Eldar Language Guide : Introduction v4.1
Bear this always in mind — we study the xenos only that we may better know how to destroy them. Do not be fooled by your learning into believing that they are your friend. That way lies heresy.
This guide, the work of Inquisitor Xenos Hammadras, stands as just such an example. You will find within phrases and thoughts that are themselves heretical. Hammadras describes the speech of the shiftless Eldar as "beautiful", as "defying human understanding". It was for these reasons, and others, that Hammadras was censored. Nevertheless, it remains the best guide we possess to the tongue of these aliens. Study it well, and beware that you do not fall into the same sins.
Abhor the word of the alien.
The Eldar language, and the system of runes with which it is written, defies easy human understanding, denying the familiar structures and rules by which our speech is constructed. To attempt to speak Eldar as an Eldar does, with only the capabilities of a [Mon Kiegh] at your disposal, is madness. Nevertheless I have studied, and have laid down what I know for my colleagues amongst the Ordo Xenos.
The Eldar language constructs words and sentences from agglutinations of smaller particles, making little distinction between Nouns, Verbs, Pronouns, and the like. Eldar poetry — which is well beyond the scope of this guide — revolves around the creative combination of these basic parts, rather than rhyme or (generally) rhythm.
For human convenience we divide these basic elements into the following simple categories:
- STATES — particles used mainly as verbs, adverbs, and abstract nouns
- NAMES — particles made up of multiple STATES and MODIFIERS, used as concrete nouns or compound abstract nouns
- PRONOUNS — particles used to substitute for NAMES
- MODIFIERS — particles used mainly as affixes/compuound parts (where a STATE may be used often as independant parts)
Remember that these distinctions are mostly for the use of the human student. An Eldar speaker is not so constrained, and will readily use a NAME as a verb, a STATE as a proper noun, or a MODIFIER as a stand-alone word, where convenient.
Most Eldar words are compounds, often with many parts. While many are constructed on the fly while speaking, others become mutated by familiar use into NAMES. These mutated words may drop or add syllables using the following rules:
- Words with letters in common may be overlapped, dropping the duplicate letters
[ ["Marg (death) + Grech (Screaming)","Margrech (screaming death)"], ["The 'g' is overlapped."] ]
- Vowel Substitution
- Vowels are replaced with other vowels for easier pronunciation.
- Vowel Intrusion
- Intrusive vowels can occur between any two compounded words. An intrusive 'i' is easily confused with the prefix i- (Big), an anoying feature.
When writing these compound words it is possible to write the separate participles as distinct runes, linked by a lemma. In this case the intrusive letters and overlaps are dropped. This is considered a formal form, lacking poetry, but expressing clear meanings.
e.g [Marg-Grech] = Margrech
In this guide we represent this style by separating each particle with a dash, enclosing Eldar phrases inside square brackets. (e.g. [iam toam]). (If you are equipped with noospheric devices you may hover over such phrases see the dictionary definition of each particle.) A historic style used by some of my colleagues is to capitalise the first letter of each particle, e.g. MarGrech.
Each of these words exist in one or more of three Classes. Each class corresponds to one of three moods, linked to what I believe are one of the three moons of the ancient Eldar homeworld.
The three moods express three different, but related, aspects of each word. For instance the STATE Din (protecting) exists in all three classes:
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.
All STATES exist in all three classes. Many other particles exist in only one or two of the classes. Where a word exists only in one, it is most usually that corresponding to Eldanesh, which is also known as the ROOT class.
While a NAME denotes a particular countable thing, a STATE describes something abstract, such as the 'state of being dead' [Mure], or the 'state of being behind' something [ucan]. A STATE expresses an ongoing concept — 'the state of being dead' as opposed to 'death' — in the Present Continuous. Since NAMES are compounded from STATES, then NAMES too are Present continuous.
States as Nouns
If a STATE is expressed without a subject or object then it fills the function of a noun, and can be treated much like a NAME. STATES used in this manner can be freely compounded (forming NAMES).
States as Verbs
A STATE is made into a verb by the addition of one more subjects and objects.
Subjects and Objects are generally positional — the Direct Subject of a STATE appears before it; the Direct Object of a STATE appears after it. Where a STATE requires one or more Indirect Objects they appear after the Direct Object, separated with the particle [sin]. For example: [Iam borif ual sin Iarstill] "I give you the sword" or "I give the sword to you".
Where a STATE expresses action, the action is assumed to be happening in the present. (It is my belief that the Eldar see all things as in some sense continuous. What happens now is always happening). You can express otherwise using STATES to express other temporal states (see Time and Tense). When a single temporal state affects the entire phrase it is placed immediately before the STATE acting as the verb.
For example: [iam creag-leram ual] "I am telling you fables" [iam furta creag-leram ual] "I will tell you fables"
Where different modifiers apply to the subject and object, they are applied as affixes. [iam-sista creag-leram ual-furta] "I once (intended to) tell fables to you (one day)".
It is possible to use other STATES as modifiers in the same way, placing them before the verb. An alternative is to apply them as suffixes to the verb, forming a new STATE. e.g. [iam borith-juketh ual iarstill] "I give-hastily the sword to you".
The STATE [fare] indicates that the subject is producing or creating the STATE functioning as the verb.
Pronouns are NAMES that substitute as objects and subjects:
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 auxilliaries if such a distinction must be made.
|iam creagLeram ual||I tell you fables||(I am fableing to you)|
Further subjects of the verb are placed between the the PRONOUN and the STATE in hierarchical relationship, e.g
|iam tharet creagLeram ual||I tell you fables here||(I am (in this place) fableing to you)|
In common with the fluidity of the rest of the Eldar language, other particles can substitute for these simple pronouns, especially in poetical or elliptical forms, but the ones presented here are the simplest cases.
Implicit subject and object
If the subject of a state is not given, [Iam] is assumed. If the object of a state is not given then [kel] is assumed, referring in this case to the object of discussion, i.e. the last mentioned object.
MODIFIERS are STATES used mainly as affixes (prefixes and suffixes), which modify the sense of the STATES or NAMES to which they are attached.
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-'. Here is a short list of common MODIFIERS, the notation xx- indicates a prefix; +xx indicates a suffix; xx* indicates a word which may be a prefix, or seperate word; *xx indicates a word which may be a suffix, or seperate word; and -xx- indicates an infix particle that always appears between states.
The MODIFIER [-ob-] is used in a similar way to some uses of the English 'of', indicating a hierarchical relationship between the states before and after it (as opposed to [yass] indicating ownership or physical connection). For example [driell-direl] could be read as either evil enemies or enemies of evil. In practice this is indicated with tone, but [driell-ob-direl] makes the relation explicit.
Gesture and Tone
Although we present the Eldar language here in a text form, it is primarily a spoken language, and both gesture and tone are closely linked to meaning.
Using gesture to change mood
Eldar are known to use gesture (and tone) to indicate that a STATE is being used in a different mood from the one the word's sound would suggest. This can be used to indicate irony, or to add overtones of meaning to a STATE.
For example consider the STATE
If you wished to imply that your were punishing someone, but that your motives were tinged by revenge, you could say [cait-camion], or you could say [cait] and use a gesture or tone to indicate that you were using the passive mood: [cait(passive)]. When writing, these Class Tones can be indicated using the MODIFIERS [ka-] [-ea] and [-os].
Time and Tense
As described in the section on STATES, the Eldar language is by default Present Continuous, describing the state of things happening now. Actions can be modified by STATES expressing temporal relationships, which are equivalent (to some extent) to human tenses.
Such STATES can be used to modify a verb phrase, appearing between the Subject and Verb, as follows: [iam solerant marg ual] "I am about to make you dead".
This construction is not limited to STATES indicating time. For example the following are common:
Indeed, any STATE can be used to modify the use of a phrase in this way.
The MODIFIER [Da-] is used to indicate that something may happen. We can translate it as "If" or "When" ([ka-da] indicates 'with certainty'). Da- is prefixed onto the verb. e.g. [Iam cait] "I am punishing", [Iam da-cait] "If/when I punish".
While [furta] and [sista] generally express past and future, and [anerant] and [ues] can indicate sequencing, it is sometimes necessary to express precise timing. The following STATES are used for this:
If you say [ual da-ri kel (fare) rillis] you mean "If/when you active it, it shoots". If you say [ual da-ri kel aneran rillis] you mean "If/when you activate it, it instantly shoots". [ual da-ri kel asha rillis] implies a delay, which you might qualify with a number and time: [ual da-ri kel asha-es-oim rillis] "When you activate it, it shoots after two seconds". (Note that I have heard the last pronounced [ualdari ashesim-rillis])
Possessives are the simplest class in Eldar. A single state indicates ownership. The state is 'yiss'. The Active form specifies immediate possession, the Passive indicates ownership, and the Non-productive indicates that the subject is 'in possession of' the object. In the case of things like body-parts, names, and so forth the Active form is used. The Passive indicates ownership, and is used between partners and mates, the Non-productive is used like the verb 'to have' as in "He has it". [kal yass kel]
The strongest form, yess, is used between Gods and their worshipers.
The Eldar do not appear to have a specific class of conjunctions. States used as tenses can equally be used as conjunctions, as is the case with [ues], as can modifiers like [da-]. Some of the most common of these are:
Interrogatives are formed with the following set of STATES, and the MODIFIER *am (not to be confused with am-, as in amscurath, this ONLY appears at the end of words). All interogative words end in -am, and all interogative sentences end in 'am' as a freestanding word, unless the final word was an interrogative ending in -am (ie. any of them). The main INTEROGATIVE words are placed into sentences where appropriate to denote subject or object status, or directly after the verb-cluster about which the question is being asked.
Note that the Passive forms of all these words are shorter, these (the waiting form) are the most commonly used interrogatives.
A rhetorical question can be constructed by omitting the final *am.
When an interrogative sentence ends with a word ending 'am' which is not an interrogative, the affix [-m] is apended.
Spatial relationships are expressed mostly by the use of single or multi-part MODIFIERS, which are appended to the subject of the relationship. i.e. if A is above B then the relationship is A-above B, with the 'above' particle [feon] appended to A. Of course A is not always a simple, single, word. In this case the modifier follows the description of A, however many words it takes, and stands alone like a name. However the modifier never stands alone if the subject is a single word.
For the most part Spatial modifiers are passive (i.e. White), but the occasional word is agressive, expressing action. In these cases the table of modifiers will make it clear what the active use means. However the passive version can always be considered the main form.
The following table displays the main Spatial modifiers:
Relation / Comparison
Various states denote properties of objects. Each of these has three forms, the form indicating the degree of property. e.g [toem] [largeness] the Red form expresses very much larger, the Green simply larger, and the White only slightly larger.
These states can be used to create names indicating that something possesses the quality in question. e.g. [Iam-toem] "I am large." They can are also used to express comparison: [Iam toam aul] "I am larger than you.", where the subject is has more of a quality than the object. Such comparisons can take the suffix [-thu] to indicate that both subject and object possess the quality in question.
For example, if we say [A nive B] we might be expressing that A is strong while B is weak, or that both A and B are strong, but A is stronger. To specify the second meaning we might say [A nive-thu B]
Relations as MODIFIERS
Relation STATES can be used as MODIFIERS (making names) to express ancilliary relations, where the modified relation provides a reason for the main state. e.g. [iam eosi aul] "I am afraid of you", [iam eosi aul-toam] "I am afraid of you (because) you are large."
Use of [ish-]
In pairs of properties the MODIFIER ish- is prepended to indicate the opposite property. i.e. [toem] (largeness) [ish-toem] (smallness). This is different from [ea-] (not), i.e. [ea-toem] 'not large'.
The following states are not usable only in comparisons, by any means, but they are convenient to classify in this way.
Days and Seasons
The Eldar appear to name the days, times, and seasons of their many worlds using terms that once described their mythical homeworld. Hours of the day are simply numbered, dividing each day into twenty hours. Days are then arranged into weeks of six days, each named for one of the Eldar gods, although it is equally common to see each season divided into three parts of 30 days each, and each part (or month) simply numbered from 1 to 30.
The Eldar use a simple base-ten counting system:
Multiples of ten are indicated by using [ter] as a suffix. e.g. [Daras-ter] "Ninety". Higher powers of ten take a number of powers as a prefix: [Daras-es-ter] "Nine two-power-tens = 900", [Daras-tir-ter] "Nine three-power-tens = 9000", [Daras-tir-ter-tir-es-ter-kan] "Nine thousand, three hundred, and four".
The suffix [-tu] makes a number into an ordinal: [ut-tu] "Seventh".
(These powers of ten make me realise how ancient the Eldar are. How long they have been civilised.)