Tongue Twister


Given that we have as many languages today as there were once cities makes the case for the next revelation that each seperate group of Ergen citizens also had their own primary language a very strong one. The best evidence that all of today’s different nations of man once each lived in their own seperate cities instead of exhibiting the open minded atmosphere that we see at the University is through the evolution of language. Today, everyone speaks Aturan and Pat expands upon it’s origins nicely in the appendices of the 10Æ by explaining how Aturan is a modern language, invented as a tool to subdue a fractured nation into a new empire under one universal tongue. However, the older languages still persist to this day across the four corners and so for many people, such as Wilem, this newfangled universal language is only really a second language, deemed unnescessary for Cealds to learn in their homeland until it was considered practical to do so. Whilst it may be possible that the eight peoples who populated the eight cities all spoke all of these eight languages when they dealt with other this was never going to be the case. Some of them, such as Selitos and his ilk may have been able ‘to read the hearts of men like heavy lettered books’ which would qualify them to be properly considered as multi-lingual, but this will not have been the Ergen norm. Kvothe may have learned to speak Tema in a day but he is far cleverer than Wilem is and language is fundamentally a complex creature which takes a long time to master to any degree and so, as Pat concurs, it will have taken many generations for Aturan to become the dominant force in linguistics that it is today. But the wiping out any rival language in the process is an impossible task to achieve and even a dead language will still persist somewhere in the far flung corners of man. Even the eldest of our known languages, Yllish, has survived (albeit in a much diminished form) despite all the attentions of the Aturan empires might and desire to eradicate it. A written language as opposed to a spoken one might survive the passing centuries in a book form, or on a clay tablet, or perhaps even preserved in stories on a knotted string (and what stories could they tell?). The very presence of these languages in history makes it obvious to me that the empire of Ergen could never have operated as one peoples speaking one tongue but rather must be seen as an eightfold union of diverse peoples and languages who all shared one common foe.

‘they gathered armies and made the cities recognise the need for allegiance.’

This single line in the books seems to back up this statement as it clearly indicates that up until Lanre and Lyra united them all together under one banner such allegiance was not common Ergen policy. Unifying the eight pieces into one point was therefore a crucial turning point in the battle against the enemy, a policy which perhaps should have been innovated by wise lord Selitos long before the thought came to Lanre and Lyra, but then Selitos was not really a soldier and obviously did not consider this radical approach to have any merit to his own beloved city.

If anyone could see into the hearts of all men and understand their thoughts and words then it was him, although his own first choice of language was Temic, as he later reveals to us when he coined the phrase Ivare Enim Euge to be the motto of his personal Amyr army. But this does not make Temic the go-to language of Ergen, Ademic was obviously present at Drossen Tor since it’s events have been recorded in Magwyn’s books and so clearly it will have had its own place in both worlds which opens the door for Tema, Modegan, Siaru, Eld Vintic, Yllish and even perhaps the language of the fae to be regarded in the same light. The overly coincidental numbering across these emergent groups becomes a powerful indicator that these were all languages whose roots can be traced back to match the cultural make up of old Ergen leading us to the obvious conclusion that each city was actually a seperate nation unto itself, with its own capital city where it’s own unique language was spoken.

Seven Nation Army

But after Aleph had left the scene, did all of these ‘ruach’ survivors all then just agree to work together, forget their lingual inequalities and xenophobia? happily proceed to assimilate themselves into a collective? One nation under one flag with a shared desire to ‘build back better’? Accepting all racial stereotypes as equally valid in their society in order to build one great new multicoloured interracial utopia? One for all and all for one? with liberty and fraternity for all? Well selitos and his Tema speaking Aturans tried the heavy heavy Empire approach to enforcing such a unity, but that plan ultimately failed leaving us to a four corners viewpoint today which is still a much divided land. The era of empire has affected all of the races in it’s path towards today’s tolerant society a bit moreso than the four-quartering inference that the name might suggest, in fact doubly so with as many different races of man around today as Ergen once had cities. Love thy neighbour is not always considered the norm, as witnessed by such derogatory terms as ‘filfthy shim bastards’ and ‘ravel ruh’ the general antagonising of the Adem and not to mention the eternal strife which is the default setting in the Small Kingdoms.

All of Temerant’s peoples and their exagerated sterotypes are caught in a snapshot in Kvothe’s Faeriniel story and the one thing which holds the story together is the assorted levels of casual Xenophobia shown by each race towards outsiders. If you remove the obvious fact that everyone in that tale must have all been speaking the one uniting language of modern Aturan from the equation and place the setting in the days before Aturan’s conception, then you will clearly now see a mirror image of how things must have once also been back in the days of Ergen with each campfire acting as a miniature outpost from each city for the night.

Compiling a full head count of all the various kinds of four-corners peoples and then comparing that to the number of Ergen cities gives us some rather too coincidental numbers to be ignored, and that line of thinking will further suggest that the situation that we see today will mirror that of what will have came before with two similarly populated landscapes where each seperate race has its own defining physical features or traits, speak their own unique languages, and are still to be found sheltering within their own fire’s clearly defined borders, just like their ancestors did before them.

So the question now becomes can we prove beyond reasonable doubt that each of these diverse races of man that we witness today, or have heard about at faeriniel, would likewise have each ruled their own specific city back in ancient Ergen? No, we cannot. Easy to say, much, much harder to convince to everyone’s satisfaction. But that’s just the way our world works, not everyone will need such things proven to the Nth degree for to them to be convinced because some things are simply more obvious to some minds than others, and it’s not something most folk will have even bothered to think about that much any way because it’s surely not going to be all that much of an important detail compared to the myriad more exciting things to be considered in the rest of Pat’s rich tapestry.

But it is important, because if there was once the case for each particular city of Ergen to be claimed by a different race of man, one each for all of their descendants in the modern day four corners, (the city of the Cealds, the city of the Mogegans, the city of the Yllish, the city of the Vints etc…etc…) then That line of thinking means that each ancient city was acting more like an island with each ‘city’ housing one entire nation of people, all unto itself, safely ensconced within it’s own walls. This was then the situation which Lanre and Lyra faced before they successfully united the armies of Ergen together under one flag into a Seven nation army to better take the fight to the common enemy.This was the shape of the world of Ergen which Pat has built for us with all of his clever hints and clues which just need to be gathered together in one place in order to see the bigger picture. I think I am all argued out on this point now and so to take the next steps you will need to Believe it to be the case for yourself and then we can move this thing onwards.


And so, with that unifying thought being firmly accepted by our collective alar, we can now take a look at the next logical step and mix this new knowledge together with the memories that we gain from the Adem people who will soon have their own part to play in this great tinfoil tangle. The stories we hear inform us that each ancient city also housed it’s own ‘rhinta to be’ somewhere in their midst who personally betrayed their city to the common enemy, meaning that it was clearly someone who was once held to be trustworthy, someone like Lanre who was ‘considered beyond reproach’ and who must also have held the rank and power necessary for them to have been able to achieve any such betrayal in the first place making them one of their people’s leaders. So, if each city was populated by a different race, and each city had it’s own betrayer hidden in it’s midst, then it must be true to say that each of these ‘rhinta to be’ will have hailed from a different city, and therefore each one of them will have been born into a different culture. Collectively the seven chandrain who are still abroad today must then, on inspection, mirror the surviving races from these seven cities of old which will also mean that the7 which Kvothe encountered will, of course, also have sported such an international make-up of having one representative from each of these self-same races of man, too! (all races except one, that is!)

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