Sangheili (language)

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"Their language doesn't translate in a literal manner, and each word has multiple meanings."
Cortana[1]

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]

Description[edit]

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]

Phonology[edit]

Sangheili language includes 8 main vowels (/ä/, /ɑ/, /i/, /ɪ/, /e̞/, /ɔ/, /o/ and /u/) and 18 main consonants (/s/, /z/, /ʂ/, /ʐ/, /q/, /ɢ/, /ʈ/, /ɖ/, /f/, /b̪/, /ħ/, /j/, /ɰβ/, /ɱ/, /ɳ/, /ɴ/, /ɻ/ and /ʔ/). Three more consonants also appear in words borrowed from other Sangheili dialects or alien languages. These are /p̪/, /ɺɽ~ɭ/ and /ʋ/. In certain instances, the sounds /o̞/, /ɕ/, /ʑ/ and /ɽ/ can appear as allophones of /ɔ/, /ʂ/, /ʐ/, and /ɻ/. Furthermore, /ɯβ/ and /ʊ/ are allophones of /u/ while /ə/ can serve as allophone of /ä/ and /e̞/ when those two sounds are weakened.

The Sangheili language is for the most part syllabic. However, the consonants /ɻ/, /q/, /ɱ/, /ɳ/, /ɴ/, /s/ and /ʂ/ can be found standing at the end of a syllable. /ɳ/ and /ɴ/ can also be syllabic, in which case they are geminated and pronounced as /ɳ:/ and /ɴ:/. In addition some consonant complexes can be formed. These are /ʈ͡ʂ/, /ʈ͡ɕ/, /ɖ͡ʐ/, /ɖ͡ʑ/, /t͡s/ and /ɳ͡ɱ/. ɳ͡ɱ appears only when /ɳ:/ precedes a labiodental /b̪/ or /ɱ/ resulting in /ɳ:/ being pronounced as /ɳɳ͡ɱ/ for phonological reasons.

When followed by /i/, consonants /ʂ/, /ʐ/, /ʈ͡ʂ/ and /ɖ͡ʐ/ can be pronounced as /ɕi/, /ʑi/ /qji/, /ɢji/, /ħji/, /ʈ͡ɕi/ and /ɖ͡ʑi/ respectively.

When followed by /i/, consonants /q/, /ɢ/ and /ħ/ can be pronounced as /qji/, /ɢji/ and /ħji/ respectively. When followed by /e̞/, consonants /q/, /ɢ/ and /ħ/ can be pronounced as /qje̞/, /ɢje̞/ and /ħje̞/ respectively.

/ɴ/ and /ɴ:/ appear before or after the uvular consonants /q/ and /ɢ/ in place of /ɳ/ and /ɳ:/. /ɺɽ~ɭ/ can sometimes be heard as either ɺɽ or ɭ but is generally an intermediate sound. The sound /ɺɽ~ɭ/ itself has no human equivalent. /ɻ/ and /ɽ/ allophones of the same consonant. In reality they are only approximates of the Sangheili r sounds which has no human equivalent. Most users prefer to use /ɻ/. /ä/ is near front and closer to the Japanese /ä/ but some speakers pronounce it as a central vowel like the Italian /ä/. Some speakers use /ä/ insead of /ɑ/. /e̞/ and /i/ are near front vowels and not front vowels. /ɔ/ and /o̞/ are allophones of the same vowel. As such their use depends on the speaker’s preference. /ʊ/ can be used instead of /u/ when /u/ is short only. /ɯβ/ can be used instead of /u/ regardless of whether /u/ is short or long. The sound itself is compressed and neither rounded nor fully unrounded. It is pronounced like the Japanese u. /ɰβ/ is a compressed labiovelar approximant. It can also be symbolized as /wβ/. It is pronounced like the Japanese w. /o:/ can be pronounced as /u:/ sometimes because the two sounds are similar. This occurs only in syllables with double o, such as "woo"

Sometimes //ɖ͡ʐ/ at the beginning of a word can be pronounced as /ʐ/.

Sangheili also makes use of the following diphthongs:

/e̞ɪ/, pronounced as /e̞j/ before vowels

/ou/ also pronounced as /oɯβ/, /oʊ/, /o̞u/, /o̞ɯβ/ or /o̞ʊ/

/äɪ/

/ɔɪ/ also pronounced as /o̞ɪ/ and pronounced as /ɔj/ or /o̞j/ before vowels.

/ue̞/ also pronounced as /ɯβe̞/ or /ʊe̞/

/äu/ also pronounced as /äɯβ/ or /äʊ/ (rare)

/äə/ (very rare)

Phonetic transcription[edit]

In order to phonetically transcribe Sangheili, 343 industries uses the following transliteration system.

  • a e correspond to /ä/ and /e̞/ respectively. Both can correspond to /ə/ if the syllable is weakened.
  • i corresponds to /ɪ/.
  • ah corresponds to /ɑ:/. Some speakers pronounce it as /ä:/ though.
  • eh corresponds to /e̞:/
  • o corresponds to /ɔ/ and /o̞/ depending on the speaker's preference.
  • oh corresponds to /ɔ:/ and /o̞:/ depending on the speaker's preference.
  • u corresponds to /u/. Some speakers might also pronounce it as /ɯβ/ or /ʊ/.
  • uh corresponds to /u:/. Some speakers might pronounce it as /ɯβ:/.
  • aa corresponds to /ɑ:/. Some speakers pronounce it as /ä:/ though.
  • ee corresponds to /i:/
  • uu corresponds to /u:/. Some speakers might also pronounce it as /ɯβ:/.
  • oo corresponds to /o:/. Some speakers also pronounce it as /u:/.
  • y corresponds to /j/ when it is between two vowels, or at the beginning of a word. When it is at the end of a word or before a consonant or after any consonant except nn it corresponds to /ɪ/.
  • t corresponds to /ʈ/.
  • d corresponds to /ɖ/.
  • k corresponds to /q/, but is pronounced as /qj/ when followed by /i/ or /e̞/.
  • g corresponds to /ɢ/, but is pronounced as /ɢj/ when followed by /i/ or /e̞/.
  • gh corresponds to /ɢ/ or /ɢh/ depending on the speaker's preference. When followed by e (thus forming ghee) the resulting sounds will be /ɢje̞:/ and /ɢhe̞:/. When followed by ei (thus forming ghei) the resulting sounds will be /ɢje̞ɪ/, /ɢhe̞ɪ/, /ɢji:/ and /ɢhei:/.
  • r corresponds to /ɻ/ and /ɽ/ depending on the speaker's preference.
  • w corresponds to /ɰβ/.
  • f corresponds to /f/
  • b corresponds to /b̪/
  • ch corresponds to /ʈ͡ʂ/, but can be pronounced as /ʈ͡ɕ/ when found before /i/.
  • sh corresponds to /ʂ/, but can be pronounced as /ɕ/ when found before /i/.
  • j corresponds to /ɖ͡ʐ/, but can be pronounced as /ɖ͡ʑ/ when found before /i/. At the start of words /ɖ͡ʐ/ and /ɖ͡ʑ/ can be pronounced as /ʐ/ and /ʑ/, respectively.
  • s corresponds to /s/.
  • z corresponds to /z/.
  • ts corresponds to /t͡s/.
  • n corresponds to /ɳ/. When n is followed or preceded by the uvular consonants /q/ and /ɢ/ it corresponds to /ɴ/ and when followed by any labiodental consonant ( /ɱ/, /b̪/, /p̪/, /f/, /ʋ/) it corresponds to /ɳɱ/ or /ɳ͡ɱ/.
  • nn corresponds to /ɳ:/. When n is followed by the uvular consonants /q/ and /ɢ/ it corresponds to /ɴ:/ and when followed by any labiodental consonant ( /ɱ/, /b̪/, /p̪/, /f/, /ʋ/) it corresponds to /ɳ:ɱ/ or /ɳɳ͡ɱ/.
  • m corresponds to /ɱ/.
  • h corresponds to /ħ/, but is pronounced as /ħj/ when followed by /i/.
  • tw_, dw_, nw_ correspond to /ʈɰβ/, /ɖɰβ/ and /ɳɰβ/, respectively. The symbol [_] represents any vowel.
  • ' corresponds to /ʔ/
  • - is used after h to eliminate confusion by separating syllables. For instance is pronounced as uh-oo as /u:o:/ while uhoo as /uħo:/
  • ae corresponds to /äə/ or /äe̞/ or /e̞:/. In the latter two cases it is not a diphthong.
  • ai corresponds to /äɪ/.
  • au corresponds to /äu/, /äɯβ/ or /äʊ/ depending on the speaker's preference.
  • ay corresponds to /e̞ɪ/. When followed by a vowel it corresponds to /e̞j/. It may rarely be pronounced as /äj/ and not be a diphthong when y is part of a different syllable but that is unknown.
  • ei corresponds to /e̞ɪ/ or /i:/ depending on the speaker's preference.
  • ey corresponds to /e̞ɪ/. When followed by a vowel it corresponds to /e̞j/.
  • ie corresponds to /äɪ/.
  • ou corresponds to /ou/, /oɯβ/, /oʊ/, /o̞u/, /o̞ɯβ/ or /o̞ʊ/ depending on the speaker's preference.
  • oy corresponds to /ɔɪ/ or /o̞ɪ/ depending on the speaker's preference. When followed by a vowel it corresponds to /ɔj/ and /o̞j/ respectively.
  • eay corresponds to /ɪe̞ɪ/. In this case the diphthong is /e̞ɪ/ and /ɪ/ is syllabic.
  • l corresponds to /ɺɽ~ɭ/. It can sometimes be pronounced as ɭ or ɺɽ ɺɽ by the same speaker due to phonological reasons.
  • p corresponds to /p̪/.
  • v corresponds to /ʋ/.

Vocabulary[edit]

Note: All words in the following list should not be pronounced as if they were English. Please refer to the phonetic transcription system above.

Ancient words, names and words of extinct dialects.

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")
Fohranah/Fohran - Forerunner
Neru Pe 'Odosima - Servants of the Abiding Truth[10]
A'ul - Lump of wood[11]
Kel - Light (that dances on the waves)[12]
Silket - Spear[13]
Laqil - New Llanelli[14]
Sqala - Venezia[15]
Quillick - Small hunter[16]
QezoY'asabu - Obsidian Wing[17]
Dohmayinn - Domain
Leevrukah - Guardian[note 2][18]
Sunaion - Westward temple of the sea.[17]
Wort - Go (Imperative)[19]

Modern words

Dohmoh'Eenngahnehnn - Human[20][note 2]
Kaidon - Clan leader[21]
Nishum - Intestinal parasite; a common insult towards humans[22]
Ossoona - Eye of the Prophet[23]
Wuchaans - Shipmaster[20][note 2]
Wuchookah - Shipmaster [note 2]
Jeeneh - Soul[note 2]
Nou - Cognate with English "no", as a negative response[20]
Ey - Cognate with English "No" and "not,[20][note 2][24] also used as an interjection[25]
Eedahyuhk/eedahyuhkoh - Brother[note 2]
Eennteeyuhkoh - Loyal friend.[note 2]
Mehoh - refers to a group in which the speaker is a part of.[20][note 2]
Tahshee - refers to a third group, which the speaker is not part of. Also means different.[20][note 2]
Kuhtahshee - refers to something that is very different, like an alien or in some cases human.[20][note 2]
Kohyahkuhmoh - Vector[20][note 2]
Mahgahchi - Approach[20][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]
Teedah - 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]
Wuehnehgeh - Begin (command form)[note 2]
Dohshohgah - Evacuation[note 2]
Koh-ee - Bring (past form) [note 2]
Koh-eh - Bring (command form)[note 2]
Rohghee - Rise (command form)[note 2]
Gahraykoh - This is[note 2]
Kahnoh - Treasure[note 2]
Noh - possessive particle (compare to Japanese の). Can be used to replace a subject (eg John).
Woh - he/she/it/they/him/her/them
Cheennsay - Warrior[note 2]
Cheenoh-ee - Life
Keeoh-eesay - Death

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]

Other triangular characters[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]

Weapons and vehicles[edit]

Armor[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.

External[edit]

Armor[edit]

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 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.[19] 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.

Gallery[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Note[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.

Sources[edit]

  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. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 95
  11. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 24
  12. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent, page 23
  13. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent, page 45
  14. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 295
  15. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 262
  16. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, Chapter 1
  17. ^ a b Halo Waypoint: Banshee
  18. ^ Hunt the Truth Season 2, Episode 04: JACKALS
  19. ^ a b EliteSpeak
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo 4 - Terminal 1
  21. ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol
  22. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 79
  23. ^ Halo: The Flood, page 28
  24. ^ Spartan Ops, E3 Catherine
  25. ^ Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
  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