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WotBS Elvish Language 101? (headcanon)

emeraldbeacon

Villager
I'm playing around with the naming conventions within War of the Burning Sky, and wondered if the three names for the elvish races came from root words in the language. I don't know if any of this was intended or not, but I've come up with four words so far...

Esti is, fundamentally, the Elvish word for their own people. It has many different translations in different contexts, and can mean anything from community or society, to the genetic elvish race/species.

Next is Shahal, a word that means radiant, glowing... or shining. It carries a connotation of beauty and grace with it, as a warm and nurturing light, not a harsh one. It is the word that high elves have long used to describe their people... the Shahal-Esti, or Shining Elves, and what Lord Shaaladel chose to name his relatively young nation..

Taran is a similar phrase, literally translated as "from the earth." It is a common descriptor of plants and trees, and anything else that grows from nature. In recent decades, the word has also taken on a somewhat derogatory sense in high elven culture, meaning "dirty" or "filthy," but historically, as a metaphor, it has long meant "grounded, stable, or hearty." This is, of course, where the Taran-Esti draw their name.

Lastly, Droal roughly translates as "untouched by light," and usually is used as a word to mean concealed or obscured. The Droal-Esti have long been marginalized by the Shining Lands, as they lack the ability to appreciate the sun as their Shahal and Taran brethren do, and as such, earned the elvish phrase for "darkness" as their name. The phrase has a much lesser-used meaning, however, of "sheltered/protected," as if to shield something from a danger. This archaic definition is often embraced by Droal-Esti scholars, as they have long sought to protect their own from the hostility of the outside world.

Have you done any exploration of the naming conventions within the game, and come up with any other lore that could maybe be offered to your players?
 

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Lylandra

Adventurer
Yes, we basically did the same, with the exception of Taran being directly tied to "of the forest" and used the word "Sha" for "Light" or "Shining" as both Shaaladel (Sha-la-del -> Light over the horizon) and Shalosha (Sha-lo-sha -> Light of Lights) plus Shalandil, the last name of one of my PC's relatives :)

Also, there is Shaalguenyaver which is "Bright Shadow" by word of lore and could be divided into "Shaal-guen-yaver". And as we know that Taryaver means "black" which in our campaig meant that "yaver" -> "dark", "Tar" -> "root" or "Origin" and "guen" -> "reflection" or "image"

We also had "lith" being "children" or "disciples", which started with the Syllith (students of Syana) and then the Trillith (children of Trilla)
 

emeraldbeacon

Villager
I like the idea that "Shahal" and "Shal/Shaal" all stem from the same root meaning "light."

On a side note, it seems to me that both Ycengled Phuurst and Phorros Irrendra might both involve borrowed words from common, with both "Phuurst" and "Phorros" sounding a bit like the standard word, "Forest"
 

Now do Innenotdar.

(I think I came up with that name in 1998, and yes, it was just 10th grade me thinking "in- and out-door.")

My linguistic acumen has gotten a smidge better since then.
 

And if I were to tweak the setting a bit now, the 'Taranesti' would all just be drow-style dark-skinned, and there'd be some of them living in Gate Pass as refugees.

Actually, I was thinking back on the setting lately, since Russ has included a few mentions of it in the upcoming Level Up game, and I wanted to flesh out some of the rest of the world, think about the history, and where things might go. I ended up modeling continents and a prehistoric migration pattern just so I could justify why there are Asian-looking people in Ostalin and African-looking people up at a Temple on the border between the Taranesti and Shahalesti. I mean, sure, you can always just say "a wizard did it," but it ended up getting some creative juices flowing.
 

emeraldbeacon

Villager
I might base the naming convention of Innenotdar upon the Sylvan language, rather than Elvish, given the prominence that the Fey seem to have within the wood. Taranesti simply settled there.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I assumed the esti was from the Qualinesti, Silvanesti, and the other elves of Dragonlance.
 



Tolamaker

Villager
Now do Innenotdar.

(I think I came up with that name in 1998, and yes, it was just 10th grade me thinking "in- and out-door.")

My linguistic acumen has gotten a smidge better since then.
My headcanon was that Innenotdar was originally named something else, and was renamed Innenotdar when the Indomitable Fire began. "Innen" almost sounds like "Unend", and because Elves love shor'tening th'ings with ap'ost'raphes, I figured that Innenotdar is short for Unending Fire Forest of Otdar. Don't know if it will come up in-game, but we'll see.
 

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