Hmmm now that we know that he speaks multiple languages the question becomes when did he learn them?
Born in Cimmeria Conan speaks Cimmerian
from childhood. More than likely he has learned some Pictish
growing up as well from the incessant fighting with them. "'Even a Zingaran ought to know there's never been peace between Picts and Cimmerians, and never will be,' he retorted with an oath. 'Our feud with them is older than the world. If you'd said that to one of my wilder brothers, you'd have found yourself with a split head. But I've lived among you civilized men long enough to understand your ignorance and lack of common courtesy - the churlishness that demands his business of a man who appears at your door out of a thousand-mile wilderness. Never mind that.'"
-The Black Stranger
For the same reason he is familiar with Nordheimr
, possibly Bossonian
as well. "They were barbaric and warlike...They fought on foot, mainly, and made savage raids on their neighbors to the east, north, and south."
- REH on Cimmerians in Notes on Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age "Cimmeria: to the south Aquilonia, to the north Asgard, to the northwest Vanaheim, to the west the Pictish marches; to the east Hyperborea; to the south the Aquilonian marches."
- REH in Hyborian Names and Countries
I think the Aquilonian marches Howard lists may be the Bossonian Marches because he lists it separate from Aquilonia that he has already listed."At Vanarium he was already a formidable antagonist, though only fifteen. He stood six feet and weighed 180 pounds, though he lacked much of having his full growth."
- REH letter to P.Schuyler Miller"I was one of the horde that swarmed over the walls. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires."
-Beyond the Black River"In the north there was incessant bickering along the Cimmerian borders between the black-haired warriors and the Nordheimr; and the Æsir, between wars with the Vanir, assailed Hyperborea and pushed back the frontier, destroying city after city. The Cimmerians also fought the Picts and Bossonians impartially, and several times raided into Aquilonia itself, but their wars were less invasions than mere plundering forays."
-REH in The Hyborian Age
He may have also already been familiar with Hyperborean
but definitely would have picked up some while in captivity."He spent some months among a tribe of the Æsir, fighting with the Vanir and the Hyperboreans, and developing a hate for the latter which lasted all his life and later affected his policies as King of Aquilonia. Captured by them, he escaped southward and came into Zamora..."
-Robert E. Howard Letter to P.Schuyler Miller
So it comes as no surprise in The Frost-Giant's Daughter
that he can speak Nordheimr
with the Vanir and Æsir.
Coming out of Hyperborea he would have had to have crossed through Brythunia to get to Zamora. He may have picked up Brythunian
while there. How long would it take you to cross a country on foot?
I think I have been persuaded by the argument of Dale Rippke (Dark Storm Dale on these boards) with my brother the Grim Cimmerian as to placement of the next story. My brother has a darn fixation with the pastiches with some being his favorite Conan tales and it has clouded his thinking. I should have never given all of my Conan pastiches to him. I admit though reading my dad's Lancers and later collecting all of the Tor pastiches to date (with John Maddox Roberts being my favorite) I didn't really differentiate either. Then again I did not have access like I do now to the pure Conan stories (thank you Del Rey/Wandering Press).
I guess I follow the Dark Storm Conan Chronology although I don't agree with any non-supportable facts presented in Dale's "biography" in between stories and think some of the arguments he uses in the article are weak and some of his strongest arguments happened in these forums: In the Placement of Conan Books In Chronology
thread. He tries to explain Howard's purported errors by creating back stories to fix them. "The Tarantia/Tamar error is certainly explainable (as per my biography)."
-Dale Rippke in Musings on the various Chronology issues
. I do understand where and why he is trying to fit in comments that Conan makes in other stories in a usable time-line and think he makes some sense. However, this sounds dangerously like a pastiche/De Camp approach to understanding the Cimmerian tales by making up things to fit better. And as for the kettle calling the teapot black here I am inventing language names and making assumptions myself about the Conan stories. That being said...
In The God in the Bowl
he speaks Nemedian
throughout so he was probably in Nemedia for some time before making it to Zamora. Here is where speculation can creep in, maybe after being held captive by the Hyperboreans he wanted to return home then had to cross Nemedia on his way to Zamora. Heh, I bet Howard would be amused, "Honored", bemused knowing how much thought, speculation, and arguing his stories have caused.
In The Tower of the Elephant
he speaks Zamorian
. He was probably in Zamora for some time before the story begins. "He had squatted for hours in the courtyards of the philospophers, listening to the arguments of the theologians and teachers, and come away in a haze of bewilderment, sure of only one thing, and that, that they were all touched in the head."
He probably speaks to Taurus in the Nemedian
he has previously learned, in any case he had already heard of him. "'And who are you?' asked the Cimmerian in a suspicious whisper. 'Taurus of Nemedia.' The Cimmerian lowered his sword. 'I've heard of you. Men call you a prince of thieves.'"
I hate using non-Howardian titles but I admit it is the easiest way to differentiate untitled fragments.
Untitled Synopsis: The Hall of the Dead
Conan speaks to the the Gunderman mercenary Nestor with the Aquilonian
that he must had learned previously in his youth.
All the evidence suggests that Conan speaks Corithian
in Rogues in the House
but I guess we will never really know as the city state west of Zamora is never identified.
In the Untitled Fragment: The Hand of Nergal
is set in Yaralet in an unknown country. Currently it is thought to be in Corinthia. It is presumed therefore that he is speaking the Corinthian
he learned previously in Rogues in the House
At this time after leaving Zamora and Corinthia he returns home possibly traveling through Ophir and Aquilonia. He may have learned Ophirean
along the way."I am of the opinion that the city was one of the the small city-states lying just west of Zamora, and into which Conan had wandered after leaving Zamora. Shortly after this he returned for a brief period to Cimmeria, and there were other returns to his native land from time to time"
- Robert E. Howard Letter to P.Schuyler Miller
Before Iron Shadows in the Moon
Conan learns to speak Hyrkanian
as a Kozaki and speaks it in the story. Conan also speaks to Olivia presumably in her native tongue Ophirean
with no obvious experience in Ophir or dealing with Ophireans named in a previous story to explain how he learned it. Possibly indicating bad placement in chronology or that he must have learned it on his way through Ophir en route to Cimmeria. Well for all intents and purposes he now speaks it.
In Black Colossus
Conan speaks Kothic
the language of the land which he must have learned whilst employed as a Mercenary. He is enlisted under Amalric the Nemedian. Good thing he already speaks Nemedian
. That may have helped him to learn the Kothic spoken in the area by having a commander that can translate orders into a language he is familiar with.
Edited by Amra_the_Lion, 25 November 2010 - 09:43 AM.