A Note on Names and Language in the Auran Empire


I enjoyed writing this, and thought I'd share.


A Note on Names and Language

In geographic and historical writing, the proper names used for places and people vary widely depending on the language used in the writing. For example, the region once called Germania by the Romans is now called Germany in English, Deutschland in German, Allemagne in French,  and Niemcy in Polish. Which of these names is proper entirely depends on which language is being used.

The proper name used by a language might not mean anything in that language. If the proper name is older than the language, it might be a name inherited from a prior language, and therefore meaningless in the current language. For example, London (founded 43 AD) has no apparent meaning in modern English (which dates to 1550 AD), being inherited from the Latin Londinium. On the other hand, if the proper name is younger than the language, it might be meaningful in that language. For example, the name United Kingdom (established 1707) is meaningful in modern English.

Because of these properties, proper names beautifully convey the flavor of their history and origin. In writing the Auran Empire Campaign Setting, we have aimed to convey to English readers the flavor that the Auran Empire’s proper names would have to its own denizens.

Therefore, the proper names appearing in the Auran Empire Campaign Setting were developed as if the language being used were Common Auran. Proper names meaningful in Common Auran were then translated into English, to be appropriately meaningful to English readers. Proper names which were inherited by Common Auran from other tongues were transcribed in English letters, but were not translated into English.

The table below illustrates this practice with some proper names from the setting along with similar real-world examples.

Proper Name

Translation and Transcription from Setting Language

Similar Real-World Examples

Jutting Mountains

“Jutting” translated from Common Auran into English

“Mountains” translated from Common Auran into English

Rocky Mountains

Meniri Mountains

“Meniri” transcribed from Classical Auran

“Mountains” translated from Common Auran into English

Himalayan Mountains

Kingdom of Kemesh

“Kingdom of” translated from Common Auran into English

“Kemesh” transcribed from Kemeshi

Republic of Egypt

Southern Argollë

“Southern” translated from Common Auran into English

“Argollë” transcribed from Classical Auran

South Africa

Auran Empire

“Auran” transcribed from Classical Auran

“Empire” translated from Common Auran into English

Roman Empire


“Tarkaun” transcribed from Classical Auran



Lovely, Alex. :slight_smile:

Now how does one say “Argollë”…?




All 5 Auran vowels have an “open” and “closed” form:

a              “a” as in arm closes to “e” as in perfect

o              “oh” as in soak closes to “oo” as in hook

u              “uh” as in cinema closes to “ui” as in suit

e              “eh” as in bed closes to “ay” as in bay

i               “ih” as in bit closes to “ee” as in deer

Dipthongs include w sounds:

au            “aw” as in awful

ou           “ow” as in house

eu           “ew” as in queue

Semi-vowels include:

y              “eye” as in ire

A, E, U, and O are always open, except when directly preceding another vowel, or when marked, as noted with an umlaut: ä, ë, ö, ü.

Certain vulgar written dialects of Auran uses a “y” to represent the umlaut, but the umlaut is the Imperial standard.

I is always closed, except when marked with a diacritical or as noted below: í

The diacritical (open) I is sometimes spelled with a “y” (as in Aurelyn).  This is an irregularity in the language that appears in some very old words, such as “cybele.”

When a vowel proceeds a different vowel, both vowels are pronounced (except for diphthongs). The first is pronounced closed, while the vowel following is pronounced as if open.

Auran Consonants:

B, D, F, H, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, Y, Z, all as English, except

c              “ch” as in chapter, except at the start or end of word; then “c” as in cake

k              “k” as in kiss

j               “j” as in justice, never as in jalapeno

g              “g” as in giggle, never as in giant

x              “ks” as in extreme

Note that there is no “w” sound except for “u” in special cases (after a vowel or q), and in certain very old words, and foreign words adopted into the tongue.

Consonantal Combinations:

Th            “th” as in theatre

Sh            “sh” as in shop

Wh          “hw” as in whale

Ch           “ch”, as in loch

Kh           “hk”, glottal sound

Other consonant combinations should be pronounced.

In general, stress the second-to-last syllable, unless both final syllables are short and aren't separated by two consonants, in which case the first syllable is pronounced.

Is “ll” pronounced any differently than “l”?

“Pollo” no es como “lobo” :slight_smile:

The double "l" results in a longer "l" sound, as the two 'l's belong to different syllables. 

Therefore the pronounciation works out to "Ar-GOAL-lay" rather than "Ar-GOH-lay" or "Ar-GOAL-ay".

And thanks for asking. The Classical Auran language predates ACKS by several years, but I rarely get the chance to discuss it.

Aha! Alright, thanks!

I’m really looking forward to seeing the Auran Empire in full, Alex. I’d like to see more posts like this, personally!

Good stuff.

As a language wonk myself (seriously, I spent over an hour fretting over the list of available languages for my historical campaign just because I thought it would be jarring to have everybody running around speaking “proto-Gallo-Romance”) I always appreciate seeing setting authors put in the effort to get these things right. I don’t need to know the details of your language, but the fact that there are details means that what I do see won’t be immersion-breaking (which, say, Jordan’s “Old Tongue” is for me - the curse of the linguistics major, I suppose).