The Languages of the Dark Elves
Language is the most basic tool for cultures to form cohesion amid the chaos of the world, to bind together those factions that share the same interests and values. When linguistic scholars study languages, they're able to piece together and intricately learn more about each culture and subculture, due to the unique makeup of the group's linguistic behavior.
Especially interesting to linguistic scholars are the dark elves, as unlike other races, the dark elven race splintered into three separate, distinct languages: one with unknown and possibly mystical origins and two intentionally created to set groups apart from elves. For generations, these three languages, Dark Elven, Faendryl, and Dhe'narsi, have fascinated linguists, historians, and other scholars.
The dark elven language is often called the "voice of Rhoska-Tor." When the first elves settled in Rhoska-Tor, the mana foci in the surrounding land tainted their physical bodies and changed their appearance. For instance, their ears became more sharply defined, giving them the ability to hear a varying degree of different tonal ranges not audible to other elves, and they found their tongues were able to make new, unique sounds. This new race, dark elves, learned to draw upon the powers of the mana flows to increase their arcane potential. But tapping into this power did something more: it gave them an innate knowledge of a tongue never heard before.
Scholars have tried to determine the linguistic roots of the intricate dark elven language, but so far none have been able to find any in known recorded texts or living speech models. Some have speculated that it is a dialect from beyond the veil, a language of some foreign demonic race, but numerous trips to several valences have failed to uncover proof.
All dark elves have an intimate knowledge of the dark elven language, regardless of how long it has been since their ancestors have been to Rhoska-Tor, but in particular dark elves that did not grow up in one of the two main cultures will rely heavily upon its use—more so than even Common speech. Most Dhe'nar, however, have a distaste for using the language, finding it more primitive than their own. On the other hand, Dark Elven can still be heard on the streets of New Ta'Faendryl as it is often used in informal, everyday conversations among family, friends, and acquaintances.
The foundation of the Faendryl language can be traced back to shortly after the exile of the former leaders of the Elven Nations. On their trek toward Rhoska-Tor, Cestimir Xisuthors Faendryl, Patriarch XXXV, began noticing his people twisting elven words into opposite meanings out of spite. In an effort to boost morale, Cestimir encouraged this feeling that, since they were no longer a part of the elven City-States, they should no longer share the same language. Eventually, over the millennia, the twisted elven spoken by the exiles evolved into the present day Faendryl.
While there are a few minor similarities with common Elven, the language of the Faendryl is more refined and complex, reflecting in linguistic design both the physical and mental changes the exiled race went through to become dark elves. Even with their mastery of the unique dark elven language brought about by their exile in Rhoska-Tor, the Faendryl perpetuated their evolved Elven as well.
In New Ta'Faendryl, by law, the Faendryl language is reserved for formal occasions and official stances. Proclamations by the Patriarch and other officials, writs of law, contracts, and other business documents are written in the Faendryl language, but informal everyday conversation is conducted in Dark Elven. The bilingual nature of the city often confuses outsiders and can lead to many cultural misunderstandings—such as a foreign envoy, in an attempt to garner favor, introducing himself to Basilica officials by grunting out a ragged, Dark Elven phrase.
It should be noted, however, that it is not unheard of for Faendryl to speak solely one language or another. Members of the lower classes often find the Faendryl language too refined and complex and therefore prefer to speak Dark Elven, whereas members of the upper classes consider Faendryl the only proper tongue to speak, eschewing the use of any other language.
Linguistic scholars have not yet pinpointed a date for the emergence of Dhe'narsi due to its initial rudimentary beginnings. Although some claim to know a precise time, there is no agreement within the scholarly community nor among the Dhe'nar, on a true beginning date. Some have speculated that its initial start occurred after Noi'sho'rah vanished and the Dhe'nar separated from the other elves. Among the Dhe'nar, it is generally accepted that Tahlad gave birth to the language of the First Born, through wisdom given to him in a vision from Noi'sho'rah himself.
Dhe'narsi is an intricate, flowing language that holds minor similarities to forms of distant Elven. While it was primitive as it began to evolve, with loosely defined vocabulary and grammar, over the millennia it has grown into a rich, full-bodied language that bespeaks the pride of the Dhe'nar. Pure Dhe'narsi is known by all dark elves raised in a structured Dhe'nar culture, and it is often the only language they will speak.
The Dhe'nar people solely spoke pure Dhe'narsi at the founding of Sharath and used it throughout all forms of daily living within the city. All the castes engaged in the use of the language, although each added their own select words. The use of these terms helped to identify members of the various castes of the Dhe'nar society. After the fall of Sharath, Dhe'narsi was still a viable language available to those who decided to continue to use it. Some of the Dhe'nar, scared and torn about the Great Fire, returned to using the dark elven language, the fluency learned at Rhoska-Tor never fading.
Within the recent century, a form of Dhe'narsi has cropped up in Western Elanith from a group of Dhe'nar who left and formed a new community. This Dhe'narsi shadows some similarities to the initial evolution of the language, and it is speculated that it is a dialect that was spawned before the original language expanded at the founding of Sharath. While some conjecture that this form of Dhe'narsi is taken up by Dhe'nar who, having once broken ties with their people, seek to reconnect with their past and Noi'sho'rah, there is no proof that this is so. It is not uncommon for individuals of other races, those who have befriended one of these Dhe'nar, to learn to speak the dialect. Typically combined with the common language, the dialect is often simple, select phrases or statements of greeting.