The people of Korvosa universally speak Chelaxian (frequently known as “Common”). Korvosans have, over time, created their own slang unique to the city. In order to help you blend in while exploring Korvosa, make sure to (correctly) use the following phrases.
Chel: Mildly derogatory term for people of Chelish descent. Widely used as a contemptuous dismissal in the rest of the world. In Korvosa, the word has evolved into a hate-filled ethnic slur. Use of this word constitutes a grave affront in the city, and using it against the wrong target likely finds the offender beaten, lynched, or killed.
Dancer: Cutpurse, pickpocket, or other thief who works crowds. Comes from the belief that most thieves are Varisians and most Varisians like to dance. Actual dancing performers are called “performers.”
Empty: A beggar, vagrant, or homeless person. Most Korvosans consider an empty to be someone without meaning or purpose, whose existence doesn’t matter and whose life and death occur without mention.
Fronter: Someone who lives in Bridgefront or is otherwise poor. Not a polite term and frequently used as a mild (sometimes playful) insult among younger aristocrats and nobles. Connotes dirtiness.
Gater: Someone who lives in Northgate. Common term even used by Gaters themselves.
Horser: Highly inflammatory term for a Shoanti or other savage primitive. Holds strong connotations of bestiality.
Imper: A young student of the Acadamae. Older students respectfully receive no nickname, as they wield the power to kill those who insult them.
Moth: A full-blooded Varisian. Because so much of the population in Korvosa descends at least partially from Varisian stock, most people don’t consider it an insult, using it as a nickname for the nomadic people. Full-blooded Varisians differ on their acceptance of the term: some use it themselves while others bristle at its connotations.
Pincher: Someone very poor who scrapes by on only a few copper pinch a month.
Sails: One or more ships.
Solly: Someone who wishes to unionize or form a guild. Short for “solidarity.” A dire insult in Korvosa (even if the recipient does support the formation of guilds), sometimes considered the foulest thing to call a Korvosan.
Solly Slop: Rubbish, excrement. At one time, this referred to the bland porridge of unskilled laborers (the most common agitators for unionizing in the city). Today, Korvosans consider the phrase vulgar and not to be used in public.
The Bank of Abadar mints uniquely Korvosan coins used throughout Varisia.
Korvosa ties the value of its coins to those of Cheliax, such that Chelaxian coins are also considered legal tender in the city.
Copper Pinch: Usually referred to as simply a pinch (plural and singular), dropping “copper.” Calling multiple copper coins “pinches” elicits laughs and painful tweaks on the arm or backside.
Silver Shield: Frequently called by its full name to differentiate it from the shields used for protection.
Gold Sail: Always called by its full name to differentiate it from the similar term “sails.
Platinum Crown: Occasionally referred to as simply a crown, dropping “platinum.”