The ancient language used to be spoken by all living things throughout the world. It used to be just what the name implies - simply a language. However, after magic had wreaked havoc in the world, a race known as the Grey Folk performed a powerful and complicated spell that bonded magic and the ancient language together, so that the former could be performed by speaking the right words in the latter without any confusion and chaos.
The Grey Folk's spell also gave the ancient language two new powers. The first was the ability to describe the true nature of things - anyone who knows the name of something in the ancient language has power over that thing. The second was a power that prevented anyone from lying when speaking in the ancient language (it is unknown why the Grey Folk decided to do this).
Years passed, and after a while, the ancient language was entirely forgotten in Alagaësia. Eons later, however, the ancient language was brought back into Alagaësia by the elves when they came to settle in that land, and it was taken up by magic users to aid them in their spells. By the time Eragon was born, it was spoken as a native tongue only by the elves, who apparently lacked the creative spark to come up with their own language.
Looking to learn the ancient language? This is that part of the article! To start off, here are some notes on ancient language sentence structure that you should remember:
1. Descriptions are placed after the object they describe. The most common mistake made by people trying to speak the ancient language is to place adjectives before nouns. Here's how to do it properly. Example: "Aí skulblaka ramr" means "a strong dragon", but literally translates as "a dragon strong".
2. Unlike in English, descriptions can be placed in any order following the object. Example: "Aí oro ramr hvitr" (a strong, white arrow) can also be rendered as "aí oro hvitr ramr" (a white, strong arrow).
3. Aside from descriptions, the structure of a sentence in the ancient language is usually the same as it would be in English. Example: "Gath un reisa du rakr" would literally translate as "unite and raise the mist". No restructuring of the sentence was required.
4. There are no participles (e.g. walking, swimming) in the ancient language. Verbs are either past simple (e.g. walked, swam), present simple (e.g. walk, swim) or future simple (e.g. will walk, will swim). Example: "I am following" would have to be rendered as "I follow" (Eka tauthr) in the ancient language; "I was following" as "I followed" (Eka tauthro) and "I will be following" as "I will follow" (Eka weohnata tauthr).
5. In our experience with the ancient language, we have found that "iet" (my) usually precedes the object it possesses unless there is an auxiliary verb preceding the object as well; then "iet" moves behind the possessed object. Example: "He breaks my shield" becomes "älfr jierda iet skölir", but "He is my shield" becomes "älfr er skölir iet."
6. When two nouns are joined together to form a single noun, the descriptive noun comes first, as it does in English. Example: "Fethrblaka" (bird) is a combination of the nouns "fethr" (feather) and "blaka" (flapper).
äf-: gives words a malignant connotation. For example, "taka" (give) becomes äftaka (steal). eld-: changes verbs into nouns of action. For example, "jierda" (break) becomes "eld jierda" (breaker).
-ar: pluralises nouns ending on consonants. If the noun already ends with "r", place an "a" before it. For example, "draumr" (dream) becomes "draumar" (dreams). However, if the noun already has a vowel before the "r", the suffix "-ya" is used. For example, "edur" (tor) becomes "edya" (tors). -í: changes verbs ending with any letter (except for "i" and "r") to past tense. For example, "haina" (harm) becomes "hainaí" (harmed). -o: forms the past tense of verbs ending with "i" and "r". For example, "skölir" (shield) becomes "sköliro" (shielded) -r: gives nouns a masculine connotation. For example, "älf" (elf) becomes "älfr" (male elf), which is also he in the Ancient Language. -s: makes nouns possessive. For example, "könungr" (king) becomes "könungrs" (king's). -sja: adds "-looking" to the end of adjectives. For example, "ramr" (strong) becomes "ramrsja" (strong-looking). -ya: pluralises nouns ending on vowels. It also replaces the last vowel. For example, "agaetí" (celebration) becomes "agaetya" (celebrations). If the "-ya" interferes with the word's pronunciation, the vowel it would normally replace isn't removed. The vowels "a" and "i" are usually changed to "e". For example, "celöbra" (honor) becomes "celöbreya" (honours).
a: aí am: eddyr and: un are: eru backward: aptr be: waíse did: achí do: ach does: ach (the same as "do", see 4. above) for: wiol forward: fram from: fra in: unin is: er let: atra may: sé not: néiat of: abr that: sem the: du this: thornessa to: eom was: ero were: erní will: weohnata with: un (the same as "and")
I: eka he: älfr me: eka (the same as "I") my (formal): pömnuria my (informal): iet she: älfrinn their: theirra they: therr those: thorna us: nosu you: ono your: onr