True Tongue

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The True Tongue,[1] also called true speech,[2] is the language of the children of the forest, in which they sing the songs of the earth. The name the children call themselves in the True Tongue is those who sing the song of earth.[1]


The True Tongue is said either to have originated or drawn inspiration from the sounds of the natural world that the children of the forest were surrounded by, such as wind through leaves, rain on water, or stones in a brook.[2] The songs of the children were said to sound as beautiful as they were,[2] with their voices as pure as winter air.[3]

In his Unnatural History, Septon Barth theorized that the children could speak with ravens and teach them words, and that the children taught this skill to the First Men of antiquity so that the birds could transport messages over great distances. This would thus have been the origin of maesters sending written messages by raven, though the scholars can now only communicate on a rudimentary level with the birds. Most maesters disbelieve Barth's theory, however.[2]

Humans are unable to speak the True Tongue,[3] but an ancient ballad tells the tale of how Brandon the Builder was able to learn to understand the language while seeking the children's help to build the Wall.[2] This account, recorded in the book Winter's Kings, is one of the only fragments thought to have survived from the time of the First Men that records what the songs of the children were about.[2]

The children called Dorne the "Empty Land".[4] Thus the word "Dorne" may have its origin in the True Tongue or it may be a derivitive made up by the First Men who were unable to speak the True Tongue properly. However, it may also be entirely unrelated to the True Tongue and instead be a word in the Old Tongue of the First Men.

Recent Events

A Dance with Dragons

Bran Stark hears Coldhands murmur a blessing in a strange tongue when the ranger slits the throat of his fallen elk.[1]

Within the cave of the three-eyed crow, Bran hears Leaf and other children of the forest sing in the True Tongue.[3] Bran learns that ravens can speak the language as well.[3]


Maester Childer's Winter's Kings, or the Legends and Lineages of the Starks of Winterfell contains a part of a ballad alleged to tell of the time Brandon the Builder sought the aid of the children while raising the Wall. He was taken to a secret place to meet with them, but could not at first understand their speech, which was described as sounding like the song of stones in a brook, or the wind through leaves, or the rain upon the water.[2]

—writings of Yandel

Our name in the True Tongue means those who sing the song of earth. Before your Old Tongue was ever spoken, we had sung our songs ten thousand years.[1]