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There are three languages that the Garou tend to deal with; homid speech, Mother Tongue, and wolf-speech.

The obvious fact is that a good many humans in St. Claire are English speakers. American English, with a Pacific Northwest accent, such as it is.

The Garou have a language of their own, made up of both humanlike speech barks and growls, and expressive physical gestures which use homid limbs and wolven tail; some refer to it as the Mother Tongue, some the High Tongue, and some simply 'the Garou language.' (Most in the Hidden Walk refer to it as the Mother Tongue.)

The Mother Tongue was invented by the Fianna centuries ago and all Garou who want a common language learn to speak it; no Garou is born with instinctive knowledge of the language. The Mother Tongue cannot effectively communicate certain very new human ideas, such as technical terms. Some Glass Walkers, though, have expanded the tongue substantially to allow such ideas to be spoken of. Many other Garou are not aware of, nor do they understand, the new vocabulary.

It is almost impossible to convey technical information in lupus tongue. This is due to lupus communication being composed mainly of non-verbal poses of muzzle posture, stance, and tail height as well as ruffling of fur. It is impossible to speak lupus without the proper wolf coloration and body formation. (i.e., see 'news wolves behavior')

Three different types of syntax are used to convey the different forms of speech. Homid language is expressed with quotation marks while the Mother Tongue uses tildes, and Lupus communication is without enclosing syntax. For example:

Tender In Years greets the Caern Warder.
Homid: Tender In Years bows low and says, "Greetings, Honored One."
Garou: Tender In Years bows low and says, ~Greetings, Honored One.~
Lupus: Tender In Years bares his throat and dips his tail in obeisance.

Garou can understand all three types of speech in any form, but actually communicating requires the proper form. Obviously, lupus communication requires physical gestures which are impossible except in the lupine forms such as hispo and lupus. (Some rudimentary lupus may be spoken in Crinos.)

The Mother Tongue can generally be spoken in all forms but homid, though it is a bit limited in lupus and glabro. (The human body has difficulty controlling the required scent and body language aspects of the Mother Tongue, and the vocalizations are basically created for the furrier forms. Lupus has some problems with some of the vocalizations, but the body language and scent direction comes naturally to that form.)

The homid tongue is limited to the Homid, Glabro, and Crinos forms, though Crinos Garou are generally limited to monosyllabic words like "Eat", and "Die!" In extreme circumstances, a Garou can speak homid words in Hispo. This feat is usually accomplished through a partial shifting of the larynx and it is still possible that the spoken word is unintelligible.

Humans typically have a very hard time learning the Garou language. Many kinfolk can understand it when spoken (after long experience); it's practically impossible to speak it, other than to convey general mood, since they lack the physical attributes (such as ears and tail) necessary to do so.

As for others? Non-Garou shapeshifters frequently are rumored to have languages of their own; many understand the Mother Tongue but few will speak it. (It's often true that other shifters and Garou can make themselves understood by a weird melange of their native tongues, but generally it's easier to use a common homid tongue.) Spirits may choose to speak any of the languages of creatures of the flesh, but this is unpredictable; those wishing comprehensible communication with spirits are advised to learn the gift Spirit Speech. Garou can only communicate with animals through use of the gift Beast Speech; this can sometimes be fudged slightly in the interest of drama when communicating with creatures related to _Canis lupus_.

The GarouMUSH News Files
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