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Old Tongue

The Old Tongue is a fictional language from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time fantasy series. It is depicted as a now-dead language, spoken only by scholars and certain nobles, but still plays a role in the plot of the books.

History

The Old Tongue was spoken during and shortly after the Age of Legends. Due to the ensuing turmoil of the Breaking of the World, the Trolloc Wars, and the War of the Hundred Years, the records of this time period are generally fragmentary at best; however, it seems that a sufficient knowledge of the language itself has survived for those who wish to learn it to do so. Many nobles, for example, are expected to learn at least a few phrases of the Old Tongue, though few do so; a fair number of Aes Sedai seem to have some knowledge of it as well, probably taught in the Tower, to say nothing of the scholars to whom such things are of great interest.

But though it has long since passed out of use, its importance should not be underestimated. It is the language of such great figures as Artur Hawkwing, Lews Therin Telamon and the Hundred Companions, as well as that of the Forsaken. It was spoken by a society that was, by all remaining accounts, quite advanced in most respects, and it was the language of those who struggled to mend their shattered societies in the aftermath of the Breaking. It did nothing less than survive a minor armageddon, and usher in the dawn of a new world.

At present, the Old Tongue can still be seen through names of places (e.g. Manetheren or Aridhol, or even Alcair Dal), things (e.g. names of Aiel warrior societies), inscriptions (e.g. "Tia mi aven Moridin isande vadin"), and in certain phrases used in conversation, especially by Matrim Cauthon, who inherited fluency in the language from the memories he received from the Eelfinn, but before knew the language piecemeal.

Phrases and Translations

Below is a list of some of the Old Tongue words and phrases used in the Wheel of Time books.

  • "Dovie'andi se tovya sagain ye." (It's time to toss the dice.) Said by Mat Cauthon from time to time, generally before battles. He started using it after he was released from the dagger.
  • "Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!" (For the honor of the Red Eagle! For the Honor of the Rose of the Sun! The Rose of the Sun!) [The Eye of the World, Chapter 18: The Caemlyn Road] - shouted by Mat in the first fight against Trollocs, just after they left the Caemlyn Road; the ancient battle cry of Manetheren.
  • "Mia ayende, Aes Sedai! Caballein misain ye! Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye! Mia ayende!" (Release me, Aes Sedai! I am a free man, Aes Sedai! I am no Aes Sedai meat! Release me!) [The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 18: Healing] - shouted by Mat during his Healing of his contact with the dagger of Shadar Logoth.
  • "Muad'drin tia dar allende caba'drin rhiadem! Los Valdar Cuebiyari! Los! Carai an Caldazar! Al Caldazar!" (Footmen prepare to pass cavalry forward! Forward the Heart Guard! Forward! For the Honor of the Red Eagle! The Red Eagle!) [The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 19: Awakening]- appeared in Mat's dreams after he was freed of the dagger, a phrase used in a battle of Manetheren against the Trollocs.
  • "Sene sovya caba'donde ain dovienya." (Luck is a horse to ride like any other.)
  • "Tia mi aven Moridin isande vadin." (The grave is no bar to my call.) - inscription on the Horn of Valere. (This sentence is from Book One, The Eye of the World, and Robert Jordan does not seem to have designed a consistent framework for the Old Tongue until Book Two. Consequently, this sentence falls outside standard Old Tongue sentence structure, as far as can be ascertained from later books. In more standard format, it should be "Tia mi aven vadin isainde Moridin.")
  • "Tia avende alantin" (Brother to the Trees, or Treebrother; typically shortened to alantin, Brother.) This is the ancient name for Ogier used in the Age of Legends, and as such, Selene (aka Mierin Eronaile, from the Age of Legends) calls Loial alantin in the second book, The Great Hunt.
  • Lanfear, Moghedien, Moridin, Cyndane (Daughter of the Night, the Spider, Death, and Last Chance, respectively) The names of the Forsaken (both old and 'new').
  • "Sa souvraya niende misain ye." (I am lost in my own mind.) [The Shadow Rising, Chapter 37: Imre Stand]
  • Shaidar Haran (Hand of the Dark) see Shaidar Haran.
  • Tai'shar ... (True Blood of ...) - Followed by the name of a nation or people, this term is used as a compliment, to tell the addressee that (s)he exemplifies the positive traits associated with his people. Examples include Tai'shar Malkier, Tai'shar Manetheran, Tai'shar Andor and Tai'shar Kandor. The term is used almost exclusively by Lan and other Borderlanders.

Bibliography

  • Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World. Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1990
  • Jordan, Robert and Patterson, Teresa. The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1997

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