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The ancient language (Japanese: 古代語 ancient language), also known occasionally as the Old Tongue, is one of two languages native to the continent of Tellius as seen in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, and is a rare and esoteric language with deep ties to the magical practices of the realm. Its counterpart and opposite is modern speech, or the "Tellius language", which is the basic, common tongue spoken by the overwhelming majority of the modern inhabitants of Tellius.
The ancient language was first devised by the beorc of Tellius, and for a time saw wide use among all of the land's people. However, its complexity proved to be a significant obstacle for it to be learned by laguz, and so the modern "Tellius language" was created and soon supplanted it as the continent's dominant tongue. The exception to this was Hatari, which was evidently isolated from the rest of Tellius before the rise of modern speech and thus retained the ancient language as its primary language.
Afterward, the ancient language diminished drastically in its significance in Tellius, and became nearly unheard of among beorc society. Ironically, it survived primarily through certain laguz, specifically the heron and dragon clans of Serenes Forest and Goldoa; Queen Nailah of Hatari would later theorize that the long life spans of these particular laguz clans offered them all the time they need to master the ancient language, something which both beorc and the other laguz tribes lack in comparison.
In its presentation in the games, the ancient language is divided into two parts: the visual text seen on-screen and spoken language heard in cutscenes. These two components, when deciphered, actually have no connection to each other outside the in-universe context.
In written form, the script of the ancient language has an elaborate, cursive form perhaps more reminiscent of the Arabic alphabet or devanagari than of the Latin alphabet. However, from a technical standpoint the ancient language is little more than a simple font applied on top of sentences, which are themselves written internally in normal text. Every ancient language letter directly matches a Latin letter, and so sections of the games' script written in the ancient language can theoretically be "translated" by somebody familiar with the script (or read by looking at extracted script files).
In the Japanese version, the Japanese text is transliterated to the Latin alphabet before applying the font.
|A a||B b||C c||D d||E e||F f||G g||H h||I i||J j|
|A a||B b||C c||D d||E e||F f||G g||H h||I i||J j|
|K k||L l||M m||N n||O o||P p||Q q||R r||S s||T t|
|K k||L l||M m||N n||O o||P p||Q q||R r||S s||T t|
|U u||V v||W w||X x||Y y||Z z||.||,||!|
|U u||V v||W w||X x||Y y||Z z||.||,||!|
Its spoken component, occasionally heard in cutscenes when characters perform galdrar, is actually comprised of Japanese dialogue spoken backwards. The Japanese lyrics are written out in the Latin alphabet, spelled completely backwards, then sung in this state. For example, the first stanza of the song "Life Returns" from Path of Radiance was likely "translated" into the ancient language as follows, as interpreted by members of the Japanese fan site Pegasus Knight:
|Line 1||Line 2||Line 3||Line 4|
|Japanese||永久の嘆き悲しみ||時を止めて まどろむ心||闇を払い 手と手触れ合う||今もう一度|
|Hepburn||towa no nageki kanashimi||toki o tomete madoromu kokoro||yami o harai te to te fureau||ima mō ichido|
|Translation*||Endless grief and sorrow||Hearts slumbering to stop time||Hands joined to clear the darkness||Now, once more|
Two complete songs were written and performed in the ancient language: "Life Returns" in Path of Radiance, which is the basis for the galdr of rebirth; and "Dawn Awakens" in Radiant Dawn.
In the opening cinematic of Radiant Dawn, Micaiah also briefly chants in the ancient language to cast Light. The English localization's version of this chant ("Ekarif Magae Teiodasto Ieraka!") does not follow the usual ancient language rules and seems to be original, Latin-like chanting.
The ancient language is still used primarily among the heron tribe of Serenes Forest. Of the three heron laguz encountered during the events of Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, only Leanne speaks the language near-exclusively, although the latter has her starting to learn the modern language. Her brothers, Rafiel and Reyson, are primarily seen speaking in the modern language, but use the ancient language on some occasion.
Despite its decline in the rest of Tellius, the ancient language remained the dominant language of the isolated kingdom Hatari, as it had no knowledge of modern speech. Volug speaks near-exclusively in the ancient language as a result, and Nailah only learned the common language after coming into contact with Rafiel.
The ancient language's only remaining common usage among beorc cultures is, according to Ike, by practitioners of magic. In the events of the two games, this is primarily demonstrated by Micaiah, who on several occasions in several pieces of dialogue is seen briefly chanting in the ancient language before attacking with her light magic.
In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, if studied carefully, ancient language text can also be seen as part of the glowing runes appearing around a magic user when using certain tomes. The same text is reused verbatim in Fire Emblem Awakening's tome-casting runes, most notably being visible on Valflame; the ancient language otherwise does not actually appear in Awakening. The text does not translate into anything coherent or meaningful in either language's version of the ancient language, and is nothing more than decorative gibberish.
In addition to its usage in conventional beorc magic, the ancient language is also the foundation of a type of lyrical magic known as "seid magic". A galdr (Japanese:
These galdrar have been seen in action or discussed in the course of the games' story events:
- Galdr of rebirth: This galdr has great healing powers, and is equally effective on both living creatures and on plants. It is extraordinarily difficult to perform, and under normal conditions requires at least two herons to perform it simultaneously to succeed, though an environment suffused with a high dose of order energy or a period of calm makes it possible for a single heron to perform it alone. It has been performed four known times: once by Leanne and Reyson to restore life to the burnt-out Serenes Forest; by Leanne and Reyson to heal Rajaion's mind from the effects of Izuka's Feral One drug; once by Rafiel alone to cure Muarim of a Feral One drug dose; and once by Reyson alone to heal Renning from the the Feral One drug. This galdr is known in the Path of Radiance Sound Room as "Life Returns".
- Galdr of release: This galdr is a failsafe for Yune's confinement in Lehran's Medallion, and will awaken and release her (also awakening Ashera) when performed successfully to the medallion. At the height of the Laguz Alliance/Begnion war, when Yune's release through war seemed imminent, the galdr of release was performed by Micaiah to release Yune. This galdr was originally known by Lehran, and is inherited through generations of Begnion apostles, who appear to instinctively know it as part of their genetic inheritance. It only has power when performed by Lehran or his apostle descendants, the only ones with the power to invoke its effect, and will have no effect on the medallion if performed by anybody else, including other herons. Its melody is very similar to that of the galdr of rebirth.
- Galdr of sleep: A galdr which is used to calm the chaotic energies of Lehran's Medallion; its name implies that it involves lulling Yune to sleep. Unlike the galdr of release, any heron can perform this. It is never seen to be used in the games themselves, but Yune commented on how she was constantly accompanied by somebody singing it, describing it as "sweet, gentle music".
- Dirge of ruin: A forbidden, powerful galdr with unknown but presumably highly destructive consequences. It is never seen actually used, but Reyson contemplated using it to avenge the fall of Serenes and his family during Ike's hunt for Oliver.
These four galdrar, which each perform a unique function, are learned progressively by the playable herons as part of their Galdrar skill:
- Vigor: A common galdr used to refresh allies during a fight, allowing them to move again. This is the only galdr to be present both in gameplay and in cutscenes, and is known by default by all playable herons as part of their Galdrar skill.
- Bliss: Learned at level 15, raises an adjacent ally's biorhythm to its highest point.
- Sorrow: Also learned at level 15, lowers the biorythm of adjacent enemies to its lowest point.
- Valor: Learned at level 30, completely fills an allied laguz's transformation gauge.
- Recovery: Learned at level 40, completely restores the HP and removes any status effects of adjacent allies.
- In the Japanese versions of Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, any dialogue written in the ancient language is internally stored as romaji versions of the respective Japanese words, and like in English and other translations, is presented by applying the ancient language font on top of these specific lines. As a result, the ancient language writing system is identical and no changes to the ancient language's script system were necessary when the games were localized.
- "Ike: The Tellius language?
Nailah: You don’t know? The language we are using right now is called the Tellius language. You call it modern speech, I suppose.
Ike: Oh, I see.
Nailah: Long ago, beorc created the Old Tongue. The ancient speech is what we laguz call it. The language was too difficult for the laguz to master. So the language of Tellius was created in its place.
Ike: Huh. I’ve never heard that before. The only people I’m aware of who know the ancient speech are the heron laguz. I think Nasir of Goldoa said he could read it. Among beorc, only mages know how to use it, and that’s only for spells.
Nailah: Well, the laguz who live a long time, such as dragons and herons, have all the time in the world to learn it. Beorc probably left the ancient speech behind in favor of a newer and improved language, with the exception of spells." — Ike and Nailah, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "Nailah: Sorry. I don’t mean to leave you out of the conversation.
Ike: No, that’s fine. I would have been confused either way. I didn’t know you could speak the ancient language.
Nailah: It’s Hatari’s common language. I would never have known about the Tellius language if I hadn’t met Rafiel.
Ike: The Tellius language?" — Nailah and Ike, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- 蒼炎エンディング「Life Returns」, Pegasus Knight, Retrieved: January 8, 2015
- Awakening - Trivia, Serenes Forest, Retrieved: 2015-1-8
- "Tibarn: Are you sure about this? I thought the galdr of rebirth was too powerful and complex for a single heron to perform.
Reyson: Usually, that's true. Right now, however, Ashera's awakening has infused the world with order; I've never felt stronger. What's more, Lord Renning's condition seems less severe than a true Feral One. I think I can do this." — Tibarn and Reyson, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "The words. They are passed down through the ages like a bloodline. Though time may pass, their meaning is never lost. When I heard you sing the melody, the words came to me. [...] When I heard the melody, the lyrics felt as if they poured out from deep within me. I know this song. I've known it since before I was born. I am…" — Micaiah, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "Elincia: Mist...That's the song that... But...the melody's a little different, isn't it?
Ike: It's similar to the song Reyson and Leanne sang in the forest. My mother used to sing it as a lullaby.
Reyson: It is the song of release. The one Lillia entrusted to Elena.
Mist: B-but...I wore the medallion and sang that song almost every single night! And nothing ever happened.
Reyson: The magical effect of the song is awakened by the power of the singer. ...It can't be unleashed by just anyone. The true song of release can only be sung by a girl named Altina...Lillia wanted your mother to take the melody to Altina and return the medallion to its rightful place in Serenes Forest." — Elincia, Ike, Reyson, and Mist, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Ike: Don't I know… Mist, isn't that Mother's song?
Mist: Not quite. But it… It is close." — Ike and Mist, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "A galdr that can quell the chaotic energies of the dark god imprisoned in Lehran's Medallion. It can be sung by any member of the heron clan." — The galdr of sleep's Glossary entry, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "Yune: Ashera and I see things a little differently… During my long sleep, I was wrapped in sweet, gentle music.
Ike: Heron galdrar?
Yune: Yes, but more important than the song itself, I was never alone. There was always someone, singing comfort to me. Ashera shouldn't have isolated herself. She became lonely and bitter, and lost touch with her people." — Yune and Ike, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "Reyson: Once I stand at the altar, I can take care of them. Every one of them.
Tibarn: You can't mean... Are you thinking of using the forbidden magic?
Reyson: ...Yes. I will sing those monsters the dirge of ruin.
Tibarn: Are you mad?! You mustn't! I can't allow it!
Reyson: With permission or without, I do what I must! It is retribution for genocide! Retribution for this forest!" — Reyson and Tibarn, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Micaiah: What happened just now? What was that strange song?
Sothe: That was Vigor, a heron galdr that can re energize our allies in a fight." — Micaiah and Sothe, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
|Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn|