Language Help Desk 45

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Magradhaid 01/Dec/2006 at 10:35 AM
Imp of Umbar Points: 7957 Posts: 8204 Joined: 13/Sep/2008
   Mo ( 14421 Points ) Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 18:08
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Suil a mae govannen, mellyn! ("Greetings and well met, friends!" in Sindarin)


A word about "Elvish"
There is no one language called “Elvish.” There are many different languages spoken by the Elves, including: Quenya, Sindarin, Telerin, Nandorin, and Avarin. Only two of these languages were developed enough by Tolkien to be spoken or written: Quenya and Sindarin. The one being spoken in the movies is David Salo’s standardized Sindarin, although there are a few lines in Quenya.

Where can I learn Quenya or Sindarin?
Thorsten Renk’s Sindarin and Quenya courses (available in several languages) can be found at Parma Tyelpelassiva (he also has an Adűnaic course), and there is a Quenya course by Helge Fauskanger at Ardalambion. There are some basic Sindarin grammar lessons on the Rivendell kingdom pages.

What is the difference between Quenya and Sindarin?
Both languages developed from a common beginning. Sindarin is the language spoken by the Elves who remained in Middle-earth. Quenya is the language of the Elves who journeyed to Aman, the Blessed Realm where the Valar live. In Middle-earth, Quenya is only studied in books, much like Latin today (though it was the native tongue of the Noldor in Middle-earth, who learned Sindarin after arriving), while Sindarin is used for daily communication. Most Quenya words end in vowels, whereas Sindarin words mostly end in consonants. Listen to Tolkien read Namárië in Quenya.

Where can I learn about all of these languages?
The site with the most information on the most Tolkienian languages is Ardalambion.
Parma Tyelpelassiva also has several articles about several different Tolkienian languages. The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship publishes a journal called Vinyar Tengwar and has some informative articles. Books on Sindarin and Quenya become obsolete with the publication of new information from Tolkien’s notes and papers. Many internet websites offer incorrect information. There are excellent email discussion lists called ELFling and Lambengolmor, with all posts archived and searchable. Another email discussion list, TolkLang, is long since dead but still searchable and archived, as there are numerous bits of information on it that will be of interest to the linguistic-minded. There is an analysis of Adűnaic at Lalaith’s Middle-earth Science Pages.

Where can I find a Sindarin or Quenya dictionary?

Didier Willis’ Hiswelókë Sindarin Dictionary is an excellent resource; there is a Beta version online with a wordlist in English, German, and French. There is a program form called Dragon Flame for PC’s, and also a handy PDF version, though v2.0 dates from 2003 and has some outdated forms that we now know to be misreadings/misspellings (like thenid/thenin), as well as a few editorial changes now realized to be incorrect (like listing mudas as a noun). There is an excellent Quenya word list at Ardalambion also.

What did they say in the movies?
For everything you could possibly want to know about languages in the movies, go to Gwaith i-Phethdain.

How do you pronounce these languages?
You can go to Ardhon Ellammath for a Sindarin pronunciation guide and audio files of some of the linguistic corpus, or Glǽmscrafu where many, many passages from Tolkien’s linguistic corpus (Quenya, Sindarin, Noldorin, Khuzdűl, Telerin, Valarin, etc.) are read in audio files. You can hear Tolkien recite a piece of a Quenya verse here.

Can I find out what my name is in Quenya or Sindarin?
You can go to Quenya Lapseparma for many names translated into Quenya. If you want your name in Sindarin, find the meaning of your name at Behind The Name and then ask someone here to translate it for you! Taramiluiel has translated many Real Life names into Sindarin. They’re available at Tara’s Home. But
beware of the name generators at The Barrow Downs and These give random elements from Sindarin and Quenya, and do not actually translate your name; you can type in gibberish, and it will still give you a "translation".

What books or sites are not to be trusted?
The Languages of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, by Ruth Noel, is out-dated and terribly inaccurate. Also The Grey Company does not teach Tolkien’s languages, but used them to create their own language. Be wary of any site that does not specify between Quenya and Sindarin. and should be avoided, as they are very inaccurate.

How can I learn to write the script that is on The One Ring?
This is called the Tengwar. It is just a script, not a language. You can find out about it at Amanyë Tenceli or from Per Lindberg’s excellent Guides. For examples of how numerals were written in Tengwar, see Dan Smith . Also, if you wish to carve out ’runes’ or Cirth, go to Omniglot; the Angerthas Daeron, Angerthas Moria, and Angerthas Erebor can be found here. How to write Rúmil’s Sarati can be found here. An excellent article on the history of these scripts and their different Modes and uses, can be found here, though you need the fonts Tengwar Parmaitë, Tirion Sarati, and Cirth Erebor to read it. A document of the known tengwar samples can be found here. You can see how to write in the Runes of Gondolin as well as a full English mode of the Tengwar here.

Where can I find fonts to write with the tengwar?
You can find Tengwar Parmaitë at Amanyë Tenceli, as well as a few for the Sarati and Valmaric scripts, and others at Dan Smith’s Fantasy Fonts. Also worth looking at are Elfica and Gothika, and the cursive font found on the One Ring. Do not download the incorrect font Tengwar Gandalf.

How do I put accents above my letters?
You can find symbols for Old English here, other lowercase symbols (including vowels with macrons) here, and lots of different symbols for different languages here (you just have to look around a bit).

What about Tolkien’s other languages, like Dwarvish and Entish, can I learn those?
No, not really. Tolkien did not develop these languages well enough to be spoken or written; but Tolkien did "represent" Rohirian with the Mercian dialect of Old English/Anglo-Saxon, like he "represented" Westron with English and the language of Dale as Norse.

Help Desk 42
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<Lang Mod edit>: Links now fixed and updated, with new ones added; the few no longer available anywhere have been deleted.
Karis Ziranphel 30/Dec/2006 at 11:09 AM
Page of Ithilien Points: 3633 Posts: 2669 Joined: 15/Nov/2002
Tyrhael ~ I was wondering if you could answer a question I’ve had for some time now. I know that Tolkien did not develop the language of men (Adunaic) to the extent he did Quenya or Sindarin, but would you know where I could find out more about it? As I recall there used to be a short "dictionary" of all known Adunaic terms on the Gondor site, but I can no longer find it. To be true to my character, I would like to learn as much Adunaic as is possible in addition to brushing up on Sindarin (since I don’t recall Tolkien doing much in Westron). I would appreciate any insight that you have.
Magradhaid 30/Dec/2006 at 12:41 PM
Imp of Umbar Points: 7957 Posts: 8204 Joined: 13/Sep/2008
There’s a bit on Adűnaic here, and also here. There’s also a course for it here.
Karis Ziranphel 31/Dec/2006 at 12:52 AM
Page of Ithilien Points: 3633 Posts: 2669 Joined: 15/Nov/2002
Thank you Tyrhael!
Pellaćarien 31/Dec/2006 at 07:45 PM
Fletcher of Lothlorien Points: 1325 Posts: 622 Joined: 19/Dec/2005

*wanders in and blushes shyly* Hi... not sure if this is the right thread for this... I was originally going to post it in translation, but I realised halfway though that it wasn’t a translation point, it was a grammar point, so here I am...

I was wondering... is the situation in Quenya like to the one in Sindarin with no explicit word for "to be"? I ask because I was attempting to translate the phrases Don’t fear, love. All will be well. for something I was writing, and got as far as Alcaure, melme. Ilye... and then I was stuck. Because I don’t know the future tense of "to be", or even if there is one. Is there some sort of prefix that can be stuck onto well (as in good) so that it becomes the future tense of the verb?

Magradhaid 31/Dec/2006 at 08:15 PM
Imp of Umbar Points: 7957 Posts: 8204 Joined: 13/Sep/2008

Don’t worry about the "right thread"; this is fine. There is a verb ’to be’ in Quenya; the future tense is nauva. However, with your translation, "Don’t fear" needs to be an imperative (i.e. a ’command’ form), and caurë is a Qenya noun rather than a verb. I’d suggest Áva rucë "Don’t fear", with the negative command particle-thingy áva in front of the verb rucë "feel fear or horror". Also, melmë is "love" in the sense of the abstract emotion. "Love" as in a person would be melindo "lover (masc.)" or melissë "lover (fem.), or meldë "friend (fem.)" or meldo "friend (masc.)". And "well" as an adverb, i.e. "Well met" or a verb done "well" would be mai. For "good" there is mára "useful, fit, good (of things)" and mánë "morally good". And I think "all" as a noun would simply be ilya, though there’s illi in later sources.

All in all, I’m glad you tried doing this yourself first; are you trying to learn Quenya, or was this a one-time thing in order to translate a phrase?

So I would say Áva rucë, meldë / meldo (or melissë / melindo). Ilya nauva mára.

Pellaćarien 01/Jan/2007 at 05:45 AM
Fletcher of Lothlorien Points: 1325 Posts: 622 Joined: 19/Dec/2005

Thank-you, Tyrhael!

Well, I did do a stint of learning Quenya a few years ago and didn’t get past lesson 20 (there just wasn’t enough time) and then a little while later I picked up Sindarin and ran with it, so I know more Sindarin than I do Quenya... so I do know enough to translate the little phrases that everyone wants you to say when they find out you "speak" quote on quote an Elven language, but that’s about it. I have an Elven-Quenya dictionary and I’ve downloaded Dragon Flame, plus started reading over Thorsten Renk’s Sindarin course, and they’ve helped me immensely on more than one occasion. I use the books, as well as some stuff from Fellowship of the Wordsmiths (Namely, the Linguistic Soundtrack Textbook and the Linguistic Dialogue Textbook) the latter being one of my own complilations from the info on the site.

There, more information than you wanted, right? Sorry. I guess therein lies my problem, because I just translate the words without having any idea of the meaning... I should pay closer attention to the dictionary - I should have seen that wasn’t a noun... ah well...

Thanks again!!