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The Norscan Dwarfs speak a northern dialect of Khazalid which contains some differences. For instance the Norscan Dwarf word for mountain is Kraka, compared to regular Dwarf Karak.
Little is known about what language the Chaos Dwarfs speak.
The Dwarfs are extremely proud of their native language and don't generally speak it in the company of other races, almost never teaching it to other creatures. Humans generally call it "the secret tongue of the Dwarfs".[1a] The Dwarf language includes very few words of obvious Elven or Human origin. By contrast there are many loan words from Khazalid in the tongues of Men, which suggests that Dwarfs must have taught some fundamental words to their taller allies. This is most obviously the case of words pertaining to traditional Dwarven craftskills of smithing and masonry, skills which Dwarfs taught Men many centuries ago.
Grammar and syntax
The grammatical structure of Khazalid can be very difficult for outsiders to glean. Khazalid usually places the subject before the verb in a sentence, however the way a word if pronounced or stressed can often determine where it should be thought of in relation to its place in a sentence. Some words are deemed so important that they are placed at the beginning of a sentence, and then again later on, regardless of formal structure. Khazalid has few individual words relating to abstract concepts, and most abstract concepts are described in relation to something physical, often using the same word as what they relate to. Most Dwarf words are formed from a short root word, for instance Kar (meaning "big stone") and a signifier, for instance -az (meaning the word it is attached to is relating to a place) - so Karaz literally means "big stone place" - however it is the Khazalid word for mountain. Signifiers are not limited to one either; adding -i signifies a race or profession, so Karazi means a mountain-tribe (literally "big stone place people").
Khazalid is written in Dwarven runes or Rhun, a complicated set of markings indicating various phonetic sounds and grammatical devices; the most "official" runes are the Aldrhun or old runes, an example of which would be the Great Book of Grudges. Often Dwarves find themselves (such as while mining or travelling) without paper or writing implements and must scratch runes into hard surfaces where it is much more efficient to scribe hard angles and lines than curves. This led to the development of a simpler set of runes called the Klinkarun or Klinkarhun (literally "chisel-runes")[1b] from Klinka - chisel and rhun - runes.
The sound of Khazalid is entirely separate from human speech and even further from the melodic sounds of Eltharin. Comparisons are often drawn to the rumbling of thunder. All Dwarves have deep, resonant voices and a tendency to speak louder than is technically necessary for the situation.[1a] Khazalid vowel sounds in particular are uncompromisingly precise and very heavily accented. Consonants are often spat aggressively or gargled at the back of the throat[1b], and many Dwarf root words begin with harsh consonant sounds such as K, G and R. Contrary to humans, whose myriad dialects differ widely depending on geographic location-- even within the same language-- the Dwarfs remain fairly consistent in dialect across Karak Ankor, although there are exceptions[*]
While a root word gives basic meaning, it is not usually until a signifier is added to the end of a word that specific meaning is given. If a root word consists of only consonants such as Sk (relating to thieves) an "a" (making Ska the correct form) is usually added and then dropped when signifiers are added to the word's end. The Games Workshop website uses a similar example to this:
- Ska = The root word.
- Something to do with thieves or theft, relating to thieves or theft.
- Ska + az = Skaz
- A thief in general. (Note that the extra "a" is dropped).
- Ska + i = Ski
- Thieves in general (plural).
- Ska + az + i = Skazi
- A specific thief; "the thief".
- Ska + it = Skit
- "Steal", the act of theft.
- Ska + ak = Skak
- The concept of theft.
- Ska + ar = Skar
- Stealing, in the general sense that people have stolen since the dawn of time and will continue to do so forever.
- Ska + en = Sken
- Stealing, thievery, a theft which is currently taking place.
- Ska + al = Skal
- Any specific group of thieves, such as one might see in the slums of Altdorf-- as opposed to a named organisation of thieves.
- Ska + ul = Skul (or possibly Skaul, Skhul or Skahul)
- The art or mastery of theft; the profession of thievery.
- Ska + ha = Ska ha (or possibly Skaha)
- "Thief!" Used as an insult, or to indicate that you have just realised you have been stolen from.
- Ska = The root word.
Tense is shown by -it in the present tense and -ed in the future tense. Additional words An (an skit = will steal) and Ad (ad skit = had stolen) are used before the subject to indicate more complicated tenses and their relation to ownership of the actions described in a verb. In addition, these are often written together; for instance: adskit. The various tense signifiers are as follows:
- Will steal. Note the present tense -it is kept, though the statement is in future tense.
- Had stolen.
- Will have stolen (speaking about what will have happened by a certain time).
These are Dwarf relative pronouns, conjunctions and other useful elements of language. Although they are words, they are often appended before a word to give context.
- A - Of, with, within, to
- Ad - Did, done (when preceding a verb)
- Af - They, you (plural)
- Ai, I, Ip, Ap - Yes
- An - Will, shall, am going to, with purpose (preceding a verb)
- Anad - Will have done, shall have done
- Bin - In, on, beside, adjacent to, next to
- Anu - Soon, very soon, any minute now
- Bar - But, bear in mind, except for (Also word for fortified gate)
- Ek - He, she, it, you (singular)
- Nai, nar, nuf - No, not, never
- Nu - Now, currently, at this time
- Ok - Why, how
- Or - I, me, myself
- Sar - May, could, might, perhaps will, possibly might (preceding a verb)
- Um - Them, those, these
- Un - And, also, as well
- Ut - Us, we, ourselves
- Wanrag - Where
- Wanrak - When (preceding a verb)
These terms describe important aspects of Dwarf culture, but have no official translation in Khazalid from English. In alphabetical Order:
- Beardling - A young Dwarf who has yet to prove his salt, typically under 50 years of age, with a short beard.
- Clogging - A punishment of the Engineers Guild, an offending Dwarf is made to wear wooden clogs and walks the Guild naked.
- Deeps - The levels which Dwarfs measure and organise their Holds into.
- Goblin Wars - A time when many Holds fell to Greenskins and Skaven.
- Time of Woes - A time of seismic upheaval which caused earthquakes and during which many Holds were damaged, directly preceeding the Goblin Wars.
Please see our Khazalid lexicon article for a very extensive list of Khazalid words. However the list is not exhaustive - the Dwarfs have hundreds of words for gold alone, describing it's various qualities.
This page, including the enormous Khazalid lexicon, was originally written in 2008 by a user called Revoran on HammerWiki. He has now imported it here. It was based on an article published on the Games Workshop website. Since then, the GW website has undergone a re-design and all the old fluff articles were purged. A cached version of the source article can be found here.
- *Malakai Makaisson, the dwarf engineer, speaks in a "northern dialect" which is represented as a Scottish burr.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (6th Edition)
- 2: Daemonslayer (novel) by William King, Needs Citation