The new video game from famed studio Bethesda, Skyrim, is the fifth instalment of the Elder Scrolls saga, and puts the player in a medieval fantasy landscape that has suddenly come under siege by dragons.
I have previously posted about both Klingon and Na’vi – invented languages for Gene Roddenberry’s em>Star Trek TV show and James Cameron’s Avatar movie respectively. Skyrim has adopted a similar technique to give their world more depth and character, and it takes on a pivotal role in gameplay. The player’s character is the only one who can speak the Dragon language, and so is uniquely positioned to fight them off, and Bethesda arms the player with a surprisingly rich linguistic framework with which to do it.
The Draconian script, resembling the kinds of claw marks and scratches a 3-taloned creature would make, resembles Cuneiform, the language of ancient Mesopotamia and one that has also been mentioned before on this very blog.
The further into the game the player delves, the more important it is to have some mastery over the Draconic tongue. Rather than going the Avatar route and asking a linguistics professor to invent an entire language and syntax that was barely used in the final movie, Skyrim‘s Dragon language was invented entirely in-house by Bethesda, and makes for a surprisingly concrete addition to an already rich virtual world.