This page exists to collect some notes for non-native speakers of English, who have a tendency to read certain archaic dialect words and usages as incorrect.
Not Broken, Don't Fix It
For the plural of "dwarf" we use Tolkien's form "dwarves", not "dwarfs". This is probably expected by native speakers, as it has become general in English since the early 1970s.
In An Orcish Incursion and elsewhere, "march" is not a typo for "marsh"; also, in Liberty, "marchlander" is not a typo for "marshlander". "The marches" is archaic English for the border country of a kingdom. The word was originally Norse "mark" and is related to the ordinary English word "mark"; it also appears as an element in the place name "the Estmark Hills" which is "the hills of the eastern border".
In Son Of The Black Eye, the phrasing "the River Bork" is correct. Modern English usage would favor "the Bork River", but "the River Bork" is historically common and still used in fantasy literature.
In Son Of The Black Eye, "whupping" is a Southern US rural dialect word - a rather rough and rude one - that means "a severe beating", either as verb or noun. It is an appropriate word for Orcs to use.
In Liberty and Two Brothers we make an exception to the normal rule of using American spellings in preference to British in the base text. Thus, "Grey Woods" rather than "Gray woods". We do this because to anyone who notices the difference, "Grey" will probably appear slightly archaic.
In Sceptre of Fire we make another exception: "scepter" is spelled British fashion, for the same reason.
In Northern Rebirth and elsewhere, do not mistakenly change the verb 'preying' to 'praying'. They mean different things.
In Northern Rebirth and elsewhere, "to espy" is an early-modern-English variant of the verb "to spy" inserted as a deliberate archaism. The form "espied" occurs as well. (compare "espionage")
In Heir To The Throne, the word "thutter" is not a misspelling of "thunder". It is a rare and specialized word describing a fast series of striking or slapping sounds, found mainly in SF novels and possibly invented by the writer Poul Anderson. In modern English one might speak, for example, of the thutter of helicopter blades.
In the Dwarvish unit descriptions and elsewhere, the correct plural of "staff" is not "staffs" but "staves". Thus "one Dragonguard's staff" but "the staves of the Dragonguards". Compare "hoof" vs. "hooves" and "dwarf" vs. "dwarves".
Remember that we capitalize the name of a race when (and only when) referring to the entire race. Thus: "the lore of the Elves", but "a band of elves". [November 2021 Update: Candidate for removal? Appears to contradict Usage Notes in https://wiki.wesnoth.org/ProseStyle]
Usages to Avoid
- alot – 'a lot' should be two words, unless you intended to write 'allot', meaning 'allocate'.
- alright – Technically, 'alright' is acceptable; it's a back formation, derived in the same way as 'already', and it can be traced back for decades. But it looks very modern. As we usually want a more archaic tone for Wesnoth, please use all right as two words instead. Consider using "Very well."
- anymore – No, this is wrong. any more should be two words. [Appears acceptable as one word in current US English...]
- 'being through with' – Constructs such as 'I am through dealing with these people' are also modern. Use sparingly.
- 'Great.' – Not necessarily wrong, but very modern, especially when used ironically.
- guys – Very modern usage. Please avoid.
- malus – The opposite of bonus. Unfortunately, while it's a convenient coinage this word is not yet widely accepted. It appears in the Urban Dictionary, but no other online authorities list it yet. A better opposite for 'bonus' is penalty. [Disputed: malus is Latin for 'bad', although penalty is probably a better word to use in most situations.]
- nevermind – Two words, please.
- OK, okay – Modern; avoid.
- 'Princess' – Addressing a princess as 'Princess' is an egregious, tin-eared piece of George Lucas-level modern phrasing. It's not even correct in the real world. Correct Earth etiquette is to call her 'Your Royal Highness' when you first meet her, thereafter, 'Ma'am' (pronounced 'mam'). Search for 'Correct terms of address' if you have characters in your campaign for whom you need to get it right, or check this (and other) etiquette link(s) on Wikipedia: . Any character born a noble will know this stuff, and will automatically get it right; to them, it's ingrained habit. Other characters might not, unless they're higher-level, better-educated, or have been briefed on what to do. But in formal encounters, such as meeting a (potential) enemy noble for the first time, characters will often at least try to be polite. Of course, Wesnoth etiquette is not necessarily the same as Earth etiquette. We haven't defined the rules for Wesnoth etiquette yet, and the Wikipedia article linked above is far more detailed than we'll ever need. Nevertheless, when we eventually do define our etiquette rules, they will be mostly Earth-like, and not George Lucas-like. Also look up the rules on lèse majesté (although those rules do only apply to sovereigns, not mere princesses), and bear in mind that any poor ignoramus who did address a princess as "Princess" would probably be taken away and flogged. This applies to other noble titles as well, to a greater or lesser degree. At least use phrases such as 'milady', 'my lord' and so on.
- 'Right.' – Not necessarily wrong, and preferable to 'Great.', but still very modern, especially when used ironically. Try 'Aye', or 'Yes', or 'Yea' instead.
- 'technically' – Modern; use sparingly.
- 'Uh, Um, Er,' – When they appear, these noises tend to be used in a modern way. You'll find 'O' and 'Oh' and 'Ah' and 'Ho' and 'Ha' in Shakespeare, but not 'Uh'. Instead of starting a sentence with 'Uh,' try to find a more archaic way of phrasing it.
- ''Yeah.' – Modern phrasing.
Fantasy, archaic and other terms clarified
Alternate means 'one, then the other, then the first, and so on', alternative means another. 90% of the time, people incorrectly use 'alternate' when they should be using 'alternative'. If it's a choice of two, you should use alternative.
Behold means 'see'. This means you can't behold sounds, or smells.
You can only be besieged if you're on some sort of defensible structure, but you don't have to be outmatched.
You can be beset in the middle of a flat featureless plain, but only if you're outmatched or close to it.
A breach is a break. Breach can also be a verb.
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends!", as King Henry V once said.
A breech is part of a gun. Breech can't be a verb.
Breeches also means a type of trousers or pants that usually extend to the knee. Hence also 'knee breeches'. May sometimes be known as 'breeks'.
- Hear hear
Never 'Here here'. 'Hear hear' is short for 'Hear him, hear him', and originated in the English parliament in the 18th century.
A horde of barbarians.
A hoard of treasure. Hoard can also be a verb.
Predators prey on their prey. (verb and noun)
Priests pray prayers. (verb and noun)
The insects are known as praying mantises.
Ravish has sexual connotations which ravage does not.
You can ravish a fair maiden, and an old crone could have ravaged features.
You can ravage the land. You can't ravish the land, however.
- rise up
'Rise up' usually means 'rebel', and it is a rather inelegant term for 'advance'.
Wield is a verb referring to carrying or using a weapon. A phrase such as 'he wields his father's enchanted sword and boots' implies the existence of a new martial art of some kind. Presumably you tie the laces together and use the boots as a sort of bola...
The mainline campaigns are being switched to UTF-8. We are adopting the use of the following glyphs:
en dash: – U+2013 (8211) em dash: — U+2014 (8212) horizontal bar: ― U+2015 (8213) aka quotation bar minus sign: − U+2212 (8722) apostrophe: ’ U+2019 (8217) same character as the right single quote left single quote: ‘ U+2018 (8216) right single quote: ’ U+2019 (8217) same character as the apostrophe left double quote: “ U+201C (8220) right double quote: ” U+201D (8221)
This replaces the current uses of - ' and -- in dialogue, most of which have already been cleared out. If you see characters such as "... the landâ€™s very heart..." instead of "... the land’s very heart..." (the exact triplet shown may vary depending on your operating system), your system/editor/viewer/whatever is not displaying UTF-8 characters correctly.
We are also adopting the use of Pango-style markup, allowing us to mark up text with colours, bold, italics and large or small text.