:"Note: some of the tengwar used in this article may not display properly unless tengwar fonts are installed."Infobox Writing system
typedesc=abugida or alphabet according to mode
time=1930s–present (in-universe, Years of the Sun)
creator=J. R. R. Tolkien (in-universe, Fëanor)
languages=a number of the fictional languages of Middle-earth, including Quenya and Sindarin

Tengwar is a script that was invented by J.R.R. Tolkien. In his works, the tengwar script, invented by Fëanor, was used to write a number of the languages of Middle-earth, including Quenya and Sindarin. However, it can also be used to write other languages, such as English (most of Tolkien's tengwar samples are actually in English). The word "tengwar" is Quenya for "letters". The corresponding singular is "tengwa", "letter".

Internal history and terminology

According to "The War of the Jewels" (Appendix D to "Quendi and Eldar"), Fëanor when he created his script introduced a change in terminology. He called a letter, i.e. a written representation of a spoken phoneme ("tengwë") a "tengwa". Previously, any letter or symbol had been called a "sarat" (from "*sar" "incise"), especially the alphabet of
Rúmil of Valinor on which Fëanor supposedly based his was known as sarati, but became later also known as "Tengwar of Rúmil". The plural of "tengwa" was "tengwar", and this is the name by which Fëanor's system became known. Since, however, in commonly used modes, an individual "tengwa" was equivalent to a consonant, the term "tengwar" in popular use became equivalent to "consonant sign", and the vowel signs were known as "ómatehtar". By loan-translation, the tengwar became known as "tîw" (singular "têw") in Sindarin, when they were introduced to Beleriand. The letters of the earlier alphabet native to Sindarin were called "cirth" (singular "certh", probably from "*kirte" "cutting", and thus semantically analogous to, and cognate with, Quenya "sarat"). This term was loaned into exilic Quenya as "certa", plural "certar".

External history


The sarati, described in "Parma Eldalamberon 13", a script developed by J. R. R. Tolkien in the late 1910s, anticipates many features of the tengwar, especially the vowel representation by diacritics (which is found in many tengwar varieties), different tengwar shapes and a few correspondences between sound features and letter shape features (though inconsistent).

Even closer to the tengwar is the Valmaric script, described in "Parma Eldalamberon 14", which J. R. R. Tolkien used from about 1922 to 1925. It features many tengwar shapes, the inherent vowel IPA| [a] found in some tengwar varieties, and the tables in the samples V12 and V13 show an arrangement that is very similar to the one of the primary tengwar in the classical Quenya "mode".

Jim Allan ("An introduction to Elvish", ISBN 0-905220-10-2) compared the tengwar with the "Universal Alphabet" of Francis Lodwick of 1686, both on grounds of the correspondence between shape features and sound features, and of the actual letter shapes.


The tengwar were probably developed in the late 1920s or in the early 1930s. "The Lonely Mountain Jar Inscription", the first published tengwar sample, dates to 1937 ("The Hobbit", most editions). The full explanation of the tengwar was published in Appendix E of "The Lord of the Rings" in 1955.

The "Mellonath Daeron Index of Tengwar Specimina" (DTS) lists 74 known samples of tengwar by Tolkien.

There are only few known samples predating publication of "The Lord of the Rings" (many of them published posthumously):
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS1 DTS 1] – "The Lonely Mountain Jar Inscription", published 1937
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS13 DTS 13] – "Middle Page from the Book of Mazarbul"
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS14 DTS 14] – "Last Page from the Book of Mazarbul, Last Line", this and the above one originally prepared for inclusion in "The Lord of the Rings"
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS15 DTS 15] – "Steinborg Drawing Title"
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS22 DTS 22] – "Ilbereth's Greeting" from The Father Christmas Letters, dating to 1937
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS15 DTS 24] – "The Treebeard Page"
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS50 DTS 50] / [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS51 51] – "Edwin Lowdham's Manuscript" from The Notion Club Papers has Old English language text written in tengwar (with a few Adûnaic and Quenya words), dating to 1945/6.
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS10 DTS 10] – The Brogan Tengwa-greetings, appearing in "The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien", No. 118, tentatively dated to 1948.
*The following samples presumably predate the Lord of the Rings, but they were not explicitly dated: [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS16 DTS 16] , [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS17 DTS 17] , [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS18 DTS 18] – "Elvish Script Sample I, II, III", with parts of the English poems "Errantry" and "Bombadil", first published in the "Silmarillion Calendar 1978", later in "Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien", as well as [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html#DTS23 DTS 23] – "So Lúthien", a page of the English "Lay of Leithan" text facsimiled in "The Lays of Beleriand":299.

A few other samples, e.g. a tengwar mode for Gothic are known to exist, but remain unpublished to date [http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/9902/unpub.html] .

Spelling and pronunciation


Just as with any alphabetic writing system, every specific language written in tengwar requires a specific orthography, depending on the phonology of that language. These tengwar orthographies are usually called "modes".

Some modes, called "ómatehtar" (or "vowel tehtar") modes, are abjads representing vowels with diacritics called tehtar ("signs"; corresponding singular: "tehta", "sign"), while other modes, called "full writing" modes, represent vowels by full letters. These ómatehtar modes can be loosely considered consonant scripts rather than complete alphabets. Some modes map the basic consonants to IPA|/t/, IPA|/p/, IPA|/k/ and IPA|/kʷ/, while others use them to represent IPA|/t/, IPA|/p/, IPA|/tʃ/ and IPA|/k/. Some modes follow pronunciation, while others follow traditional orthography. The "full writing" modes are sometimes called "Beleriandic modes" because a well-known "full writing" mode is called the "mode of Beleriand".

Since the publication of the first official description of the tengwar at the end of "The Lord of the Rings", others have created modes for other languages such as English, Spanish,
German, French, Finnish, Italian, Esperanto and Lojban.

Tolkien has used multiple modes for English, including full writing and ómatehtar alphabetic modes, phonetic full modes and phonetic ómatehtar modes known from documents published after his death.

Tengwar letters

The most notable characteristic of the tengwar script is that the shapes of the letters correspond to the distinctive features of the sounds they represent.

Most letters are constructed by a combination of two basic shapes: a vertical stem (either long or short) and either one or two rounded bows (which may or may not be underlined, and may be on the left or right of the stem).

These principal letters are divided into four series ("témar") that correspond to the main places of articulation and into six rows ("tyeller") that correspond to the main manners of articulation. Both vary among modes.

Each series is headed by the basic signs composed of a vertical stem descending below the line, and a single bow. These basic signs represent the voiceless stop consonants for that series. For the classical Quenya mode, they are IPA|/t/, IPA|/p/, IPA|/k/ and IPA|/kʷ/, and the series are named "tincotéma", "parmatéma", "calmatéma", and "quessetéma", respectively; téma means "series" in Quenya.

In rows of the "general use", there are the following correspondences between letter shapes and manners of articulation:
* Doubling the bow turns the voiceless consonant into a voiced one.
* Raising the stem above the line turns it into the corresponding fricative.
* Shortening it (so it is only the height of the bow) creates the corresponding nasal. It must be noted though that in most modes, the signs with shortened stem and single bow don't correspond to the voiceless nasals, but to the approximants.

Here is an example from the "parmatéma" (the signs with a closed bow on the right side) in the general use:
* The basic sign (with descending stem) represents IPA|/p/ (it happens to look much like the Latin letter "P").
* With the bow doubled, it represents IPA|/b/.
* With a raised stem, it represents IPA|/f/.
* With a raised stem and a doubled bow, it represents IPA|/v/.
* With a short stem and double bow, it represents IPA|/m/.
* With short stem and single bow, it represents IPA|/w/.

There are additional letters that don't have regular shapes. They may represent e.g. IPA|/r/, IPA|/l/, IPA|/s/ and IPA|/h/. Their use varies considerably from mode to mode. Some aficionados have added more letters not found in Tolkien's writings for use in their modes.

Encoding schemes


The contemporary de facto standard in the tengwar user community maps the tengwar characters onto the ISO 8859-1 character encoding following the example of the tengwar typefaces by Dan Smith. This implies a major flaw: If no corresponding tengwar font is installed, a string of nonsense characters appears.

Since there are not enough places in ISO 8859-1's 191 codepoints for all the signs used in tengwar orthography, certain signs are included in a "tengwar A" font which also maps its characters on ISO 8859-1, overlapping with the first font.

For each tengwar diacritic, there are four different codepoints that are used depending on the width of the character which bears it.

Other tengwar typefaces with this encoding include [http://web.comhem.se/alatius/fonts/annatar.html Johan Winge's Tengwar Annatar] , [http://at.mansbjorkman.net/parmaite.htm Måns Björkman's Tengwar Parmaite] , [http://www.geocities.com/enrombell/espeng_dir/Archivos.htm Enrique Mombello's Tengwar Élfica] or [http://tengwarformal.limes.com.pl Michal Nowakowski's Tengwar Formal] (note that most of these differ in details).

The following sample shows the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written in English, according to the traditional English orthography. It should look similar to the picture at the top of the page, but if no tengwar font is installed, it will look a random jumble of characters because the corresponding ISO 8859-1 characters will appear instead.

j#¸ 9t&5# w`Vb%_ 6EO w6Y5 e7`V`V 2{( zèVj# 5% 2x%51T`Û 2{( 7v%1+- 4hR 7EO 2{$yYO2 y4% 7] F85^ 2{( z5^8I`B5$I( 2{( dyYj2 zE1 1yY6E2_ 5^( 5#4^(6 5% `C 8q7T1T W w74^(692^H --
Note: Internet Explorer may not display these characters properly.


A proposal has been made to include the tengwar in the Unicode standard. The codepoints are subject to change; the range U+|016000 to U+01607F in the SMP is tentatively allocated for tengwar according to the current [http://www.unicode.org/roadmaps/smp/ Unicode roadmap] .

Tengwar are also proposed for inclusion in the unofficial ConScript Unicode Registry, which assigns codepoints in the Private Use Area. Tengwar are mapped to the range U+E000 to U+E07F; see External links.

The following Unicode sample (which repeats the one above) is meaningful when viewed under a typeface supporting tengwar glyphs in the area defined in the ConScript tengwar proposal. Some typefaces that support this proposal are [http://www.code2000.net/ James Kass] 's Code2000 and Code2001. (The [http://web.comhem.se/alatius/fonts/tengtelc/ Tengwar Telcontar Unicode font] uses an incompatible version of the proposal.)

                              

Non Middle-earth usage

* Tengwar script appears in a bound volume in the Within Temptation music video for "Stand My Ground", though it appears to be a random selection of letters, with a tehta vowel appearing about every five words or so. Many tengwar are also repeated for no apparent reason.
* Another instance of this stylistic use of tengwar is the computer game ""; again the tengwar are used meaninglessly.
* Spanish footballer Fernando Torres has a tattoo on the inside of his left arm that reads "Fernando" in tengwar.
* Actors Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean have tattoos of the English word "nine" written in Quenya-mode tengwar. Contrary to popular belief, these tattoos do not spell out the "Elvish" (Quenya or Sindarin) word for nine (Quenya nertë or Sindarin neder) but instead simply the letters for the English word "nine" in tengwar. John Rhys-Davies declined the tattoo, but his dwarf body double got it in his place. They had them done after the filming of the film trilogy "The Lord of the Rings", since the characters they played were the members of the Fellowship of the Ring (which had nine members).

See also

* Sarati
* Cirth


* Derzhanski, Ivan A. "The Fëanorian Tengwar and the Typology of Phonetic Writing Systems." "Vinyar Tengwar" 41 (2000): 20-23.
* Hostetter, Carl F. ""Si man i-yulmar n(g)win enquatuva": A Newly-Discovered Tengwar Inscription." "Vinyar Tengwar" 21 (1992): 6-10.
* Smith, Arden R., Irmengard Rauch and Gerald F. Carr. "The Semiotics of the Writing Systems of Tolkien's Middle-Earth." In "Semiotics around the World: Synthesis in Diversity, I-II", ed. Irmengard Rauch, 1239-42. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter, 1997.

External links

* Wikibook on the secondary-world history of the Elven writing systems
* [http://at.mansbjorkman.net/tengwar.htm Amanye Tenceli – The Tengwar] A comprehensive study of the tengwar script
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/mdtci.html The Mellonath Daeron Index of Tengwar Specimina] — a continuously expanding list of all published tengwar samples
* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tengwar.htm Omniglot reference]
* [http://www.dafont.com/tengwar-annatar.font Tengwar Annatar (font)] by Johan Winge
* [http://www.acondia.com/fonts/tengwar/info/index.html Tengwar] by Dan Smith
* [http://www.geocities.com/tengwar2001/ Tolkien Script Publishing]
* [http://www.geocities.com/therealteng/ Real-life tengwar samples]


* [http://symbolictruth.fateback.com/tengwar-arabic-mode.htm Tengwar mode for Arabic]
* [http://endorion.org/languages/writings/bgtehta.html Tengwar mode for Bulgarian]
* [http://tengwar.szm.sk/ct/index.html Tengwar mode for Czech]
* [http://www.ai.rug.nl/~flobbe/tengwar/tengwar_writing_nl.html Tengwar mode for Dutch]
* [http://www.geocities.com/otsoandor/FTMME.htm Tengwar mode for English]
* [http://purl.oclc.org/net/elfico/index.en.html A simpler tengwar mode for English]
* [http://catb.org/~esr/tengwar/ Tengwar modes for Esperanto and Lojban languages]
* [http://www.sci.fi/~alboin/finnishtengwar.htm Tengwar mode for Finnish]
* [http://www.simonrousseau.free.fr/tolkien/teng-fra.pdf Tengwar mode for French]
* [http://dombach.florian.bei.t-online.de/schrift/deutschloth.htm Tengwar mode(s) for German]
* [http://my.ort.org.il/tolkien/gandalf/ps/tengwar.ps.gz Tengwar mode for Hebrew] (PostScript format)
* [http://boroparkpyro.free.fr/stuff/tengwarh.gifTengwar mode for Masoretic Hebrew]
* [http://trimboli.name/klingon/ktengwar.html Tengwar mode for Klingon]
* [http://tolkien.balt.net/tinkle/tengvarlt.html Tengwar mode for Lithuanian]
* [http://www.tengwar.art.pl/ Tengwar modes for Polish]
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_teng_primers.html Tengwar guides for Quenya and Sindarin]
* [http://amdf.pp.ru/tengwar.php Tengwar mode for Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian]
* [http://purl.oclc.org/net/jordi/elfico/index.html Tengwar modes for Spanish]
* [http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_teng_primers.html Tengwar mode for Swedish]
* [http://digitalwords.net/?p=259 Tengwar mode for Welsh]


* [http://wikisophia.org/wiki/Wikitex#Teng WikiTeX] supports editing tengwar directly in Wiki articles.
* [http://std.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n1641/n1641.htm Official proposal to encode tengwar in Unicode]
* [http://www.evertype.com/standards/csur/tengwar.html Tengwar proposal for ConScript Unicode Registry]
* [http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/elfscript/message/30 Proposed corrections to the proposal to encode tengwar in Unicode]
* [http://www.thehutt.de/tolkien/fonts.html Downloadable fonts] Some tengwar and other Tolkien-based fonts available for download
* [http://www.tengwar.art.pl/tengwar/fonty.php A comprehensive list of tengwar fonts] (in Polish, but still useful even if you can't read the language)


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