Author Topic: Dark Eldar language  (Read 8320 times)

Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Dark Eldar language
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2010, 11:48:43 PM »
Something escaping millions of years free of evolutionary changes is exceptionally unlikely.
That's the point.

In defence to the body language/Sclera thing - the eldar are incredibly observant - and thus have no need of the iris/sclera divide, which has the evolutionary advantage of making already existent body changes obvious to the relatively unobservant hominids in which it first started to appear. We need it because the movement of a muscle by its smallest distance (hundredths of a millimetre, if that) is invisible to us, but not to the Eldar.

But - as N01H3r3  is... uhmmm... here, and a known Eldar expert, any suggestion on language differences?
As far as I'm aware, the Eldar language has numerous dialects - there is no one Craftworld language, but rather a distinct dialect for each, plus those of Exodite worlds and the cant of the Dark Eldar.

However, if we think of linguistic change, like evolution, as being generational (in this case, each generation's use of language is informed by that of the generation before, but changes to fit an adapting context), then the lifespans of the Eldar mean that relatively few generations have passed since the Fall, which is of course the point at which the cultural distinctions become most obvious.

Each Craftworld was, at the time of their creation, massive trading vessels, moving around the Eldar Empire and beyond such that they only came into contact with the homeworlds (primarily, those located where now the Eye of Terror exists) a few times every millennium. This alone would account for a degree of language difference between the individual Craftworlds and the homeworlds. The Craftworlds had existed since long before the Fall, as demonstrated by the fact that their cultures were largely isolated from the changes taking place within the society of the homeworlds. Their languages would be derived from pre-Fall Eldar.

At some point after the beginning of the societal decline that preceded the Fall, the Exodites became a distinct group, leaving the homeworlds for uninhabited worlds in distant parts of the galaxy. Their language would have thus come from the same common base as early Fall-era Eldar, and would then have developed independently in the millennia since.

The Dark Eldar are survivors of the Fall, Eldar who escaped into the Webway as Slaanesh was born. Consequently, their language would be a derivation of late Fall-era Eldar, which then has developed owing to the peculiarities of Dark Eldar society - including the comparative reluctance to use or develop their own psychic abilities, which would necessitate additional depth within the spoken and body language in order to compensate for a relative lack of psychic emphasis.

Even accounting for the long lifespan of the Eldar, we're still talking about maybe as much as 12-15 millennia - 60-75 generations, assuming they're approximately two centuries apart (200 years being a low estimate). Roughly speaking, comparing the language of the Eldar as it existed pre-Fall to any of the contemporary Eldar languages would be equivalent to comparing any form of modern English to that of the 7th century.

Of course, then there's the matter of relative cultural stability - aside from the Fall, Eldar culture has remained largely the same for millions of years, lacking the kinds of major upheaval that has defined human civilisation. We are, afterall, talking about a species who have managed to maintain a deep and intricate mythology and belief system based on events that took place over sixty-five million years ago, and who once possessed the ability to reincarnate (which, in itself, would slow cultural change).

It's safe to say that the languages are different in all cases. I imagine that a lingua franca exists to facilitate (non-psychic) communication between Craftworlds, beyond considerations of an unknown proportion of Eldar being multilingual. Given their lack of affiliation to any but Cegorach, I imagine that the Harlequins maintain and use this common Eldar language more often than most, as it is in their interest to be understood by all Eldar.
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Dark Eldar language
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2010, 12:15:18 AM »
However, if we think of linguistic change, like evolution, as being generational...
That seems very doubtful. While the person to consult on the matter would be my mother (she's got the degree in linguistics, not me), there's no particular reason I can see for it to be generational.

Yes, like evolution, language is shaped by the pressures and demands of the environment, but words, being essentially ideas, are not dependent on the survival of their genetic host, nor on successfully creating offspring - they can be passed from person to person (genetic relation or not) near instantly and can spread far faster than any genetic code can.

Human generations are perhaps 20-30 years. Yet, there are words that are commonplace today that we wouldn't even have imagined half a generation ago. The word podcast caught on about 6 years ago, and blogging became mainstream about 10 years ago.

It's pretty clear that linguistics is not tied to a generation, but to a culture - and yes, that probably does make Eldar language even slower evolving, but I'd rather be discussing to the right answer than necessarily the one I first supported.
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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Dark Eldar language
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2010, 01:07:33 AM »
However, if we think of linguistic change, like evolution, as being generational...
That seems very doubtful. While the person to consult on the matter would be my mother (she's got the degree in linguistics, not me), there's no particular reason I can see for it to be generational.
Even so, it's a more convenient, abstract (and subjective) time frame for the purposes of discussion than defining things in years, decades, centuries, etc (particularly as, technically, the Eldar wouldn't actually have any use for the year as the Imperium calculates it - that is, based off of the orbital period of Earth - as their 'year' would invariably be defined by the orbital period of an entirely different world).
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Offline Tullio

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Re: Dark Eldar language
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2010, 08:57:39 PM »
Applying human biological and social science to the Eldar is simply inappropriate, for reasons which have already been stated.

Given that, I think it's concievable that the Dark Eldar might well have invented a new language just for the sake of being different to thier Craftworld and Exodite kin - from what I remember reading from the Codex thier contempt of thier kin gnaws away at them enough to create such a murderous society to prove that they're stronger than everyone else

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Offline Alyster Wick

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Re: Dark Eldar language
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2010, 03:03:29 PM »
I'm just going to throw a quick theory/explanation into the ring, you can all take it or leave it.  Our language is completely arbitrary, that is to say there is no inherent link between a sign and its signifier (a chair is referred to as a chair because we decide to call it that, there is nothing inherently "chairy" about it).

The Eldar are capable of projecting emotions and much more psychicly active than humans.  It is possible that large chunks of their language are not arbitrary.  That is to say if their word for hate is derived from the true name of the warp entity who embodies hate then it is not subject to change (or rather, grammar and conjugation may be subject to change but the root would remain relatively solid).  Therefore it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that while certain structural elements of the language may change there will be certain (very important) constants that, when combined with the ability to project emotions analogous to what one is saying with speech and body language, would allow eldar of different backgrounds to effectively communicate.  This is meant to meld in with N01's insights on eldar society and longevity.

I know that this approach isn't irrefutable but I think it presents a compelling theory.  At the end of the day this is science fiction and I have no problem offering a half decent explanation and saying "it works this way because it makes the games fun." 

As far as using craftworld language to name a DE weapon, if you use the logic above then you're in the clear.

Offline Ferran

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Re: Dark Eldar language
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2010, 04:09:26 PM »
I'm just going to throw a quick theory/explanation into the ring, you can all take it or leave it.  Our language is completely arbitrary, that is to say there is no inherent link between a sign and its signifier (a chair is referred to as a chair because we decide to call it that, there is nothing inherently "chairy" about it).

The Eldar are capable of projecting emotions and much more psychicly active than humans.  It is possible that large chunks of their language are not arbitrary.  That is to say if their word for hate is derived from the true name of the warp entity who embodies hate then it is not subject to change (or rather, grammar and conjugation may be subject to change but the root would remain relatively solid).  Therefore it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that while certain structural elements of the language may change there will be certain (very important) constants that, when combined with the ability to project emotions analogous to what one is saying with speech and body language, would allow eldar of different backgrounds to effectively communicate.  This is meant to meld in with N01's insights on eldar society and longevity.

I know that this approach isn't irrefutable but I think it presents a compelling theory.  At the end of the day this is science fiction and I have no problem offering a half decent explanation and saying "it works this way because it makes the games fun." 

As far as using craftworld language to name a DE weapon, if you use the logic above then you're in the clear.

Sounds quite plausible to me.