Warhammer 40k

Eldar Lexicon

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Eldar Runes

An example of the Eldar runes that make up the written form of the Eldar Lexicon

The Eldar Lexicon is the name given by Imperial scholars to the spoken and written language of the Eldar species. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for an outsider, particularly humans, to understand anything but the most basic formulations of the Eldar Lexicon, as many of its references are metaphors that draw directly upon the collective Eldar psyche, incorporating mythical peoples and places and long-lost times and events in its basic structure. The Eldar also communicate with poses and gestures because their senses are far more finely attuned to others' emotional and mental states, as a result of their intensely psychic natures, than the average human; it is possible for two Eldar to have an entire conversation using only their body language. The Eldar written language is equally complex. Each written symbol, whether it is a rune, script or a hierogram, is not simply the letter of an alphabet like the written High or Low Gothic language used in the Imperium of Man. Instead, each Eldar symbol represents an entire concept. Furthermore, even more difficult to comprehend from the human perspective is that many of these symbolic concepts can have a subtly different meaning when committed to usage in Eldar script, another when employed in the runecasting prognostications of the Farseers and yet another when incorporated into the hierograms of the Eldar houses and design schools.

Ultimately, the language of the Eldar is an ancient and complex dialect built upon and refined over many millions of Terran years. Compared to the crude, blunt sounds of High or Low Gothic, its words flow from one to the next, each sentence a complete idea as much as a collection of letters or numbers. Humans can imitate Eldar speech to a certain degree, with sufficient training, but compared to a native speaker they are slow and halting at best. This is largely because, as noted above, the Eldar language is not actually comprised of words alone like human languages, but also accompanied by a detailed set of poses and gestures. The way an Eldar stands, the cast of his features or how he moves his hands can all change the meaning of words, sometimes dramatically. Further complicating matters is that each Eldar word or symbol is as much a concept as it is a name for something. Thus while the Eldar word for "rock" might mean rock, it might also be used to convey permanence or stability, or in a different context lack of life or thought. To a human, words gain meaning from their context and the words around them, while to an Eldar the words themselves already possess infinite meaning, manipulated by a crooked finger or slight inflection when speaking.

The Eldar Lexicon is used by all of the different Eldar factions, including the Craftworld Eldar, the Exodites, the Harlequins and the Dark Eldar, though each faction may have different dialects or particular usages that differ from the others. The Eldar Lexicon can differ from Craftworld to Craftworld, and most Eldar can tell the origin of another member of their race simply by the differences in both their speech and body language.


  • Codex: Craftworld (4th Edition)
  • Rogue Trader: Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pg. 44

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