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This page collects all that is known about the language of the Imass and tries to provide translations based on the examples of the language given in the books. Warning: may contain spoilers for all the books.

In Memories of IceEdit

  • Maeth'ki Im - Pogrom of the Rotted Flower, i.e. the 33rd Jaghut war[1]
  • Jaghra Til - the name of an inland sea born from shattered Jaghut ice-fields[1]
  • L'amath - a part of the landscape, likely the area now known as the Lamathath Plain[1]
  • T'ol Ara'd - an ancient lava river; translates maybe as 'river/road of stone?' (note: these words return in the phrases below, so any theories are welcome)[1]
  • Aral Fayle - short for Chen're aral lich'fayle, translated by Tool as 'touched by stone', this is the name Tool gives Toc the Younger.[2] (Compare: Ifayle)
  • Onos T'oolan - Onos means clanless man (leading to the speculation that 'Onass' is a clanless woman), T'oolan means flawed flint.[3]

In Midnight TidesEdit

The following phrases were used by Ulshun Pral, an Imass from the Refugium. Translations are not exact as much of them are the very young Rud Elalle paraphrasing what Ulshun said.[4] Interpretations are also based on our sum knowledge of Imass language so far.

  • Peth tol ool havra d ara
  • Arad havra'd ara. En'aralack havra d'drah.
  • Vis vol'raele. (something about the gates??) Absi'arad. (Probably: We promised her/him.)
  • Rae'd. Veb entara tog'rudd n'lan n'vis thal? (When he gets older, will he (Rud) eat us?) List vah olar n'lan? (What do dragons eat?) Ste shabyn? (Should we fear?)
  • Ki'bri arasteshabyn bri por'tol tun logdara kul absi. (they promised her-we-fear to take care of him (Rud) until her return)
  • Entara tog'rudd av? (Are you his (Rud's) father?) (Question: why do they call him tog'rudd? what does it mean?)
  • T'un havra'ad eventara. T'un veb vol'raele bri rea han d En'ev? (He says he understands them some now. There are holes (the gates) and would you like to go there? - I suspect Rud is withholding some of the translation here, at least the first sentence doesn't really match.)
  • Vi han onralmashalle. S'ril k'ul havra En'ev. N'vist. Lan'te. (We came here with a bonecaster. It was a realm of storms. There were beasts. There was much fighting.) (btw, onralmashalle is a fascinating word. It likely refers to their former bonecaster. Unless En'ev does... It also contains the the on-prefix for clanless and the -alle suffix that might be associated with fallen T'lan Imass.)
  • Vi truh larpahal. Ranag, bhed, tenag tollarpahal. Kul havra thelar. Kul. (This realm is a path/road. Herds migrate (travel the road) (note: ranag, bhed and tenag are large herd animals). They seem to come from nowhere. But they come.)
  • Epal en. Vol'sav, thelan (It is an overflow of where the road came from. Beyond, there is nothing.)
  • A evbrox'l list Tev. Starvald Demaelain Tev. (I am pleased (bright-gem-eyed) you know Holds. This Hold is Starvald Demelain.)

In Reaper's Gale Edit

  • Agkor Raella = Wolf Song[5]
  • Allish Raella = Caribou Song[5]
  • Farl ved ten ara = Refugium[6]

In Toll the Hounds Edit

  • De nek okral = Probably Short nose plains bear (This is what Samar Dev intuitively named an ancient bear god of war she met. Traveller knew it was Imass and translated it.[7]
  • Okral = Plains bear[8]

In Dust of Dreams Edit

  • Nom Kala = knife drip[9]

List of known wordsEdit

  • Absi = autumn[10] - Absi Kire (meaning autumn promise) is the name Tool gives his mortal son.
  • Absin = serpent[10]
  • Ag = tundra[10]
  • Agkor = timber wolf[10] - a type of predator, that hunts bhederin and dwells in forests, kin to Fanderay (See Agkor Raella above)
  • Ah = I[10]
  • Alle = antler[10]
  • Allish = caribou
  • Ana = claw[10]
  • Ara = fire[10]
  • Arad = heart/mouth[10]
  • Aral = spark[10]
  • Aralack = ashes[10]
  • As = feminine[10]
  • Av = father[10]
  • Ay = dire wolf[10] - extinct species of wolf
  • Ay'tog = yellow-haired kin to the ay, that live in the far south (hyena's??)
  • B'al = for[10]
  • Behn = copper[10]
  • Ben = white[10]
  • Bendal = arctic wolf[10] - a type of predator, white, kin to Fanderay
  • Ber = ash tree[10]
  • Beth = wide[10]
  • Bhed = bison[10] - extinct species of large prey animal, larger than their comparatively smaller bhederin cousins[11]
  • Bhederin = bison[10] - species of large cattle-like animal
  • Bor = oak tree[10]
  • Bri = to[10]
  • Brol = crystal/cold eye[10]
  • Brold = polar bear[10]
  • Brox'l = eye[10]
  • Cal = return[10]
  • Ch = of ice[10]
  • Chid = face[10]
  • Chole = ice[10]
  • D = the[10]
  • Dal = get[10]
  • D'al = got[10]
  • Darah = close (bind)[10]
  • Den = blue[10]
  • Drah = close (proximity)[10]
  • Em = fanged[10]
  • En = melt/thaw[10]
  • Emlava = extinct species of large felines
  • Entara = spring (season)[10] /father?
  • Entara tog'rud = found[10]
  • Epal = over (distance)[10]
  • Epal en = overflow/flood[10]
  • Ev = bright gem[10] Eye(s)
  • Fayle = sky-fall[10]
  • Finnest = Hold of Ice
  • Gaeth = ear[10]
  • Gam = starstone[10]
  • Ger = stone[10]
  • Han = of[10]
  • Haran = summer[10]
  • Havra = from[10]
  • Havra'd = language[10]
  • I = a[10]
  • Iath = chert[10]
  • Ilm = sky[10]
  • Imass = People, their name for themselves
  • Ish = red/brown hair[10]
  • Ist = spearshaft[10]
  • Ith = black hair[10]
  • Iv = as[10]
  • Keb = sharp[10]
  • Kel = this[10]
  • Kelt = red[10]
  • Ki = vow/promise[10]
  • Kilava = panther (black)[10] extinct species of large felines
  • Kire = promise (see Absi)
  • Kor = forest[10]
  • Kul = to come (verb);[10]
  • K'ul = came[10] past tense of kul
  • Kun = how[10]
  • Lan = flint/life[10][12] (Lan'te is translated as 'there was much fighting', so it may also mean... weapon? sword? or just have several meanings. Compare also to T'lan, Tellann, N'lan) From thelan=nothing, Lan might also have an generic meaning of 'thing' or 'object' or similar
  • Lan'te = fight[10]
  • Lar = where[10]
  • Lar's = when[10]
  • Larpahal = path/[10]way/road; from thelar=nowhere I draw that Lar means somewhere/place, so Pahal must indicate movement or direction
  • Le = air[10]
  • Lechae = cold[10]
  • Lich = brow[10]
  • Lim = up[10]
  • List = what[10] (to know?)
  • Logros = hand[10]
  • Lok = that[10]
  • Lotheck = foot[10]
  • Lyn = tall[10]
  • Maeth = rot/decay[10]
  • Man = shape[10]
  • Marl = thin[10]
  • Mas = skin[10]
  • Mashalle = winter[10]
  • Monok = ape[10]
  • Myr = thick[10]
  • Myrk = deep[10]
  • N'lan = to eat?
  • N'Lar = eat[10]
  • N'vis = us[10]
  • Nok = spearhead[10]
  • Notr = why[10]
  • Okhan = snow bear
  • Okral = plains brown bear[10]
  • Olar = Dragon/Eleint[10]
  • On = hot[10]
  • Onass = probably: clanless woman
  • Onos = clanless man.[12] Related: Onass, Onrack
  • Onra = wind[10]
  • Onral mashalle = storm[10]
  • Ool = veined[12][10]
  • Oph = limp (locomotion)[10]
  • Os = masculine[10]
  • Oth = skeleton[10]
  • Pah = go[10]
  • Pah'tol = with[10]
  • Pahal = travel[10]
  • P'arad = right (direction)[10]
  • P'cal = turn[10]
  • Peth = far[10]
  • Por'tol = keep (possession)[10]
  • Porul = under[10]
  • Pral = sacred[10]
  • Pran = arctic/[10] arctic fox
  • Ra = feminine[10]
  • Raa = me (feminine)[10]
  • Raed = women[10]
  • Raele = lungs[10]
  • Raella = song
  • Ranag = muskox[10] extinct species of large prey animal
  • Re = masculine[10]
  • Rea = me (masculine)[10]
  • Read = men[10]
  • Roth = skeleton?
  • Rudd = boy[10]
  • 'Sav = then (temporal)[10]
  • Sagra = arm[10]
  • Shayn = desert[10]
  • Shun = gift[10]
  • Sin = lichen[10]
  • S'ril = demon[10]
  • Stalyn = high[10]
  • Ste shabyn = fear[10]
  • Steba = narrow[10]
  • Styloh = low[10]
  • T' = broken[10] hypothesis: a prefix that means broken or flawed.[12] Examples where this meaning (if true) may apply: T'lan Imass; Onos T'oolan; Onrack T'Emlava; T'ber Tendara; T'iam; T'ol Ara'd; T'rolbarahl; T'riss.
  • Te = break[10]
  • Telar = nowhere[10] (see also Thelar)
  • Tem = knoll[10]
  • Ten = tusk/horn[10]
  • Tenag = mammoth[10] extinct species of large prey animal
  • Tellann = (Hold of) Fire, though the Path of Tellann is also the magic of the Soletaken Bonecasters. Olar Ethil appears to be the root here, being aspected to both.
  • Tev = stone circle[10]/ Hold (as in The Holds)
  • Thal = soon[10] (what?)
  • The = no[10]
  • Thek = leg[10]
  • Thel = stop[10]
  • Thelan = nothing
  • Thelar = nowhere (see also Telar)
  • Til = sea[10]
  • Tog = yellow hair[10]
  • T'lan = broken flint or broken thing
  • Tol = earth[10] (river? / flow?)
  • Tollarpahal = migrate/[10]migration, contraction of Tol + Larpahal
  • Truh = is[10]
  • Tun = you[10]
  • Tyloh = short (distance)[10]
  • T'nath = nose[10]
  • U = an[10]
  • Ul = cave[10]
  • Ulphan = cave bear[10]
  • Ur = bronze[10]
  • 'Ves = when[10]
  • Vah = do[10]
  • Vahar = to[10]
  • Veb = will (intent)[10]
  • Vi = place[10]
  • Vid = there[10]
  • Vil = in[10]
  • Vis = they[10]
  • Vis'd = then[10]
  • Vol = out[10]

The Imass bonecasters appear to be named after their Soletaken shape (the first name), though this may not be a rule. Here is a list of the known ones:

We are also told the meaning of most of the Unbound's names (from House of Chains):

A bit of a theme here is moss (alle/al?). Maybe this is what T'lan Imass name those fallen who they leave behind? Or maybe it was just a fashion in their original clan?

Other Imass names + speculative meanings:

  • Onos T'oolan = clanless man of flawed/broken veined Flint
  • Kig Aven (Kilava and Tool's chieftain) = ?
  • Logros T'lan (commander of Logro, several clans?) = see T'lan, no idea about Logros
  • Eitholos Ilm (chieftain of Olar Ethils clan) = ?
  • Galad Ketan - could be a person or an indication of time
  • Onak Shendok - idem
  • Kron (a clan / army)
  • Is Kellanved an Imass word?? Kellan could be shadow and ved throne
  • Ulshun Pral
  • Cannig Tol (Pran Chole's chieftain)

Notes:

The Imass language could combine several words into one. For example: arasteshabyn contained the words ara-ste-shabyn, and it probably meant something like 'her-we-fear', meaning Rud's mother. (Seemed they did not want to use her name... wisely.) Ev-ent-ara was likely another example.

The Imass did not seem to use 'to be' (much?), leaving it implied in many sentences.

Other theory (contradicts some previous ideas): they do use 'to be', and it goes like this:

  • A = I am
  • Av = you are
  • Ara = they are (not sure)
  • Arad = we are

Though it could as easily be 'to have', as in many languages these verbs are used interchanged. Absi'arad means - probably - 'we promised'. So that could work as we are promised, or we have promised. (Or the arad-part could just mean 'we'.)

In reference to a fan question, author Steven Erikson has stated that the "general rule for the insertion of glottal stop apostrophes is that, in Imass language, it confers past-tense".[14]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Memories of Ice, Prologue
  2. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.311
  3. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.312 - translations given by Tool
  4. Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, UK MMPB p.577-587
  5. 5.0 5.1 Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14
  6. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17
  7. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 18, UK HB page.664
  8. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 18, UK HB page.664
  9. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 17
  10. 10.000 10.001 10.002 10.003 10.004 10.005 10.006 10.007 10.008 10.009 10.010 10.011 10.012 10.013 10.014 10.015 10.016 10.017 10.018 10.019 10.020 10.021 10.022 10.023 10.024 10.025 10.026 10.027 10.028 10.029 10.030 10.031 10.032 10.033 10.034 10.035 10.036 10.037 10.038 10.039 10.040 10.041 10.042 10.043 10.044 10.045 10.046 10.047 10.048 10.049 10.050 10.051 10.052 10.053 10.054 10.055 10.056 10.057 10.058 10.059 10.060 10.061 10.062 10.063 10.064 10.065 10.066 10.067 10.068 10.069 10.070 10.071 10.072 10.073 10.074 10.075 10.076 10.077 10.078 10.079 10.080 10.081 10.082 10.083 10.084 10.085 10.086 10.087 10.088 10.089 10.090 10.091 10.092 10.093 10.094 10.095 10.096 10.097 10.098 10.099 10.100 10.101 10.102 10.103 10.104 10.105 10.106 10.107 10.108 10.109 10.110 10.111 10.112 10.113 10.114 10.115 10.116 10.117 10.118 10.119 10.120 10.121 10.122 10.123 10.124 10.125 10.126 10.127 10.128 10.129 10.130 10.131 10.132 10.133 10.134 10.135 10.136 10.137 10.138 10.139 10.140 10.141 10.142 10.143 10.144 10.145 10.146 10.147 10.148 10.149 10.150 10.151 10.152 10.153 10.154 10.155 10.156 10.157 10.158 10.159 10.160 10.161 10.162 10.163 10.164 Steven Erikson Facebook post 21 May 2020
  11. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 12
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.311
  13. House of Chains, Chapter 1
  14. Ask Steven Erikson your Deadhouse Gates Questions! (See comments 2 and 15).
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