Old Tongue

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The Old Tongue is the language brought over to Westeros by the First Men, over 12,000 years prior to the start of the series. It is a harsh, clanging language. Names originating from the Old Tongue tend to be short, simple, and descriptive. The language is all but extinct in Westeros, except for the lands beyond the Wall, where it is still used by the race of giants and a few other wildlings.

"Half the wildling host had lived all their lives without so much as a glimpse of the Wall, Jon judged, and most of those spoke no word of the Common Tongue. It did not matter. Mance Rayder spoke the Old Tongue, even sang in it, fingering his lute and filling the night with strange wild music."[1]

A few words are known: sygerrik, meaning deceiver, a name taken by Bael the Bard,[2] magnar lord,[3] and skagos stone.[4] Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg is the name for Mag the Mighty, and probably reflects five separate words. Jon describes the Old Tongue as sounding "harsh, clanging...[and] coarse."[5]

Of course, many of the names of the Free Folk probably originate in the Old Tongue. These include Harma, Dalla, Val, Ygritte, Ryk, Ragwyle, Lenyl, Styr, Jarl, Grigg, Errok, Quort, Bodger, Del, Dan, Henk, Lenn, Tormund, Toregg, Torwyrd, Dormund, Dryn, Munda, Orell, Varamyr, and Alfyn, as well as Craster and his family Gilly, Dyah, Ferny, Nella,[6] and other Wildlings, such as Arson,[7] Gendel and his brother Gorne,[8] Joramun, Bael[9], Tristifer Mudd,[10] Raymun Redbeard[11] and doubtless others.

It had a runic writing system, as Lord Yohn Royce has armor which "is bronze, thousands and thousands of years old, engraved with magic runes that ward him against harm."[12] Also, the ancient crown of Winter was "an open circlet of hammered bronze incised with the runes of the First Men."[13] The Horn of Joramun had runes graven upon it, as well. [14] However, the runes were not used in books: "The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later."[15][16] [17]


References and Notes

  1. A Storm of Swords,p.172]]
  2. A Clash of Kings,p.746
  3. A Storm of Swords,p.80
  4. A Feast for Crows,p.220
  5. A Storm of Swords,p.167
  6. A Storm of Swords,p.972-3
  7. A Storm of Swords,p.298
  8. A Storm of Swords,p.300
  9. A Storm of Swords,p.302
  10. A Storm of Swords,p.520
  11. A Storm of Swords,p.837
  12. [[A Game of Thrones |year= 1996 |publisher= Bantam Dell |page=294 |isbn= 978-0-553-57340-4}}
  13. A Clash of Kings,p.107
  14. A Storm of Swords,p.836
  15. A Feast for Crows,p.80
  16. A Game of Thrones, p.607
  17. Languages Corpus at DothrakiWiki