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Meditations on the Runes
Old 26 Mar 2010, 09:00   #1 (permalink)
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Default Meditations on the Runes

Ok, following a brief discussion on the Dan-Wen thread I decided to complete my analysis and post it up here.

So here goes:

Eldar writing is complex as it has three main systems of writing each of which has two styles.
Most modern languages are written in just one system by native speakers, and may have a romanisation such as pinyin or romaji as well. The only exception I know to this of a currently living language is Japanese which uses, as I’m sure some of you know, Kanji (the imported Chinese ideographic script) and the two different kanas. Other than that, the ancient Egyptian scripts may be of interest because, like Eldar, they used a three tier system with most of them having a less formal cursive (hand-writing-y) style as well.

The three systems in Eldar are, named after their equivalents in either ancient Egyptian, the most formal, the hieroglyphs (which are mainly used for craftworld names); hieratic (used in relatively formal contexts and is used for units’ names) and lastly demotic (which is probably phonetic rather than ideo/pictographic and would be used for quickly writing large texts, for imported words or names or in less formal situations).

The elder hieroglyphs are detailed pictures rather than characters and each represents the meaning of the name completely. The rune of Biel-Tan represents their rebirth or reincarnation. Possibly “life from the lost/far”.

Saim-Hann’s rune, the cosmic snake is a serpent (which in elder is a homophone for enlightenment/forbidden knowledge) combined with the radical for spirit, this represents the fact that in elder mythology, serpents live in both the material and psychic universes and so knows all. This rune represents that which the elder of saim-hann strive to be, omniscient.

The rune for altansar has two triangles connected with one world beneath a symbol that could be a corruption of the radical for spirit and it is not difficult to see that this represent their transition from the spirit world of the eye of terror into reality.

So we can see that the hieroglyphs use a few of the modifying radicals from hieratic but are primarily pictographic and depict the object being described. If you were trying to create a hieroglyph for your craftworld whose name meant something like “the haven in the starlight” (din hasoi rhianol) you might take the starburst modifier from the rune for lugganath upside down and place an arc under it.

This technique of drawing a depiction of the meaning of the name gives the ceremonial form of the glyph, the cursive form will be simplified for handwriting so the cursive rune for Iybraesil (the normal one is on page 77 of the 4th ed book) might be:


The demotic system is probably alphabetic because, unlike the other systems we see it only in large blocks of text where an alphabetic system would be quicker to write. That said, given the number of symbols this is probably only the case if each character represents an entire syllable not just a sound, and/or it represents the tone and/or stress of each syllable. It is the squarest of the scripts but becomes curlier in its cursive form.

For example, here is a demotic character like those in the 3rd ed and its cursive form based on the change is style in the 4th ed book underneath it:


Lastly there is the hieratic system which is probably the one we can work the most out about it. We have a relatively large volume of text to work from (nowhere near as much as the demotic but we actually have translations and it’s legible with the hieratic).

The table of known radicals for warriors and people and the presumed meaning I’ve come up with follows:

This gives the cursive form. The ceremonial form may have extra decorative patterns put on top of the actual rune and may have extra symbols as well.

From the 3rd ed book we can see that other classes of noun and the like have different radicals but that’s for another post.

I hope that I’ve helped any of you who want to write your own runes do so.

Coming soon:

Analysis of non-warrior hieratics, further explanation of combining radicals and examples of creating your own runes
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Omeganus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28 Mar 2010, 23:46   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Meditations on the Runes

Wow. I appreciate all the thought and work put into it. Like I said before you should look into that Jes Goodwin book. One thing he had in his notes was at the bottom of aspect symbols was a dot or other little thing to show an exarch.
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Old 29 Mar 2010, 09:52   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Meditations on the Runes

Quite an impressive effort, I must say. I think it's worth a + Karma.
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