Queekish, is the chittering and hasty language of the Skaven. Skaven dialogue is often littered with a hodgepodge of rapid squeaks and trills. Queekish words are short, clipped, and often repeated several times in a row in an effort to add emphasis to statements. Due to the speed with which Queekish is spoken, long sentences are often broken up into several fragments. As such, these fragmentary sentences must be pieced together to form coherent thoughts, especially during long stretches of dialogue.
The written form of Queekish consists of several thousand pictograms, each representing a single word or concept. Most Skaven know the most important pictograms, while only a few can recite them all. As new discoveries are made, new pictograms are devised. Many are so similar as to be indistinguishable to the untrained eye. Writing is accomplished by the use of a sharpened stylus or an extended claw. Many Skaven records were kept on wax or clay tablets, but the use of ink on parchment has become increasingly popular with the Grey Seers and Master Moulders.
The Skaven are able linguists and many learn the languages of the Old World so they may better deal with their slaves and enemies. Though they see other languages as inherently inferior to their own, they find they are valuable tools in the advancement of their cause. Their linguistic habits of repetition and quickly-spoken words carry over to the other tongues that they learn. A Skaven’s voice is often high-pitched, squeaky, and displays a somewhat whiny character. Conversely, many slaves of the skaven pick up queekish.[2a]
ScentScent also plays a strong a role in Skaven communication. The Skaven exude several different musks, depending on their emotional state. Though secretion of these musks is largely involuntary, many Skaven learn to hide their emotions from their companions by will alone. Only a handful of surface dwellers are able to distinguish between different Skaven musks. To the majority of non-Skaven, the Ratmen stink of urine and wet fur.
The most common Skaven musk is referred to as the Musk of Fear. Unsurprisingly, the Musk of Fear is secreted when a Skaven is frightened. Though most Skaven are in a nearconstant state of anxiety, they only exude in truly terrifying circumstances. This, of course, depends on the individual Skaven, for some are better able to face their fears than others. In any case, what frightens one Skaven may not necessarily frighten another.
The Musk of Fear is a tool of survival, and it allows a single Skaven to warn his fellows that something is horribly wrong. When displayed between individuals, it is almost always a sign of deference, indicating that the Skaven who exudes the musk is, for whatever reason, displaying overwhelming awe and fear towards his leader. On the battlefield, however, the Musk of Fear can cause a warlord’s best-laid plans to collapse. Units of Skaven Clanrats have been known to rout to the last Ratman once the Musk of Fear spreads through their ranks.
The second most common Skaven musk is known as the Musk of Battle. The Musk of Battle is scented when a Skaven community has reached its upper limit in regards to population density and availability of food. More acrid than the Musk of Fear, it signals a slow but steady rise towards war for a warren, and rides the foul air of a Skaven nest until battle is joined or the situation improves. Entire populations of Skaven have been incited to fury by this stink.
- 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Children of the Horned Rat (pg. 40-41).
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th ED -- Core Rulebook
- 2a: pg. 125