Gutterspeak is a lower form of Common that uses little (very little) bits of Dwarven and Thalassian. It has existed for a while (longer than the undead Forsaken have), and evolved in the shady underground of black markets and rogues' guilds as the tongue spoken by people of ill-repute. When the Forsaken took the Undercity, they adopted Gutterspeak as their official language. One explanation would be that the Forsaken, discarded and abandoned by their loved ones, found it appropriate to adopt this language of the rejects of society. They decided to keep their language from the other races of the Horde so they can converse and plan without being overheard.
In Warcraft lore, Forsaken can still understand and speak Common. However, they never speak it under normal circumstances. Some have forgotten how to understand Common (see below). However, in World of Warcraft, undead player characters can speak only Gutterspeak and Orcish.
Sample 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 thirty-three (word range 1371-1494) in the Language text file.
In the in-game translator, the language parser for Gutterspeak shares similar words with Common and Gnomish.
Note: The language algorithm used by the in-game "translator" merely makes the words look like Gutterspeak. It does not actually use a specific dictionary. Therefore, translated in-game speech isn't true Gutterspeak.
|Number of letters in word||Word List|
|One-letter words||A, E, I, O, U, Y (vowels)|
|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, Mos, Nud, Ras, Ver, Vil, Wos|
|Four-letter words||Ador, Agol, Dana, Goth, Lars, Noth, Nuff, Odes, Ruff, Thor, Uden, Veld, Vohl, Vrum|
|Five-letter words||Algos, Barad, Borne, Eynes, Ergin, Garde, Gloin, Majis, Melka, 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, Farlandowar, Forthasador, Thorlithtos, Vassildador, Wershaesire|
|Twelve-letter words||Adorstaerume, Golveldbarad, Mandosdaegil, Nevrenrothas, Waldirskilde|
It has not been explained within the context of the game why the Forsaken in World of Warcraft are not able to speak or understand their language during life, Common.
The real-world explanation for the fact that undead aren't able to speak Common is simply because the developers don't want players communicating across factions. In the beta, the undead player characters spoke Common (besides Orcish) and thus could communicate with Alliance characters. This led to a huge amount of vitriol and bile that was spewed both ways, so this functionality was removed and Gutterspeak was introduced. There is some speculation (though unlikely) this could change as, since Legion, cross-faction communication is increasingly possible. Both night elf and blood elf demon hunters can speak Demonic, allowing cross-faction communication. Additionally, void elves can speak Thalassian and so can freely communicate with blood elves. Also in Legion, the Pandaren language, once divided into faction-specific dialects, was unified into a single cross-faction language.
In the game, neutral undead NPCs are capable of speaking to the Alliance.
It has been theorized that Common and Gutterspeak are translated to Orcish in the exact same manner, although this claim is disputed. Those disputing it say that while "lol" translates to "bur" in Orcish from both Common and Gutterspeak (along with several other tested phrases), these are similarities purposely put in because undead were once living and thus once spoke Common, and have since then changed their language somewhat. It is more likely, however, that when Blizzard wanted to create a language barrier, they left undead speaking the same language, but gave Gutterspeak the same translation scheme as common to both Orcish and Common as Common has to Orcish, thus creating a barrier, but removing the need for explaining why they speak "different" languages. This is corroborated by the translation filter using identical 124-word long sample word lists for showing Common and Gutterspeak to non-speakers.
Dan Golthas states:
- "When I clawed my way out of the grave, I thought my family would welcome me with open arms. Instead, they drove me out of the village, screaming in a language I could no longer understand."
Some fans who have tried to reconcile the contradiction of the language barrier have theorized that the Forsaken just don't want or choose to talk Common. Some due to their hatred of humanity, others because they wanted to break their ties to their preceding life (some non-canon RPG books agree with this theory), and some, like Dan Golthas, who have "forgotten" how to speak Common for some reason.
One theory would be that it is related to Forsaken exhibiting signs of old age, losing their identities and eventually their sentience. They appear feeble and scared, and forget who they are. Likewise, it is possible that when something is killed and raised as a undead, memories of language are lost. However, this does not fit with how many Forsaken in-game clearly remember full details of their previous lives, including names, conversations and events, even from decades before. It also does not explain how all Forsaken player characters know Gutterspeak and Orcish upon creation.
In the RPG
According to lore found in the Horde Player's Guide undead Forsaken have not lost the ability to understand Common, but just never choose to speak it under normal circumstances. Forsaken learn the languages of their enemies and their allies (who may soon become their enemies). Thus, they are often fluent in several other languages besides Common and Gutterspeak, including Orcish.