Half of you will pick up on what’s stuck in my craw from the title alone.
In the core books for 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, each race has exactly one language (with “Common” being the language of humans, spoken as well by everyone else). One race, one language. When I first encountered it, I was too young and uneducated for this to bug me, but now, as a language geek, it drives me nuts.
This is not a new complaint of course, but part of a larger issue.
So, anyway, I’m introduced to D&D’s Forgotten Realms campaign setting. And it has something akin to natural languages! There are a dozen-ish major languages, each spoken by multiple countries! Chondathan, Damaran, Mulhorandi… “Common” is a simplified version of Chondathan! There’s even talk of extinct languages! This is a step forward, I say! But then I notice: it’s only for humans. Elves still speak Elven, Dwarves still speak Dwarven. Dammit.
Next comes Pathfinder. Pathfinder was supposed to be the great, promised evolution of D&D – the natural successor to 3.0 and 3.5, rather than the complete reboot that is D&D 4. In that regard, I would say Pathfinder succeeds admirably.
So I start reading up on the Pathfinder setting. Guess what I find? Plenty of languages for humans, sure, but Elves still speak Elven, and Dwarves still speak Dwarven.
Really, guys? Really? Is this so hard? I mean, nobody’s even asking you to develop the languages themselves. You just need names for languages, and maybe a language family tree if you want to get real fancy.