Ancient Language

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Ancient Writing from Heliopolis

Summary

The Alterans, later known as the Ancients, settled in the Milky Way Galaxy and built the Stargate system (2.16 "The Fifth Race"). The Ancients were extremely advanced, but could not save themselves from a terrible plague (4.06 "Window of Opportunity"). Some of the Ancients ascended to a higher state of existence (6.22 "Full Circle). Remnants of their civilization were scattered throughout the galaxy, recognized by the writing still carved in the stone ruins.

Note: the Alteran/Ancient language and Ori language were recognized as similar, if not identical by Daniel Jackson, so Ori phrases are included in this dictionary.

Written Language

"We are the Ancients. [This is]The Place of Our Legacy"
"Reflect (on the eightfold path)."
"This is the nuptial home of Harrid and Sallis Cicera."

The written language is made up of block-like symbols and sharp edged patterns, almost like a computer code. When Cameron Mitchell and Teal'c were trapped in a lethal puzzle, Mitchell yelled the following description of an Ancient word (pictured above) to Daniel Jackson for translation:

Uh, "U" with a square over it. Chair with a square. Upside-down backwards "L", call that "seven." Squares unevenly stacked. That chair thing again. Big "N" and "sad face."

Daniel successfully translated the word to mean "reflect" from Cameron's description (9.02 "Avalon Part 2").

Daniel Jackson's knowledge of the written Ancient language came from his experience hearing Jack O'Neill speak the language for a short time (2.16 "The Fifth Race"). Before Jack read the symbols of the circle and the Heliopolis text aloud, Daniel was unable to even associate sounds with the symbols. Since then, not only he, but several linguists associated with the SGC have learned to read the language, with various levels of competence, including those on the Atlantis expedition, since the technology in Atlantis is obviously written in Ancient (Stargate Atlantis). Jack O'Neill and Teal'c learned how to read over 400 pages of Ancient text while stuck in a time loop (4.06 "Window of Opportunity"). However it is unclear how much if any of the language they retained from that experience.

Because of the block-like structure of the language a symbols could form different words if viewed from an alternate perspective. The Ancients used this feature of their language as a way to create codes. They blocked entry to the weapon of Dakara by creating a combination lock (9.17 "Reckoning Part 2"). Only someone familiar with the Ancient tongue could correctly interpret the combination. Jacob and Samantha Carter discovered this code when translating the symbols. While looking at her father's notes when they were upside down from her perspective, she noticed the symbols formed intelligible words. Jacob Carter/Selmak was able to re-translate the word he had seen as "darkness" upside-down meant "sun."

More on the various translations and knowledge gleaned from Ancient writings may be found in our sister article on Ancient Writings.

Gallery

Daniel Jackson in front of translations of time machine
Ancient control device for time machine
Tablet referring to Lost City of Ancients
Stairwell of Atlantis, filled with Ancient writings
Daniel Jackson translating Ancient ruins
Ancient computer display on Dakara

Verbal Communication

The spoken language is similar to medieval Latin. Once Daniel Jackson was able to hear it spoken, he had a baseline from which to translate the symbols into the derivative and subsequently to English. His theory was that it was a derivation, or possibly a root of medieval Latin (2.16 "The Fifth Race", 7.15 "Chimera"). As Daniel pointed out while Jack was still under the influence of the Ancient Repository: "The language he's speaking has similar sounds to medieval Latin but it's still quite different." (2.16 "Fifth Race").

Ancient does not seem to be directly equivalent to Latin. For example, Daniel translated O'Neill's final words of aveo amacuse in 7.22 "Lost City Part 2" to be "goodbye", but the Latin roots would indicate that only aveo related to goodbye or farewell. "Amacuse" is similar to the Latin root for friend(s) amicus, but fans who are Latin scholars note that the translation could also be indicative of loved one(s) (and the singular versus plural is also contested).

On another occasion, Dr. Jackson and Malikai, both experts on the Ancient language, discussed a translation of an Ancient device, disputing its meaning based upon the context (4.06 "Window of Opportunity"). The term domiwaitus westul motobilum was translated both as "conqueror of time" and "master of the uncertain past" (Malikai conceded the latter definition by Dr. Jackson likely was more accurate). Daniel was able to translate the Ancient term fallatus as "ability" based upon its similarity to the Latin term faculatus and the term lochus as similar to locatia, Latin for "location" (2.16 "The Fifth Race"). It is possible that these distinctions are merely the differences in the alien language and the Latin language here on Earth.

Later, Jonas Quinn used Daniel Jackson's notes to interpret a stone tablet as saying "City of the Lost" (7.01 "Fallen"). He found a subtle difference when using Asgard translations of early Ancient. But a recently descended Daniel, who apparently retained his ascended knowledge of the language, explained that both Jonas and his own pre-ascended notes were incorrect in translating lacun to mean "of the lost" (he did not provide the correct translation).

Glyphs

After Jack O'Neill had the Ancient Repository of Knowledge downloaded into his head a second time, it was revealed that the Stargate Glyphs were pronounced as syllables by the Ancients (7.22 "Lost City Part 2"). They named at least some of their planets according to these symbols. Col. O'Neill only revealed the syllables for seven Stargate glyphs, listed below in English alphabetical order

At
Clar
Nas
Oh
Pra
ush / Sh
Tae

Ancient to English Dictionary

A through M

abicierum 
to give up (but not the same as surrender)
admonitio 
from Latin, warning
ad 
to a
aedific 
houses
ani 
are
armeria 
ark
armeria verimas 
ark of truth
asordo 
help
Anqueetus 
Ancients
astria 
star (see astria porta)
astria porta 
Stargate(s)
astrum attero et mundus 
untranslatable, likely referring to solar flares; from Latin "the sun will destroy the planet (astrum being singular for "star")
Atlantus 
Atlantis
Attero 
(as in Attero device) from Latin, destruction
aveo amacuse 
goodbye [friend(s)?]
avernikas 
world (though "universe" would be a more apt definition as per Joe Mallozzi)
calium videre eessit, et eraos ad sidera tollere vultus 
untranslated, but from Latin: When you see her, you see the sky, and those on earth must lift their faces toward the stars.
clava / clavia
key
clava thessara infinitas 
key to infinite treasure
clementia 
mercy (see mia clementia, denar esto)
colonian 
colony
comdo 
untranslatable—possibly please? want? request?
contagia
untranslated, but from Latin, illness, infection, plague
cozars 
knees/legs
cruvus 
wrong / sick / ill
deductavum 
(Latin: deductum); taken away
derentis 
crazy / insane
deserde 
desire / need
disce 
learn (will learn, see ex uno disce omnes)
domiwaitus westul motobilum 
master of the uncertain past
domii 
living
dormata 
sleep (specifically referencing a cryogenic chamber)
eetium 
understood
ego 
I / me
enim lupin purnum pravus intus 
(from rough Latin translation) Verily, the corrupted sinner will be cleansed from within.
et 
and
euge 
good
ex 
from
ex uno disce omnes 
from one, all will learn
fallatus 
ability
fargus 
finished
fervidus 
boiling
fron 
head
fugere destiterunt quah ad 
running away before reaching
fugit ciruculum 
all must end
glacius 
ice
hic qua videeum 
the place of our legacy
incursus 
attacked or overtaken
indeeo 
need
infinitas 
infinite
lochus 
location
machinus 
machine
mia 
I/me
Mia clementia denar esto 
Have mercy. I was blind, but now I see.

N - Z

navo 
new
ne que prius 
they didn't stop
noo 
we
novum 
new
nullus temporis 
untranslated; likely "no time" (remembered by Atlantis "whales")
omnes 
all
on na matta netario 
this is really unnecessary
orbis 
loop
orbis machinus 
loop machine
perennial adventus 
the approaching disaster
pervenerunt degenerus 
recurring use of
populi 
people
porta 
gate/door (see astria porta)
praclarush taonas 
lost in fire
puta 
believe
quam 
reaching
ruber 
red hot
sau 
sun
separerunt 
separated
subo 
under
sunt 
built
statim 
untranslatable, but from Latin, immediately
statim admonitio Adarus 
untranslated, but from Latin, "urgent warning from the science vessel "Adarus""
statim curatio 
untranslatable but from Latin, request for immediate assistance
statim contego dilatium 
untranslatable but extrapolated from Latin "We must extend the shield to encompass the planet."
terre 
Earth
tectum de nationis incursus 
half-translated as the shield of [all] (nationis from latin refers to species) being overtaken/overwhelmed
tempus 
time
thessara 
treasure
tua 
you
uno 
one
veniunt 
came (we came)
verimas 
truth (see armeria verimas)
ventio
wind
vis uban 
"place of great power" (may be a mistranslation)

Articles on the Ancients

Library of the Four Races Repository of Knowledge Ancient Time Machine
Stargate Destroyer Ayiana of the Ancients Tablet Found on Abydos
Ancient Weapon on Dakara Ancient Timeship Merlin of the Atlantian Ancients

This series of articles covers the history, language, writings, knowledge, and technology of the Ancients.

Episodes

Related Articles

Further Reading

Aveo Amacuse

  • http://stargate-sg1-solutions.com/blog/?p=209 Solutions contributor and Latin scholar Alex posted a well researched article on the varying potential meanings of "aveo amacuse" and the Latin roots of the Ancient languages here.

Ancient Languages

Latin


--Aurora 14:49, 21 April 2006 (PDT) --thanks to maranya14 for added Latin translations