The Chakobsa Language

The following passages include all mentions of the Chakobasa language in the Dune books.


“Tongues are the Bene Gesserit’s first learning,” Jessica said. “I know the Bhotani Jib and the Chakobsa, all the hunting languages.”

“I know the Dark Things and the ways of the Great Mother,” Jessica said. She read the more obvious signs in Mapes’ actions and appearance, the petit betrayals. “Miseces prejia,” she said in the Chakobsa tongue. “Andral t’re pera! Trada cik buscakri miseces perakri —”

Mapes took a backward step, appeared poised to flee.

“I know many things.” Jessica said. “I know that you have borne children, that you have lost loved ones, that you have hidden in fear and that you have done violence and will yet do more violence. I know many things.”

She seeks an answer from me: the meaning of a knife. She’s called the Shadow in the Chakobsa tongue. Knife, that’s “Death Maker” in Chakobsa.

“Cignoro hrobosa sukares hin mange la pchagavas doi me kamavas na beslas lele pal hrobas!”

It was Chakobsa, one of the ancient hunting languages, and the man above them was saying that perhaps these were the strangers they sought.

“Kushti bakka te.”

More Chakobsa, Jessica thought.

The companion pressed two squares of gauze into Stilgar’s hand. Stilgar ran them through his fingers, fixed one around Jessica’s neck beneath her hood, fitted the other around Paul’s neck in the same way.

“Now you wear the kerchief of the bakka,” he said. “If we become separated, you will be recognized as belonging to Stilgar’s sietch. We will talk of weapons another time.”

She turned the word over in her mind; sietch. It was a Chakobsa word, unchanged from the old hunting language out of countless centuries. Sietch: a meeting place in time of danger.

“Ima trava okolo!
I korenja okolo!”

Jessica translated silently: “These are ashes! And these are roots!”

“Jamis carried thirty-three liters and seven and three-thirty-seconds drachms of the tribe’s water,” Chani said. “I bless it now in the presence of a Sayyadina. Ekkeri-akairi, this is the water, fillissin-follasy of Paul-Muad’Dib! Kivi a-kavi, never the more, nakalas! Nakelas! to be measured and counted, ukair-an! by the heartbeats jan-jan-jan of our friend...Jamis.”

Jessica, pulled into the end of the troop by eager hands, hemmed around by jostling bodies, suppressed a moment of panic. She had recognized fragments of the ritual, identified the shards of Chakobsa and Bhotani-jib in the words, and she knew the wild violence that could explode out of these seemingly simple moments.

Jan-jan-jan, she thought. Go-go-go.

...the Chakobsa way

BHOTANIJIB: See Chakobsa.

CHAKOBSA: the so-called “magnetic language” derived in part from the ancient Bhotani (Bhotani Jib—jib meaning dialect). A collection of ancient dialects modified by needs of secrecy, but chiefly the hunting language of the Bhotani, the hired assassins of the first Wars of Assassins.

Dune Messiah

Sietch. The ancient Chakobsa word absorbed him: a place of retreat and safety in a time of peril.

Stilgar moved across the steps, hid the ghola from Paul’s view. In Chakobsa, the hunting language of their sietch days, Stilgar said: “That creature in the tank gives me the shudders, Sire, but this gift! Send it away!”

In the same tongue, Paul said: “I cannot.”

Children of Dune

“Danger. Must see you.” It had been written in a variant of the old Chakobsa where the particular word chosen to denote danger signified a plot.

“It can wait forever,” Jessica said, speaking in Chakobsa, her words double-barbed to tell Alia that no argument would stop the death command.

And Alia lapsed into the most ancient Chakobsa, the Atreides private language with its difficult glottal stops and clicks...

In their baskets those new garments sent by Farad’n conveyed a purpose well understood by both of them. Ghanima had accented this knowledge by sewing their personal motto, “We Share,” in Chakobsa above the hawk crest at each breast.

This quote shows that — by the time he released Children at least — FH considered the Fremen (Arabic-based) language to be different from Chakobsa:

“Koolish zein,” Leto said, voice soft. This is all the good we may ever have. And he added, speaking in Chakobsa, the Atreides battle language: “Here I am; here I remain! We cannot forget that, father.”

Heretics of Dune

Recognition leaped into her awareness: one word — inscribed in ancient Chakobsa, “Here.”

This was no ordinary “here” to mark an ordinary place but the accented and emphatic “here” that said: “You have found me!” Her hammering heart emphasized it.

Odrade rested her handlight on the floor near her right knee and let her fingers explore the threshold beside that ancient summons.

Again, she sent the light beam along the mounded melange. Her attention was drawn to the strip of wall above the spice. More words! Still in Chakobsa, written with a cutter in a fine flowing script, there was another message:


The words “God Emperor” were not in Chakobsa but in the language of the Islamiyat, where they conveyed an explicit second meaning to any speaker of that tongue:

“Your God and Your Emperor because you made me so.”

She followed Duncan down into a shallow swale beside the bole of a giant pilingitam and, when people arose out of the darkness to drag them down, she almost responded in berserker mode but a voice speaking Chakobsa in her ear said: “Friends!” This delayed her response for a heartbeat while she saw the decoys continue the flight out of the swale. That more than anything else revealed the plan and the identity of the people holding them against the rich leafy smells of the earth. When the people slid Duncan ahead of her into a tunnel aimed at the giant tree and (still in Chakobsa) cautioned speed, Lucilla knew she was caught in a typical Teg-style audacity.