Seldane Language Discussion

  • We got some interesting comments from Glenn Andreas during the 20th Anniversary Livestream (BW kindly provided a transcript!). Among them was the remark that the Seldane language is based more on phonetic Egyptian than anything else.

    I thought we'd discussed the Seldane language in depth before, but I could only find one topic which partly addressed it. At the time, we were understandably looking more at Greek inspiration, so I figured it's time to revisit the discussion following Glenn's comment.


    For simplicity, I've split the analysis into two sections: written and spoken Seldane. Since we don't know their relation, it's hard to say how related they are. We're given symbols and translations for written signs but only transliterated English for the spoken utterances, which may correspond to symbols but we have no examples or translations to work from.

    Also, we need a better name than "Seldane language"... Seldanese? Seldanian? For that matter, is it clear who all used their language? Maybe it's Ancient Elemental. My computer would like to submit Sedan Ian for consideration 😛

    Written Seldane

    First, I wanted to upload images of the Seldane signs since the links in the old topic are dead.

    Ruins sign.png

    Cave Under LKH Access
    Under LKH Access sign.png

    Outside UrSylph's Prison
    UrSylph Access sign.png

    I haven't found a good table plugin yet, so I made a little document outlining the written examples we have:

    Table of Written Seldane

    The leftmost column is the text representation as seen in the data files. This is likely meaningless since it's only used to map a character to a Seldane symbol for displaying in game.

    The top 3 match the signs we encounter as above, while the bottom 4 are only in the data files, unless I'm missing their location in-game. They appear to be part of a puzzle or something that was never implemented.

    Based on the translations we have, written Seldane appears partly logographic (which would make sense given an Egyptian basis). All but the first end in "door this" and have matching symbols, one of which looks like a doorway. If so, the "hall" referenced in the first example looks like a caret or arrow symbol. Beyond that, I'm struggling to identify any other direct matches. It may be similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics which included some form of alphabet characters as I understand it. We need Pallas' expertise for this! 😀

    Spoken Seldane

    Table of Spoken Seldane

    Jhiaxus and Uset (Herald of the second Ayrit) say the first; Unhayt (Doorkeeper of the second Ayrit) the second; Seqedher (Watcher of the second Ayrit) third; and the last is a quote from Glenn Andreas himself regarding the status of Cythera's sequel.

    Sadly, we have no translations for any of these phrases. Once you learn the language, they no longer give greetings.

    The second column of symbols have been drawn directly from the text using the Seldane font, but just as I felt the text didn't have any meaning when being used to display symbols, I also doubt the symbols have any meaning going the other direction here. If the text representation does match with symbols... maybe. At first, I hoped so because of the presence of the door symbol in Seqedher's statement, but Seqedher is the watcher; it's Unhayt who's the doorkeeper. Regardless, if the text is transliterated based on some phonetic structure or rules, then there's likely no connection.

    I couldn't understand much out of phonetic Egyptian conventions, so I started looking up the terms with "Egyptian" thrown in, trying to trace any of them to a meaning. I didn't find much, but I did locate some noteworthy mentions regarding the Cythera 2 remark: Har em akhet xepheru.

    Har Em Akhet was actually a name given to the Sphinx, apparently meant to impart its two-fold nature.

    From Origin of the Word Sphinx:

    The word Armageddon is derived from the Hebrew word “Har Megiddo”, which means “Mountain” or “Range of Hills”. In Greek it’s rendered as “Harmagedon”. The Hebrews derived this word from the Ancient Egyptian “Har” or “Ar Em Akhet”, meaning ” “Lord of the Two Horizons”. If we break down the word Armageddon: “Ar” in Egyptian means “To rise”, “ascend”, or “mount”. “Har” or “HR” signifies the name “Horus” or “light”. “Adon” in the word “MegiDDON” is semitic in origin, from the Hebrew god “Adon”. According to the Ancient Egyptian Wisdom Keeper “Hakim Abdel Awyan” the name “Har Em Akhet” was given to the Sphinx to Masculine her from her Feminine name “Tefnut”. The word “Har Em Akhet” may have a hidden meaning, considering the Sphinx is believed to be two-folded in nature, or a two-horizon in nature; half human/half animal. Perhaps the real Armageddon is the war within us all, the constant and perpetual battle we face between our Animistic nature (Lower Mind), and our Humanly divine nature (Higher Mind). Metaphorically speaking, it could be analogous to the adept ascending to his or her higher divinity.

    Xepheru was a bit trickier. Fantasy books, essays, and religious systems include references to the name. The most useful discussions of its meaning come from that last link, all in reference to the temple of Set, who is apparently the Egyptian god of chaos, fire, and trickery and who also shares my name in an Americanized form... 🤔

    Anyways, the image on the Path of Xepher reminds me a lot of our speculation about the Tree of Life, only it's an 8-part path rather than 10. These are the translations given by that author:

    Step 1 - Arise
    Step 2 - Transform
    Step 3 - realize
    Step 4 - enter
    Step 5 - Take Place
    Step 6 - Exist
    Step 7 - will be in the Future
    Step 8 - introduce the solution

    From this, I get the sense of a process or idea of something taking place over time and into the future.

    All this is to say I think you could roughly translate Har em akhet xepheru as "king on the horizon will be in the future" or similar. That glosses over many of the deeper aspects about multiple meanings in Har em akhet or the process of going from "unaware" to "aware" along the path of Xepher, but from a high-level, it communicates that Cythera 2 is a process to happen in the future.

    Well, there you go! Another topic about Seldanese. What do you guys think? It all reminds me a bit of that one Star Trek episode.

  • I would like to nominate "Seldanish" as a third (fourth?) option. Anyway, I see three different branches of the language that might not be related to each other: spoken, written, and transliterated.

    gandreas says the spoken language is based on phonetic ancient Egyptian. That seems plausible, based on the Cythera 2 phrase connections, as well as the 20 minutes I just spent trying to research ancient Egyptian phonetics and getting very confused.

    The written language seems to be based on the Greek alphabet, as @Pallas-Athene observed in the earlier topic. And as he speculated back then, the font may have originally been intended to be used for (human) Cytheran writing, and then later appropriated to represent Seldane writing.

    The transliteration (e.g. "ERI AY N USXT WN") might be gibberish, but it seems to bear some structural resemblance to transliteration of ancient Egyptian (namely, the short "words" and lack of fondness for vowels). Also, since the alphabet seems to be based on Greek (rather than hieroglyphics or hieratic), the idea that the text only exists to map characters to symbols seems a bit less likely.

    Also of note: "ka" apparently means soul in ancient Egyptian.

    1. “Seldane” seems to be just fine. The name for the English language is “English”, after all, and you used “Seldane” as a name for the language a couple of times in the post without confusion.
    2. Other than cross-referencing words with Egyptian, I don’t think we’re likely to come up with much. Other, better-attested languages have puzzled linguists for longer. There are a couple of vocabulary items that jump out (e.g. SPY/SBY/SBA = Door) but I couldn’t tell you whether the variation there is grammar or typos.

  • Oh, but: if you’re listing attested Seldane, it’s probably worth adding Seqedher, Unhayt, Uset, Ayrit, and Maayti.

  • Good point about transliterated as a separate branch, Buzzzzy! I guess it's true that we don't know what all was inspired by Egyptian or Greek, and you and Pallas are right about the original intention for the language possibly being different.

    Adding their names and places makes sense too. I recall having some discussion in the past about whether Ayrit and Maayti are the formal place names or more general terms like "home."

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