Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's the End of the World and I'm searching for the Secrets of Kalimag

There I was, in the dark tent of the fortuneteller of Darkmoon Faire. Hesitatingly I pointed at three cards, not daring to look into her eyes as she would reveal my destiny. Her verdict was short, just two words, which she spitted out with a hissing voice. "Learn Kalimag". And then she made it clear to me that there was no room for me to ask any question. There was a long queue of Azerothian adventurers waiting outside. My time was over.

I nodded and gave her a faint smile before I fled, anxious to not reveal that I didn't have a clue about what she just had told me.

Kalimag? WTF?

It sounded vaguely Japanese to me. Could it be some kind of ancient martial art form, officially lost in the tide of history, but in fact kept alive within a small circle of chosen knowledge keepers who pass it on from generation to generation until the End of the World when it will be needed again? It might come handy considering the current situation in Azeroth.

On the other hand I'm a mage, not a warrior. The oracle if anyone should know that. So maybe this was in fact a school of magic - the next upcoming level in my climbing in the ranks of mages. Even someone who is exalted with Kirin Tor hasn't learned all of their secrets. For all I knew I might be nothing more than an initiate in their eyes. Perhaps the power of Kalimag was awaiting me, if I only could find the path to it.

What Kalimag is
So what is a gnome looking for the Truth and Knowledge to do? I did what anyone else of you would have done. I consulted Wowpedia (the new home of Wowwiki, in case anyone has missed it.) And it turned out that Kalimag is neither about fighting or magic. It's the standard language for all elementals.

I nodded to myself. It made sense. There had been a lot of elementals around recently. They sure seemed to be aggravated for some reason. But all my efforts to make them come to their senses had been blatantly ignored until now. The only answer for my invites to a friendly discussion had only been met by yet another angry whirl and a knockback. If I only could get my hand on a book of Kalimag, perhaps I could make a breakthrough in our communications. Or, if my peace invites were ignored, I could secretly spy on them, learning about their plans on beforehand.

So far I must admit that my mission to learn Kalimag has been far from succesful, It's not as if there's an abundance of resources to consult. While Klingon has its own academia, with published books such as a translation of Hamlet, I couldn't find a single translated word from Kalimag to English. According to Wowpedia, it's only spoken by "a few scholars", since the natives speakers "are rarely encountered in any sort of friendly capacity". And obviously those few scholars have kept their secrets well.

Kalimag in game
So what do we see of Kalimag in WoW? Most of the time we encounter elementals in WoW they don't say a thing. They just whirl. There is one quest though, Escape from Coilskar Cistern, where you help Earthmender Wilda to get out of a cave. After a while you're joined by five friendly elementals, who all will tell you: "Kranu sto aer'rohgmar", but what this means remains a mystery.

There has been a speculation that the Living Fire who on one occasion says: "Reth reth reth" in fact says: "Burn burn burn". However, in another quest, there's a manifestation of water who says: "Ma reth bromo zoln kilagrin dra ma zoern tu ko fraht ko kadrom Ma krin drinor zoln drinor Ma krin kan aasrugel korsul", using the word "reth" again. Why would a water elemental talk about burning stuff?

Things are complicated by the fact that there are several different dialects of Kalimag, one for each type of elements. So it's possible that words could have different meanings depending on the context.

From Wowpedia can also learn that Kalimag occurs in an inscription on the pedestal of Frostmourne. The writing read: "Whomsoever takes up this blade shall wield power eternal. Just as the blade rends flesh, so must power scar the spirit". Since Muradin Bronzebeard can read the text on the dais, you can draw the conclusion that he's one of those scholars who knows Kalimag. Now if we only could find a way to persuade him to share this knowledge?

The odds are against it, since Kalimag actually doesn't exist in the game files as a real language, at least not in the sense you would hope. There is an in-game "translator" which uses an algorithm to make words "look like" Kalimag. For instance a four letter word will come out as "drom", "drae", "fmer" or a bunch of other examples and a word with nine letters would be transformed to for instance "ahn'torunt", "brud'remek" or "dor'dra'tor". But algorithm mechanisms is not the same thing as a real translation if you ask me.

Continuing research
I have to be honest with you. From the research I've done so far, you can all see that learning Kalimag isn't an easy task. This doesn't mean that I've given up on it though. Hereby I invite everyone to join me in the search for the secret language of the elementals!

You know what to do. Let's go back to Karazhan and check out those books scattered all over the floors! Maybe we missed some? Let's examine every inch of the library in Scarlet Monastery; perhaps there was a hidden room where they kept the only existing copy of the Lexicon of Kalimag? Keep your eyes open at all hours; before you'll know it, the book will spawn right in front of your eyes.

I don't see that we have any choice. We have to follow our destiny and listen to the advice of the mighty fortuneteller. Who knows what curses she might put on anyone who dares to defy her?

PS. On a more serious note it made me a surprised and happy gnome to see that they made use of the Darkmoon Faire concept in the marketing campaign of Cataclysm. I haven't seen anything about it but it has brought back my hope that they'll finally come around and give it the revamp it has needed for a long time.


Klepsacovic said...

Perhaps the water elemental was saying to put out fire.

Charles said...

My shaman says [Kalimag] Reth Reth Reth whenever she summons her fire elemental, and always has done - she only learned how to summon him after meeting his younger "cousins" in Nagrand. She's not quite sure what it means but he seems to enjoy it. An enjoyment expressed through burnination.

(Well, except all the times he just stands there scratching his fiery butt. Or runs over to some random monster to play 'tag'. Or stands in lethal boss AoE. My shaman's fire buddy is a somewhat enigmatic sort, really.)

spinksville said...

That's very cool.

My reading said (I kid you not), "You will meet a mysterious dark winged stranger who will burst forth from the crust of Azeroth."

"Sounds like my kinda guy", thought Spinks.

Ephemeron said...

"Reth" means either "burn" or "fire" in Kalimag. Probably even both.

Akycha said...

Mine was very wierd. "Don't sleep, gnomes will eat you." o.O

One thing I miss about EQ2 is the ability to learn languages. My Dirge(a type of Bard) knew every language you could learn and believe me some of those were awful grinds.

Nils said...

I always wanted to understand what some demons in the game say in 'demonish' by having a warlock cast his curse of tongues on me.

But haven't accomplished this yet.

Thelandira said...

Great read! And I wish you much success on your endeavor of learning the secrets of Kalimag.

Charles, I loved your comment. Very witty.

Hmmmm....Spinks & a dragon? I guess it could happen. I mean, in Shrek they mated a Donkey & a dragon...so I guess it could work.

Akycha, you wouldn't by any chance be a Tauren would you? I can't imagine why gnomes would want to eat anyone...except Taurens for all the "gnome punting" they do.

I think it would be wonderful if Blizz were to implement some way for us to learn other languages. Whether it be from finding hidden books or quests. For as long as I can remember we've always had a "language proficiancy" (sp?) in our characteristics tab, but have never had a way to unlock another language and build it up. I mean, when I'm on my Nightelf I would love learn Dwarvish to be able to tell if those drunken Dwarves are talking about my large ears or my silly dance.

Larísa said...

@Klepsacovic: hm... that would make sense I suppose :)

@Charles: He doesn't seem to be too bright, tbh, as demonstrated by the rather limited vocabulary. Reth Reth Reth... sounds a bit like a crow, doesn't it?

@Spinks: What a wonderful one-liner! :)

@Ephemeron: And all we know is one word... Makes that language easy to learn I figure? But with Deathwing coming, it maybe is all we need to know?

@Akycha: Maybe leaper gnomes? i swear I'm innocent!

@Nils: Keep trying! Learning a new language takes a ton of patience, as we all know.

Larísa said...

@Telandria: I think the ability to learn a certain language would fit perfectly well into the archaeology profession. Maybe you could get benefits from it - being able to transcript inscriptions/interprate strange letters on artifacts... whatever. They say they see big opportunities for expanding that profession, so who knows, maybe we'll see something like that i the future.

Prelimar said...

RIP King Magni, speaker of Kalimag: http://www.wowpedia.org/Magni_Bronzebeard
: (

Kurnak said...

To me kalimag didn't sound japanese, but hindi (after all, they have Kali-ma, the Goddess of Change and Time, wife of Shiva the Destroyer, God of Death)
I've always missed learning other languages in WoW, at least the ones spoken by other races of your faction.

Grainger said...

Maybe a bit simplistic, but did you go to the elementals in the Throne of Elements?

Stop said...

So the reason 'burn' looks like 'reth' along with other words of that length is simple: it's the way the WoW auto-translator works. Basically, when someone says something in a language you don't understand, it's not a one-to-one translation: it's based on word length.

Take Orcish, for instance. It's a well-known fact that 'lol' translates to 'kek' for non-orcish speakers, i.e., Alliance. However, there are a LOT of things that will translate to kek - just about any 3-letter word, actually. There are a set number of words for each word length, and the translator just swaps one in, usually the same nonsense word for the same real word.

For example, a three-letter word in Orcish can become Kek, but it can also become Lok, Tar, Kaz, Ruk, Mog, Zug, Gul, Nuk, Aaz, Kil, Ogg. None of these have specific meanings: they just happen to fit a certain length. (Incidentally, once you get up to 13 letters, your choices are fewer: Khaz'rogg'ahn or Moth'kazoroth, to be exact.)

Shintar said...

"Learn to swim. See you down in Tanaris Bay." Not the worst advice I've ever received. ;)

Bronte said...

I speak Kalimag. Every time I have come across an elemental who greets me with a "Hello, Whirl, Knockback". I respond with a "Hello, Whirl, Battlehammer-to-the-Face".

Seems to work out with me making my point quite clearly most of the time.

Fitz said...

At least you got something interesting. My message was one word long.


Yep, that's it. My cards appeared to say Berserker, Death, and the Horde. Your guess is as good as mine, but run seems like a good suggestion for someone who has been primarily alliance when those three terms are at hand.

I'd prefer "Stand and Fight" but I suppose it will take us some time to figure out how to slay a world-changing dragon.