Languages of Alagaesia: Ancient Language

History

The ancient language used to be spoken by all living things throughout the world. It used to be just what the name implies – simply a language. However, after magic had wreaked havoc in the world, a race known as the Grey Folk performed a powerful and complicated spell that bonded magic and the ancient language together, so that the former could be performed by speaking the right words in the latter without any confusion and chaos.

The Grey Folk’s spell also gave the ancient language two new powers. The first was the ability to describe the true nature of things – anyone who knows the name of something in the ancient language has power over that thing. The second was a power that prevented anyone from lying when speaking in the ancient language (it is unknown why the Grey Folk decided to do this).

Years passed, and after a while, the ancient language was entirely forgotten in Alagaësia. Eons later, however, the ancient language was brought back into Alagaësia by the elves when they came to settle in that land, and it was taken up by magic users to aid them in their spells. By the time Eragon was born, it was spoken as a native tongue only by the elves, who apparently lacked the creative spark to come up with their own language.

Sentence Construction

Looking to learn the ancient language? This is that part of the article! To start off, here are some notes on ancient language sentence structure that you should remember:

1. Descriptions are placed after the object they describe. The most common mistake made by people trying to speak the ancient language is to place adjectives before nouns. Here’s how to do it properly.

Example: “Aí skulblaka ramr” means “a strong dragon”, but literally translates as “a dragon strong”.

2. Unlike in English, descriptions can be placed in any order following the object.

Example: “Aí oro ramr hvitr” (a strong, white arrow) can also be rendered as “aí oro hvitr ramr” (a white, strong arrow).

3. Aside from descriptions, the structure of a sentence in the ancient language is usually the same as it would be in English.

Example: “Gath un reisa du rakr” would literally translate as “unite and raise the mist”. No restructuring of the sentence was required.

4. There are no participles (e.g. walking, swimming) in the ancient language. Verbs are either past simple (e.g. walked, swam), present simple (e.g. walk, swim) or future simple (e.g. will walk, will swim).

Example: “I am following” would have to be rendered as “I follow” (Eka tauthr) in the ancient language; “I was following” as “I followed” (Eka tauthro) and “I will be following” as “I will follow” (Eka weohnata tauthr).

5. In our experience with the ancient language, we have found that “iet” (my) usually precedes the object it possesses unless there is an auxiliary verb preceding the object as well; then “iet” moves behind the possessed object.

Example: “He breaks my shield” becomes “älfr jierda iet skölir”, but “He is my shield” becomes “älfr er skölir iet.”

6. When two nouns are joined together to form a single noun, the descriptive noun comes first, as it does in English.

Example: “Fethrblaka” (bird) is a combination of the nouns “fethr” (feather) and “blaka” (flapper).

Prefixes

äf-: gives words a malignant connotation. For example, “taka” (give) becomes äftaka (steal).

eld-: changes verbs into nouns of action. For example, “jierda” (break) becomes “eld jierda” (breaker).

Suffixes

-ar: pluralises nouns ending on consonants. If the noun already ends with “r”, place an “a” before it. For example, “draumr” (dream) becomes “draumar” (dreams). However, if the noun already has a vowel before the “r”, the suffix “-ya” is used. For example, “edur” (tor) becomes “edya” (tors).

-í: changes verbs ending with any letter (except for “i” and “r”) to past tense. For example, “haina” (harm) becomes “hainaí” (harmed).

-o: forms the past tense of verbs ending with “i” and “r”. For example, “skölir” (shield) becomes “sköliro” (shielded)

-r: gives nouns a masculine connotation. For example, “älf” (elf) becomes “älfr” (male elf), which is also he in the Ancient Language.

-s: makes nouns possessive. For example, “könungr” (king) becomes “könungrs” (king’s).

-sja: adds “-looking” to the end of adjectives. For example, “ramr” (strong) becomes “ramrsja” (strong-looking).

-ya: pluralises nouns ending on vowels. It also replaces the last vowel. For example, “agaetí” (celebration) becomes “agaetya” (celebrations). If the “-ya” interferes with the word’s pronunciation, the vowel it would normally replace isn’t removed. The vowels “a” and “i” are usually changed to “e”. For example, “celöbra” (honor) becomes “celöbreya” (honours).

Articles, Conjunctions, Auxiliary Verbs, Prepositions

a:

am: eddyr

and: un

are: eru

backward: aptr

be: waíse

did: achí

do: ach

does: ach (the same as “do”, see 4. above)

for: wiol

forward: fram

from: fra

in: unin

is: er

let: atra

may:

not: néiat

of: abr

that: sem

the: du

this: thornessa

to: eom

was: ero

were: erní

will: weohnata

with: un (the same as “and”)

Pronouns

I: eka

he: älfr

me: eka (the same as “I”)

my (formal): pömnuria

my (informal): iet

she: älfrinn

their: theirra

they: therr

those: thorna

us: nosu

you: ono

your: onr

Nouns

air: vindr

arrow: oro

bat: lethrblaka

bird: fethrblaka

blanket: nagz

blood: blödh

bond of trust: yawë

brow: brun

calves: kalfya

celebration: agaetí

city: dras

cripple: togira

day: dag

death: anglát, freohr

dominance: domia

dragon: skulblaka

Dragon Rider: Shur’tugal

dream: draumr

dwarves: dvergar

ears: eyreya

earth: deloi

elf: älf

elf-kind: älfakyn

family: breoal

fate: wyrda

feather: fethr

fire: brisingr, istalrí

fool’s wisdom: orothrim

forest: welden

Forsworn: Wyrdfell

friend: fricai, vinr

gate: grind

good fortune: esterní

greetings: kvertha

hand: lam

happiness: ilian

heart: hjarta

hell: hel

honour: celöbra

king: könungr

knife: knífr

leaf: laufsbläd

leather: lethr

life: líf

light: garjzla

lip balm: nalgask

luck: guliä

magic: vanyalí

master: ebrithil

memory: manin

misery: zar’roc

misfortune: rauthr

mist: rakr

Morning Star: Aiedail

mortal: dauthleikr

mountains: fells

movement: sharjalví

oath: ren

palm: gedwëy

path: gata

peace: mor’ranr

picture created through magic: fairth

plains: völlar

purple-flowered plant: delois

sage: osthato

scale: skul

script: liduen

serpent: orúm

shadows: súndavar

shield: skölir

silver: arget

sorrow: baen

Spine, the: Carthungavë

stars: evarínya

stick: vöndr

stone: stenr

sword: sverd

thornapple: haldthin

thought: hugin

tor: edur

war: fyrn

warder: varden

water: adurna

witch: seithr

woman: koma

Verbs and Adjectives

bind: malthinae

blasted: nángoröth

bore (baby): burthr

break: jierda

bright: bjart

broad: böetk

burn: eldrvarya

catch: kodthr

change: moi

dull: gëuloth

empty: eyddr

find: finna

flap: blaka

follow: tauthr

go: gánga

hallowed: shelgr

halt: blöthr

harm: haina

heal: heill

hear: hóna

hold: huildr

ill: vandr

invoke: ethgri

lack: vanta

leave: eitha

live: lífa

marked: fodhr

mean: malabra

mourn: chetowä

need: vanta

oaken: ekar

poetic: kvaedhí

raise: reisa

reduce: brakka

release: losna

rest: stydja

rise: rïsa

rule: thelduin

run: hlaupa

sharp: hvass

shine: ignasia

silent: hljödhr

sing: gala

sleep: slytha

stare: kópa

stay: sitja

steal: äftaka

stop: letta

strong: ramr

take: taka

temper: tuatha

thank: elrun

thrust: thrysta

traverse: thverr

unconquerable: edoc’sil

under: undir

unite: gath

wander: vrangr

ward: vard

watch: varda

white: hvitr

whole: ikonoka