Pandaren (language)

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The pandaren alphabet used in-game

Pandaren is the language used by the pandaren in World of Warcraft. In lore, however, the pandaren language is called "the old tongue", for it can no longer be spoken or understood by most pandaren since their enslavement by the mogu centuries ago, when they instored a unique language across their empire and forced their slaves to speak their own tongue.


The pandaren alphabet used in-game (more complete version)

The "old tongue", the original language before the pandaren were enslaved by the mogu and forced to speak the mogu language,[1][2][3] can no longer be spoken or understood by most common pandaren and is considered a "language of emperors and scholars".[4]

Indeed, when Lei Shen, first emperor of the mogu, first began his conquests of the surrounding lands, he saw great potential in the pandaren, and for this reason he did not trust them. After he conquered the land, the pandaren were forbidden to learn to read or write. Their leaders and philosophers were executed. All pandaren art and literature was burned. Anyone caught speaking anything but the mogu tongue was considered to be a conspirator, a charge often punished with death.[1][3] All of the work of the earliest pandaren artists and writers has been lost forever. Ages later, other great pandaren scholars would be born, but the language they spoke was not truly their own.[1]

The Song of Liu Lang, an ancient pandaren song that tells the story of Liu Lang and his adventures on the back of Shen-zin Su, is sung by Lorewalker Cho at the Wanderer's Festival. Lorewalker Ruolin also sung it to pandaren children, though they could not understand any of the words.[4]


There are several unique words and expressions used by pandaren, that may or may not represent Pandaren speech:

  • Jian: A word with a number of meanings, all centered around greatness. While Vol'jin was recovering at the Shado-pan Monastery, the Shado-pan referred to him as "Vol'jian", which rolled off their tongues more easily. At first, they used "jian" to describe his clumsiness, but later used it to mark the speed with which he learned from them. After Vol'jin conquered his doubt by punching through a stone slab, the monks' emphasis on "jian" changed again.[5]
  • Pandowan: a term for the young Pandaren who are training on the Wandering Isle[6][7] (likely based on the term 'Padawan' from the Star Wars series, meaning an apprentice or student).[8]
  • Pandriarch: likely based on the term "patriarch". Used in the names of the ancestors of the Goldendraft, Windfur and Bramblestaff families.
  • Paw-paw: the pandaren equivalent of the word "papa" (father).[9]

According to Vol'jin, the Pandaren language seems to have a half dozen words for almost everything. The language has nuances an outsider would never understand, and the pandaren can use them to mask their true intent.[10]

Player characters speaking Pandaren in-game have their words translated into "om" (for <2-letter words) and "nom" (for >2-letter words) to non-pandaren, producing little more than "om nom nom" joke speech. Since patch 7.0.3, pandaren can now use their racial language to communicate with pandaren of the opposite faction.[11] Before, only pandaren of the same faction understood the Pandaren language, so there were effectively two Pandaren languages in the game, one for each faction.

In game

When concepting Mists of Pandaria, it became obvious to the developers that a written language for them was missing, using generic runes and hieroglyphs as usual wouldn't work in this case. They thus made a written pandaren alphabet, inspired from Nushu, a secret written language developed by Chinese women in the 15th century.[12]

In the RPG

The RPG Icon 16x36.png This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.

Untranslated words


Pandaren naming practices are similar to those of humans: each pandaren has a given name and a surname.

  • Male Names: Chen, Jinto, Kesha, Masha, Mushi, Polo, Sinjo.
  • Female Names: Huan, Jiang, Lian, Mei, Ping, Shui, Zi.
  • Surnames: Earthsong, Greentouch, Honeybrew, Lightgrace, Reedwine, Sweetbarrow, Swiftpaw.

Patch changes

  • Legion Patch 7.0.3 (2016-07-19): Pandaren players can now use the Pandaren language for cross-faction communication.


  1. ^ a b c The Pandaren Problem
  2. ^ Unity at a Price
  3. ^ a b Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 82: Fearing that the pandaren's peaceful philosophies would undermine his rule, Lei Shen forbade them from learning how to read or write, or even how to speak any language other than the mogu tongue. To disobey was to be killed in slow, brutal fashion.
  4. ^ a b Lorewalker Amai#History lesson
  5. ^ Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde, pages 50 - 52
  6. ^ Pearl of Pandaria, pg. 11
  7. ^ Micky Neilson on Twitter
  8. ^ Wiktionary: Padawan
  9. ^ Trapped!#Notes
  10. ^ Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde, page 40
  11. ^ BlizzardCS on Twitter (2016-07-21). Retrieved on 2018-06-14. “@Igiarin: "Still want to know if Pandaren being able to cross-faction talk with the "Pandaren" language is intented or if it's a bug." @BlizzardCS: "Yes, this is intended. ^JH"”
  12. ^ Mists of Pandaria languages and lore by Kevin Maginnis
  13. ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 76
  14. ^ Dark Factions, pg. 16
  15. ^ Manual of Monsters, pg. 80
  16. ^ a b Manual of Monsters, pg. 78