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Red Eye
11-25-2014, 01:18 AM
So, my wife is going to be playing a Dalish in our campaign, and she wanted to be able to say some things in Elven from time to time for flavor. Being the kinda guy that I am I whipped this up for her (though it will help for me too when I try and portray other Dalish as them GM). Figured I might as well share it here for others.

Dalish Lexicon (http://www.otherfamily.net/webmaster/red/dragonage/Dalish%20Lexicon.pdf)

It is not really all inclusive or even terribly extensive, but it covers some phrases in a few common conversational contexts to help add a little flavor here and there. GMs of course would be encouraged to look up other phrases to use that they might need at different times (and so are players for that matter, but this handy little reference guide can still cover a bit).

shonuff
11-25-2014, 06:29 AM
The DA wiki also has a lot of words and phrases.

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Elven_language

The problem with Elvish is that it is a half-dead language. Iirc, even if you know it, it's pidgin.

eliastion
11-25-2014, 07:24 AM
This is not that well established, I'm almost sure there were dalish claiming to be exclusively dalish-speaking among themselves.

My take on the topic is that differences among clans are HUGE. Their take on what it means to be keepers of elven lore and culture would probably differ greatly from keeper to keeper, from clan to clan... Relevant to this particular area there would be two main philosophies:
1. Purist approach. Elven language needs to be recovered/protected. They teach their children words and phrases, they try to gather what can be recovered, but that's terribly incomplete but avoids contamination. They see their progressive bretheren as weak, willing to turn on their heritage.
2. Progressive approach. Elvish is a language, it's purpose is to be means of communication. Elven culture did not end with the Dales - it's alive and changing and the past should be treated as something you draw your strength from, not something you're constrained with. Among progressive clans there could well emerge a modern dalish, with new words for new things (or replacing lost words), with lots of words borrowed from trade tongue, orlesian or tevene...
Thet way there could be clans that remember elvish - and those that actually use elvish as their everyday language, though the former and latter wouldn't necessarily be the same tongue - the latter being greatly extended from the stub that known ancient elvish had become.

Please, do take note that the above is entirely my interpretation, the only canonical basis is that elvish tends to be treated/mentioned as language too incomplete to be used while there alsa had been claims made by some dalish that "at home" they use trade tongue only to communicate with outsiders.

Darkdreamer
11-25-2014, 08:51 AM
1. Purist approach. Elven language needs to be recovered/protected. They teach their children words and phrases, they try to gather what can be recovered, but that's terribly incomplete but avoids contamination. They see their progressive bretheren as weak, willing to turn on their heritage.

Problem with these folks is they're almost certainly kidding themselves; given the Tevinter were influenced by the ehlvahlen so much, and the elves spent so much time under the Tevinter, what they think is elvish is almost certainly cross-contaminated by Old Tevern and they don't even realize it.

shonuff
11-25-2014, 09:48 AM
This is not that well established, I'm almost sure there were dalish claiming to be exclusively dalish-speaking among themselves.

My take on the topic is that differences among clans are HUGE. Their take on what it means to be keepers of elven lore and culture would probably differ greatly from keeper to keeper, from clan to clan... Relevant to this particular area there would be two main philosophies:
1. Purist approach. Elven language needs to be recovered/protected. They teach their children words and phrases, they try to gather what can be recovered, but that's terribly incomplete but avoids contamination. They see their progressive bretheren as weak, willing to turn on their heritage.
2. Progressive approach. Elvish is a language, it's purpose is to be means of communication. Elven culture did not end with the Dales - it's alive and changing and the past should be treated as something you draw your strength from, not something you're constrained with. Among progressive clans there could well emerge a modern dalish, with new words for new things (or replacing lost words), with lots of words borrowed from trade tongue, orlesian or tevene...
Thet way there could be clans that remember elvish - and those that actually use elvish as their everyday language, though the former and latter wouldn't necessarily be the same tongue - the latter being greatly extended from the stub that known ancient elvish had become.

Please, do take note that the above is entirely my interpretation, the only canonical basis is that elvish tends to be treated/mentioned as language too incomplete to be used while there alsa had been claims made by some dalish that "at home" they use trade tongue only to communicate with outsiders.

It's fairly canonical that Elvish as a language was pretty much obliterated by the Tevinter. The original Dalish were trying to recover it but they were destroyed by the Exalted March. Some Dalish might know more than others, but I'm pretty sure that it's fairly established that few (if any) can speak complete Elvish. Maybe Flemeth.

Red Eye
11-25-2014, 11:29 AM
The DA wiki also has a lot of words and phrases.

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Elven_language

The problem with Elvish is that it is a half-dead language. Iirc, even if you know it, it's pidgin.
Indeed, and thus the small amount of detail provided here (much of which was gathered or built off of info on the Wiki). Most of what is included in the document are things that we have a good amount of precedent established in the CRPGs of Dalish using these specific terms in daily conversation. The few that aren't directly used in the CRPGs themselves are ones that seemed to still fit the general context of how the Dalish use Elven these days. We have yet to see any Dalish speak exclusively in Elven (as the language is too dead to compensate that), but almost all of them say some phrases in the language.

The context that seems to be established mostly in the lore of the CRPGs (and of which the RPG has also followed) is that the ability to read and write in Elven is the art nearly lost and that typically only Keepers hold the knowledge of. Many Dalish are still able to speak Elven to some degree though (thus the RPG allows us to take Elven as a spoken language but not one that can be read, something that BioWare approved before the product was released).

Didn't expect so much debate or discussion over this one, honestly, but awesome that it did. Hope a few of you folks might find this handy to have you your tables. If anyone hasn't peeked it contains the Elven word or phrase, how to pronounce it, how it is used in current context, and the literal translation from Elven into Trade Tongue (much like the details provided on the Wiki since that is what I used as an inspiration and resource to compile this up, along with the site they linked discussing Elven in greater detail).

shonuff
11-25-2014, 12:08 PM
There's also this link, but I haven't really gone over it too much:

http://archiveofourown.org/works/359253/chapters/582281

Red Eye
11-25-2014, 12:15 PM
That is actually that other site I was mentioning that I used as a reference while building this. Using those two sites one could really make a lot of Elven Phrases they could use (or their players could), but for the premise of the document I figured keep it to a few per conversational area. GMs and players can always work out more details using those sources if they want something additional. Thanks for dropping in the link though, awesome resource.

eliastion
11-25-2014, 01:15 PM
It's fairly canonical that Elvish as a language was pretty much obliterated by the Tevinter. The original Dalish were trying to recover it but they were destroyed by the Exalted March. Some Dalish might know more than others, but I'm pretty sure that it's fairly established that few (if any) can speak complete Elvish. Maybe Flemeth.

As I said, I'm pretty sure I encountered an example of dalish elf claiming that his clan does indeed use elvish as their primary language. Though, admittedly, I don't remember where exactly it was so - quite obviously - I also can't point you to that source.
Still, if someone does find it or just likes the idea - my analysis may apply or provide some ideas for their own approach. To tell you the truth, it seems to me kinda fishy that nobody would try to restore elvish - seeing how diverse the Dalish as people are, taking into account the fact that they are supposedly at least capable of forming sentences (so the problems seem to lie in incomplete vocabulary rather than anything else) and considering very real contact with immortal spirits and - possibly - Fen'Harel himself. And wouldn't at the very least SOME clans try to switch to elvish even if they had to force themselves and pull half of the words straight out of their... you know. They had seven hundred years to do that - that could actually be enough time for some strange mix of elvish and trade tongues to pretty much become a brand new language even without conscious planning...


Problem with these folks is they're almost certainly kidding themselves; given the Tevinter were influenced by the ehlvahlen so much, and the elves spent so much time under the Tevinter, what they think is elvish is almost certainly cross-contaminated by Old Tevern and they don't even realize it.
Yep, the most ancient version of language that would plausibly be to any extent recoverable (without relying on some spirits to pretty much teach you the language if you find some that know it) would be Dalish. Still, the magic exists, so it might not be THAT hopeless. Some ancient elvish-speaking ghosts are encountered in DA:O. Perhaps some spirits/ghosts could be found that would both know and be willing to teach the language in its ancient form?
Still, by normal means dalish is as far back as you can really go. Though, even with no magic and "resurrect the language of Arlathan" agenda... would it really be the first time ideology defeated common sense? :D

shonuff
11-25-2014, 01:56 PM
That's just it: they tried to restore it. But it had been some 800 years between the enslavement of the elves and the founding of the Dales. Not only that, but the Tevinter attempted to eradicate elvish culture, so they started with the language. Furthermore, you had the hundreds of years of blights, which decimated everyone. Finally, it's been 1200 years since - with a further fragmented culture and even more blights.

Not the best foundation for the restoration of a language.

Darkdreamer
11-25-2014, 04:59 PM
Yep, the most ancient version of language that would plausibly be to any extent recoverable (without relying on some spirits to pretty much teach you the language if you find some that know it) would be Dalish. Still, the magic exists, so it might not be THAT hopeless. Some ancient elvish-speaking ghosts are encountered in DA:O. Perhaps some spirits/ghosts could be found that would both know and be willing to teach the language in its ancient form?
Still, by normal means dalish is as far back as you can really go. Though, even with no magic and "resurrect the language of Arlathan" agenda... would it really be the first time ideology defeated common sense? :D

There's no reason to think those ghosts don't date from the post-Tevinter period. They might have a slightly better form than the modern Dalish, but that still doesn't mean its full blown ancient Elven.

eliastion
11-25-2014, 10:27 PM
@Darkdreamer
Here I need to disagree. Among things we've seen in the game itself, there were a ghost of a child crying for his mam in elvish. If that doesn't prove they were speaking elvish as primary language there - I don't know what counts.

@Shonuff
I'm not sure where you got the 1200 years from fall of Dales, around 900 would be more appropriate - but that's beside the point.
Either way, "hundreds of years of blights" sounds nasty, but after the fall of Dales, there were exactly three blights including the 5th that ended within two years (or was it a year?) and affected (possibly) a handful clans - and even them mainly because they actually decided to take part.
Dalish culture is fragmented - but that's exactly why some of them would get some pretty extreme ideas into their heads. It's just bound to happen. Also, Dalish seem to be much more numerous and have potentially better communication (when needed) than it might seem - on really short notice they managed to gather locally present clans to form a considerable army during 5th blight. Also, they travel a lot, some clans travel long distances (like "walking around the sea through most of Ferelden, whole of Orlais, cross Nevarra and deep into Free Marches in a couple years" long) so we can assume that a clan really focused on some idea can - in a couple years of time - tap into pretty much any and all related resources Dalish have access to. And one of those resources is diverse magical tradition.
I don't say that it would be easy, or that replacing currently used language with something bordering on exotic and/or artificial isn't a crazy idea. I just say that someone was bound to have it - and act on it. And then some people would like it.

Still, that's one of those things GM would think about and decide for his world on his own. If he even has to - in fact, unless you have a really dalish-centered adventure, you don't really need to know all those things. You can even have a dalish PC and play the whole campaign through without actually establishing how much of elvish do Dalish know ;) They won't speek much of it among people either way.




And, as another elvish-related topic (also concerning the restoring-half-dead-languages-is-hard problem) - one thing I figured would probably be true is about elvish alphabet. Note that it's another speculation (if there are any official sources on that, please let me know :) ) but it seems to me that main elvish alphabet would probably not be phonetic one, but rather something more similar to chinese. Just think of it - why would Keepers not share secret of writing with their people? The obvious answer would be: they're actually pretty bad at it themselves. They know some symbols and can try to guess the ones they don't know, but they can't really apply their knowledge of language much. Even if they know what a symbol would more-or-less mean, they still can't speak the word. Even if they know the word - that gives them little to no idea of how the symbol would look like. It's like two distinct languages...
The fact that elvish "likes" creating words by combining shorter words probably helps a bit (as it would make sense that symbols are likewise connected into "bigger" symbols) - but it's still playing puzzles rather than actually reading anything.

shonuff
11-25-2014, 10:29 PM
Also, the ghosts encountered are more fragments than cognizant entities - they could even be demons imitating what they were able to witness while the Veil was thin. Furthermore, the Dalish typically don't interact with spirits.

Darkdreamer
11-25-2014, 11:39 PM
@Darkdreamer
Here I need to disagree. Among things we've seen in the game itself, there were a ghost of a child crying for his mam in elvish. If that doesn't prove they were speaking elvish as primary language there - I don't know what counts.


How do you know that was Elvish, rather than simply the Dalish language (which could easily be the elvish/Old Tevern pidgeon I referred to) spoken after the elves were freed? Or put bluntly, no, I don't think that proves a thing, because we don't have anything to compare it to.

Red Eye
11-25-2014, 11:43 PM
I did not expect such a scathing debate based on a little document that essentially just contains phrases we have repeatedly heard Dalish characters use in the CRPGs so a player could properly pronounce them and get the context they should be used in when playing a Dalish. I chuckle a bit every time I come into this thread, but I imagine the reason the developers like leaving loopholes in things is for these exact reasons.

Carry on, I just felt the need to toss in that quick interjection.

eliastion
11-26-2014, 12:06 AM
How do you know that was Elvish, rather than simply the Dalish language (which could easily be the elvish/Old Tevern pidgeon I referred to) spoken after the elves were freed? Or put bluntly, no, I don't think that proves a thing, because we don't have anything to compare it to.
Even if it were dalish from the Dales, that doesn't really change a thing - it was elvish and it was their first language to them.
Also, you might have noticed that all the elven ruins encountered in the game were quite far from Dales and in an area that never has been entirely conquered by Tevinter. It makes little to no sense for Dalish to build, say, an elaborate underground Uthenera tombs far beyond their borders, does it? Also, apparently, it was a place where human and elves supposedly lived together for a period until some enemy/disaster wiped them all (and said disaster was not Tevinter). It was, quite obviously, an offshot of arlathan culture, possibly some enclave of shemlen-lovers or settlement created by runaway survivors after Arlathan's destruction.


I did not expect such a scathing debate based on a little document that essentially just contains phrases we have repeatedly heard Dalish characters use in the CRPGs so a player could properly pronounce them and get the context they should be used in when playing a Dalish. I chuckle a bit every time I come into this thread, but I imagine the reason the developers like leaving loopholes in things is for these exact reasons.

Carry on, I just felt the need to toss in that quick interjection.
Well, you did put together that quick-aid elvish sheet, but you also called the thread Portraying Dalish - and since they are so diverse and there is so much we don't know... Well.

Red Eye
11-26-2014, 12:28 AM
Well, you did put together that quick-aid elvish sheet, but you also called the thread Portraying Dalish - and since they are so diverse and there is so much we don't know... Well.
Oh, no, it is awesome - a pleasant surprise as it were. Wasn't even thinking of the possible discussions the thread title alone might cause, but it is good stuff regardless.

Darkdreamer
11-26-2014, 09:08 AM
Even if it were dalish from the Dales, that doesn't really change a thing - it was elvish and it was their first language to them.
Also, you might have noticed that all the elven ruins encountered in the game were quite far from Dales and in an area that never has been entirely conquered by Tevinter. It makes little to no sense for Dalish to build, say, an elaborate underground Uthenera tombs far beyond their borders, does it? Also, apparently, it was



And yet its in an area where human construction has also been found.

[/quote]

a place where human and elves supposedly lived together for a period until some enemy/disaster wiped them all (and said disaster was not Tevinter). It was, quite obviously, an offshot of arlathan culture, possibly some enclave of shemlen-lovers or settlement created by runaway survivors after Arlathan's destruction.
[/quote]

Or it was a post-Tevinter settlement destroyed in the course of the Exalted March; if the humans involved had started worshiping the elven gods, they'd have gotten no more tolerance than the elves would have.

eliastion
11-26-2014, 09:37 AM
Sorry, but have you looked at the map? Those ruins are half the continent - and one massive mountain range - away from Dales (and Exalted March that destroyed the latter... and hardly fits description of "terrible presence").
Additionally, said ruins are an uthenera-related temple-tomb, while one of the things that elves never reclaimed is their supposed immortality from Arlathan times - and there can be no uthenera with post-tevinter elvish lifespan. Basically, as post-tevinter settlement, the ruins make no sense - not when you look at their function, not when you look at their geographical position, not when you look at their architecture and scale, impressive to say the least when compared to what's the norm in Ferelden...
And yes, I could come up with some elaborate explanation so that it would somehow be plausible - but why would I do that when Arlathan-offshot theory is both simple and consistent?

Either way, we've strayed quite far from the topic. Regardless of your refusal to consider that lost child crying for mom in elvish most likely uses said elvish as her first language - it is not a topic we should discuss for a whole page here ;)

shonuff
11-26-2014, 11:10 AM
Dark dreamer is possibly correct. There are post destruction settlements of elf/humans in the Brecilian forest. The ruins where the Elluvian are found have both cultures present, according to Merrill in the Dalish origin. What is unknown, however is whether the two Brecilian ruins are connected. They appear visually similar, but that could just be graphical limitations of the games.

The elves did make it into Ferelden as they were in Cad'halash before it was destroyed and rebuilt as Cadash Thaig, depending on where it was, exactly.

Darkdreamer
11-26-2014, 11:26 PM
Either way, we've strayed quite far from the topic. Regardless of your refusal to consider that lost child crying for mom in elvish most likely uses said elvish as her first language - it is not a topic we should discuss for a whole page here ;)

By the point that happened, it could be his first language again, since the elves were in reconstructionist mode; that still doesn't mean it was the original elvish any more than modern French is original Latin.

As for the location, I'll just let Shonuff field that one; I acknowledge it isn't a given, but I think with the data we've been given my assumption has as much or more support than yours.

eliastion
11-27-2014, 01:44 AM
Ok. Once again. I was pretty sure that the tomb-ruins WERE a (part of) human-elven settlement. It makes no sense, however, for them to be post-tevinter. We have monumental structures here, ones I would frankly be a bit surprised to find in Dales, much less somewhere beyond their borders. But these structures had to be built sometime and by someone - and the most plausible scenario seems to be: when Arlathan was still a thing; or not that long after that. Chronologically the ruins would be late Arlathan or early Tevinter - but not post-tevinter. That's why the child's language would most likely be arlathan elvish.

Having said that - even if it was not the language of Arlathan, for whatever reason - it would still be a complete language. If by some bizzare chain of events the ruins were actually as young as Darkdreamer implies - the child speaking elvish would be proof that there was actually a working - living - elvish language at the time (whatever the time was). Its proximity to the ancient dialect has no bearing on this basic fact.

And, just to wrap up my viewpoint - even if we assume the child to be speaking a post-Tevinter dialect, that actually changes little for (im)possibility of learning more of arlathan elvish. The ghosts seemed to have vanished after Warden's visit, so - either way - aspiring dalish linguists would need to look for other sources. Some ancient enough ghosts could possibly be found somewhere and ghosts were only one of the sources I mentioned - spirits seem to be immortal, so it's basically the problem of finding correct ones that would both posess and be willing to share their knowledge of the ancient language. Of course, such an endeavor is much harder than putting what you have together, guessing or borrowing what you lack and thus creating - out of sheer stubbornness rather than any practical reasons - "modern dalish" language. There is a reason why I suggested that "traditionalists" would perhaps have gramatic and some words while "progressives" would actually have a langage that could be used on daily basis.

Darkdreamer
11-27-2014, 03:54 PM
Having said that - even if it was not the language of Arlathan, for whatever reason - it would still be a complete language. If by some bizzare chain of events the ruins were actually as young as Darkdreamer implies - the child speaking elvish would be proof that there was actually a working - living - elvish language at the time (whatever the time was). Its proximity to the ancient dialect has no bearing on this basic fact.



I never was arguing there was no possibility of a elvish language; just that it was likely significantly different than the original Arlathan tongue, same way most modern latinates are quite different from old Latin. Keep in mind that when I use the term "pidgeon", English is effectively a pidgeon, just one of some antiquity at this point.

eliastion
11-29-2014, 04:36 AM
I never said that "progressive" dalish (the ones that in my vision of the world actually speak elvish) use the same language Arlathan - or even Dales - did. I just pointed out that DA setting has some supernatural means that would make reconstructing ancient language less of an impossibility than it would be by mundane means. So the dream of "traditionalists" - resurrecting the language as it was - isn't as futile as it would be in our world (in magic-less setting a language 2000 years old is in most cases completely unsalvagable even without anyone actively fighting it at any point; in fact, our knowledge of latin - a staple of dead language - is pretty limited, especially as far as speaking it, rather than writing, goes).

In fact, to state it clearly, once agian, I believe there are (read as: there are in "my DA" and it makes sense to me that there should be) at least three languages that we could name "elvish".
1. Arlathan elvish, dead as doornail. Possibilities of even encountering it are quite limited, still some "archeology" and/or magic make it possible. That's what some of traditionalists aim for.
2. Dalish elvish, as in language of the Dales. This language was half-alive at best - it was an attempt at reconstructing arlathan elvish, but obvious problems (like 800 year gap...) hindered the effort. Some elvish descendants that survived outside Tevinter borders (I'm sure there were some, Elvhenan spanned Thedas and some ancient ruins are encountered in places Tevinter never truly reached) preserved some of the language, but 800 years means a lot of time and the few survivors were probably much weaker and less organized than modern Dalish. Basically, attempts at reconstruction were tedious, weeding out impurities - nigh-impossible and as such, the language was used mostly by linguists and not really to conduct everyday communication in Dales. Still, dalish elvish is the purest and most complete what can realistically be recovered by relatively mundane means and that's what current traditionalists are really reconstructing.
3. Modern dalish, stemming from reconstruction created in Dales. Possibly quite diverse with pretty distinct dialects due to relative isolation of clans - differences are bound to appear in evolving (a.g. not dead) language used by distinct groups of people that interact only occasionally. Still, this language - as opposed to its predecessor - is alive. It's being actually used for communication and is quite capable of incorporating new words and ideas. It has, however, relatively low level of "purity" - lots of words borrowed from several human languages as well as completely new words replacing ones forgotten.

WamblingWombat
11-29-2014, 11:02 AM
As a referee, the choice of how old ruins are in the Brecilian should fit whatever inspires your imagination. Adhering to canon is useful until it gets in the way of a good story (yeah, I prefer "telling it good" to "telling it right" ... sorry, Arthur).

Our ref has overhauled the werewolf canon (as best we can tell, the curse came from Fen'Harel posing as Mythal), postulated a degenerate race of elves living under the Brecilian, and dropped an annulled Circle Tower in the forest. All these changes tell us we cannot depend on history unfolding exactly the same as in the CRPG.

Debating the canon is engaging and useful for framing your decisions though. I've certainly enjoyed reading the thread.

eliastion
11-30-2014, 02:33 AM
It's only natural that every GM makes decisions, changes things to have a better story/better setting for his story... or sometimes because he wasn't aware of some detail, decided otherwise - it would be ridiculous to change setting mid-campaign to incorporate some obscure piece of information.

But, back to Dalish. To be true to the thread name, I'd like to mention a couple other, non-linguistic issues, things I thought about that concerned Dalish as people.
WARNING: own ideas and opinions ahead.
1. First of all, there is Arlathvhen. The idea seems easy enough - inter-clan meeting every decade or so. But then, problems arise. Arlathvhen can have place in different places every time - but it's always one place at a time. Can we really expect each clan to go there? And if they did go there - how the hell would they go more-or-less unnoticed? It ties a bit with my next point, so I'll leave it for a moment, but there seems to be quite a lot of them, a gathering like that would be a huge logistic problem - just as you can't really gather a HUGE army with no special ideas about how to feed them all... That's probably the limit of clan size - there's only so much food you can gather by hunting and other nomad-friendly means, the amount of work needed to feed twice as many people is not twice the amount... and at some point you just can't find enough game. And then, if logistic problems somehow disappeared, there is also distance. Thedas is big and speed at which a clan can travel is limited - they need to gather food on the way and they have children and elderly among them, even with aravels and halla they would probably need years to cross Thedas. Are we to expect that they start journey to next arlathvhen a couple years prior? It's supposedly about 10 years from one another - they would spend halff their time travelling to the place...
Basically, I consider Arlathvhen more of a symbol. Probably every time a couple clans are present, then representatives of many others. And probably many (if not most) clans attend - in any form - only once a couple decades. If ever, since there probably are some that don't give a damn, especially among those devolved to savagery and/or banditry. It's still a huge event, but tempered by constraints of reality of nomagic life the Dalish lead.

2. I believe there are a lot of Dalish. Really a lot. Just imagine, in a few months, they mustered an army on par with Orzammar contingent. Of course, the latter didn't train its military completely, but neither did the Dalish - each had their people to protect too and in case of Dalish their warriors also double as hunters (or rather: their hunters double as warriors). So, a couple clans that managed to band together on short notice, with they supposedly weak inter-clan communication (they had to actually find each other first) managed send something that can be actually considered an army. How many of them - including non-combatants - had to be? How many more were in the general area but couldn't be contacted in time? How many are there in whole of Thedas?
I think it's to some extent the problem with Fremen on Arrakis - everyone underestimates heavily the population, possibly even the population itself. I wouldn't be surprised to find out there are millions of them. And yes - with estimated population of Ferelden around one million. I quietly believe one of dalish tragedies is that were they actually to unite, they could easily wage war against, literally, any single nation in Thedas. I think they could bring Orlais to its knees. However, that will never happen, because they are simply too diverse and too fragmented - they might feel the connection and not fight each other but that doesn't mean they could all actually work together. Or even gather. And then there is the fact that, were the miracle happen and Dalish Nation actually united, they would after a couple victories face an Exalted March - just as Dales did. Dales was possibly the most powerful nation of its time - we all know how it ended for them... It's one thing to fight, say Orlais, and another entirely to face more-or-less united human Thedas...

3. On a bit more upbeat note - I think some dalish clans are quite good at beekiping. They don't really get much opportunities to grow wheat or wines, do they. But how could they exist without some alcohol? ;) So, here's the explanation: Dalish bring with them their bees. Thus they get honey and - on that base - they produce mead :D
Ok, but a bit more seriously - what do the dalish eat? Meat, that we know. Probably some fish. Possibly some things they can buy/take from humans. But that's not very varied. I think that, based on their usual area of operation and extent to which they travel, there are several possibilities:
- honey
- half-wild fruits, possibly even planted by dalish in places that would be revisited once in a while - though that would requie predictable to some extent reavelling patterns, not all clans would be happy with that
- some quickly-growing eadible plants that could be actually grown and eaten in span of a few months, though clans eating like that would probably make longer than most stops during vegetative period
- wild rice, provided there is some in Thedas
- vegetables that can be found in the wild, most clans would probably supplement their diet like that to varying extent

4. There is an interesting problem of dalish craft, especially when it comes to smithing. It's not that easy to build a moving forge - could it be that Dalish actually use extensively magic in this area? They definitely forge their own weapons, even though they have to buy metal to do it - and it makes much more sense for them to use some extreme means to simulate a proper forge rather then settle for some stopgap. They have whole art of ancient elvish smithing to recover, after all...

5. Trade - we know that Dalish need to buy metal, possibly some human food (grain, fruits and the like) to make their diet more varied, some other material that is hard to come by. What do they actually have to sell? Well, there are, possibly, animal skins and the like, meat is unlikely since they trade occasionally and the meat would need to be sold quickly. There are some works of dalish craftsmanship, but many clans would probably be reluctant to sell them (and woe to any Dalish that tries to sell some antique if his people find out). Another tradable article would be herbs - I believe there are quite a few kinds that humans have scarce access to, at least compared to Dalish. Possibly Dalish would be also willing to "sell" their skills in some cases - there are some kinds of wood that only the Dalish can craft but not always have easy access to - I believe they could be quite open to idea of crafting something from provided material just to hone their skills (and, well, get some compensation for the clan ;) ). And, were a clan in a bit tighter spot - but in possession of raw materials taht they actually should be more capable of gathering than any lucky humans - it's not unlikely that they could sell some ironbark thingies they crafted if the price was right - and we know such rare things can be worth much more than they should were just their usable qualities considered.
Oh. And I forgot dalish mead :D It would probably have distinct taste AND be quite rare in human lands - that's reason enough to get lots of money/goods for it. And if someone is willing to pay, well - why not sell some. And buy a truckload of human wine for every little barrel of mead. I guess Dalish have little choice but to be practical when opportunity strikes.