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- "Much of the nuance of Argonian conversation blooms from heavy metaphor and subtle body movements." – Lights-the-Way, Mystic of the Mages Guild
Jel is the native language of the Argonians. Unlike other modern Tamrielic languages, which all devolve from Ehlnofex, Jel originates from the ancient and intelligent Hist trees of Black Marsh. The Argonian Mere-Glim claimed that Jel was the "closest speech to thought", and that other races could not pronounce it well enough to freely converse with it. Nevertheless, Annaïg Hoïnart, a Breton, was able to learn enough Jel words to create a sort of pidgin language to converse with Mere-Glim.
The unintelligibility of Jel to other races is satirically alluded to in The Madness of Pelagius: "It was said that when the Argonian ambassador from Blackrose came to court, Pelagius insisted on speaking in all grunts and squeaks, as that was the Argonian's natural language."
Jel and Time
- "Mere-Glim wondered what would happen if he died. It was generally believed that Argonians had been given their souls by the Hist, and when one died, one's soul returned to them, to be incarnated once more. That seemed reasonable enough, under ordinary circumstances. In the deepest parts of his dreams or profound thinking were images, scents, tastes that the part of him that was sentient could not remember experiencing. The concept the Imperials called "time" did not even have a word in his native language. In fact, the hardest part of learning the language of the Imperials was that they made their verbs different to indicate when something happened, as if the most important thing in the world was to establish a linear sequence of events, as if doing so somehow explained things better than holistic apprehension." – The Infernal City
Unlike other languages, Jel is unique in the fact that it boasts no time-specific variations of verbs, as Argonians – or at least the more traditionalist individuals – view all of life from birth to death as a single moment. To them, time is an illusion established to create a linear version of events and is therefore considered a limited way of perceiving reality. In fact, the hardest challenge for Argonians learning other languages is getting used to the presence of past-tense and future-tense verbs.
- "My tail whips from side to side, and yet you wish speak? Speak then." — Ereel-Jush, storyteller of Naga-Kur
Much of the Argonian language also relies on non-verbal communication or "body language" to convey meaning, which may be lost in translation for those unaccustomed to the Argonian's way of speaking. This difficulty in comprehension also goes in the other direction, where an inexperienced Argonian may have difficulty interpreting the emotions of an outsider. This mutual inability to decipher body language may be why Argonians speaking Tamrielic will often preface their statements with an emotional qualifier, seen most often in the form of "I erect the spine of ...".
The use of body language in communication becomes more prevalent in the more isolated Argonian tribes who have had little contact with the other races of Tamriel. An example is the Naga-Kur tribe, their representatives often consider it necessary to specify their non-verbal gestures as they speak with outsiders, though other Argonians can interpret them well enough.
Some examples of this include:
"I extend the claw of welcome, warrior." — General Dar-Liurz
"I shake my head in disbelief." — Raj-Kaal Seelan of the Naga-Kur
"I nod my head. Yes. ..." — Grave-Singer Ki-At of the Naga-Kur
"I recoil in mock disgust." — Utazaw of the Naga-Kur
"[...]My rage-quill is engorged!" — Chime-Maker Shuvu of the Bright-Throats
- "It was said that when the Argonian ambassador from Blackrose came to court, Pelagius insisted on speaking in all grunts and squeaks, as that was the Argonian's natural language." — Tsathenes, The Madness of Pelagius.
As with Argonian body language, the pronunciation of Jel words seem to be related to the Argonian physiology. Apparently, the Argonian's reptilian origin (and therefore their mouth structure) leads to a wide use of clicking and hissing sounds within the language. The round-tongue adopted Tamrielic alphabet is unable to properly represent all of the vocal peculiarities, so here is a set of pronunciation rules that will help to read the Tamrielic-written Argonian language closer to the original:
G in the beginning of a word is often sounds as a voiced consonant that is pronounced abruptly and firm as in "ground" — geeva [giva].
H often used in Jel as the connective voiceless consonant is seemingly not pronounced. However it's suggested that it is vocalized by Saxhleel on the breath-out. Though, it is near impossible for the non-Argonian ear to distinguish. — saxhleel [saz'lil].
X in most cases will be pronounced simply as [z] — xanmeer [zanmir]
TS is often pronounced as a united short clicking voiced consonant as in "citrus" — tsona ['c'ona].
Composing a complex Jel word or name can be tricky. Mostly it constitutes the result of merging or composition of more simple or basic Jel words. Complex jel words could be divided onto two categories judging by how they are composed - merged and dash separated words.
Basic Jel words are the basis of the language performing the role of it's metaphorical "building blocks". Consisting from one up to several syllables they bear basic Argonian meanings and concepts and often are combined, altered or rearranged (accordingly to some Jel language rules) to get synonymous, alternative or sometimes even new meanings. That fluent feature of the language allow careful scholars to supposed or even sometimes quiet accurately restore complete original basic word meaning knowing designation of more complex jel words. Examples:
Known (described) basic word:
- "Ku" — To bring about or allow;
Restored basic word:
- "Hej" — "Vaporous" (restores from "hejsetha thtithik", "hejsetha thtitleel," and "hej xajhuthi kroni").
The merged Jel word is often consist of several basic ones that are put together in the logical sequence that suggests to form the result meaning. Example:
- "Kajthux" — Ample serpent
- Kaj — Ample;
- Thux — Snake or Serpent (from Thuxis);
Dash separated Jel words are mostly refers to names of animals, places or social roles. Example:
- "Deek-beeko" — Friend of youth
- Deek — Young, sapling;
- Beeko — Friend;
Dash separated words may also include merged words in themselves. Example:
This section contains known and restored Jel basic words and their meanings.
- Friend. Sometimes may be used sarcastically
- Young, sapling
- Mature, adult
- possibly Eye, or Eyes (restores from: Haj-Ei)
- Basket (restores from Thtithil-gah - "egg basket")
- The will, desire, need (of the Hist).
- Enemy. Used mostly for hostile creatures or outsiders
- (restores from: Gulvo and Gulweet)
- Hidden, or hides
- Vaporous (restores from: hejsetha thtithik, hejsetha thtitleel, and hej xajhuthi kroni)
- Possibly eyes or to look, to see (restores from Ei and Ojei)
- Possibly language. May also be tongue or to speak
- unknown (restores from: ajum, bijum)
- Likely war (restores from: ka-deelith, kaal and reel-ka)
- unknown Possibly originates from ka (restores from: chukka, jekka, sakka, vakka)
- Ample. also translated as giant (restores from: kajthux and kaj-jeke thota)
- Dream-beast or sacred-beast. 
- A type of vulgar interjection, when used in context it seems to mean crap or shit or damn
- Literally stands apart
- Likely doll (restores from xeech-ki)
- unknown possibly black  (partly restores from: Kota and Kota-Vimleel)
- Possibly form of kot (restores from: Kota and Kota-Vimleel)
- Big, colossal. Typically used in jest or exaggeration
- possibly originates from krona (restores from hej xajhuthi kroni)
- possibly originates from krona (restores from kronka-thatith and kronkassa)
- To bring about or allow
- Possibly people, often used to denote a group or a tribe (restores from: Saxhleel, Tum-Taleel, Veeskhleel etc. Another possible meaning could be child, or descendant (restores from mutual connection of hejsetha thtithik - whispmother-egghatcher and hejsetha thtitleel - hatched whisp).
- Big-mouthed reptile (restores from: rormasu' and wamasu)
- Possibly cracker (restores from: Ixtaxh-thtithil-meht - "exact-Egg-Cracker")
- Hunt or hunter
- Literally rotten. Bad, referring to something or someone of generally low quality
- Probably leader (restores from: Raj-nassa - "elder leader")
- Forbidden. Not used often as most forbidden things are not spoken of
- possibly a form of norg
- Possibly noting negation, judging by its use
- Possibly roughly meaning No-Eyes, referring to the fact that they are blind:
- Literally, not of Argonian tongue or non-speaker of Jel, marking somebody not of the tribe, an outsider. Sometimes used as an insult
- Fumer 
- Elder, higher in rank probably upper (restores from: Raj-Kaal, Raj-beeko, Raj-deelith, Raj-kaal, Raj-nassa and rajpu)
- Terrible.
- unknown (restores from Reel-ka)
- unknown. 
- Possibly denoting a liquid, something that flows or runs. Could also be a verb (restores from: culinary terms (aojee-sakka, bowl of sakka), name of a river Keel-Sakka River, and many Argonian names which do include verbs).
- Possibly rite or ritual (restores from: Vastei-Sei - "Ritual of Change", or chukka-sei - argonian rites of maturity).
- An exclamation, not necessarily of a bad connotation
- Humanoid (restores from shaja-nushmeeko - semi-humanoid lizard)
- Frog (restores from tsonashap - swimming frog)
- unknown. Possibly apart.  (restores from: shuxaltsei, shunatei and keshu)
- Sprout. As well as third month of the Argonian calendar
- unknown. 
- Egg. As well as eighth month of the Argonian calendar
- Snake (restores from: Kajthux). Also refers to one who is deceptive
- Great. Used sparingly for only particularly exceptional things
- Floating (restores from: hejtsetha thtithik and hejtsetha thtitleel)
- Tsogo
- Elderly, elder 
- Swim or to swim 
- Place. Possibly also marking area or territory (restores from: Norg-Tzel and Veeskhleel-Tzel)
- Unclean, or taboo. 
- Sun, as well as first month of the Argonian calendar
- Change or transition
- Legend, used to describe a person
- Nut or seed. As well as second month of the Argonian calendar
- Yes. A type of affirmative
- Possibly poisonous or toxic (restores from: xochipalli and xoxoctic)
- Death or pertaining to death. Also marking rebirth because these are considered one and the same in Argonian culture
Complex words and names
For the complete list of Saxhleel names see the Argonian names article.
This section contains merged and dash-separated complex Jel words as well as known Jel namings (including creature, plant, tribe, structure, social rite and social role names) as well as known Argonian name meanings.
- Argonian tribe name. Cyrodillic form unknown
- The Great Root. The first thing to ever be accordingly to the oral tradition of the Adzi-Kostleel tribe.
- The evercoiling clinging of the Great Serpent and the Great Root accordingly to the oral tradition of the Adzi-Kostleel tribe.
- An exquisite soup. Possibly lethal if eaten in the wrong manner
- Literally friend-outsider or non-jel-speaking-friend
- Literally Bowl of Death"
- A trial of maturation, upon completion of which, Argonians are considered to have come of age
- Literally seeing everything in ecstasy. A name for a drug
- Literally sapling-friend. Friend of youth, kid-friend.
- Literally one who passes wisdom to another, teacher
- The Miredancers. A tribe of Murkmire
- Translates into Hides-His-Eyes. An Argonian name
- Haj mota
- Hidden Hunter, (restores from: haj and mota)
- Vaporous, floating (restores from: Hejsetha thtithik and Hejsetha thtitleel)
- Hejsetha thtithik
- Literally vaporous, floating egg hatcher ,wispmother
- Hejsetha thtitleel
- Literally vaporous floating sphere , wisp
- Hej xajhuthi kroni
- Literally vaporous, dangerous crones. Translated less directly as beware of witchlights
- Hist Sapling. Fourth month of the Argonian calendar
- Mature Hist. Fifth month of the Argonian calendar
- Elderly Hist. Sixth month of the Argonian calendar
- Wing folding. A manner in which butterfly wings are prepared into edible presentations
- Exact-Egg-Cracker. The name of a great stepped pyramid in Lilmoth
- Profession of the keeper of the Xinchei-Konu 
- Plural for Jekka-wass
- War captain. A revered title, especially in more violent tribes
- War-teacher. A title for the one responsible for training warriors
- Kaj-jeke thota
- Ample stinging insect. Referring to a Giant Wasp
- Ample serpent. Referring to a Giant Snake
- The Great Serpent challenging the first Great Root accordingly to the oral tradition of the Adzi-Kostleel tribe.
- Literally Black-Tongues. Denotes Black-Tongue tribe of Murkmire
- A particularly skilled or famous war chief in the Dead-Water tribe
- Everything-Egg. Roughly refers to all land occupied by the Argonian tribes when used with the gesture meaning "wide-swamp."
- Mouth-talk. The rare phenomenon of a Hist tree speaking directly through speech
- A catalyst of change. Can be a person, a thing, or an occurrence but can be interpreted as "that which causes the necessary path for change to occur" "A ku-vastei is what sets things into motion again."
- Assimilated. Used to signify an Argonian who has adapted to a non-Argonian culture
- River clam
- Snake roll. A dish prepared in Murkmire consisting of a snake skin filled with various vegetables and a live mouse
- The Dead-Water tribe of Murkmire
- Tribal elder. Typically a position of wisdom, although not necessarily one of power
- Priest of Sithis, also Nothing-speaker
- Literally forbidden place. A secluded island in southeastern Black Marsh
- Warning stone
- Lizard. As well as ninth month of the Argonian calendar
- Fumer. A rack of spoiled meat to distract bog blights from one's scent
- Literally elder friend. Or more likely, old friend (restores from: "raj" meaning "elder" and "beeko" meaning "friend"). Being used in conjunction. :
- Literally elder teacher
- Literally elder war captain, a war chief, a high military rank
- Literally elder leader
- Swallowed Grove
- Literally big-mouthed reptile that blinks above the water. Referring to a crocodile
- Possibly traveller or some kind of greeting. Seems to be used to greet or address passers-by
- Literally people of the Root. Referring to the Argonians, as well as eleventh month of the Argonian calendar
- native village of Keshu the Black Fin 
- Literally Semi-humanoid lizard. Tenth month of the Argonian calendar
- Roughly meaning clinging onto something (inevitable). A more colorful explanation filled with metaphors is regretful stomach, and the pain caused by holding on too tightly to that which has come to pass
- Possibly eater (restores from: Vakka-Shuxalt - "Sun-Eater" and Shuxaltsei - "Eater-Ritual"))
- "Hip and tail ball". A popular Argonian sport
- Another popular Argonian sport
- A type of Argonian rum made from distilled sugar cane
- Literally Drykillers. Non-Argonian guards
- Egg-stomach. Used by some tribes in relation to procreation partnerships
- Possibly egghatcher (restores from hejsetha thtithik - wispmother-egghatcher)
- Egg basket. Seventh month of the Argonian calendar
- Loosely meaning older than dirt
- Swiming-?. Alternative name used for Ixtaxh-thtithil-meht, a.k.a. Ixtaxh xanmeer
- The name of Mazzatun's Hist
- Literally swimming frog
- Literally "Root-House People. Denoting the Root-House tribe in Murkmire
- House-weaving. Usually allegorical.
- Nest-becoming. A term for a procreational partnership
- A tribe member leading the practice of ux, a sacred mating ritual
- Literally nest-friend. More directly a sexual partner
- Sun. Also the first month of the Argonian calendar. 
- Bowl of the Sun. An ancient Argonian ruin in northern Murkmire. 
- Sun-Eater. name of devotees to the vampire Shuxaltsei. 
- Ritual of Change
- Literally, the Ghost People. Denoting Ghost-People tribe of Murkmire
- Persnickety. Somebody who is fussy or particular
- An organ/bagpipe-like instrument popular in Murkmire, played with live frogs of various species.
- Roughly translated as big-mouthed reptile of blood lightning
- Literally the Bright-Throats. A tribe of Murkmire
- A type of vulgar interjection, when used in context it seems to mean "dammit"
- Translates into Mere-Glim. An Argonian name
- Sacred plant. Twelve plants considered sacred to the Black-Tongue tribe
- Xal Ithix
- Sacred unknown. a settlement in Shadowfen, named after the nearby ruins. 
- Sacred egg
- Sacred nest. Where Argonian eggs are tended to
- Sacred change. Created at Xinchei-Konu monument
- A term for the ancient stepped pyramids found in Black Marsh
- Seed doll. A wood figurine typically carved by members of Bright-Throat Tribe, depicting local animals or tiny Argonians
- A type of vulgar interjection, equally common is "xuth" 
- An ancient Argonian calendar. Also refers to the monument constructed for it
- An Argonian village in Black Marsh
- An Argonian tribe which resides in the Ruins of Mazzatun
- Presumably the name of a poisonous plant found in Murkmire
- Presumably the name of a poisonous plant found in Murkmire
- Death-unknown. An ancient city made of black stone found in Black Marsh
- Death-hunt. A challenging hunt for a dangerous beast
- Snake-Means-Death City. Literally death snake, an ancient Argonian city in northern Murkmire
- Grave-stake. A stake pierced through a dead Argonian, telling a story of their life
- The Deceased. As well as twelfth month of the Argonian calendar
Phrases and sentences
This section contains known complete Jel sentences.
- "Gulvo vakka-lo Kajin-Jat!" — Kassandra
- "Vakka reelsh vastei buseek xal!"
- "Delaw ruheeva wuxa vastei bok tar-sakka!" — Jekka-Wass Vozei, keeper of Xinchei-Konu performing the Vastei-Sei ritual
- "Sa kot xulneihavu! Sithis tchee shu kronkassa."
- "U Hist-greel kota norg-xeech."
- "Ruheeva u xul-vahat!"
- "Waxhuthi! Norgsa oj!" — Shuxaltsei, priestess of Sithis
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad The Sharper Tongue: A Jel Primer — Lights-the-Way, Mystic of the Mages Guild
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p The Infernal City — Gregory Keyes
- ^ a b Jee-Lar's dialogue in ESO
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Xukas's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b c d Ku-Vastei: The Needed Change — Lights-the-Way, Mystic of the Mages Guild
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kyne's Challenge: A Hunter's Companion
- ^ a b c d e A Culinary Adventure — Rallaume Lemonds, Culinary Crusader
- ^ a b c d e f g Famia Mercius' dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b c d e f g Jekka-Wass Vozei's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o The Seasons of Argonia — Jekka-Wass Paxalt, Keeper of the Xinchei-Konu
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jaxsik-Orrn's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b Waku-Mat's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b c d Loremaster's Archive: Murkmire Q&A
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Shuxaltsei's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b Xal Ithix in ESO
- ^ a b Crafting Motifs 9: The Argonians — Doctor Alfidia Lupus
- ^ a b c d Keshu: From Egg to Adolescence — Peek-Ereel, Friend and Confidant to Keshu the Black Fin
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tribes of Murkmire — Emmanubeth Hurrent, the Wayfarers' Society of Wayrest
- ^ a b Dradeiva's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b c Bolu's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Ojei, a mutated Argonian found in Blight Bog Sump
- ^ Jaxsik-Orrn's dialogue during Whispers in the Wood
- ^ a b Teeba-Hatsei
- ^ a b c Norg-Tzel loading screen text in ESO
- ^ Ux-Deelith Mezatil's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel: Black Marsh — Flaccus Terentius, 2E 581
- ^ a b c d Children of the Root — Solis Aduro
- ^ Haj-Ei in Morrowind
- ^ Captive's Journal
- ^ Beel-Ranu's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Choixth's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ a b Ajim-Jaa's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Nurhei's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Nisswo Uaxal's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Keshu: The Rites of Maturity — Peek-Ereel, Friend and Confidant to Keshu the Black Fin
- ^ Swallowed Grove loading screen text in ESO
- ^ Meewulm's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Aliskeeh's greeting in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Cite error: Invalid
<ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
- ^ Farewell Note
- ^ a b Vakka-Shuxalt Amulet
- ^ Trea and Veraan's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Na-Kesh's Journal — Tree-Minder Na-Kesh
- ^ Na-Kesh's dialogue in ESO
- ^ Heem-Jas's dialogue in ESO
- ^ Something About Stibbons quest in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Description of the Vakka Tablet quest item
- ^ Iskenaaz's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ On Playing the Frogs — Toralf
- ^ Kassandra's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- ^ Teeba-Hatsei
- ^ The Xit-Xaht tribe in ESO
- ^ a b Quest item text in Empty Nest
- ^ Lost Tales of the Famed Explorer — Solis Aduro
- ^ Xul-Thuxis loading screen text in ESO
- ^ Grave-Singer Ki-At's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire