A language is a lexicon of words that various characters use to speak to each other and communicate. In World of Warcraft, most races have a unique language they speak that only they can understand. Each faction shares a common language of the dominant race (Orcish for Horde and Common for Alliance).
A language may or may not have an associated alphabet for writing. Several languages may share the same alphabet, or may have a specific alphabet used only for that language.
There are at least 39 languages on Azeroth.
It should be noted that traditionally (in the RTS games and the pen & paper RPG) almost all intelligent races speak Common. The ability for player characters to learn additional languages was planned early in World of Warcraft but was not developed, likely due to the tendency of cross-faction communication to be insulting and profane. The Forsaken were originally able to speak Common and thus communicate with Alliance players, but this was removed with the introduction of Gutterspeak due to, once again, the tendency of cross-faction communication to be insulting and profane. For a long time, it seemed unlikely that this functionality would ever be added. When the pandaren joined the Horde and the Alliance, players could speak the same language, but not understand those of the opposite faction. With the introduction on the demon hunters, however, who all speak Demonic, Alliance and Horde cross-faction communication was reintroduced to the game. At the same time, the language barrier that had come between Horde and Alliance pandaren was lifted. With the Thalassian speaking void elves joining the Alliance, yet another channel for cross-faction communication was opened. Cross-faction communication is restricted to say and yell, and players will not be able to understand custom emotes from players of the opposite faction.
|Orcs||Orc or Orcish|
Other known languages
Generally, 'less' civilized races (kobolds, etc.) speak Low Common.
|Lesser races||Low Common|
|Scourge||Language of death|
|Gnolls||Low Common, Gnoll|
|Giants||Giant, Titan, Kalimag|
|Krenka Clan Centaur||Krenkese|
Changing chat language
The language a player's character speaks, for those with more than one, can be changed by going into the chat menu. Clicking on the "Chat Bubble" on the chat box tool bar, then highlighting "Language" with the cursor, will make a list of known languages to appear. From there, the player can click one to choose which language they prefer to speak.
It may be worth mentioning that when the language is changed, it only affects say, yell, guild, and party chat. General and whispers will be unaffected. Also, it tends to irritate a player's guild when they speak their "native" language.
As of patch 2.0, it seems the scripting ability to speak other languages has been modified to check whether the character can normally speak that language.
As with many other features of the Warcraft setting, many of the languages are derived from early fantasy or the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game — not in the sense of the actual languages, but in what kinds of languages are present in a given world. This connection is mostly obvious from the shared culture and parallels or outright duplication of language names, primarily on the outer reaches of Warcraft lore that appear in the Warcraft RPG — which started out as an offshoot of Dungeons and Dragons.
- Language names that are the same or re-used from D&D in Warcraft
European realms and real-world languages
European realms are each associated with a real-world language such as English or French. In battlegrounds and the Dungeon Finder, players are grouped only with players of the same language. However, Alliance players in a battleground may speak a different language than Horde players. In that case, even being able to translate between Common and Orcish would leave another barrier for many players.