will show up as converted text, and the same is true with another race seeing your text. You can learn other race's languages, but not easy.”
- ^ Jeff Green & Thierry Nguyen 2003-10-01. Computer Gaming World Issue 231 (pg. 94). Computer Gaming World Museum. Retrieved on 2023-03-23. “Depending on your race and class, you'll be able to specialize in a number of diverse skills, such as first aid, alchemy, cooking, languages, herbalism, mounts, and lockpicking.”
- ^ Katricia 2004-03-22. World of Warcraft General Discussion: Archived Q&As. Archived from the original on 2004-04-13. “Will players have the ability to change factions (from Horde to Alliance)? / No, but it will be possible to learn languages and communicate with players of the opposing faction.”