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“No, no! Say it after me: 'The bees in Bögenhafen buzz mainly about the burg.' You don't want to sound like an illiterate Ostlander, do you?”
—An Altdorf speech tutor[3h]
Empire Shield

An icon of the Empire, the realm of the Old World where Reikspiel is the native language.

The citizens of the Empire speak the most widely-used Old Worlder tongue, known as Reikspiel. Their speech is the standard by which other speakers of the language are judged.[1h]

As the professors of the Empire's universities will happily explain to anyone with a few hours to spare, the Empire was the first Human nation to develop a written language, and the country has a wealth of literature in the libraries of its towns and cities. Unfortunately, the proportion of the population that can actually read and write is quite small.[1h]

Modern Reikspiel is a direct descendant of the tongue once spoken by the God-King Sigmar when he still walked as a mortal over twenty-five hundred years ago. It manifests in uncounted discrete dialects from across the Empire, most of which are mutually intelligible.[7a]

The language of Sigmar's ancient Unberogen tribe was formalised and a written form was created using Classical characters influenced by Dwarf runes, creating the language which is referred to as Old Reikspiel and is the direct ancestor of the present-day tongue of the Empire.[4a]

Dialects

  • Reikland – Reiklanders quickly adopt words from foreign languages, and speak with a clear, almost upper class diction. Noble finishing schools often teach their Students to speak with a Reikland accent, as it is acceptable anywhere.[3h]
  • Middenland – Middenlanders use harsh tones, much like Nordlanders, however their accent is more famed for its use of archaic words and grammar. They refuse to acknowledge many of the foreign terms that have penetrated Reikspiel.[3c]
  • Nordland – a Nordlander's accent is one of the most distinctive of the Empire. Their speech is very harsh and fast, almost barked out rather than spoken. Nordland singing is said to sound “like gravel in a barrel rolling down a hill.”[3e]
  • Wissenland – Wissenlanders soften Reikspiel, and deliver it in a monotone that some folk find exceedingly depressing. Tales of death, liturgies, and mournful plays are sometimes delivered in a Wissenland accent, to heighten the feeling of the piece. This heavy, plain speaking, and practical nature is reflected in the cuisine of Wissenland.[3l] The influence of Dwarf culture is said to be the reason so many Wissenlanders are short and practical in their speech. Little time is given for flowery words or fancy phrases, and even less to artists, poets, and foppish Reiklanders.[3k]
  • Talabecland – Talabeclander speech is smooth with slurred-together words, though the cultured elites of Talabheim prefer to speak “proper” Reikspiel. The rest of the Empire puts this curious speech down to the well-known Talabec tradition of brewing “moonshine” liquor in the woods.[3j]
  • Hochland – the folk of Hochland are known for their positive, warm style of speech more than their accent, which is mild at best. They tend to use a lot of animalistic references in their language.[3b]
  • Averland – Averlanders have a strange, almost “sing-song” element to their speech. They tend to soften harsh words and elongate vowels. Many artists and young nobles with pretensions to poetry imitate an Averland accent, in a belief that all great geniuses are touched by madness.[3a]
  • Stirland – visitors often find it hard to get round the rustic accent and exceedingly slow speech of Stirlanders, for they often repeat questions, and usually spend a good deal of time pondering before answering. Mummers often use a mocking form of the Stirland accent when representing a slow or rural character in a play.[3i]
  • Ostland – Ostlanders are known for the strange pacing and Kislevite tones of their speech. They frequently pause in the middle of a sentence. The Ostland accent is seldom imitated as it is associated with poverty.[3i]
  • Ostermark – like the folk of Ostland, Ostermarkers have Kislevite tones to their speech. They speak Reikspiel with a distinct accent, the vowels heavily rounded and “th” sounds rendered almost as “d,” something often used to make Ostermarkers the butt of many jokes. Unlike Ostlanders, they have a musical quality to their language. Archaic words forgotten by the rest of the Empire are in frequent use, as are borrowed Kislevite terms. The accent is easy to imitate as it is so distinctive, and is frequently used by drunken nobles as a “comedy” party piece.[3f]
  • Halfling – perhaps because of their isolationist attitude, Halflings have subverted and changed the Imperial tongue in many ways. With fast pacing, slurring of words, and a mish-mash of other accents, the Reikspiel spoken in the Moot can be utterly incomprehensible. Halflings have many slang words and code that change in meaning from year to year. The Thieves’ cant used by Humans is said to be a version of this bastard argot.[3d]
  • Dwarf – Dwarfs are dour and very literal in all things, except when drunk. They use deep bass tones when talking, combined with a distinctive clipped accent. Dwarf language uses little metaphor or simile, thus Dwarfs are sometimes confused by the “flowery” talk of Humans and Elves. Dwarfs are direct, practical and definitive in their speech and actions.[2a]
  • Elf – Elves of all types tend to use moderated, even tones when talking. As Reikspiel is commonly their second tongue, they speak it with a studied formality and precision lacking in most folk. Elves also tend to gesticulate quite a lot, a fact that often causes merriment in the other races.[2a]
  • Border Princes – people in the Border Princes tend to speak an old form of the Reikspiel dialect of Old Worlder, but there will always be a number of individuals familiar with other dialects, as well as the occasional native speaker of foreign tongues such as those of Araby and Cathay.[1b]

Old Reikspiel Lexicon

A

  • Angestag – Startweek[4c]
  • Aubentag – Levyday[4c]

B

  • Backertag – Bakeday[4c]
  • Bezahltag – Taxday[4c]
  • Brauzeit – Brewmonth[4b]

E

  • Erntezeit – Harvest-Tide[4b]

F

G

  • Geheimnistag – Mystery Day[4b]

H

  • Heldenhammer – Hammer of the Goblins[8a]
  • Hexentag – Witching Day[4b]

J

  • Jahrdrung – Year-Turn[4b]

K

  • Kaldezeit – Chillmonth[4b]
  • Konigstag – Kingday[4c]

M

N

  • Nachexen – After-Witching[4b]
  • Nachgeheim – After-Mystery[4b]

P

  • Pflungzeit – Ploughtide[4b]

S

  • Sigmarzeit – Sigmartide[4b]
  • Sommerzeit – Summertide[4b]
  • Sonnstill – Sun Still[4b]

U

  • Ulriczeit – Ulric-Tide[4b]

V

  • Vorgeheim – Fore-Mystery[4b]
  • Vorhexen – Fore-Witching[4b]

W

  • Wellentag – Workday[4c]

Disassembly

A

  • Anges – Start
  • Auben – Levy

B

  • Backer – Bake
  • Bezahl – Tax; specifically Pay as Bezahlen, which makes Bezahltag (Tax Day) ironically "Pay Day" by our definition.
  • Brau – Brew
  • -bst – Less

D

  • Drung – Turn

E

F

G

  • Geheim(nis) – Mystery; specifically Secret .

H

  • Hammer – Hammer
  • Helden – Goblin; however, it is German for "Heroes ."
  • Hexen – Witching; specifically, it's "Witches" which is close enough.

J

K

L

M

  • Mann – Manann
  • Mark – Market
  • Mitt(h)er – Growth
  • Mond – World; however, Mond in German is Moon.
  • Morr – Morr

N

P

S

T

U

  • Ulric – Ulric

V

W

  • Wellen – Work

Z

  • Zeit – Time; though it might also mean Month as well considering Brauzeit.

Trivia

Reikspiel in all its various forms takes much of its syntax and vocabulary from the real-world German language. There are minor exceptions to this use of direct German translations, such as with Sigmar's byname "Heldenhammer." In the Old World, it means "Hammer of Goblins" rather than "Hammer of Heroes."

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition: Core Rulebook
    • 1a: pg. 173
    • 1b: pg. 274
    • 1c: pg. 275
    • 1d: pg. 277
    • 1e: pg. 278
    • 1f: pg. 279
    • 1g: pg. 281
    • 1h: pg. 285
    • 1i: pg. 291
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook
    • 2a: pg. 16
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Sigmar's Heirs
    • 3a: pg. 46
    • 3b: pg. 51
    • 3c: pg. 56
    • 3d: pg. 60
    • 3e: pg. 65
    • 3f: pg. 70
    • 3g: pg. 74
    • 3h: pg. 81
    • 3i: pg. 87
    • 3j: pg. 90
    • 3k: pg. 95
    • 3l: pg. 96
  • 4: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Tome of Salvation
    • 4a: pg. 14
    • 4b: pg. 139
    • 4c: pg. 140
  • 5: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Tome of Corruption
  • 6: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition: Signs of Faith
    • 6a: pg. 14
  • 7: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition: Core Rulebook
    • 7a: pg. 125
  • 8: Warhammer Armies: Empire (7th Edition)
    • 8a: pg. 6

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