Numenera - Seeking the Past
The Truth: The Aeon Priests teach a language based on rationality and intellect. Because of its name, it means something different in the Nineth World to say, “She speaks the Truth,” but that subtle double meaning is intentional on the part of the priesthood.
The langauge’s rules are simple and straightfoward, easy to teach and easy to learn. The Truth is the predominant language of the Steadfast, where it is spoken by about 80 percent of the people; in the cities that number is closer to 100 percent. In the Beyond, about 60 percent of the people speak the Truth as their primary language, but isolated villages have their own specific tongue.
Shin-Talk: This is a crude and simple language used only for trade related tasks – counting, assessing quality, and so on. Shin-Talk is older then the Truth but not as widely used.
Other Languages: At least 500 (and probably more) completely distinct languages are spoken across the Nineth World. It’s not unusual for a traveler to discover an isolated village – particularly in the Beyond – and be unable to speak to its few hundred residents because they have their own language. Fortuneatly, this is a common problem, so people are used to struggling through interactions without relying on words.
Many people of the Nineth World cannot read. The Steadfast has a literacy rate of about 50 percent. Although almost everyone can recognize a few written words of the Truth, genuine literacy – the ability to read a contract or a book – is uncommon. Reading is more common in the cities, where up to 70 percent of the population might be literate. In small towns and villages, the number is closer to 40 percent, and in very rural, isolated villages, it falls to 10 percent or less.
In the Beyond literacy is about 50 percent in the cities and 0 to 20 percent in the aldeia.
In communities that have a predominant language other then the Truth, literacy rates vary wildly.