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A community for the dragon language of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Thuum.org

A community for the dragon language of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Theory on Dovahzul's True Power

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CalevDimarsius
April 1, 2019

Is the three-word system law? or a tool.

When someone shouts, they are verbally telling reality to submit to their will and produce a desired effect, right? That being said, will -- or more specifically, intent -- has a massive impact on the interpretation of a word in any language, intent itself depends on tone, context, and desire. So how does this play into the dragon language?

I would like to cite a couple examples:

Miraak:

I have seen much dispute on whether Miraak's "four-word shout", Zii Los Dii Du, can actually be counted as a shout. It obviously has an effect, allowing him to rip the soul from a weakened Dov, but... somehow it ignores the three-word format... so how does it work at all?

Greybeards:

The Greybeards, with the exception of Arngeir, observe a vow of silence. Why? Because the barest whisper of Dovahzul from them holds enough power to make a mountain shudder. They produce this effect simply by saying "Dovahkin" in quiet greeting to the Dragonborn whenever they come to visit. How could this be possible? Doavahkin is no shout, and should, therefore, cause no effect, right?

Here's the meat of my theory. The three-word system does not function as a rule, but rather as a tool to prevent catastrophic mistakes when channeling the power of the Thu'um.

For example, I present the Ancient Langauge of Alagaësia from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It is the root of all Alagaësian magic, and every word carries a meaning and effect. Even the slightest miswording can have horrifying consequences, a lesson the protagonist, Eragon, learns harshly when he accidentally lays a curse upon an infant girl that was intended to be a blessing. All because he used a couple words in the wrong connotation.

My theory hinges around this: What if Doavahzul functions in a similar manner to the Ancient Language?

Every word has meaning and can, therefore, channel the Thu'um. However, the longer and more complex a string of words becomes, the more likely that a mistake can occur and cause disaster. SO, enter the three-word system. Three, single-syllable words representing simple concepts strung together to produce a predictable effect.

It would explain Miraak's strange shout, he is just channeling his Thu'um into a more complex phrase, he's had centuries in Apocrypha to practice his ability. It also explains why the Greybeards can't speak, the raw power of their Thu'um flows unfiltered by any intent through their speech and simply results in an outpouring of power that shakes reality.

So, here's the big question...

Exactly how terrifyingly powerful would a true master of Dovahzul be, simply by being able to speak there will into existence? 

 

by CalevDimarsius
April 1, 2019

Is the three-word system law? or a tool.

When someone shouts, they are verbally telling reality to submit to their will and produce a desired effect, right? That being said, will -- or more specifically, intent -- has a massive impact on the interpretation of a word in any language, intent itself depends on tone, context, and desire. So how does this play into the dragon language?

I would like to cite a couple examples:

Miraak:

I have seen much dispute on whether Miraak's "four-word shout", Zii Los Dii Du, can actually be counted as a shout. It obviously has an effect, allowing him to rip the soul from a weakened Dov, but... somehow it ignores the three-word format... so how does it work at all?

Greybeards:

The Greybeards, with the exception of Arngeir, observe a vow of silence. Why? Because the barest whisper of Dovahzul from them holds enough power to make a mountain shudder. They produce this effect simply by saying "Dovahkin" in quiet greeting to the Dragonborn whenever they come to visit. How could this be possible? Doavahkin is no shout, and should, therefore, cause no effect, right?

Here's the meat of my theory. The three-word system does not function as a rule, but rather as a tool to prevent catastrophic mistakes when channeling the power of the Thu'um.

For example, I present the Ancient Langauge of Alagaësia from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It is the root of all Alagaësian magic, and every word carries a meaning and effect. Even the slightest miswording can have horrifying consequences, a lesson the protagonist, Eragon, learns harshly when he accidentally lays a curse upon an infant girl that was intended to be a blessing. All because he used a couple words in the wrong connotation.

My theory hinges around this: What if Doavahzul functions in a similar manner to the Ancient Language?

Every word has meaning and can, therefore, channel the Thu'um. However, the longer and more complex a string of words becomes, the more likely that a mistake can occur and cause disaster. SO, enter the three-word system. Three, single-syllable words representing simple concepts strung together to produce a predictable effect.

It would explain Miraak's strange shout, he is just channeling his Thu'um into a more complex phrase, he's had centuries in Apocrypha to practice his ability. It also explains why the Greybeards can't speak, the raw power of their Thu'um flows unfiltered by any intent through their speech and simply results in an outpouring of power that shakes reality.

So, here's the big question...

Exactly how terrifyingly powerful would a true master of Dovahzul be, simply by being able to speak there will into existence? 

 


Qahhunrahgol
April 2, 2019

I like it, how did you create or find this?

by Qahhunrahgol
April 2, 2019

I like it, how did you create or find this?


Sonaak Kroinlah
April 2, 2019

(To obey forum rules I'm splitting my reply into two posts)

Whilst Dovahzul bears many similarities to the Ancient Language they are not identical.

Based off my own reaserch I've concluded that when a person or dragon shouts they are not only projecting their inner essence but shaping it. Each word has an inherent deeper meaning but this can be shaped into different patterns to produce different effects, it isn't set in stone. In game evidence supports this with both slow time and the ressurection shout featuring the same word: tiid. Shaping meaning also explains how the meditation and black book bonuses affect shouts, they give "instructions" on alterations to make when shaping your inner essence. It's also supported by the fact that some shouts do nothing unless all words are used, I suspect that without using a complete and coherent pattern a thu'um is meaningless, however most shouts change and grow with each word rather than relying on all of them for effect. It also explains word walls' significance. Given Dovahzul's grammar, that specific mistake you speak of wouldn't have happened but I do see how something similar might happen.

by Sonaak Kroinlah
April 2, 2019

(To obey forum rules I'm splitting my reply into two posts)

Whilst Dovahzul bears many similarities to the Ancient Language they are not identical.

Based off my own reaserch I've concluded that when a person or dragon shouts they are not only projecting their inner essence but shaping it. Each word has an inherent deeper meaning but this can be shaped into different patterns to produce different effects, it isn't set in stone. In game evidence supports this with both slow time and the ressurection shout featuring the same word: tiid. Shaping meaning also explains how the meditation and black book bonuses affect shouts, they give "instructions" on alterations to make when shaping your inner essence. It's also supported by the fact that some shouts do nothing unless all words are used, I suspect that without using a complete and coherent pattern a thu'um is meaningless, however most shouts change and grow with each word rather than relying on all of them for effect. It also explains word walls' significance. Given Dovahzul's grammar, that specific mistake you speak of wouldn't have happened but I do see how something similar might happen.


Sonaak Kroinlah
April 2, 2019

To address your specific points, the three word system most likely is flexible but probably does help keep things simple and likely it would be rare to actually need more words. So I'd say you're right there, although dovahzul is incredibly flexible and much less strict so again I don't think it's nearly so likely to make such terrible mistakes.

With Miraak I don't think he is shouting, primarily because of his use of "los" which has no place in a thu'um. I suspect he is giving them a command so that they can't\won't resist what he does next: amplify the magnetic force of his soul to suck out the dragon's. With the exception of Sahrotaar all the dragon's he does this to are under his control via bend will and given how long Sahrotaar was under his control it's likely that some of that still remained and he couldn't fight back. If he tried this trick on someone with a strong will who he hadn't used bend will on nothing would happen.

You're mostly right about the greybeards, they have lost control over when they release their essence and do so every time they speak however since shaping it still requires specific intent there are no specific effects. Thus they can say what they want (in any language, it wouldn't change anything) as long as the earthquakes are deemed worth it.

Finally, with deeper understanding of each word and how to shape ones inner essence they would be extremely powerful and frightening.

(PS: I apologise for the erratic nature of this post, I'm very tired :p)

by Sonaak Kroinlah
April 2, 2019

To address your specific points, the three word system most likely is flexible but probably does help keep things simple and likely it would be rare to actually need more words. So I'd say you're right there, although dovahzul is incredibly flexible and much less strict so again I don't think it's nearly so likely to make such terrible mistakes.

With Miraak I don't think he is shouting, primarily because of his use of "los" which has no place in a thu'um. I suspect he is giving them a command so that they can't\won't resist what he does next: amplify the magnetic force of his soul to suck out the dragon's. With the exception of Sahrotaar all the dragon's he does this to are under his control via bend will and given how long Sahrotaar was under his control it's likely that some of that still remained and he couldn't fight back. If he tried this trick on someone with a strong will who he hadn't used bend will on nothing would happen.

You're mostly right about the greybeards, they have lost control over when they release their essence and do so every time they speak however since shaping it still requires specific intent there are no specific effects. Thus they can say what they want (in any language, it wouldn't change anything) as long as the earthquakes are deemed worth it.

Finally, with deeper understanding of each word and how to shape ones inner essence they would be extremely powerful and frightening.

(PS: I apologise for the erratic nature of this post, I'm very tired :p)


Zinrahzul
April 3, 2019

I just want to inject this: Imagine the scenario where Wulfarth tells Arngeir: "Arngeir, did you clean up that fox dead body last snow season like I asked? Now that the snow has melted, I smell an overpowering stench!"

Such a mundane sentence, but a necessary one -- How did they ever settle these types of matters?

by Zinrahzul
April 3, 2019

I just want to inject this: Imagine the scenario where Wulfarth tells Arngeir: "Arngeir, did you clean up that fox dead body last snow season like I asked? Now that the snow has melted, I smell an overpowering stench!"

Such a mundane sentence, but a necessary one -- How did they ever settle these types of matters?


CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019
Qahhunrahgol

I like it, how did you create or find this?

I came up with this theory by pondering the nature of language in our own culture, drawing similarities between Dovahzul and the Ancient Language, and feeling like there's more potential to the language than explored in canon lore.

by CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019
Qahhunrahgol

I like it, how did you create or find this?

I came up with this theory by pondering the nature of language in our own culture, drawing similarities between Dovahzul and the Ancient Language, and feeling like there's more potential to the language than explored in canon lore.


CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019
Sonaak Kroinlah

To address your specific points, the three word system most likely is flexible but probably does help keep things simple and likely it would be rare to actually need more words. So I'd say you're right there, although dovahzul is incredibly flexible and much less strict so again I don't think it's nearly so likely to make such terrible mistakes.

With Miraak I don't think he is shouting, primarily because of his use of "los" which has no place in a thu'um. I suspect he is giving them a command so that they can't\won't resist what he does next: amplify the magnetic force of his soul to suck out the dragon's. With the exception of Sahrotaar all the dragon's he does this to are under his control via bend will and given how long Sahrotaar was under his control it's likely that some of that still remained and he couldn't fight back. If he tried this trick on someone with a strong will who he hadn't used bend will on nothing would happen.

You're mostly right about the greybeards, they have lost control over when they release their essence and do so every time they speak however since shaping it still requires specific intent there are no specific effects. Thus they can say what they want (in any language, it wouldn't change anything) as long as the earthquakes are deemed worth it.

Finally, with deeper understanding of each word and how to shape ones inner essence they would be extremely powerful and frightening.

(PS: I apologise for the erratic nature of this post, I'm very tired :p)

It is quite alright, Onik Fahdon, it seems perfectly legible to me, and I would like to clarify a couple of my points.

I may have been somewhat overzealous in my relation of Dovahzul to the Ancient Language. Dovahzul indeed is much more flexible, and likely won't result in disaster due to it requiring an active channeling of power to have an effect, but I meant if someone was attempting to channel their Thu'um into a statement rather than a combination of concepts.

I also believe that shouts can be changed by intent; a point I started, but never saw through.

I also don't think Miraak is shouting, but imposing his will by channeling his Voice into a command. But, what I'm wondering is if it can be done without Bend Will if the user is powerful enough. Like, they could say, "Zu'u nis kos ahraan. Zu'u nunon bo naal dii uth," and suddenly be invincible, immovable, and unstoppable.

You summarize it perfectly with your last sentence, rather than just channeling the Thu'um to manifest a concept, if someone learns to use it to exact complex verbal commands upon reality...

That's not just terrifying... That's as close to true Godhood a mortal can get without ascending.

by CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019
Sonaak Kroinlah

To address your specific points, the three word system most likely is flexible but probably does help keep things simple and likely it would be rare to actually need more words. So I'd say you're right there, although dovahzul is incredibly flexible and much less strict so again I don't think it's nearly so likely to make such terrible mistakes.

With Miraak I don't think he is shouting, primarily because of his use of "los" which has no place in a thu'um. I suspect he is giving them a command so that they can't\won't resist what he does next: amplify the magnetic force of his soul to suck out the dragon's. With the exception of Sahrotaar all the dragon's he does this to are under his control via bend will and given how long Sahrotaar was under his control it's likely that some of that still remained and he couldn't fight back. If he tried this trick on someone with a strong will who he hadn't used bend will on nothing would happen.

You're mostly right about the greybeards, they have lost control over when they release their essence and do so every time they speak however since shaping it still requires specific intent there are no specific effects. Thus they can say what they want (in any language, it wouldn't change anything) as long as the earthquakes are deemed worth it.

Finally, with deeper understanding of each word and how to shape ones inner essence they would be extremely powerful and frightening.

(PS: I apologise for the erratic nature of this post, I'm very tired :p)

It is quite alright, Onik Fahdon, it seems perfectly legible to me, and I would like to clarify a couple of my points.

I may have been somewhat overzealous in my relation of Dovahzul to the Ancient Language. Dovahzul indeed is much more flexible, and likely won't result in disaster due to it requiring an active channeling of power to have an effect, but I meant if someone was attempting to channel their Thu'um into a statement rather than a combination of concepts.

I also believe that shouts can be changed by intent; a point I started, but never saw through.

I also don't think Miraak is shouting, but imposing his will by channeling his Voice into a command. But, what I'm wondering is if it can be done without Bend Will if the user is powerful enough. Like, they could say, "Zu'u nis kos ahraan. Zu'u nunon bo naal dii uth," and suddenly be invincible, immovable, and unstoppable.

You summarize it perfectly with your last sentence, rather than just channeling the Thu'um to manifest a concept, if someone learns to use it to exact complex verbal commands upon reality...

That's not just terrifying... That's as close to true Godhood a mortal can get without ascending.


Sonaak Kroinlah
April 3, 2019

It might be possible. This is where things get difficult as we have no way to examine the exact internal mechanisms of the thu'um. I see three possibilities here:

1) you're completely right and if you knew exactly what you were doing it would work.

2) it's possible but not necessary given that such a statement could be simplified into concepts for example: "spaan slen hah" "shield flesh mind" could accomplish the same thing, in much less time.

3) manipulating reality is no simple thing and perhaps the fabric of reality responds better (or only) to concepts and simpler commands.

I've heard that the Dwemer found a method of altering reality similar to the thu'um but alas haven't been able to research it myself as I'm stubbornly avoiding spoilers. If said spoilers aren't a concren for you, there might be something there. It's also worth relooking over the dialogue for more clues (this part I can do too).

by Sonaak Kroinlah
April 3, 2019

It might be possible. This is where things get difficult as we have no way to examine the exact internal mechanisms of the thu'um. I see three possibilities here:

1) you're completely right and if you knew exactly what you were doing it would work.

2) it's possible but not necessary given that such a statement could be simplified into concepts for example: "spaan slen hah" "shield flesh mind" could accomplish the same thing, in much less time.

3) manipulating reality is no simple thing and perhaps the fabric of reality responds better (or only) to concepts and simpler commands.

I've heard that the Dwemer found a method of altering reality similar to the thu'um but alas haven't been able to research it myself as I'm stubbornly avoiding spoilers. If said spoilers aren't a concren for you, there might be something there. It's also worth relooking over the dialogue for more clues (this part I can do too).


CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019
Sonaak Kroinlah

It might be possible. This is where things get difficult as we have no way to examine the exact internal mechanisms of the thu'um. I see three possibilities here:

1) you're completely right and if you knew exactly what you were doing it would work.

2) it's possible but not necessary given that such a statement could be simplified into concepts for example: "spaan slen hah" "shield flesh mind" could accomplish the same thing, in much less time.

3) manipulating reality is no simple thing and perhaps the fabric of reality responds better (or only) to concepts and simpler commands.

I've heard that the Dwemer found a method of altering reality similar to the thu'um but alas haven't been able to research it myself as I'm stubbornly avoiding spoilers. If said spoilers aren't a concren for you, there might be something there. It's also worth relooking over the dialogue for more clues (this part I can do too).

Yes, I am aware of it, the Thu'um is considered to be the natural version of it. (I know the technique's name, but I'm not sure if that's a spoiler or not.)

In response to your second point,  it indeed is easier to call upon a concept, but wouldn't a command have a more... permanent effect. Like instead of something being briefly enhanced, it is forcefully granted a new property, "Daar zahkrii du lah." Like an everlasting enchantment, something that can't quite be replicated with just concepts and must have a specific mandate. (You can probably think of a better example, given your experience.)

The third option seems the most plausible, but the least intriguing.

by CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019
Sonaak Kroinlah

It might be possible. This is where things get difficult as we have no way to examine the exact internal mechanisms of the thu'um. I see three possibilities here:

1) you're completely right and if you knew exactly what you were doing it would work.

2) it's possible but not necessary given that such a statement could be simplified into concepts for example: "spaan slen hah" "shield flesh mind" could accomplish the same thing, in much less time.

3) manipulating reality is no simple thing and perhaps the fabric of reality responds better (or only) to concepts and simpler commands.

I've heard that the Dwemer found a method of altering reality similar to the thu'um but alas haven't been able to research it myself as I'm stubbornly avoiding spoilers. If said spoilers aren't a concren for you, there might be something there. It's also worth relooking over the dialogue for more clues (this part I can do too).

Yes, I am aware of it, the Thu'um is considered to be the natural version of it. (I know the technique's name, but I'm not sure if that's a spoiler or not.)

In response to your second point,  it indeed is easier to call upon a concept, but wouldn't a command have a more... permanent effect. Like instead of something being briefly enhanced, it is forcefully granted a new property, "Daar zahkrii du lah." Like an everlasting enchantment, something that can't quite be replicated with just concepts and must have a specific mandate. (You can probably think of a better example, given your experience.)

The third option seems the most plausible, but the least intriguing.


Sonaak Kroinlah
April 3, 2019

I don't see why a command would have any more permanence. I suspect reality rebels against most alterations anyway, eventually reinforcing the natural order of things. If it were possible to make a permanent change simply adding a word like "ul" "eternity" would do the same thing (eg. "tuz lun lah" for temporary effect might become "lun lah ul" for a permanent one). One example we have of permanent enchantments is the word walls themselves. However the enchantment doesn't really alter anything instead just leaving (I suspect anyway) an imprint which would give the instructions for the pattern of it's word of power.

by Sonaak Kroinlah
April 3, 2019

I don't see why a command would have any more permanence. I suspect reality rebels against most alterations anyway, eventually reinforcing the natural order of things. If it were possible to make a permanent change simply adding a word like "ul" "eternity" would do the same thing (eg. "tuz lun lah" for temporary effect might become "lun lah ul" for a permanent one). One example we have of permanent enchantments is the word walls themselves. However the enchantment doesn't really alter anything instead just leaving (I suspect anyway) an imprint which would give the instructions for the pattern of it's word of power.


CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019

You make a good point... However, there is one thing that suggests Dovah Runes, could be used for enchantments. Ahzidal was obsessed with the art of enchantment, joining the Dragon Priests to gain access to Dovah Rune. It is not said what he discovered in regards to their uses, but that leaves the avenue that the written word of the Dovah also has power open to speculation. It most likely would function by 'imprinting' that power onto the writing with the Thu'um. Of course, there is no substantive proof, so it remains an interesting theory... Though Dovahzul enchantments would have been an intriguing mechanic.

Missed opportunity, I say. 

by CalevDimarsius
April 3, 2019

You make a good point... However, there is one thing that suggests Dovah Runes, could be used for enchantments. Ahzidal was obsessed with the art of enchantment, joining the Dragon Priests to gain access to Dovah Rune. It is not said what he discovered in regards to their uses, but that leaves the avenue that the written word of the Dovah also has power open to speculation. It most likely would function by 'imprinting' that power onto the writing with the Thu'um. Of course, there is no substantive proof, so it remains an interesting theory... Though Dovahzul enchantments would have been an intriguing mechanic.

Missed opportunity, I say. 


Sonaak Kroinlah
April 4, 2019

That's an interesting point. It's worth noting that when the greybeards teach the dovahkiin new rotmulaag they project an imprint on to the floor. You might be on to something here. Unfortunately  there is no way to test it and it may be that you can only leave instructions and not permanent effects..

You can use a glitch to enchant weapons with "elemantal fury" but it only does the sound effects and almost definitely isn't cannon.

by Sonaak Kroinlah
April 4, 2019

That's an interesting point. It's worth noting that when the greybeards teach the dovahkiin new rotmulaag they project an imprint on to the floor. You might be on to something here. Unfortunately  there is no way to test it and it may be that you can only leave instructions and not permanent effects..

You can use a glitch to enchant weapons with "elemantal fury" but it only does the sound effects and almost definitely isn't cannon.


CalevDimarsius
April 10, 2019

Is Elemental Fury really an enchantment though? It functions like one for the sake of game mechanics, but the skill description says, "The Thu'um imbues your arms with the speed of the wind, allowing for faster weapon strikes." This suggests an enhancement of the body, rather than an enhancement of your equipment. (A technicality that always bothered me during gameplay, to be honest.)

by CalevDimarsius
April 10, 2019

Is Elemental Fury really an enchantment though? It functions like one for the sake of game mechanics, but the skill description says, "The Thu'um imbues your arms with the speed of the wind, allowing for faster weapon strikes." This suggests an enhancement of the body, rather than an enhancement of your equipment. (A technicality that always bothered me during gameplay, to be honest.)


Sonaak Kroinlah
April 10, 2019

I always figured it places an enchantment that manipulates air pressure and decreases resistance\drag (and all that other fancy shmancy sciencey stuff I don't really understand) around the weapon which allowed them to strike faster\easier. Perhaps it does both at once? Either way I don't think the confliction with existing enchantments is canon but was added for gameplay balance.

by Sonaak Kroinlah
April 10, 2019

I always figured it places an enchantment that manipulates air pressure and decreases resistance\drag (and all that other fancy shmancy sciencey stuff I don't really understand) around the weapon which allowed them to strike faster\easier. Perhaps it does both at once? Either way I don't think the confliction with existing enchantments is canon but was added for gameplay balance.


CalevDimarsius
April 10, 2019

Possible. However, that still wouldn't quite qualify as an enchantment, more like a shell effect that propels your arm and anything you happen to be holding. Of course, we are dealing with a form of magic, so the abstract nature of the concept of wind -- or air -- comes into play, that being its association with speed in this case.

So yes, possibly some amalgamation of both that would be difficult to understand.

It is both fortunate and unfortunate that the canon information on this subject is so sparse. On the one hand, it allows for imaginative theorization by fans, but on the other it makes it impossible to settle on any one idea.

by CalevDimarsius
April 10, 2019

Possible. However, that still wouldn't quite qualify as an enchantment, more like a shell effect that propels your arm and anything you happen to be holding. Of course, we are dealing with a form of magic, so the abstract nature of the concept of wind -- or air -- comes into play, that being its association with speed in this case.

So yes, possibly some amalgamation of both that would be difficult to understand.

It is both fortunate and unfortunate that the canon information on this subject is so sparse. On the one hand, it allows for imaginative theorization by fans, but on the other it makes it impossible to settle on any one idea.

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