The Anarchy of King Stephen
Linguistics of Wessex
Most people in the campaign, including all PCs, can speak Anglo-Norman, which serves as the Common Tongue for the campaign. Persons of low social standing will tend to have more Anglish grammar and vocabulary, while those of high rank or aspiring to such a position will tend to use more French.
Anglo-Norman is the native tongue of very few people, so almost everybody (including all PCs) speak a second language. For locals to the setting that means either Anglish, French, Cornish or Welsh. Choosing French as your native tongue probably indicates either that someone in your family (father, uncle, older brother or half-brother) is a Knight (which at this point in history is not yet a hereditary title) or that you are from France. Some folks originating from just off to the northeast of the map may actually speak a local dialect of Danish, as those ratfink Danes controlled a vast chunk of eastern England not that long ago.
Of course, you can play a foreigner type and speak some other tongue. The Gaelic tongues of the Irish, Scotts and Manx have yet to substantially diverge, so all those guys effectively speak the same tongue. An exception to this rule is the Pavee Travellers, the Gypsy-like wandering people of Gaelic Irish descent. Their Pavee tongue is distinctly Gaelic, but has its own constructions as well. The aforementioned Danish will do you for all your stock viking types as well. Other very interesting options would be Hebrew for a Jewish character or Arabic for a Spanish Moor. Flemish mercenaries figure in some English armies of the period. Such characters would probably speak Frisian or Dutch or maybe German or French. The County of Flanders seems to be a multilingual sort of place.
Latin serves as the Common Tongue for western Christendom, though almost no members of the lower classes speak it. All sages automatically speak Latin and it assumed that their spellbook is written in this tongue unless they are a native Hebrew, Arabic or Greek speaker. All Clerics of western Christian faith automatically know Latin as well. Any PC who is not a Sage may start play knowing Latin if their Intelligence score is 11 or higher.
All PCs of -2 or better INT are be able to read, with a low INT indicating various difficulties such as needing to form the words aloud, slow reading speed, limited vocabulary and/or poor comprehension. Writing is considered a separate skill and among PCs only the Sage has the necessary training.
Many sages can read and write (though perhaps not speak) a bewildering array of ancient languages or obscure languages. For each point of INT, they may select an additional language. Below is a d12 chart with some possibilities. Pick or roll.
1 – Latin
2 – Greek
3 – Hebrew
4 – Greek
5 – Aramaic
6 – Egyptian Hieroglyphics
7 – Norse Runes
8 – Basque
9 – Enochian
10 – Old Irish/Ogham
11 – Persian
12 – Atlantean
Credit to Jeff Rients, http://jrients.blogspot.com, for this page.