Memories of Connor's Adventures

Orlando the Adventurer pulled a Scimitar from beneath his Robes and smiled...

Friday, 24 February 2017

Dungeon Mastery: Cultural Bias in Language

First off lets start this with some reasoning: Ansu is protoindoeuropean for 'demon'. Why is this even relevent? When we refer to other others, we do so in a Them verses Us manor. Ansu or the -ans suffix is added to a word to demonize it.

How we see ourselves collectivly
Group A: Humans (so collective world government is out).

Group B: The People (Individuals as a group are in).

Group A: Germans, Russians, Arabians, Iranians, Asians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Lybians, Armenians, Americans, Canadians, Australians, Africans, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Croatians, Italians, Indonesians, Spartans, Romans, Persians, Barbarians, Huns, and Martians (in case you were wondering how the independence of your Martian colony will go).

Group B: Scottish, Irish, French, English, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Israelies, Hittites, Gauls.

Group A: Christians (collectivly), Lutherans, Mormons (-ons a variation on -ans).

Group B: Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddists, Jews, Scientologists.

Food Animals
Group A: Chickens (-ens being a variation on -ans).

Group B: Pigs, Cattle, Fish.

Basically during the modern language development period humans have carved an 'Us' zone across europe and the middle east with the death-ray of language and its become how people regard 'the other'. They are not like Us.

D&D and the Mystaran Setting
Bigotry and Bias are destructive things so lets apply this microscope to D&D and the Mystaran setting.

For Dungeons & Dragons we have:
Group A: Humans (collectivly), Goblins (-ins a variation on -ans), Dragons.

Group B: Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Trolls, Orcs, Halflings, Kobolds.

I suppose we would see this as a shift in popularity way from dragons, humans, and goblins to 'other' more exotic creatures.

And for the Mystaran Setting we have National Identities. The majority of human National Identities fall into a group that we would consider 'Volcae' Descent.

Group A: Alphatians, Thyatians, Karamekians, Traladarans, Glantrians, Ochaleans, Darokinians, Minrothaddans, Wendarians (other elves).

Group B: Ylari, Sindi, Shire-folk, Ierendi. Rockhome Dwarves, Alfhiem Elves, Broken Landers.

Shock, Horror
So yes there is cultural bias - in D&D and in the Mystaran Setting. Even though this is rather inverted in what is Us and Them. In this case the cultural bias is still represented by a central group of humans with the monstrous and exotic pushed to the edges of the known world.

What can we do with/about this?
Use it and make it part of the Game. Imagine Dragons and Goblins being the only creatures in your human centric region (something that seems prevalent in the Grand Duchy with its Dragons, humans, and forest filled with goblins). If you are looking to create adventure material, try creating it in the 'monster' populated regions at the fringes.

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