- "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. and as such, many names of member species are derived from the Sangheili. 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. A specific trade pidgin also existed within the Covenant fringe.
Text, or writing, in Sangheili appears to be mostly triangle shapes and composed almost completely of equilateral triangles, except for a single dash-like shape that seems to serve the function of a period. The triangular characters have been seen oriented both in the horizontal left-to-right direction and in a vertical right-to-left direction. Whether all of the species that were in the Covenant use this form of text is currently unknown, though the Kig-Yar's language uses a similar writing system.
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. It is seemingly based upon the Forerunner language, likely pieced together from fragments recovered on Forerunner relics. 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".[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. The San'Shyuum relied on translation software built into their anti-gravity chairs to understand the language. 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, but the language developed into a new language that could not be understood by the "average" Sangheili.
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.
Non-native speakers of Sangheili
Several species, including humans, Mgalekgolo, Unggoy and Kig-Yar, 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. To facilitate easier communications between member species, translation software is used on Covenant ships to decipher words. During and after the Human-Covenant War, several humans were able to understand Sangheili :
Behind the scenes
Before the release of Halo 2, the official website at Halo2.com 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 Halo2.com, a released wallpaper contained triangular characters that made use of this cipher. After the Halo2.com 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. 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
- ^ It should be noted that in Spartan Ops subtitles, these terms are phonetically transliterated from Sangheili speech (e.g. "Dieduckt", "Liebuh-Rahrian", "Reeclaymah") rather than using their proper spellings.
- ^ 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 ab ac This is a phonetic spelling. The proper rendering has not been confirmed in canon.
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 156
- ^ a b c Halo Waypoint: Covenant
- ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Axl
- ^ a b Halo: Uprising
- ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Part 1
- ^ Halo 4, Spartan Ops
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 22 (Google Play edition)
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 276 (Google Play edition)
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 204 (Google Play edition)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo 4 - Terminal 1
- ^ a b EliteSpeak
- ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol
- ^ Halo: The Flood, page 28
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 95
- ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 24
- ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 79
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 295
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 262
- ^ Spartan Ops, E3 Catherine
- ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, Chapter 1
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Banshee
- ^ a b Halo: Glasslands, page 17
- ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
- ^ Halo 4
- ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 92
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 311
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia, pages 148-149
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 277 (Google Play edition)
- ^ Spartan Ops, S1E8 Expendable
- ^ a b Halo: Hunters in the Dark