art by Jake Johnson

Theoryland Resources

WoT Interview Search

Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.

Wheel of Time News

An Hour With Harriet

2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.

The Bell Tolls

2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."

Theoryland Community

Members: 7653

Logged In (1): nicrankimb,

Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,

Theoryland Tweets

WoT Interview Search

Home | Interview Database

Your search for the tag 'languages' yielded 13 results

  • 1

    Interview: Jul, 2009


    Do you think you'll ever develop a language like Tolkien did? Elantris might count, actually, I'm not sure.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maybe. I did a lot of that in White Sand, which didn’t get published. I’ll do more for other books.


  • 2

    Interview: Jan, 2012

    RedRiotRoses (

    What would it take for me to successfully bribe you into writing a sequel to Alloy? I think you may have answered this one before, but where do you come up with your names for all your characters? Thank you! I really love your work.

    Brandon Sanderson (

    I will probably do one anyway.

    It depends on the series. For Mistborn, I build a 'feel for certain regions and develop names using the linguistic rules of that region. The Central Dominance (and Elendel in this book) had a slightly French feel to the linguistics, and many of the names came from that paradigm.

    However, unique to the Mistborn world was the need to give people simple nicknames in a thieving crew sort of way. Wax, Clubs, Breeze, Mr. Suit, all of these are along those lines.


  • 3

    Interview: Sep 26th, 2007

    Aidan Moher

    Another of your complex creations are the Aons you created for Elantris. Where did the inspiration for this symbolic language come from? Did you create all of the designs yourself as you wrote the novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I spent two years in Korea as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One aspect of Korea that particularly interested me was the written language. This interest in Asian writing systems later sparked the idea of Aons. The Aonic symbols at the beginning of each chapter of Elantris increase in complexity as you continue through the book. I did create the designs myself, though luckily Tor had someone who could make them look better than my original messy sketches!


  • 4

    Interview: Oct, 2008

    Pygmalion (19 October 2008)


    I still can't stop thinking that in my head. It's all that's really coming to mind at the moment.

    I made the stupid mistake of finishing the book this afternoon in a public place. Therefore I looked like a complete moron as I burst into tears when Elend died. I think it was a good ending. I'm still not totally decided on that. I'm just in shock.

    It's just so amazing how the books progressed, developing into this huge cosmic epic that I never expected from just reading The Final Empire a year ago. I guess in some sense what I'm feeling is a slight sense of... awe, maybe? I want to know how he comes up with stuff. I mean seriously, talk about not just writing another fantasy series.

    But I'm also shocked that no one else seemed to have figured out that Sazed was the Hero of Ages. I thought it might be him when I started the book, but it could as easily have been Vin or Elend. But at about a third of the way through, page 215 to be exact, there was this line from Sazed thinking in his head:

    "I am, unforunately, in charge."

    Sound familiar?

    "I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages."

    No one else would have used the same wording as Sazed did when he was thinking to himself. I have to assume that was intentional on Brandon's part. It was very subtle... I'm actually surprised I noticed.

    Brandon Sanderson (20 October 2008)

    I'm gratified that you noticed. The Terris dialect IS very subtle. That speech pattern is one hint, the other is the use of "I think" to soften phrases at the ending. Beyond that, Sazed speaks with compound, complex sentences using frequent hedging to indicate that he's often uncertain. (That's another Terris speech pattern, not wanting to offend with language.)

    The epigraphs in this book particularly (though I did it for Kwaan too) are intended to "sound" Terris, and like Sazed in particular. I didn't think anyone would catch it. You made my day!


  • 5

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson

    In this chapter, I also go a little bit into the linguistics of the novel. If you'd been able to figure out that 'Dor' wasn't an Aon, then you were a step ahead of Raoden at this point. I realize it's probably too small a thing to have been of note, but I do actually mention the 'Dor' one time earlier in the book. It's in the discussion where Galladon discovers that the republic has fallen. He says, "Only outsiders—those without any sort of true understanding of the Dor—practice the Mysteries."

    There are a lot of other clues sprinkled through these chapters. If you're really clever, you could probably figure out from this chapter what is wrong with AonDor, and from that extrapolate why the Shaod went bad.

    Anyway, if you want more on linguistics, head over to the 'goodies' section of the website. I've got a whole essay on the languages in ELANTRIS over there.


  • 6

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson

    Some other small notes. First, the proverb about the Lion. It's actually a Korean proverb, one which always stood out to me because it was almost identical to our proverb 'Speak the name of the devil, and he will appear,' referring to someone who arrives right when you were talking about them. The Korean version says "If you say the name of the tiger, he will appear." I embellished this a bit with use of my handy creative licence, and you get what we have here.

    Actaully, from what I've seen, you'd be surpised at how many proverbs span cultures. They may sound a little different, but the meanings are often very similar.

    And, in Kaise's 'Why did YOU have to get sick,' line, you can see a remnant of the cut scene I talked about in the last Sarene chapter. Kaise and Daorn were supposed to be able to go with Sarene into the city, and when I got to this scene, I thought I'd forgotten to add them. So, I came up with the sickness excuse. This was actually an error on my part, since this triad is actually happening several days after the last triad, and the twins got their permission to go with Sarene for the 'next day.' Therefore, their trip into Elantris would have happened during the intervening days.

    Kaise's comment, however, seemed like a nice little nod to things happening in the world off-stage. Things like this give a nice feel to a book, so I left it in—despite the fact that the original scene it was tied to got cut early on.


  • 7

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2004

    Brandon Sanderson

    "Hama," Galladon's word for grandmother, is actually another theft from the real world. One of my cousins has a little son who calls his grandmother 'Hama,' and I always thought it was a cute nickname. The really funny one, however, is when he refers to my grandmother—his great-grandmother. She's Big Hama. (In keeping with this tradition, Sarene's childhood nickname for Kiin is 'Hunkey Kay,' a child's version of 'Uncle Kiin.' This is a spin off of what that same little kid in the real world calls my mother. She's 'Hunky BaBa,' or 'Aunt Barbara.')

    What did I warn you about we writers and filching things?


  • 8

    Interview: Sep 22nd, 2012


    How does one make sense of Spook's High Imperial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One thing about High Imperial, or Eastern Street Slang, is that it was devised by those who spoke it in order to be intentionally obtuse. So it was hard for people to understand. And so there are a lot of nonsense words thrown in the middle. But, it's also got reversed grammar. ‘Wasing the wanting of doing the thing' is ‘I wanted to do that.' But you can also throw random words in there. As long as those parts are in there, it'll make sense to those they're speaking to. ‘I wanted to do this. Wasing the wanting of doing the thing.' You're putting everything into a gerund. You're starting with the verb and the tense. And you're turning everything into ridiculously bad gerunds. That's it in brief.


  • 9

    Interview: Sep 22nd, 2012


    What about Aon Rii? Talk about Aon Rii. What are the random dots? Are they valuable metals?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Honestly, I don't remember. [laughter] I'll be straight up honest with you, I designed the Aons—When I designed the Aons, they all had things like that. Like "Oh, that's what this will be," but I was not as good about taking notes of things then. I didn't have the wiki that I now have.


    What I would give for one hour with that wiki.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I didn't have all of that stuff, so I can say "Yeah, that's going to be valuable metals", and canonize it that way, but I don't remember what I was actually thinking when I designed it. It was my first time doing anything like that, like [?] sort of thing. I hadn't ever done anything like that before, so I was just flying by the seat of my pants.

    In fact, there's a fun story about that, a story I don't think I told during the annotations, I might have. Originally, I wrote it, and used all the Aons as like little things about characters' personalities.



    Brandon Sanderson

    Like Rao is spirit, and Ene (eenee) is wit. Well, all the other ones were things like that, to the point that the traitor character, his Aon's the one that meant Betrayal. Like this, all the characters have little things like that. And then my editor saw it and said "Ah. Do you really want to give away everyone's personality? And who's going to name their kid Betrayal? And I was like "That was really stupid Brandon, why did you do that?" But at the time, I didn't know if I was going to have a dictionary in the back or anything, and so I had to go back and rename almost all of them. I left Rao and Ene, but I renamed almost all the—renamed the wrong word. I shifted all the meanings and things like this so that everyone would have a name that would make sense that you would name a person. And none of them meant anything more than what they actually mean.


  • 10

    Interview: Apr 15th, 2013

    Reddit AMA 2013 (Verbatim)

    Cheese_Ninja ()

    Did Kaladin say the words of the 2nd Ideal of the Windrunners in modern day Alethi or the ancient tongue that Dalinar uses in his visions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He spoke them in his own language.


  • 11

    Interview: Aug 31st, 2013

    WorldCon Flash AMA (Verbatim)

    woodchuck_vomit (August 2013)

    Does "Alethi" come from or have anything to do with the Greek word for truth or is that just a coincidence?

    Less serious: does Hoid have all of his fingers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Alethi is a coincidence. However, it is the sort of coincidence that happens a lot for me in languages, as I often look for a "feel" for a language. Alethi, for example, is a semitic language mashup with some Mediterranean influence. So I'm not surprised if it means something in the right languages. (I did this with Straff and Elend from Mistborn, looking for Germanic-sounding words and accidentally using two words from German.)

    Hoid has had fingers chopped off on occasion. I doubt he's kept them around after the new ones grow in.


  • 12

    Interview: Aug 13th, 2014


    In Well of Ascension, it mentions that the language of Terris had a gender neutral pronoun. If you actually constructed the language, what was that pronoun? Or did you just leave it as its English translation of "it"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I didn't spend a long time on the languages in Scadrial, since most people were speaking the same tongue. I just used "it" in my own writings. Roshar has a lot more detail on the languages, because culture-clash is a bigger part of the theme of the series.