According to RAW on familiars for Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch

Skills: For each skill in which either the master or the familiar has ranks, use either the normal skill ranks for an animal of that type or the master's skill ranks, whichever is better. In either case, the familiar uses its own ability modifiers. Regardless of a familiar's total skill modifiers, some skills may remain beyond the familiar's ability to use. Familiars treat Acrobatics, Climb, Fly, Perception, Stealth, and Swim as class skills.

So, if the Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch gains a skill point in linguistics, so does the familiar.

Can the familiar learn to speak common (or any other language) in this way?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think I've seen official clarification somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment, so have a comment instead. The "...some skills may remain beyond the familiar's ability to use." phrase applies to Linguistics, preventing most familiars from speaking languages they learn, but nothing prevents a familiar with Int 3+ and skill points to devote to Linguistics from learning and being able to understand languages. If a familiar can speak, though (such as a raven), it should be able to use its languages to full effect. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


Speaking, No. Understanding, Maybe.

The few Familiars that can automatically speak, do so "as a supernatural ability."


Familiar Basics

Skills: [...] Regardless of a familiar's total skill modifiers, some skills may remain beyond the familiar's ability to use.

and further down that page:

Intelligent Animals

Increasing an animal's Intelligence to 3 or higher means it is smart enough to understand a language. However, unless an awaken spell is used, the animal doesn't automatically and instantly learn a language, any more than a human child does. The animal must be taught a language, usually over the course of months, giving it the understanding of the meaning of words and sentences beyond its trained responses to commands like "attack" and "heel."

Even if the animal is taught to understand a language, it probably lacks the anatomy to actually speak (unless awaken is used). For example, dogs, elephants, and even gorillas lack the proper physiology to speak humanoid languages, though they can use their limited "vocabulary" of sounds to articulate concepts, especially if working with a person who learns what the sounds mean.

So, to expand my answer a little... No they can't speak it, unless the animal has the right anatomy to produce speech. They can be taught to understand languages, though.

(You could argue that the gaining of a point of Linguistics reflects the months of learning a language, so that being Awakened is not a requirement.)

Familiars automatically meet the Intelligence requirement:

Familiar Ability Descriptions

All familiars have special abilities (or impart abilities to their masters) depending on the master's combined level in classes that grant familiars, as shown on the table below. The abilities are cumulative.

Master Class Level Natural Armor Adj. Intelligence 1st–2nd +1 6 ...

  • \$\begingroup\$ How does this affect "improved familiars"? Many of those familiars already do have language skills. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gates VP
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ So your answer is No... but the expanded answer is maybe yes? Perhaps change your bolded first line to accurately reflect the answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – briddums
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @briddums The question asked about speaking, not understanding. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Familiars are magical beasts, not animals. The intelligent animals limiter doesn't apply. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 10:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ What if they actually do have the right anatomy, as in the case of ravens and parrots? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:13

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