Sangheili (language)

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"Their language doesn't translate in a literal manner, and each word has multiple meanings."

Sangheili is the language spoken by the species of the same name. Though the member species of the Covenant had their own unique languages, an advanced dialect of Sangheili came to serve as the lingua franca throughout the entire Covenant Empire.[2] and as such, many names of member species are derived from the Sangheili.[3] Even after the fragmentation of the Covenant, many former client species of the Covenant continue to use the Sangheili language in lieu of their native tongues; Sangheili has even replaced their native language for many.[2] A specific trade pidgin also existed within the Covenant fringe.[4]


Text, or writing, in Sangheili appears to be mostly triangle shapes and composed almost completely of equilateral triangles. The triangular characters have been seen oriented both in the horizontal left-to-right direction and in a vertical right-to-left direction.[5] Furthermore the Covenant doesn't use Morse code.

Though originating with the Sangheili, an advanced dialect of their language has come to be the Covenant lingua franca, used to connect the different races and species.[2] Curiously, in several instances of Forerunner-related terminology, the Sangheili appear to use the English translations of the original Forerunner terms, as for "Forerunner", "Requiem", "Reclaimer", "Didact", and "Librarian".[6][note 1] During the San'Shyuum-Sangheili War, the San'Shyuum obtained a comprehensive understanding of the Sangheili language by brutally torturing and interrogating prisoners of war. After establishing peace with the Sangheili, the San'Shyuum of the fledgling Covenant relied on translation software built into their anti-gravity chairs to understand the language.[7] The Ussans developed in isolation from other Sangheili, and their language evolved into a different form of the Sangheili dialect. It possessed similarities to Old Sangheili,[8] but the language developed into a new language that could not be understood by the "average" Sangheili.[9]


Note: All words in the following list should not be pronounced as if they were English. The pronunciation of each letter does not depend on the letters that follow. Certain sounds are not written due to them only being available via the International Phonetic Alphabet. This results in letters: a, o, i, u, e, y, t, d, f, v, b, c, p, k, l, h and s not representing the actual sounds in the Sangheili language.

Unggoy - Grunt
Kig-Yar - Jackal
Sangheili - Elite
Yanme'e - Drone
Jiralhanae - Brute
Lekgolo - Hunter
San'Shyuum - Prophet
Huragok - Engineer (taken from the Forerunner name "Huragok")
Fooranah/Fooran - Forerunner
Dohmoh'Eenganenn - Human[10][note 2]
Wort - Go (Imperative)[11]
Kaidon - Clan leader[12]
Ossoona - Eye of the Prophet[13]
Neru Pe 'Odosima - Servants of the Abiding Truth[14]
A'ul - Lump of wood[15]
Kel - Light (that dances on the waves)[16]
Silket - Spear[17]
Wuchaans - Shipmaster[10][note 2]
Wuchookah - Shipmaster [note 2]
Nishum - Intestinal parasite; a common insult towards humans[18]
Jeeneh - Soul[note 2]
Laqil - New Llanelli[19]
Sqala - Venezia[20]
Nou - Cognate with English "no", as a negative response[10]
Ey - Cognate with English "No" and "not,[10][note 2][21] also used as an interjection[22]
Eedahyuhk/eedahyuhkoh - Brother[note 2]
Eennteeyuhkoh - Loyal friend.[note 2]
Mehoh - refers to a group in which the speaker is a part of.[10][note 2]
Tahshee - refers to a third group, which the speaker is not part of. Also means different.[10][note 2]
kuhtahshee - refers to something that is very different, like an alien or in some cases human.[10][note 2]
Kohyahkuhmoh - Vector[10][note 2]
Mahgahchi - Approach[10][note 2]
Jah/Jamahtaa - I/me/we refers to first person[note 2]
Eennah - Like/who/whoever Meaning varies significantly depending on context.[note 2]
Reh - make/made[note 2]
Deedah - gift [note 2]
Musuyano - Rest/Remains/Remnant
Kaboonoh - travel/go
Gah- - denotes location compare with english "at"
Dwa- - through [note 2]
Nohkoh - Keep (verb)
Se - away from/from [note 2]
Wehrehgeh - Begin (command form)[note 2]
Dohshuhgah - Evacuation[note 2]
Kohee - Bring (past form) [note 2]
Koheh - Bring (command form)[note 2]
Rohghee - Rise (command form)[note 2]
Quillick - Small hunter[23]
QezoY'asabu - Obsidian Wing[24]
Gahreykoh - This is[note 2]
Kahnoh - Treasure[note 2]
Noh - possessive particle (compare to Japanese の)
Dohmayinn - Domain
Leevrukah - Guardian[note 2][25]
Cheennsay - Warrior[note 2]
Sunaion - Westward temple of the sea.[24]

Transliterated Sangheili[edit]

--Nnse-kooree-koocha nee-ey-mawoo.

Dieduckt gahkaboonoh Liebuh-Rahrian musuyano. Kaboonzaywah wohchita kneekohsoh woorumahtwo.

Nmtahbonwon Sayoh. Gah-eymayoh Reecleymah toymeh-ushou zosuerohkoh!

Non-native speakers of Sangheili[edit]

Several species, including humans[26], Mgalekgolo[27], Unggoy[28] and Kig-Yar,[29] are able to speak Sangheili. Not all races can speak the same language due to evolutionary design restrictions; for example, the Yanme'e could only communicate through a cacophony of high-pitched clicks and screeches.[30][31] To facilitate easier communications between member species, translation software is used on Covenant ships to decipher words.[32] During and after the Human-Covenant War, several humans were able to understand Sangheili :

Symbol types[edit]

There are four known written types of the Sangheili language.

Triangle type (original cipher)[edit]

This triangle variant of the written language has a few key features. They are a big triangle surrounded numerous smaller triangles. These smaller triangles are known to be closer to the corners of the bigger triangle, and can either be floating above the corner, or very close to it. The direction of the bigger triangle is not set, leading to there being numerous possibilities to what one symbol could mean. The bigger triangle is also known to have semi-circles cut out of the middle of its sides, sometimes filled with circles. Sometimes the triangles points are not there and are replaced by a circle. Sometimes rectangles are involved in the symbols. There is also thinner and longer triangle symbols in this type of symbols. These can have a smaller triangle at its smaller side or not.

There is a few different translations for this type of symbols. These are seen often in transmissions, on control panels. These have been in use as early as February 4th 2531 in transmissions during the Harvest Campaign.[36]

Triangle Alphabet 1[edit]

Triangle Alphabet 2[edit]

Unknown alphabet[edit]

Bumped triangles type[edit]

These triangle symbols are similar to the base triangle type. They are big triangles with a spike coming out near the corners. Smaller triangles, unlike the triangle type symbols, are closer to the middle of the sides, touching the spike coming out near the corner.

There is sometimes a smaller triangle taken out the sides of the bigger triangles, and sometimes triangle taken out the middle of them also.

These are often seen in transmissions and also on control panels. These have been in use as early as April 26, 2526 in transmissions during the Battle of Circinius IV.[37]

Normal use[edit]


These are all the symbols and patterns related to them.

Forerunner symbol type[edit]

These symbols are often borrowed or adapted from actual Forerunner symbols for use in speech, on Sangheili armor, and even on Covenant technology.



Weapons and vehicles[edit]

Sunaion and Sangheili Ruins Symbols[edit]

Ancient Sangheili triangle type[edit]

An ancient version of the Sangheili script appears in Sangheili ruins and ceremonial curveblades. Symbols similar to the modern triangular symbols appear. They can also be seen on modern Swords of Sanghelios flags.

Ancient Sangheili circle type[edit]

Usually next to ancient Sangheili triangle types on ancient Sangheili scriptures.

Mural type[edit]

This type is numerous symbols and images.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Deleted material: Elite speech from Deliver Hope

Before the release of Halo 2, the official website at was made to look like a Covenant computer complete with the Sangheili language. This language was a simple cipher with the triangular characters. In addition to, a released wallpaper contained triangular characters that made use of this cipher. After the site, the cipher changed. Two wallpapers were released with an entirely new cipher still using the triangular characters. Neither this cipher or the previous one have been used subsequently, though the triangular characters are still commonly used.

The languages in their original form are heard in Halo: Combat Evolved. In Halo 2, their words are translated for the convenience of the player. Elites in Halo: CE spoke a deep, warbling tongue. This was achieved by reversing the voice acting of David Scully. The ever popular "Wort, wort, wort!" shouted by many Elites during gameplay is actually "Go, go, go!" reversed and sped up.[11] The hissing-like language of the Jackals is actually the English language reversed. This, and the other Covenant languages (Drones, Hunters), have remained the same since Halo 2.


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ It should be noted that in Spartan Ops subtitles, these terms are phonetically transliterated from Sangheili speech (e.g. "Dieduckt", "Liebuh-Rahrian", "Reecleymah") rather than using their proper spellings.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa This is a phonetic spelling. The proper rendering has not been confirmed in canon.


  1. ^ Halo: First Strike, page 156
  2. ^ a b c Halo Waypoint: Covenant
  3. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
  4. ^ Halo Waypoint: Axl
  5. ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Part 1
  6. ^ Halo 4, Spartan Ops
  7. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 22 (Google Play edition)
  8. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 276 (Google Play edition)
  9. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 204 (Google Play edition)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo 4 - Terminal 1
  11. ^ a b EliteSpeak
  12. ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol
  13. ^ Halo: The Flood, page 28
  14. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 95
  15. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 24
  16. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent, page 23
  17. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent, page 45
  18. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 79
  19. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 295
  20. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 262
  21. ^ Spartan Ops, E3 Catherine
  22. ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
  23. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, Chapter 1
  24. ^ a b Halo Waypoint: Banshee
  25. ^ Hunt the Truth Season 2, Episode 04: JACKALS
  26. ^ a b Halo: Glasslands, page 17
  27. ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
  28. ^ Halo 4
  29. ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 92
  30. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 311
  31. ^ Halo Encyclopedia, pages 148-149
  32. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 277 (Google Play edition)
  33. ^ Spartan Ops, S1E8 Expendable
  34. ^ a b Halo: Hunters in the Dark
  35. ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 394
  36. ^ Halo Wars Launch Site Original Source Defunct
  37. ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn