In the lore (including the RPG, novels, manga, and early games), almost all intelligent races speak Common as it is not a "human" language per se. Common is known by many races, and it is used as a universal language by most members of the races of Azeroth and Draenor. Most if not all races have at least some understanding and speak some dialect of Common. Some gnolls are said to speak with a broken Common. Dialects or languages derived or related to Common include Low Common, Gutterspeak, and Nerglish.
Because Common is a universal language known by many races, characters that have never had contact with other races are often able communicate with each other on their first meeting. Other racial languages (Orcish, Taur-ahe, Gnomish, etc.,) are normally limited to their specific races, but are often learned by races that are most likely to encounter those races or read their language.
The modern "Common" seems to share words with the English language, mixed with words from an ancient tongue (actually some Welsh, Latin, and other historical languages). For example, half-ogre is the Common term for the race that is a mixture of ogre and orc ancestry, whereas mok'nathal (lower-case) is the Orcish term for the same race. At least two known dialects of true Common exist, a modern dialect, which relies more on English, and the "ancient tongue", from which the modern Common is derived.
There are four different alphabets used to write Common language: Latin, Elder Futhark runic alphabet, Faux Cyrillic (in a loading screen in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness), and an unknown original alphabet, see images for examples.
Common primer (official translations)
Here are a few common Common phrases and words, for which the translations have been officially confirmed by Blizzard or have actual real world translations:
- Azeroth = Word derived from the name of the ancient human ancestors; Azotha.
- Caer = means castle, fort/fortress, or citadel from the Welsh word Caer (used in many Welsh places).
- Daer = "People". (Has English roots.)
- Deo Gratias = "Thanks [be] to God", from a hymn sung in the church in Warcraft II. (Latin roots) (Note: Likely a deprecated and obsolete reference to a medieval Catholic church, complete with crucifix, which would not be currently valid; see Church of the Holy Light).
- Dwarf = "Diminutive"
- Esarus thar no'Darador = "By blood and honor we serve."(Valley of Heroes)
- Half-ogre = A race that is born of mixed ogre and orc blood.
- Lordaeron = Name humans gave to northern human kingdom, derived from the Dwarven word "lorn" ("land"), the Common word "daer" ("people"), and the Thalassian word "ronae" ("peaceful").
- Rain Dance = The term in Common for a festival held in Darkshore (the elves have a different name for it).
- Thrall = "Slave"
- Trol'kalar = "Troll slayer" in the ancient tongue, the ancient dialect of Common used in the Arathorian Empire based in Strom.
Human parents grant a child its given name at birth, while its family name has a long history and usually speaks something of its bearer’s ancestry. Some humans change their family names to emphasize their own accomplishments.
- Male Names: Merander, Gyram, Darrick, Hebry.
- Female Names: Lilla, Merian, Richelle, Ammi.
- Family Names: Renn, Townguard, Silversmith, Runetouch.
Untranslated words or phrases
- Alterac - Former human nation in central Lordaeron.
- Arathor - Former human nation in southeastern Lordaeron.
- Arevass - River in Silverpine Forest.
- Andorhal - Former human town in Western Plaguelands.
- Azotha - Name of primitive race of humans from which the current race descended.
- Balor - Former island colony of the kingdom of Azeroth.
- Bur - "Lol" and many other unknown words in common, translated back to what horde hear is "bur".
- Caer Darrow - Former human city on the island of Darrowmere.
- Dalaran - Human kingdom and the city of the same name.
- Durnholde - Human fortress in Hillsbrad Foothills.
- Elwynn - Wooded region that envelops the heart of Stormwind kingdom.
- Gilneas - Human nation in southwestern Lordaeron.
- Kirin Tor - Human organization based out of Dalaran.
- Kul Tiras - Human island nation in the seas south of Lordaeron.
- Mardenholde - The fortress of Hearthglen in Western Plaguelands.
- Mereldar - Lake in Eastern Plaguelands.
- Strahnbrad - Human town, now in ruins.
- Stratholme - Former human town in Eastern Plaguelands.
- Strom - Capital of Arathor where Stromgarde exists today.
- Stromgarde - Human city in Arathi Highlands.
- Theramore - Human nation in Dustwallow Marsh.
- Tiragarde - Human fortress in Durotar.
- Tirisfal - Former human-settled region in northwestern Lordaeron.
- Tol Barad - Former human-populated island south of Lordaeron.
- Chant - Said in the mage tower in Warcraft II.
Language Implementation in World of Warcraft
As mentioned above, in literature and earlier games almost all intelligent races speak Common. The pre-release World of Warcraft used to actually abide by this, but many players in the game's beta phase showed a lack of maturity in communication during battles. This caused Common to be the primary Alliance language and Orcish to be the primary Horde language. The Forsaken were given Common as a secondary language, but again, players showed a lack of maturity and this was taken away.
Common Words (speculation)
This is the list of words created by the in-game language parser for the Common language, and is listed as language number seven (word range 423-546) in the Language text file.
In the in-game translator, the language parser for Common shares similar words with Gutterspeak and Gnomish. The parser is used to mask both npc and players that speak "Common" when encountered by the Horde.
Note: The language algorithm used by the in-game "translator" merely makes the words look like Common. It does not actually use a specific dictionary. Therefore, translated in-game speech isn't true Common.
|Number of letters in word||Word List|
|One-letter words||A, E, I, O, U, Y|
|Two-letter words||An, Ko, Lo, Lu, Me, Ne, Re, Ru, Se, Ti, Va, Ve|
|Three-letter words||Ash, Bor, Bur, Far, Gol, Hir, Lon, Mod, Nud, Ras, Ver, Vil, Vos|
|Four-letter words||Ador, Agol, Dana, Goth, Lars, Noth, Nuff, Odes, Ruff, Thor, Uden, Veld, Vohl, Vrum|
|Five-letter words||Algos, Barad, Borne, Melka, Ergin, Eynes, Garde, Gloin, Majis, Nagan, Novas, Regen, Tiras, Wirsh|
|Six-letter words||Aesire, Aziris, Daegil, Danieb, Ealdor, Engoth, Goibon, Mandos, Nevren, Rogesh, Rothas, Ruftos, Skilde, Valesh, Vandar, Waldir|
|Seven-letter words||Andovis, Ewiddan, Faergas, Forthis, Kaelsig, Koshvel, Lithtos, Nandige, Nostyec, Novaedi, Sturume, Vassild|
|Eight-letter words||Aldonoth, Cynegold, Endirvis, Hamerung, Landowar, Lordaere, Methrine, Ruftvess, Thorniss|
|Nine-letter words||Aetwinter, Danagarde, Eloderung, Firalaine, Gloinador, Gothalgos, Regenthor, Udenmajis, Vandarwos, Veldbarad|
|Ten-letter words||Aelgestron, Cynewalden, Danavandar, Dyrstigost, Falhedring, Vastrungen|
|Eleven-letter words||Agolandovis, Bornevalesh, Dornevalesh, Farlandowar, Forthasador, Thorlithtos, Vassildador, Wershaesire|
|Twelve-letter words||Golveldbarad, Mandosdaegil, Nevrenrothas, Waldirskilde|
Word & phrase list (speculation)
- "Danieb" = Sapped
- "Goibon Uden Lo" = "Guards!" or "Guards help me!"
- "Uden" = "Help!"
- "Bur" = "Lol" (When an Alliance player says "Lol" it will appear as "Bur" to Horde players. This is similar to how "Lol" in Orcish translates to "Kek" for Alliance players. When a horde talking in Orcish tells an Alliance player "bur", they get back "lok". Regardless, it has now been referenced as an official term.
- "Landowar" = "Alliance"
- "Lordaeron" = "Peaceful land of the people" (rough translation)
- "Or'Kalar" = Orc Killer, like Trol'kalar, the name shares the same word kalar, implying it is from the same ancient tongue used in the Arathorian Empire and Strom. As it is an ogre name it could be a form of Low Common.
- "Or" = Orc
- "Trol" = Troll
- "Kalar" = Killer
- "Deo Gracias" = Interestingly, the church building's sound in Warcraft II is "Deo Gracias", a poor transliteration of the Latin term "Deo Gratias" meaning "Thanks be to God", which is also the name for several different traditional cathedral hymns. The reason for using pseudo-Latin as a spoken language is not clear. It is possibly a use of stock sound effects, an easter egg for those who know of the hymn, or an attempt to include a foreign sounding language for the humans. Although Latin plays a partial role in the Warcraft universe, as seen in the RPG with "Spiritus Mundi" and with some names as part of languages such as Kalimag, Latin and other languages derived from it are used in the universe in a few other places such as: in Warcraft II with the church building's sound, in Warcraft III's Altar of Kings with "Amen", and in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne with the order acknowledgment sounds of the troll batrider unit. Other languages derived from Latin are also used for terms like "En Fuego" (literally "On Fire" in Spanish, although the correct form would be "Sobre el Fuego" or "Prendido Fuego"), as well as El Pollo Grande.
- "Caer Darrow" = Caer means "fort". Darrow may be derived from the word "daer" meaning "people". This would mean Caer Darrow may mean People's Fort or Fort of the People.
- "Spiritus Mundi" = Spirit of the world
- "Thanagor" = King
- "Mor" = May
- "Ok" = His
- "A'l" or "Na" = In
- "Gorum" = Strength
- "Ro-mun" = First
- "Ga" = Battle
- "Ballog" = Last
- "Enthu" = Retreat
- "Korok" = Even
- "Boda" = Death
In other materials
Common is derived from the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. In that game, the Common tongue is a lingua franca, or a universal language, spoken natively by humans and bilingually by other races. The concept is derived from Westron, the "common tongue" of Tolkien's Middle Earth, hence the name. It is the language of humans, halflings, half-elves, and half-orcs. The Common tongue also has great hints of the Icelandic tongue.