Work Header

Project Elvhen: Expanding the Elvhen Language

Chapter Text

"Incidentally, the big reason "I Am The One" doesn't translate is because we didn't write it. "Leliana's Song", in contrast, we did. Either way, you are correct that Elvehn is a cipher. We keep it simple so we can all use it, and I've no doubt that makes it look pretty silly to anyone with linguistics knowledge. I like your posts on the subject, rather a lot."

-David Gaider, Speaking of Project Elvhen, and confirming my theory that the Elvhen used in the games is a cipher



From what I’ve read and what I’ve seen (as well as information provided on the wiki, and this wonderful reference), I have made two educated guesses about Elvish:

Firstly, Elvish is both agglutinative and fusional, similar to German. In short, what this means is that words, suffixes and prefixes can be stacked, almost infinitely, to make incredibly long words with variable meanings. 

For example, the German word for bat is fledermaus, i.e. flutter-mouse. 

It also has words that have no true definition outside of german, which are words describe ideas, ideals, or concepts. Portuguese also has this too. For example, schadenfreude: pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. 

Secondly, Elvish shares a lot in common with both German and Portuguese in that it has words that are combinations of other words that make up a completely new meaning through poetic inference. For example, the Elvish word for rest: Ha’ma’in, which literally translates to “Put the old knife away.” But as one word, it means rest or relaxation. 

It also has words dealing with conceptual ideas, such as En’an’sal’in, which is comfort, or healing after a period of event of great pain or loss. 

This shares similar ideas with Portuguese, such as the word Saudade, which is the intense feeling of missing something or someone. 

With that in mind, I made elvish translations of my two favorite words in Portuguese: Saudade and Cafune

the act of fondling someone’s hair, especially someone you care about. Lit. “Love the house of the soul.”

the intense feeling of missing something or someone that is deeply important or personal. Lit. “The knife again in my soul.”