Jump to content

DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Sign in to follow this  
Edgetho

The (Real World) Origins of the Old Tongue

Recommended Posts

So, I looked for something like this elsewhere in the forums and couldn't find anything, but if I'm rehashing old ground, I'm sorry about that. Also my first time posting a new topic, so if I mess this up somehow, sorry about that as well.

 

So, I was on one of those epic Wikipedia link tangents and I found that I had somehow worked my way from Gettysburg to the people of Danu, the legendary seafaring race that shows up in Irish mythical history. That was all well and good, but I noticed that the title of the page was the original Irish name for them, Tuatha de Danann, and it occurred to me I'd seen one of those words somewhere before. In the Irish usage here Tuatha means people, which is exactly how it's used in the Wheel of Time, most notably in the Tuatha'an, the tinkers. This got me to thinking For some reason I had always figured the Old Tongue to be more Asian, what with the many apostrophes and the curved swords, so I ran inventory on all the Old Irish I knew, having taken a class in it a while back, and after ten or so minutes I ran right into one of the big ones, the Aes Sedei. To make a long and boring linguistic story short, Aes Sedei looks a lot like someone who was sensible enough to have never heard of something as ridiculous as a silent d might try to pronounce Aes Sidhe, a very early form of the modern Sidhe or Aos Si, the mythical Irish Fairy people, and here I'm using fairy in the old way that has nothing to do with ten year old girls and tutus.

 

Now maybe you guys don't get as excited as I do about connecting antiquated forms of an obscure language to an imaginary language (and a dead one at that!) but for some reason figuring this sort of thing out makes my day. Now, I know some impressive writing has been done on the in-universe workings of the Old Tongue, but I was wondering if anyone else might have an idea where other words in the Old Tongue might come from in the real world, Old Irish or otherwise, or where the heck RJ would have come up with a bunch of Old Irish words long before Wikipeda was around to make people like me sound smarter than we actually are. Any ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm... there may be similarities. I like your connection with Aes Sedai. However, "tuatha" roughly translates to "traveling", for the traveling people. It's the 'an ending that means "people". The same goes for atha'an miere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

welcome to world of RJ!!! sometimes im just stunned by the sheer amount of research he did :wacko::blink:

Indeed, it is staggering. If he actually meant to have even a third of the historical connections to WoT that Linda's researched on her Thirteenth Depository blog, he had an incredible working knowledge of history and mythology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmmm... there may be similarities. I like your connection with Aes Sedai. However, "tuatha" roughly translates to "traveling", for the traveling people. It's the 'an ending that means "people". The same goes for atha'an miere.

 

Darn, I ought to have caught that. Still, Tuatha as a random string of syllables doesn't seem like it would crop up all that often, and the Aes Sedei and the Aes Sidhe certainly aren't the same thing. I actually sort of feel better now, simply taking words from another language and translating them to make your own seems a little unimaginative, like if Elvish in Lord of the Rings turned out to just be Latin or something. Not as much creative effort. Preserving the words but warping or losing the meanings is something that happens quite often in the actual evolution of languages (see the evolution of the definition of the word sanguis/sanguine from Latin to English). It fits very well with Jordan's idea of Randland being both a past and the future, it's fun to think bits and pieces of the Old Tongue are remnants of languages spoken today.

Edited by Edgetho

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Miere in Atha'an Miere certainly relates well to words for lake/sea (meer) in Dutch/German, which makes me think Atha'an was perhaps meant to be people, making Tu the word for travelling (the To (somewhere) people). Or maybe the Atha in Atha'an Miere is not so critical (or maybe, even, it means seafaring people rather than sea people)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BIts of Celtic, bits of Arabic, bits of Sanskrit - he borrowed from everywhere. He did that with his cultures as well.

Fits well - a "natural" world tongue (like English/ Spanish) will have words borrowed from all over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I looked for something like this elsewhere in the forums and couldn't find anything, but if I'm rehashing old ground, I'm sorry about that. Also my first time posting a new topic, so if I mess this up somehow, sorry about that as well.

 

So, I was on one of those epic Wikipedia link tangents and I found that I had somehow worked my way from Gettysburg to the people of Danu, the legendary seafaring race that shows up in Irish mythical history. That was all well and good, but I noticed that the title of the page was the original Irish name for them, Tuatha de Danann, and it occurred to me I'd seen one of those words somewhere before. In the Irish usage here Tuatha means people, which is exactly how it's used in the Wheel of Time, most notably in the Tuatha'an, the tinkers. This got me to thinking For some reason I had always figured the Old Tongue to be more Asian, what with the many apostrophes and the curved swords, so I ran inventory on all the Old Irish I knew, having taken a class in it a while back, and after ten or so minutes I ran right into one of the big ones, the Aes Sedei. To make a long and boring linguistic story short, Aes Sedei looks a lot like someone who was sensible enough to have never heard of something as ridiculous as a silent d might try to pronounce Aes Sidhe, a very early form of the modern Sidhe or Aos Si, the mythical Irish Fairy people, and here I'm using fairy in the old way that has nothing to do with ten year old girls and tutus.

 

Now maybe you guys don't get as excited as I do about connecting antiquated forms of an obscure language to an imaginary language (and a dead one at that!) but for some reason figuring this sort of thing out makes my day. Now, I know some impressive writing has been done on the in-universe workings of the Old Tongue, but I was wondering if anyone else might have an idea where other words in the Old Tongue might come from in the real world, Old Irish or otherwise, or where the heck RJ would have come up with a bunch of Old Irish words long before Wikipeda was around to make people like me sound smarter than we actually are. Any ideas?

very cool. thanks. I think that's pretty exciting stuff, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BIts of Celtic, bits of Arabic, bits of Sanskrit - he borrowed from everywhere. He did that with his cultures as well.

Fits well - a "natural" world tongue (like English/ Spanish) will have words borrowed from all over.

This

As a person interested in linguistics, I agree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Miere in Atha'an Miere certainly relates well to words for lake/sea (meer) in Dutch/German, which makes me think Atha'an was perhaps meant to be people, making Tu the word for travelling (the To (somewhere) people). Or maybe the Atha in Atha'an Miere is not so critical (or maybe, even, it means seafaring people rather than sea people)

 

I always thought that it might have something to go with mare, the Latin word for sea. Or English mere, which now means sort of a pool or swamp but which could mean sea in Old English. Heck, it's all the same word anyway - we can take it back to the hypothetical Proto-Indo-European *mori. Knew that Oxford English Dictionary subscription would pay off one day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BIts of Celtic, bits of Arabic, bits of Sanskrit - he borrowed from everywhere. He did that with his cultures as well.

Fits well - a "natural" world tongue (like English/ Spanish) will have words borrowed from all over.

RJ borrowed from anywhere and everywhere. He got the Aiel's "Algoda" they make their clothing from probably by reading the label of one of his shirts doing laundry most likely. Spanish for cotton is Algodon. A bit of change on the wordplay to make it flow easier and not be bluntly obvious and it passes. Some of the best writers incorporate the common and repolish it in such a way that we are all in awe over it until the wiser and more learned among us start pointing out the mythological references, the folk tale heroes, the lands and cultures and languages from human history. Like one of the great artists, or masters, he took the same reds and greens and blues and painted us perhaps the finest canvas ever to grace the literary pages for Fantasy since Tolkien.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Or zemais (corn, also Aiel). Turns out an ancient real world term for corn was zea mais. Made my day when I found that! Not to mention the names-I keep meeting people with names that obviously served as the models for WoT names and thinking "wait, that's a name in real life too?"

 

Or tiganza (a Tuatha'an dance) from German zigande (spelling? It's a little sad I know the WoT spelling of the word and can't quite remember the German one!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All or most of the trolloc clans names are Arabic, more or less.

Also Gholam ="servant" in Arabic/ Persian / Turkish.

Jenn = Jain (pacifist Indian religion)

Etc. Etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A gholam is something from Jewish mysticism. Usually, used to protect. It's not alive in the true sense, very much like RJ's, except RJ's has that whole boneless can slither out through a crack thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just hit me

 

Shayol (from Shayol Ghoul)

 

Shayol = Sheol. The Hebrew word for grave is Sheol. Ghul is probably ghoul.

 

Sheol is not only the grave. It's sort of like Hades without Hades (the god). It's where the dead gathered. Didn't have a hell connotation to it....

 

I'm going through a list of the old tongue:

angreal: probably would derive from grail as in the holy grail;

 

 

all right, that's it for now.

 

Great thread, though. I love this sort of thing.

Edited by thisguy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've done a lot of travelling in my life since I was a toddler all the way up to a few years ago as a soldier deployed multiple times, and languages have always interested me. Not so much the actual languages themselves so much as the origins of them. I speak fluent Spanish for example and it's easy enough for me to understand Italian, Portuguese and some French, enough to tell they all come from a common root, in this case Latin. I also have studied a few other languages enough to get by- Serbo-Croat, Arabic, Gaelic and a few others. What's interesting is that English is one of the hardest languages for people to learn since it's a blend of many different roots. As a native English speaker who has learned other languages I always have respect for people who learned English later in life since I know from studying other languages that English is one of the most complex languages on Earth. Consider that a little thing like inflection or context can completely change the meaning of a word, for example.

 

One thing that's always interested me since I discovered it was that a very large number of the world's languages come from a dead tongue referred to by linguists as Proto-Indo-European or PIE. It's origins are a complete mystery though there are a large number of theories about that. Unlike Latin, which people can still learn and speak, even though people rarely do these days, PIE is a totally dead language that we only know about because linguists have reconstructed it based on similarities between other languages. We're talking such diverse languages as Celtic, Albanian, Baltic, Germanic, even Sanskrit and a ton more. Basically most of the languages in Europe and a good portion of Asia. Here's a good wiki entry on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_language

 

Consider that truly unique languages are incredibly rare. Most come from a common root to one extent or another. That's why the Windtalkers worked so well in WW2 since Navajo is completely unrelated to any other language and the Japanese couldn't make heads or tails of it.

 

I think it's awesome that RJ clearly picked out a lot of words from real world languages to make up the Old Tongue since that's actually how languages are formed, and it seems more realistic then just making up words out of whole cloth since the Wheel of Time world is supposed to be our Earth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amyrlin - Merlin. A Merlin.

 

 

a'dam - Adam, as in Adam and Eve. Eve was made to submit to Adam. Once knowledge of good and evil leaked out that submission was destroyed slowly.... Kinda like the Sul'dam realizing they're channelers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...