This article was originally published November 28th, 2022, and has been updated to reflect the new monsters that have been added to the D&D 5e cannon.
What is Deep Speech?
According to the 5e Player’s Handbook, p123, Deep Speech is the language spoken by mind flayers and beholders. That’s it, that’s all the information we get on this language. What else can we glean from the official sources about this language.
First, speaking more broadly, deep speech is the language of aberrations. Start spawn, neogi, psurlons, aboleth, and other beholderkin are speakers of this language. Most of these things have a mouth, and many of the ones that don’t either can only understand the language or are telepathic.
The current player’s handbook also lists no script for this language. The 4e Forgotten Realms Players Guide states that the drow were the first to document this language. This is as a result of their close proximity to the mind flayers in the underdark.
I like to think that, given the body plans of creatures that speak this language it must involve a larger amount of gesture than most languages we think of. Tentacles and extra limbs are the norm for aberrations. The also tend to have rather unusual mouth-parts.
The hardest part of speaking Deep isn’t all the hissing and gurgling. It’s all the gesture meant to be made with tentacles. Bony human fingers just weren’t made to coil and squiggle like the tentacles of a mind flayer or a star spawn…-Voivode Kohoutek
Who Speaks Deep Speech?
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