This article is mentioned in Inheritance.
This article contains spoilers from Inheritance.
This article is mentioned in Brisingr.
This article contains spoilers from Brisingr.
This article is mentioned in Eldest.
This article contains spoilers from Eldest.
This article is mentioned in Eragon.
This article contains spoilers from Eragon.

The Ancient Language was once a language of all beings in Alagaësia, but was later used only by the elves and some humans, along with the dwarves with one moment being the crowning of their king. It was the language of the Grey Folk, beings who had settled in Alagaësia after dwarves and dragons, those who were native to the land, they settled where the elves and humans would live a few centuries later. After a tragic incident which killed most of the beings in Alagaësia, they managed to tie their language with magic through unknown means. It was used to command and regulate magic. Each act of magic was linked to a specific word: therefore, it was generally true that the more knowledge one had of the Ancient Language, the more magic they could perform. It was also possible for experienced magicians to utilize Non-verbal manipulation, although this was extremely dangerous, if the mind wandered the spell would change. For example, if a magician cast non-verbally, for example 'Burn that door', and focused on something other than the door, they may accidentally burn that instead.

It was impossible to lie in the Ancient Language because words spoken in the language were unquestionably true-although, it was said that the elves were masters at saying one thing and meaning another (for example, Eragon said he was well in Eldest after Arya's rejection meaning her rejection but focusing on his back to make it true). Because of the candid nature of the language, oaths of allegiance and similar contracts were usually conducted in it, ensuring they would not be broken, though they could be twisted to be ineffective if the one who made the oath left enough loopholes in their wording. However it's possible to say something that is not true in the ancient language, if the person speaking it believes it to be true (Murtagh swore to Eragon that they were both Morzan's sons, because he had no knowledge of their mother's affair with Brom).

Names in the Ancient Language were "true names" and the knowledge of such a title was a source of power and control. The same holds true of the name of the Ancient Language itself: the knowledge of the name allows one to change the meaning of its words. The name was found by Galbatorix and subsequently used against him in the final confrontation with him.


The Ancient Language was once spoken by all beings in Alagaësia, with the originators of the language being the Grey Folk. Prior to being intertwined with magic, magic was controlled exclusively by the thoughts of a spell-caster, usually only the elves, with the rare exception of a dragon. This resulted in numerous opportunities for accidents, as a wielder of magic could inadvertently shift their thoughts in the midst of casting a spell, diverting the flow of energy. When the world was nearly destroyed because of a single accidental spell of non-verbal magic, the Grey Folk bound the Ancient Language to the very basis of magic.

The language was forgotten after the departure of the Grey Folk, but was reintroduced when the elves brought it back over the sea from Alalëa. By the time of the Dragon War, it was universally recognized as the elven language, yet could still be spoken among other beings.

Real-world connections[]

Author Christopher Paolini based the Ancient Language on the languages of the ancient Norse and Celtic peoples. It is not certain which ones he used, however, since his statement on the origin of the name "Galbatorix" says that it is the combination of the Welsh words "galba" - meaning "big" - and "torix" - meaning "king". No such words (or even the letter 'x') exist in the Welsh language. In Paolini's own words:

"When I was writing the first draft for Eragon, I needed to invent a word that meant fire; it was supposed to come from an “ancient language” that is almost always used with magic." (Some very skilled masters of magic can use it without using the language, although risking a stray thought or feeling distorts the results of the spell, which could be deadly.) "Since my parents owned a dictionary of word origins, I pulled it off the shelf and flipped through it. Eventually I found an obscure Old Norse word, brisingr, that meant fire, and because I loved it so much, I decided to base the rest of my language on Old Norse. To find more words, I went online and dug up various Old Norse dictionaries, although I have been known to invent a word now and then when the story requires it! As far as the grammar and pronunciation of my “ancient language” go, they bear absolutely no resemblance to Old Norse as I wanted to give it my own twist."

Some have criticized the Ancient Language, however, maintaining that it consists mostly of Old Norse words replacing English words in a sentence. The Ancient Language is almost translated to fit the semantic meaning of each English word exactly. The language when used by elves contains a number of suffixes to identify social standing, similar to Japanese honorifics.

Christopher Paolini has cited Ursula Le. Guinn's Earthsea books as "inspiration," so he probably got the idea of true names for people and things from there. (The language of Ged - the protagonist in Earthsea - and his race, has this same property like the Ancient Language).


Ancient Language to English[]


Ancient Language English
abr of
ach do, does
adurna water
äenora broad
agaetí celebration
Aiedail The Morning Star
älfa elf
älfr he
älfrs his
älfrinn she
älfrinns hers
andlát death
aptr backward
arget silver
Argetlam Silver Hand
Arucane Endless Fire, Living Fire
atra may, let
beor bear
bjart bright
Bjartskular Brightscales (an honorific for a dragon)
blaka flap/flapper
blödh blood
Blödhgarm Blood-wolf
blödhren blood-oath
blöthr halt, stop
böetk broad
böllr a round object, an orb
brakka reduce
breoal family, house
brisingr fire
brun brow
brunhvitr white-browed
burthr birth
burthro born (past tense of birth)
celöbra honor
celöbreya honors
Dagshelgr Hallowed Day
dag day
datia mists
dauth death
dauthleikr mortal
deloi earth
delois a green-leafed plant with purple flowers
deyja die
domia dominance
dras city
draumr dream
Dröttning Queen
Dröttningu Princess (Not the exact translation according to Arya)
du the
dunei love
dvergr Dwarf (plural: dvergar)
ebrithil master (plural: ebrithilar)
einradhin v. resolved
Edoc'sil unconquerable
edur a tor, prominence
eitha go, leave
ekar oaken
eka I, me
Elda gender-neutral honorific of great praise
eldrvarya burning
eld hórnya listeners
eld jeirda breaker
eld moi changer
Eldunarí heart of hearts
elrun thank
elrun ono thank you
eom to
ero was
er is
esterni good fortune
ethgri invoke
evarínya stars
eyddr v. empty
eyreya ears
fairth picture (more specifically, a picture taken by magical means)
flauga fly (v.)
frá from
fram forward
fricai friend plural. fricaya
fells mountains
fethr feather
fethrblaka bird (literally feather-flapper)
Finiarel an honorific phrase for a young man of great promise
freohr death
fyrn war
finna find
gala chant, sing, scream, yell, etc.
gánga go
garjzla light
garm wolf
gata path, passage
gath v. unite
Gedwëy shining
gëuloth v. dull
grind gate
gülia luck
hórna hear/listen
haldthin thornapple
haina harm
heill heal
Helgrind The Gates of Death
hjarta heart
hlaupa run
hljödhr silent
hugin thought or knowledge
huildr hold
hvass sharp
hvitr white
iet my (informal)
ietya our
ignasia palm
ilia happy
ilian happiness
ilumëo truth
istalri flame
jierda break, hit
kalfya calves
kausta come
knifr knife
kverst cut
kvetha greetings
kveykva lightning
kvaedhi script
kvistr branch
kodthr catch
kόpa stare
kona woman
könungr king
kuldr gold
kyn kind (as in race, mankind, elfkind, etc.)
lam hand
laufsbläd leaf (plural. laufsblädar)
lethr leather
Lethrblaka a full-grown Ra'zac (literally leather-flapper), a bat
letta stop (imperative)
Letta du Bullts! Stop the bullets!
liduen poetic
Liduen-Kvaedhi Poetic Script used by elves to write the Ancient Language
líf life
lífa live
lífs life's
losna release, loosen
ma'mor unlock
maela quiet
malthinae to bind or hold in place: confine
manin memory
melthna melt
moi change
mor'amr open
mor'ranr peace
nagz blanket
nalgask a mixture of beeswax and hazelnut oil used to moisten the skin
Nángoröth Blasted
néiat not
neo not
nosu us
nuanen beautiful
ono you (Your: onr)
orono or
hethr has
oro arrow, plural. orya
orúm serpent
pömnuria my (formal)
rakr mist
ramr strong
raudhr red
rauthr misfortune
reisa raise/lift
ren oath
reona reaper
rïsa rise (imperative)
seithr witch
sem that
Shelg Hallow (past tense. Hallowed)
Shur'tugal Dragon Rider (plural. Shur'tugalar)
Silbena Sighing
sitja stay
sja look, looking
skölir shield (plural skoliar)
sköliro shielded
skul scale (plural. skular)
skulblaka Dragon, scale flapper (literally)
solus sun
sundavrblaka The Beast, shadow flapper
slytha sleep
snalglí giant snail
stenr stone
stydja rest, stay, remain
sundavar shadows
sverd sword (plural. sverdar)
Svit-kona a formal honorific phrase for an elf woman of great wisdom
taka give
tauthr follow
taune take
thelduin v. rule over, v. reign
thorna those
thornessa this
thringa rain
thrysta thrust, compress
thverr traverse
Togira cripple
treavam tree
un and
unin in
undir under
vaeta hope
vandr-fodhr ill-marked
vanta lack, need
vanyali magic (elf in dwarvish)
varda watch over, guard
Varden The Warders
vardo warded
vel easily
ven sight
vindr air, wind
vinr friend
Vinr-Alfakyn Elf-Friend
vodhr a male honorific of middling praise
vöndr a thin, straight stick
vollar plains, fields, ground
Vor a male honorific for a close friend
vrangr wandering, awry
welden forest
wilae will (as in expressing believed truths. E.g. Will you be there?)
wiol for
waíse be
weohnata will (A force/effort of one's conscious. E.g. "As you will, princess Arya.")
wyrda fate
Wyrdfell elven name for the Forsworn
yawë a bond of trust
Zar'roc misery


Ancient Language English
Agaetí Blödhren Blood-oath Celebration
Ach neo eitha orono i.e. wilae yauna onr lifa Do not go or I will take your life.
Aí varden abr du Shur'tugalar gata vanta. A warden of the Riders lacks passage.
älfr ach thornessa He does this.
älfrinn ero aí kona ramrsja She was a strong-looking woman.
Atra du evarínya ono varda, Däthedr-vodhr. May the stars watch over you, honored Däthedr.
Atra esterní ono thelduin, Eragon Shur'tugal. May good fortune rule over you, Eragon Dragon Rider.
Atra esterní ono thelduin May good fortune rule over you.
Atra esterní ono thelduin. Mor'ranr lifa unin hjarta onr. Un atra du evarínya ono varda. May good fortune rule over you. Peace live in your heart. And the stars watch over you. (an Elven greeting)
Atra gülai un ilian tauthr ono un atra ono waíse skölir frá rauthr. May luck and happiness follow you and may you be a shield from misfortune. (Eragon's mis-translated blessing)
Atra gülai un ilian tauthr ono un atra ono waíse sköliro frá rauthr. May luck and happiness follow you and may you be shielded from misfortune.
Atra nosu waíse vardo fra eld hórnya. May we be warded from listeners.
boetq istalri! Broad fire!
Brakka du vanyali sem huildar Saphira un eka! Reduce the magic that holds Saphira and me!
Brisingr, iet tauthr. Fire, follow me.
Brisingr raudhr! Red fire!
Deloi moi! Earth, change!
Domia abr Wyrda Dominance of Fate (book)
Draumr kópa dream stare (spell for scrying)
Du deloi lunaea. Smooth the earth/dirt.
Du Fells Nángoröth The Blasted Mountains
Du Fyrn Skulblaka The Dragon War (Dragons vs. Elves)
Du Gata Vrangr The Wandering Path
Du grind huildr! Hold the gate!
Du Namar Aurboda. The Banishing of the Names.
"Du Silbena Datia" "The Sighing Mists" (a poem song)
Du Súndavar Freohr Death of the Shadows
Du Völlar Eldrvarya The Burning Plains
Du Vrangr Gata A coalition of minor magicians who supported the Varden (incorrectly meaning the Wandering Path)
Du Weldenvarden The Guarding Forest
Eka eddyr aí Shur'tugal... Shur'tugal... Argetlam. I am a Dragon Rider... Dragon Rider... Silver Hand.
Eka aí fricai un Shur'tugal! I am a Rider and a friend!
Eldhrimmer O Loivissa nuanen, dautr abr deloi/Eldhrimmer nen ono weohnataí medh solus un thringa/Eldhrimmer un fortha onr fëon var/Wiol allr sjon. Grow O beautiful Loivissa, daughter of the earth/Grow as you would with the sun and rain/Grow and put forth your flower of the spring/For all to see.
Eyddr eyreya onr! Empty your ears! (used as a deafening spell)
Fethrblaka, eka weohnata néiat haina ono. Blaka eom let lam. Bird, I will not harm you. Flap to my hand.
Fell Thindarë "Mountain of Night"
Fricai Andlát death friend (a poisonous mushroom)
Fricai onr eka eddyr. I am your friend.
Gala O Wyrda brunhvitr/Abr Berundal vandr-fodhr/Burthro lausblädar eja undir/Eom kona dauthleikr... Sing O white-browed Fate/Of ill-marked Berundal/Born under oaken leaves/To mortal woman...
Ganga aptr Go backward.
Ganga fram Go forward.
Garjzla, letta! Light, stop! (used as a blinding spell)
Gath sem oro un lam iet Unite that arrow with my hand.
Gath un reisa du rakr! Unite and raise the mist!
Gedwëy ignasia shining palm
Gëuloth du knífr! Dull the Knife!
Jierda theirra kalfis! Break their calves!
Kuldr, rïsa lam iet un malthinae unin böllr. Gold, rise to my hand and bind into an orb.
Kvetha Fricai Greetings, friend. (Fricaya is used for the plural of friend, I.E. when greeting multiple people)
Letta orya thorna! Stop those arrows!
Liduen Kvaedhí Poetic Script
Losna kalfya iet Release my calves.
Manin! Wyrda! Hugin! Memory! Fate! Thought!
Moi stenr! Stone, change!
Nagz reisa! Blanket, rise!
Nen ono weohnata, Arya Dröttningu. As you will, Princess Arya.
Osthato Chetowä the Mourning Sage
Reisa du adurna. Raise/Lift the water.
Ristvak'baen Place of Sorrow (baen—used here in Urû'baen, the capital of the Broddring Empire—is always pronounced bane and is an expression of great sadness/grief)
Sé mor'ranr ono finna May you find peace.
Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass! May your swords stay sharp! (Note: Sverð, in Icelandic, also means sword, sitja means to sit and hvass means sharp.)
Sé orúm thornessa hávr sharjalví lífs. May this serpent have life's movement.
Skölir nosu fra brisingr! Shield us from fire!
Skulblaka, eka celöbra ono un malabra ono un onr Shur'tugal né haina. Atra nosu waíse fricai. Dragon, I honor you and mean you and your Rider no harm. Let us be friends.
Stenr reisa! Raise stone!
Stenr, rïsa! Stone, rise!
Stydja unin mor'ranr, Hrothgar Könungr. Rest in peace, King Hrothgar.
Thorta du ilumëo! Speak the truth!
Thrysta adurna Compress the water.
Thrysta deloi Compress the earth.
Thrysta vindr Compress the air.
Thverr stenr un atra eka hórna! Traverse stone and let me hear!
Togira Ikonoka The Cripple Who Is Whole
Tuatha du orothrim Tempering the fool's wisdom (level in the Riders' training)
Vel eïnradhin iet ai Shur'tugal. Upon my word as a rider.
Vinr Älfakyn Elf Friend
Waíse heill! Be healed!
Waíse neiat! Be not!
Wiol ono. For you.
Wiol pömnuria ilian. For my happiness

All adjectives are used after nouns (ex. 'the strong woman' would literally translate as 'the woman strong').


By using simple knowledge it is also possible to find out other words in the Ancient Language.

Such as:

Fethrblaka = bird/Feather-Flapper
Lethrblaka = Adult Ra'zac /Leather-Flapper/ bat
Skulblaka = Dragon/Scale-Flapper
Sundavrblaka = Shadow-Flapper

So, Fethr means Feather, Lethr means Leather, Skul means Scale, and -blaka means flap.

Also, the word sundablaka—shadowflapper—appears in the Eragon movie.

Sentence construction[]

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.

Example: "Aí skulblaka ramr" means "a strong dragon", but literally translates as "a dragon strong".

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).

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 is required.

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).

When two nouns are joined 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 words 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.

-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" (honour) becomes "celöbreya" (honours).

English to Ancient Language[]

Articles, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, prepositions[]

English Ancient Language
am eddyr
and un
are eru
backward aptr
be waíse
did achí
do ach
does ach (the same as "do")
for wiol
forward fram
from fra
have hávr
in unin
is er
let atra
not néiat
of abr
that sem
the du
this thornessa
those orya
to eom
under undir
up audr
upon vel
was ero
were erní
will weohnata
with medh


English Ancient Language
All allr
I eka
he älfr
his älfrs
me eka
my (formal) pömnuria (Informal: iet)
who iknol
she älfrinn
their theirra
them therr
those thorna
us nosu
you ono
your onr


English Ancient Language
air vindr
arrow oro
banishing aurboda
bat lethrblaka, literally "leather flapper"
bird fethrblaka, literally "feather flapper"
blanket nagz
blood blödh
blue, deep-throated lily that grows in the Empire loivissa
bond of trust yawë
Brightscales Bjartskular (honorific title for dragons)
brow brun
cactus found near Helgrind talos
calves (as in cow) kalfya
calves (as in leg) kalvis
celebration agaetí
city dras
cripple togira
daughter dautr
day dag
death anglát, freohr, dauth
dominance domia
Dominance of Fate (book) Domia abr Wyrda
dragon skulblaka, literally "scale flapper"
Dragon Rider Shur'tugal
dream draumr
dwarves dvergar
ears eyreya
earth deloi
elf älfa
elf-kind älfakyn
elf-woman älfa-kona
fabric made by cross-weaving wool and nettle threads lámarae
family or house breoal
fate wyrda
feather fethr
flame istalrí
flower fëon
fire brisingr
fool's wisdom orothrim
forest welden
Forsworn Wyrdfell
friend fricai, vinr
gate grind
gold kuldr
good fortune esterní
greetings Kvetha
Hallowed Day dagshelgr
hand lam
harm haina
happiness ilian
heart hjarta
heart of hearts


hell hel
ill vandr
king könungr
knife knifr
leaf laufsbläd
leather lethr
life líf
life's (as a genetive noun) lifs
light garjzla
lightning kveykva
elven liqueur faelnirv
luck guliä
magic vanyali, gramarye
master ebrithil
memory manin
misery zar'roc
misfortune rauthr
mist rakr, datia
mixture of beeswax and hazelnut used to moisten the skin nalgask
mourning Chetowä
Morning Star Aiedail
mortal dauthleikr
mountain fell
movement sharjalví
name nama
oath ren
orb böllr
palm ignasia
path gata
peace mor'ranr
picture created through magic fairth
Place of Sorrow Ristvak’baen
plains völlar
poison eitrum
princess drötningu
purple-flowered plant delois
queen drötning
rain thringa
sage osthato
scale skul
script kvaedhi
serpent orúm
shadow súndav
shield skölir
silver arget
Silver hand Argetlam
sorrow baen
Spine Carthungavë
Spring vara
stars evarínya
stick vöndr
stone stenr
sun solus
sword sverd
The Burning Plains Du Völlar Eldrvarya
The Dragon War Du Fyrn Skulblaka
The Guarding Forest Du Weldenvarden
the morning star Aiedail
The Sighing Mists (a poem song) Du Silbena Datia
The Wandering Path Du Vrangr Gata
The Warders Varden
thornapple haldthin
thought hugin
tree traevam
truth thorta
type of bonding between a dragon and Rider indlvarn
prominence edur
war fyrn
warden varden
water adurna
witch seithr
wolf garm
word eïnradhin
woman kona

Verbs and Adjectives[]

English Ancient Language
awaken vakna
beautiful nuanen
bind malthinae
blasted (as in cursed) nángoröth
baby burthr
born burthro
break, hit jierda
bright bjart
brighten naina
broad böetq
burn eldrvarya
catch kodthr
change moi
cut kverst
die deyja
dull gëuloth
empty eyddr
find finna
flap blaka
fly flauga
follow tauthr
go gánga
hallowed shelgr
halt blöthr
happy ilia
harm haina
healed heill
hear hóna
hide frethya
hold huildr
honour celöbra
ill vandr
invoke ethgrí
lack vanta
leave eitha
live lífa
marked fodhr
mean malabra
need vanta
oaken ekar
poetic liduen
quiet maela
raise reisa
red raudhr
reduce brakka
release losna
rest stydja
rise rïsa
rule thelduin
run hlaupa
scale skul
see sjon
sharp hvass
shining Gedwëy
sighing silbena
silent hljödhr
sing gala
sleep slytha
smooth lunaea
speak ilerneo
stare kópa
stay sitja
steal äftaka
stop letta
strong ramr
take taka
temper tuatha
thank elrun
thank you elrun ono
thicken thaefathan
thrust thrysta
traverse thverr
unconquerable edoc'sil
under undir
unite gath
unlock ma'mor
wandering vrangr
ward vard
warded vardo
warders varden
watch varda
white hvitr
whole ikonoka

Prefixes and suffixes[]

Ancient Language English
Alfa-kona elf woman (may be used as a suffix)
Elda a gender-neutral honorific suffix of great praise, attached with a hyphen.
Finiarel an honorific suffix for a young man of great promise, attached with a hyphen.
Svit-kona a formal honorific for an “alfa-kona” of great wisdom.
Vodhr a male honorific suffix of middling praise, attached with a hyphen.
Vor a male honorific for a close friend, attached with a hyphen.


English Ancient Language
put forth fortha

External Links[]