The language followed dwarves all over Faerûn and beyond, making it an extremely widespread language. Communities and races that had been separated for some time evolved their own dialects.
Originating from the ancient Elder language, Dwarvish saw many incarnations and variations.
Although once a strong and exclusive language, actual dwarvish words only make up a fraction of the words used by dwarves today. Many dwarves tend to speak common littered with dwarvish words. Dwarven record-keepers and historians are among the few left that could speak whole verses in pure dwarvish.
Being such an old language, Dwarvish has been subject to various changes over the generations and has spawned numerous dialects. All of these dialects employ Dethek as their written alphabet.
This dialect is used by arctic dwarves. The language is strongly influenced by Uluik, the language spoken by human colonies in the nearby Great Glacier.
The dialect of the gold dwarves, Riftspeak is one of the oldest dialects and has barely changed in over 10,000 years. This is probably due to the great care gold dwarves take in learning languages. Gold dwarves are one of the most literate races of dwarf in Faerûn.
Duergan originated from Shanatan, the dialect of the shield dwarves. Since the split Duergan has changed dramatically, leaving it as one of the most altered dwarvish dialects. The drow and illithid influences in this dialect are hard to ignore, having altered its vocabulary and grammatical structure.
Urdunnir dwarves used an older version of Shanatan, that closer resembled the language in its early years.
Eastern shield dwarves use a different dialect to their western cousins. Galenan is a form of dwarvish stongly influenced by the human dialect Damaran.
One of the oldest eastern dwarf dialect, spoken by only a couple dwarven clans. Notably by the
Little is known about the phonetics of dwarvish.
- Main article: Dethek
All dwarvish languages use a runic script known as Dethek. Dethek runes are rarely written on paper or cloth due to the short life and fragile nature of such materials. Runes are usually carved or scraped into stone or metal, be it the walls of a building or the blade of a sword.
The Dethek runic alphabet consists of 24 characters. This is because w, x and z are represented by the same character. This may be confusing for humans trying to translate into common.
Dwarvish had similar grammatical constructs to common. This was no doubt due to the fact that both languages evolved alongside one another. These shared rules meant that speakers of common would have found it relatively easy to learn and translate dwarfish.