The Eldar Language [LamEldannar] is a reflection of the Eldar mind, a challenge for the Human [Mon-Keigh] scribe to decipher. To the Eldar all things are fluid, part of an endless dance that spans time and existence. Things that seem concrete and discrete to other races are but facets to the Eldar, merely temporary states of being. You might be a Warrior today, but a Seer tomorrow, loyal this year, a Pirate the next. Even death and life are transitory impermanent states. So it is with the Eldar langauge, in which everything is an expression of a state of being and words are cast in different aspects that might seem unrelated in Human tongues.
Despite this fluidity the Eldar place great important in Names, words which identify unique moments in time and being which individuals hold. The Eldar name everything of import, people, places, weapons, concepts, times and dates. An Exarch's armour, a Seer's Witchblade [estrillainn], a Craftsman's tools, the leading Scout, the shout of an Aspect Warrior, all these things are significant and thus named. Since Eldar names are most recognizable to Human minds, so they are the terms that most frequently appear in Imperial Lexicons. Nevertheless even these Names are in fact mere temporary states, conglomerations of other words that pinpoint a moment in the skein of change.
It is this that makes the Eldar language such a challenge to codify. New words are created with almost every sentence, accreted and mutated into terms that name states unique to the time the sentence is spoken. With an almost infinite variety of ways to say the same thing, allusions and double meanings are built into the language. How you choose to say something is as important as how it is said.
The Eldar lexicon is generally broken into three classes of words, States, Names and Modifiers. States are the basic building blocks of the language, Names are compounds that identify specific things, while Modifiers are word-parts that are generally used only to modify other words.
Most Eldar words are States, expressions that something is in a certain state of beings. Each state can take one of three cases, the Active, Passive or Non-Productive, each associated with a colour, emotion, and one of the legendary moons of the Eldar homeworld. The Passive is also refered to as the root form. Each case has radically different meanings when used for the same word.
Using a state in the Activte form indicates direct activity or aggression. Military terms are almost always in the Active case. Using a state in the Passive form indiciates considered or measured action, taking time to do something. The Non-productive case indicates a failure of action, or equally something that does not produce immediate results.
States fill the function of most verbs and abstract nouns in English. A state describes a state of being, and are always in the Present Continuous. e.g the state [Mure] 'death' means something like 'a state of being dead'.
As a bare word a state functions a little like an abstract noun, describing a concept or object. The addition of names indicating subjects and objects turns a state into a verb. While most states can take only a Subject (the name of the thing performing the state) and an Object (the name of the thing having the state done to it), some take one or more Indirect-Objects as well (the name of the thing the state is being performed with). Indirect Objects are indicated with the modifier [sin].
|The state of being dead
|I am in the state of being dead
|I am dead
|[Iam Mure kel]
|I am making it in the state of being dead
|I kill it
|[Iam Mure kel sin-Iarstill]
|I am making it in the state of being dead with a sword
|I kill it with a sword
A state mutates according to the case. For example
The root word Dyann shows differing morphology and meaning in each case. The word 'Din' implies Agressive protection, and might be translated as Avenger, or Guardian, 'Dyann' implies passive protection, as in Watcher, while 'Dinne' could be translated as Keeper, Bodyguard etc. There do not seem to be hard and fast rules for how case is indicated in different states. While most alter only in their suffixes, some are almost unrecognisible from case to case, while vowel mutation is common (as in the case of Dyann). Imperial Scholars often struggle to assign all of the cases of a given state and debate often exists about certain word assignments.
Case can also be indicated by the modifiers [ka] [ea] and [os]. The case modifiers shift a state from it's usual case to the indicated one, producing a double meaning. So for example [ka-dinne] would imply an agressive or premptive keeper.
States can be compounded into Names, which indicate a specific entity. Names are generally equivalent to proper nouns (nouns which describe singular entities), even when they apply to a whole class of things (e.g. [Novine]). Some Imperial scholars suggest that there are in fact no such things as Names, but that all words are States, with incomplete knowledge of their cases. Certainly some names seem to also take cases. Certainly it is reasonable to translate even a concrete Name as one would a state. e.g. [Novine] might be better translated as 'a state of being a bird' than as 'birds'.
Names for indiviuals or items are generally compounds made from multiple States. Good examples are the names of Titan Clans, Warrior Aspects, Craftworlds and planets. Military names are almost always assumed to be in the Active case (they are rarely seen with the [ka] modifier). The names of individuals are usually in the Passive case.
Pronouns (you, me, they etc.) are considered special Names. They can be used in any situation in which a name would be used (e.g. as subjects or objects), and vice-versa.
|I / Me
|He / She
There is no pronoun distinction between male and female, although the words man [avten] and woman [arten], or the suffixes [-av] or [-ar] can be used as auxilliary names if such a distinction must be made. Indicating a group by gender [iem-av] is also possible to indicate a group of all male or females.
|[iam CreagLeram ual]
|I am fableing to you
|I tell you fables
Modifiers are word particles that attach to states, as prefixes or suffixes (or in some cases either, which we refer to as free), modifying their meaning. Most Names are constructed of a combination of Modifiers and States. Significant classes of Modifiers include those indicating relative sizes, locations, and quantities. Modifiers are an important word class, covering most of the English prepositions and modal operators. For instance the modifier [ill] (prefix) 'no longer' covers the word 'not' as well as the affixes 'anti-' and 'ex-'.
For example the prefix [i] (large) might be added to the state [mure] to imply Great Death [i-mure].
In many cases certain modified have become standard parts of the langauge, such as [ish-toem] (opposite of large) to indicate small. However modifiers are also used on the fly where independant words might be used in Human languages. It's common for a Name to involve a series of modifiers applied to the same root state to create it's final meaning. In these cases the choice of order in which modifiers are added carries poetic meaning.
This process is demonstrated in the following section on Compounding Rules.
Eldar indicates various tenses using free modifiers. These standalone words generally preceed the relevant states, acting as modifiers to their meaning. For example the tense [sista] indicates events happening in the past, while [ulerant] indicates events that the subject may choose to have happen. Multiple tenses may be combined in one verbal phrase, with tenses relating to time being placed first, and those relating to certainty or agency later. Tenses should be read as relating to the following states or names within a sentence.
|he is dead
|[kal furta mure]
|he will die
|[kal ulerant mure]
|he may be dead
|[kal furta ulerant mure]
|he may die
The key tense [Fare] indiciates that the subject is causing the state it modifies. Imperial scholars often translate this as 'to make' or similar verbs (e.g. create, build, bring about). So [iam Fare CreagLeram] can be translated as "I write fables".
In anything but the most formal Eldar it is common to compound the tenses when more than one applies. For example turning [furta ulerant] into [furtant]. It is also known that tenses are prefixed to the following states, turning [furta mure] into [furtamure]. For clarity Imperial scholars usually prefer to leave tenses as free words, as they would be in formal Eldar writing.
Eldar sentences follow the general word order below
Sentences without tense indications are assumed to be in a present continuous state.
Compounding is a key feature of Eldar speach. States and Modifiers are elided together to create new states and names. These compound words are often hard to recognise because mutation and abbreviation often masks the components. The theree main forms of mutation are vowel mutation, vowel intrusion and overlapping.
Vowel mutation causes key vowels in the compound to be replaced with others, often 'a' to 'e' or 'i' to 'y'. The same process is involved in the mutation of root-states into the Active and Non-Productive cases. A similar process causes vowel intrusion, where extra vowels are inserted between modifiers and states, generally to improve rhythm and pronunciation. The most common intrusive vowel is 'i', which is easily confused with the modifier [i], a fact which causes Imperial Scholars endless travail.
Overlapping is a uniquely Eldar feature, whereby compounding states are abbreviated at similar syllables. For example in the name [margrech] the words [marg] and [grech] are overlapped at the letter g, which appears only once in the compound.
In common Eldar usage compounds are mutated and abbreviated as described above. In formal writing, however, modifiers and states can be joined using a dash (e.g. [marg-grech]) or internal capitalization (e.g. [marGrech]). The former writing convention is generally used in Imperial works for improved clarity.
The names of two Titan Clans demonstrate many of these rules of modification and compounding.
[din-ill-ainn] can be translated as 'protectors of the no-longer-warriors'. Ainn is used in the third class to represent non-productiveness, ie. fallen, rather than, for instance; 'Dinilliann' which might translate as something like "protectors of prisoners". Din is Active, Dyann would translate (lyricly) as "shield-bearers of the fallen", to imply non-agressive defence, while Dinne might imply "Supporters of the fallen", or "Guardians of the memory of the fallen", which can be taken in a similar way.
[far-ill-e-cassion] can be translated as 'watchers over ancient wrongs'. The particle 'Far' is self explanitory, the use of 'Fares' would imply active seeing, as in "viewers of ancient wrongs". The construction ille-cassion demonstrates the use of the MODIFIER 'ill-' to turn 'cassion' into "ancient wrongs", ie. (no-longer-wrong-doings). The letter 'e' which appears between 'il-' and 'cassion' is an intusive vowel muation in the compound.
The following free tenses indicate the degree of certainty with which things are happening. Note that [neosfi] appears to always imply a past tense state.
|e.g. [iam ulerant creagleram ual]
|I may tell you fables
|e.g. [iam neosfi creagleram ual]
|I may have told you fables
|e.g. [iam b'fheidir creagleram ual]
|I might tell you fables
The following free tenses indicate time, implying that the state is happening in the past or future.
|happening in the future
|e.g. [iam furta creagleram ual]
|I will tell you fables
|happening in the past
|e.g. [iam sista creagleram ual]
|I told you fables
|e.g. [iam asha creagleram ual]
|I will tell you fables soon
|just about to happen
|e.g. [iam solerant creagleram ual]
|I will tell you fables in just a moment
|happening right now
|e.g. [iam ueserant creagleram ual]
|I am telling you fables
|in their proper order
|e.g. [iam ues creagleram ual]
|And so I tell you fables
|happening at the same time
|e.g. [iam creagleram ual, kel anerant Menot]
|I tell you fables as it happens