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I have an Iruxi (lizardfolk) monk who would consider it rude to ask about someone's gender in normal discussion -- unlike those mammals, they just don't obsess about the dangly bits on other people's bodies. How they communicate with other people, however, would depend heavily on the way that the Taldane (Common) language handles gender. Is there any documentation from Paizo regarding the Inner Sea setting that would indicate how it works? AFAICT, I would need to choose between:

  1. a language that has no gendered pronouns or articles, in which case it wouldn't ever come up in conversation;

  2. a language with both gendered and non-gendered pronouns and articles, in which case it might be noticed in conversation but not matter much;

  3. a language like Spanish, where everything is gendered, and the need to choose one option over another could cause misunderstandings.

To clarify, I am not asking what language I would use -- I assume the table speaks whatever language its players are most comfortable using. This is an RP question about the in-game characteristics of the language that the character would speak.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It could be worth noting that while Taldane is the common language of the Inner Sea region, other locations in Golarion have different common languages (such as Mwangi in the Mwangi Expanse, or Tien in Tian Xia). \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Jan 8 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the answer for these other regions' common tongues is also an interesting one, though I was looking for the answer as it regards the Inner Sea. Is there a tag I should have added for that? \$\endgroup\$
    – papidave
    Jan 8 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are there any real life languages like your 2nd option? Or do you consider "it" as non-gendered? \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Jan 9 at 7:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh, this is an interesting one. My first reaction was "English" (as an English speaker), followed by "whatever your table's primary language is" on further thought. But now I'm not sure... What do non-English tables generally play Common as? English? Latin? French? The local dialect? \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Jan 9 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András, I would say that "it" is non-gendered, but it is not suitable for describing persons. That's why I didn't mention "English" for option #2 -- we typically end up using "they", which confuses people who don't understand it's use for single individuals. \$\endgroup\$
    – papidave
    Jan 10 at 17:17

2 Answers 2

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There is no official language analogues for Golarion

The Inner Sea World Guide and Pathfinder Wiki seem to me the best sources of knowledge on this matter, and neither comment on parallels in real world languages.

That being the case, your group should talk about it and decide which method will provide the most entertainment and least stress given your character choice.

If you are looking for best guesses, I have most commonly seen Taldane equated to British English (with Andoran sometimes using the US dialect) due to the similarities between the countries; however, I have also seen it be considered French and Italian.

To answer your question for those suggestions:

  • English - both
  • Italian - gendered only (although 'loro' has recently been adopted for people who specifically wish to be ungendered)
  • French - both

Copying a comment by user indigochild so it's not lost to time:

An additional supporting detail: Lost Omens Legends contains writeups of several genderless/nonbinary/genderfluid characters. None of them contain any descriptions of pronouns. Paizo just uses whatever pronouns without comment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. An additional supporting detail: Lost Omens Legends contains writeups of several genderless/nonbinary/genderfluid characters. None of them contain any descriptions of pronouns. Paizo just uses whatever pronouns without comment. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't read Lost Omens Legends -- thank you. This lack of detail does impact role play, because people who work in gendered languages tend to take note of people who don't, so I guess Wheaton's Law will decide this, as you suggest. \$\endgroup\$
    – papidave
    Feb 23 at 2:33
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Common (Taldane) appears to have gendered pronouns

In the Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-12 Fury's Toll, the characters attend a party in Sedeq. They have a chance to learn about several notable attendees by mingling with other guests. On a successful skill check, the party learns the following information about Khayrat al-Maren:

Party guests note that Khayrat is "bearing his shoulders today," a tasteful way of communicating that the genderfluid sylph currently presents as a man and uses he/him pronouns.

Both Taldane and Kelish are spoken in Sedeq, but this skill check isn't gated behind knowing a specific language. The only language that all Pathfinder agents are guaranteed to know is Taldane, so that is presumably how the information is conveyed.

But isn't all of this being "translated" from Taldane to English?

We all understand that even statements in quotes, like "bearing his shoulders today," aren't the literal words being said. Rather, the characters are saying something in (presumably) Taldane that translates to "bearing his shoulders today" in English. There are, however, a few things we can surmise:

  • The use of he/him pronouns is conveyed to the characters and isn't simply an aside for the (English-speaking) players. If gendered pronouns didn't exist in Taldane, I would expect the line to read more like a translator's note: "the genderfluid sylph currently presents as a man. (Khayrat uses he/him during the party.)"
  • Taldane likely doesn't have gendered first-person pronouns. If Taldane was more like Japanese, then there would be no reason to place knowledge of Khayrat's pronouns behind a skill check; Khayrat would be the one using them.

What about gender-neutral pronouns?

I wasn't able to find a similar quote where a character clearly uses a gender-neutral pronoun in-universe. The recurring character Safa is also genderfluid and even appears in Fury's Toll, but the adventure simply uses they/them throughout without comment. Safa is even portrayed using two different pieces of art - more feminine in Fury's Toll and more masculine in #5-10 The Crocodile's Smile. This change in appearance is only briefly touched on in that adventure, but none of the NPCs comment on it.

Conclusion

Does Paizo actually know if Taldane has gendered pronouns? Do they consider how things will "translate" to English? The answer to both questions is almost certainly "no". Ultimately, Ifusaso's answer is correct - Taldane simply doesn't have an official language analogue. Still, it seems likely from Fury's Toll that Taldane has gendered third-person pronouns similar to English.

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