Spoken Language in the Sixth World has not changed drastically, although literacy has decreased as the matrix makes graphical iconography more common as a replacement for verbose text.
There are also a number of new language isolates (single languages that are not part of a larger language family), such as Sperethiel.
Names in parenthesis are common alternate names for the languages or families in question.
Anishinaabe: Algonquin, Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree, Micmac, Mohican, Ojibwa, Shawnee, Wiyot, Yurok.
Armenian – Isolate.†
Athabaskan (Athapascan, Na-Dené): Apache, Chipewyan, Diné (aka Navaho), Tlingit.‡
Baltic: Estonian, Latvian (Lettisch), Lithuanian.
Bantu (Niger-Kordofanian): Anyi, Ashanti, Azande, Bassa, Baule, Bemba, Birom, Bulu, Efik, Ewe, Fang, Fante, Fula, Ganda, Ibo, Igbo, Kikuyu, Kituba, Kongo, Kpele, Kru, Luba, Lunda, Makua, Mande, Mbundu, Mende, More, Mossi, Ngala, Ngbaudi, Nyamwezi-Sukuma, Nyanja, Rundi, Rwanda, Shona, Sotho, Sukuma, Swahili, Temne, Tiv, Tswana, Twi, Wolof, Xhosa, Yao, Yoruba, Zande, Zulu.
Basque – Isolate with dialects.
Caddoan: Caddo, Pawnee, Wichita.
Celtic: Breton, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh.
Chinese (see Sino-Tibetan below)
Chukotko-Kamchatkan: Chukchi, Koryak.
Dravidian: Gondi, Kannada, Kurukh, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Tulu.
Eskimo-Aleut: Aleut, Inuit (Eskimo), Yupik.
Finnic: Cheremis, Finnish, Karelian, Lapp, Livonian, Mordvin, Veps, Votyak, Zyrian.
Germanic: Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, English, Flemish, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Yiddish.
Greek – Isolate.†
Hamitic: Beja, Berber, Galla, Hausa (Chadic), Somali, Tuareg.
Indic: Assamese, Bengali, Bhilli, Gujarati, Hindi, Konkani, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Urdu.
Indo-Iranian: Baluchi, Kurdish, Persian (Farsi), Pushtu.
Iroquoian: Cayuga, Cherokee, Erie, Huron, Iroquois, Mohawk, Onandago, Oneida, Seneca, Tuscarora.
Japonic: Japanese, Ryukyuan (Okinawan et al.).
Khoisan: Bushman, Hadza, Hottentot, Nama, Sandawe.
Korean – Isolate.
Malayo-Polynesian: Bahasa, Cebuano, Hawaiʻian, Ilocano, Javanese, Kiriwina, Madurese, Malayan, Māori, Melanesian, Micronesian, Misima, Panay-Hiligaynon, Polynesian, Waray-Waray (Samar-Leyte), Sāmoan, Sundanese, Tagalog, Tahitian, Taluga.
Mayan: Guatemala, Kaqchikel (Cakchiquel), Kekchi (Q’eqchi’), Mam, Quiché (K’iche’), Tz’utujil, Yucatec (Maya).
Mongolic: Khalkha (Mongolian).
Mon-Khmer (Annamite): Cambodian (Khmer), Khmer Nāga,ℜ Mon, Vietnamese (Annamese).
Muskhohean: Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole.
Nilotic: Bagirmi, Dinka, Fur, Kanembu, Kanuri, Koman, Luo, Maban, Masai, Nuer, Sango, Shilluk, Songhai, Wadai.
Or'zet – Orkish isolate.
Oto-Manguan: Mixtec, Otomi, Zapotec.
Papuan: Dayak, Negrito, Papu.
Perkins-Athabaskan – A sign language (see below).
Salish: Chehalis, Okanagon, Salish.
Semitic: Amharic, Arabic, Harari, Hebrew, Neo-Aramaic, Tigré, Tigrinya.
Sino-Tibetan: Burmese, Cantonese, Hakka, Kashmiri, Lao, Mandarin, Min, Nepali, Shan, Thai, Tibetan, Wu, Yueh.
Siouan: Catawba, Crow, Dakota, Hidatsa, Lakota, Omaha, Osage.
Slavic: Belorussian, Bulgarian, Czech, Georgian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Slovene, Ukrainian.
South Amerindian: Arowakan, Aymara’, Cariban, Cuna, Epera, Mapudungun (Araucanian), Mataro, Ngäbere (Guaymi), Páez, Quechua, Tupi-Guarani, Waica, Yanomani.
Sperethiel – Elvish isolate with dialects.
Tlingit – Isolate.‡
Tsimshianic: Gitxsan (Nisga’a), Tsimshian.
Tungusic: Evenki (Tungus), Nanai, Xibe (Manchu).
Turkic: Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Chuvash, Gagauz, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Tatar,Turkish, Turkmen, Uzbek, Yakut.
Ugrian: Magyar (Hungarian), Ostyak, Vogul.
Uto-Aztecan: Aztec, Comanche, Hopi, Nahuatl, Paiute, Papago, Pima, Shoshoni, Tarahumara, Ute.
Zuni – Isolate.
Lingoes: City Speak (multiple versions), Legalese (used by lawyers, executives, and politicians), Magetalk (used by hermetics and those who study magic), Military Jargon (used by soldiers and mercenaries), Netspeak (used by deckers/hackers), Scientific Jargon (used by researchers and lab techs), and Trog.
- Perkins-Athabaskan☞ & Amerind Hand Talk
- French derived (LSF & ASL) – Over thirty dialects including American (ASL),ℜ Aztlaner (LSA),ℜ Brazilian (LIBRAS), French (LSF),ℜ German (DGS), Irish (ISL), Israeli (ISL), Russian (RSL), Spanish (SSL), and Québec (LSQ).
- British derived (BANZSL) – Eight dialects including Australian (Auslan), British (BSL), New Zealand (NZSL), and South African (SASL).
- Japanese (JSL) influenced – Dialects include Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese sign languages.
- Chinese based – Dialects include Shanghai (also used in Malaysia), Hong Kong (HKSL), Taiwan, and Tibetan.
- Indo-Pakistani Sign Language (IPSL) – Dialects include Mumbai-Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore-Madras, and Nepal.
- Monastic – Dialects include Benedictine, Cistercian, and Trappist
This detailed list of languages appeared in SR1 and SR2, although some spellings have been corrected here and common alternate names have been added. Information on Shadowrun's fictional languages has also been updated if possible.
Later editions made little mention of language families, although those wanting to keep them could house-rule that Language Families are a form of Skill Group costing double what a language would cost in karma. Language isolates would still be learned at the normal cost for a single language.
SR1&2 treat the "Special" languages as separate languages. City Speak was the common language of the sprawls including bits and pieces of many different languages (famous from its original source, Blade Runner). Tunnel Talk was a common street language amongst orks and trolls.
SR3&4 treat the "Lingos" as specializations of their parent languages. So City Speak now has multiple regional versions, with North America for example having City Speak as a specialization of English. One way to keep City Speak as a low level lingua franca, would be to assume that people who know different languages but each have a specialization in City Speak could communicate as if they had a common language at rating 2.
† Some linguists argue that Armenian and Greek constitute a language family.
‡ While SR1&2 listed the Tlingit language as an isolate, most linguists consider it to be part of the Athabaskan/Na-Dené family.
ℜ New languages mentioned in Runner's Companion (p. 63–66).
☞ The only sign language generally mentioned by name in Shadowrun is the fictional Perkins-Athabaskan used by North American sasquatches. The real sign languages listed above are grouped based on the hand symbols they share. For example ASL/ISL/LSF/LSQ have relatively common alphabets and word symbols so an ASL/ISL user who writes in English could communicate (in sign) with a LSF/LSQ user who writes in French; while neither could as easily communicate in sign with a BSL/Auslan/NZSL user who writes in English. In Shadowrun terms ASL/ISL/LSF/LSQ are dialects of a single sign language common to North America, Ireland, and continental Europe, while BSL/Auslan/NZSL are dialects/lingoes of the sign language common in the Commonwealth of Nations (excluding Canada). See Sign language classification at Wikipedia for more detail or other groupings.
- Shadowrun, page 61.
- Shadowrun: Second Edition, pages 45, 74, 230.
- Paradise Lost, page 74
- Shadowrun: Third Edition, pages 58, 59, 91.
- Runner's Companion, pages 63–66.
- Wikipedia (for spelling and the details in the Notes section)