Cultural Diffusion in Contemporary Kryta
Cultural Diffusion in Contemporary Kryta is a tale written by Matthew Medina. It is an excerpt from the in-universe research written by Durmand Priory researcher Villem Caraga.
From 1070 AE, when the charr first invaded the land of Ascalon, to 1075 AE, when Kormir ascended to godhood, writing systems were not widespread throughout the world of Tyria. Among the human kingdoms there was no concerted effort to pass on such specialized knowledge, and without technology such as the printing press to encourage every person to learn to read and write, literacy was only relevant to a handful of scholars from each race. Consequently, most Ascalonians and Krytans were not literate in their own writing systems, though they still held to them as a part of their history and culture.
When the Ascalonians arrived in Kryta as refugees, they naturally brought their culture with them. Although citizens of both nations could communicate verbally by speaking the "common" tongue, attempts to communicate through the written word were challenging to say the least.
Old Krytan uses a series of symbols, typically arranged in a vertical format, and is more akin to a primitive syllabary than an alphabet. But even those symbols were falling out of favor with modern Krytan citizens because of their heavy use of contextualization, which was confusing to all but the most learned scholars. They still show up on some druid stones, ruins, and a few other places, but for the most part Old Krytan is something of a relic, unused by the majority of the general population.
Old Ascalonian uses a simpler runic alphabet, so it was very versatile for writing and being clearly translated. And although many Ascalonians could not read or write their own historical language, they recognized it and saw examples of it all around them, both on contemporary structures and ancient artifacts, as well as other sources.
The extended occupation of Ascalon by the charr obviously forced the Ascalonians to adapt and change to better meld into their new surroundings. The arrival and subsequent influence of the asura and the norn in 1078 AE, who had their own cultures and languages, complicated things even further. As these cultures learned to work and live together, one of the areas they were forced to agree upon was the creation of a common alphabet to facilitate treaties and agreements between the varying factions of humans, asura, and norn.
The organization of the Durmand Priory became a primary catalyst for deciding to move forward with a single writing system, which allowed their scholars to compile and catalogue their vast storehouse of knowledge without requiring them all to be fluent in multiple alphabets (although many of their most senior members are multi-lingual in order to read ancient manuscripts, ruins, and other examples of text from the past). Through the Priory's efforts, and with the skilled negotiations of representatives from all the friendly cultures and races of Tyria, it was decided that a compromise between the various languages would be the best solution. In a landmark decision, with the asura casting the sole dissenting vote, the symbols of Old Krytan were combined with the ease of use of Old Ascalonian, and the New Krytan alphabet was born. The year was 1105 AE.
Over the past 220 years, New Krytan has become the standard writing system in Tyria and is used widely throughout the human kingdom, the asura colleges, and by the norn. The Durmand Priory set out to promote literacy and make the use of the new alphabet commonplace, so that all intelligent beings could read and understand the words that were appearing all around them.
Today, every citizen of Tyria, regardless of their origins, is given the opportunity and the education to read and understand the alphabet of New Krytan. Even old enemies such as the charr and new friends like the sylvari have adopted this system of communication so that all can be understood and make plans to combat the common threat they now face. In particular, an unexpected boon for the New Krytan alphabet came from the charr's industrial technology in the form of the first printing press, which has changed the written word in Tyria forever. Now books, signs, and periodicals are found in every corner of the world, and more applications of the written word appear every day.
If one looks around, you can still see examples of Ascalonian runes, Old Krytan symbols, and asuran script throughout Tyria, but they are a legacy of the past. The future, or at least the foreseeable future, will be written in one alphabet, perhaps symbolizing the unity of differing races coming together as one people — one people that struggles to survive and carry a new legacy forward.
- excerpt from “Cultural Diffusion in Contemporary Kryta”
written by Durmand Priory researcher Villem Caraga
- Content Designer Matthew Medina Discusses the Alphabets of Guild Wars, ArenaNet blog (archived)