In comparison to the language of the Ayleids, very little is known about the language of the Dwemer. Most of it survives as names of various Dwemer ruins, often constructed from a limited number of roots connected together (for example Arkng-thand, Irkng-thand, Arkng-thamz). The trademark features of Dwemeris are compound words, often quite long, and consonant clusters containing as many as five consonants.
Dwemer texts are written in the Dwemer Alphabet. For more information, see the main article on the Dwemer Alphabet.
The only known consistent piece of Dwemeris is present on Calcelmo's Stone, which features a text written both in the Falmer language (which is very similar or even identical to Ayleidoon) and the Dwemer language, acting as the Elder Scrolls equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. Even so, the somewhat limited knowledge of Ayleidoon was not initially enough to translate the Falmeri text accurately enough to use it to analyse the Dwemer text, but this changed when the official translation was published by Bethesda.
Analysis of Calcelmo's Stone
Below is an attempt to decipher the Dwemer text from Calcelmo's Stone. Note that due to the lack of knowledge of Dwemer grammar or how exactly the compound words are constructed, it might not be very accurate.
|And so it was that||your people||were given||passage||to our steam gardens,||and||the protections||of
|Many of||your people||had perished||under the roaring, snow-throated||kings||of Mora,|
|and||your wills||were broken,||and||we||heard||you, [your ?]||and||sent||our machines||against||your enemies,||to thereby take||you [your people]||under.|
|Only by||the grace of the Dwemer
||your culture||survive,||and||only by||the fifteen-and-one||tones
||your new lives||begin.|
|Du||chal fahl||ngark,||che||du||fahl bthun||ur.|
|We||do not desire||thanks,||for||we||do not believe||in it.|
|Du||chal fahl||ngalft,||che||du||[fahl?] bthun||ur.|
|We||do not ask for||gratitude,||for||we||do not believe||in it.|
|We||only||request||you||partake||of the symbol||of our bond,||the fruit||of the stones around us. [our stones]|
|And||as||your vision||clouds,||as||the darkness||sets in,||fear||not.|
|Know||only||our||mercy||and||the radiance||of our affection,||which||unbinds||your bones||to the earth||before,||and||sets||your final path||to the music||of your||new eternity.|
It can be seen that the possessive pronouns are usually written together with nouns (thua-mer for "your people", dua-bthar for "our bond"). Another noticeable feature is the lack of prepositions. There also doesn't seem to be any consistent inflection.
When combined with other sources, the meanings of many words seem to be rather vague, with the actual meaning depending on the context. For example zel is said to mean "city" but on Calcelmo's Stone it's translated as "under" in "...to take your people under" (which could be interpreted as "to take your people to our cities, to our domain"). In both cases the word seems to generally mean the domain of the Dwemer, or a Dwemer-inhabited area.
Similarly arkng[d] appears three times as "were given" (arkngd), "grace" (duum-arkng, "the grace of us" or "the grace of the Dwemer"), and "affection" (dua-arkng, "our affection"). It seems obvious that the word in general means giving, granting something, or the act of doing so.
Fahlbthar is translated as "unbind". This is more or less consistent with the word bthar also being translated as "allied" or "bond" (dua-bthar, "our bond") while fahl generally seems to denote a negation ("no", "not", "un-"). Thus, bthar may generally mean "allied" or "bound". Compare the names of the Dwemer ruins Fahlbtharz ("not allied"? "unbound"?) on Solstheim and Nchu Duabthar ("symbol of our bond"?) in High Rock.
Similarly, the name of the ruins of Nchuand-Zel could mean "radiant city". A similar analysis could be performed for many more ruin names.
Words and Phrases
The list contains words explicitly mentioned and translated in various sources, as well as the word roots from Calcelmo's Stone which appear on it at least twice.
- Dwemer Inquiries Vol II — Thelwe Ghelein, Scholar
- Katria's Journal in Skyrim
- Loading screen from Arkngthunch-Sturdumz in ESO: Morrowind
- Description of the Deep Elf Executioner's Hood in ESO
- Dwemer Inquiries Vol III — Thelwe Ghelein, Scholar
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Morrowind — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Hammerfell — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Loading screen from Razak's Wheel in ESO
- Description of the Dwarven Master Miter in ESO
- Dwarven Horse mount description in ESO
Note: the following references are not found in-game. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.
- The official translation of Calcelmo's Stone