Pyre's fictional language has real linguistic roots



Pyre is the best game about strange rituals and fantasy sports ever. Sure, it’s not exactly the most crowded market, but I can’t get over how cool Supergiant’s latest game is. It’s full of interesting characters with solid writing, astounding art, and plenty of hot slam dunks. For lack of a better term, Pyre is lit.

Developer Supergiant Games is no slouch when it comes to worldbuilding. The studio’s previous work on Bastion and Transistor featured settings and characters that brimmed with personality. Pyre‘s more of the same. Despite being set in a wasteland full of society’s dregs and outcasts, it’s awash with high contrast colors and likable rogues. Its locations feel realized and complete.

And a big part of that authenticity stems from the Pyre‘s fictional language. It’s a bizarre dialect that sounds both familiar and foreign at the same time. There’s a good reason for that, too. Supergiant’s Greg Kasavin recently took to the game’s Steam Community to discuss the process of bringing Pyre’s fictional Sahrian language to life.

“It’s meant to sound authentic, vaguely familiar and old,” Kasavin wrote, “it’s the common language of the gameworld.”

Kasavin also points out that English, while present in Pyre, is a forbidden language. It’s older than Sahrian, and mostly forgotten or whispered in by a select few.

“The purpose of Sahrian is to provide texture and personality to all the characters you meet,” Kasavin continues before detailing the real-world influences on the language. “[It’s] chiefly inspired by Latin but also other Romance languages; I then pepper in other ingredients from Russian and Japanese because I’m familiar with those languages and like the sounds of them.”

Later in the post, Kasavin comments on the intricacies of Sahrian, like how every sentence in the language has an English counterpart, and that numerous characters in Pyre speak a different “dialect” that aligns with their background.

The whole process is an astounding example of attention to detail that speaks to the studio’s unending efforts when it comes to creating “real” fantasy worlds.