Languages of Arda
The Languages of Arda are artificial languages invented by
J. R. R. Tolkienand used in his legendarium, including " The Hobbit", " The Lord of the Rings" and " The Silmarillion". They are important as an inspiration for his imaginary world and as a method for giving a realistic linguistic depth to names and special words that is generally lacking in fantasyand science fictionstories.
In discussing the languages Tolkien invented, it is necessary to consider two aspects: their "primary world" history, namely their actual development by Tolkien as a
philologist, and their "secondary world" history, namely their imagined historical development in the history of Middle-earth.
Tolkien was a professional philologist of ancient
Germanic languages, specialising in the Old English language. He was also interested in many languages outside his field, and developed a particular love for the Finnish language(he described the finding of a Finnish grammar book as "entering a complete wine-cellar filled with bottles of an amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before", " The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien", number 214).
Finnish morphology (particularly its rich system of
inflection) in part gave rise to Quenya. Another of Tolkien's favourites was Welsh—and features of Welsh phonology found their way into Sindarin. Numerous words were borrowed from existing languages, but less and less obviously as Tolkien progressed, so that attempts to match a source to a particular Elvish word or name in works published during his lifetime are often very dubious.
Language-making was Tolkien's hobby for most of his life. He is known to have help construct his first language (Nevbosh) at a little over thirteen and he continued to ponder upon his creations up until his death more than sixty-five years later. Language invention had always been tightly connected to the mythology that Tolkien developed, as he found that a language could not be complete without the history of the people who spoke it, just as these people could never be fully realistic if imagined only through the
English languageand as speaking English. Tolkien therefore took the stance of a translator and adaptor rather than that of the original author of his works.
Although the Elvish languages
Sindarinand Quenyaare the most famous and the most mature languages of those that Tolkien invented for his mythology, they are by no means the only ones. They belong to a family of Elvish dialects, that originate in Common Eldarin, the language common to all Eldar, which in turn originates in Primitive Quendian, the common root of Eldarin and Avarin languages. In addition to that, there is a separate language family that is spoken by Men, the most prominent member of which was Westron(derived from the Númenóreanspeech Adûnaic) or the "Common speech" of the peoples of " The Lord of the Rings". Most Mannish tongues showed influences by Elvish, as well as some Dwarvish influences. Several independent languages were drafted as well, an example being the Khuzdullanguage of the Dwarves. Other languages are Valarin(the tongue of the Valar), and the Black Speechcreated by Sauronduring the Second Age.
Although the study of Tolkien's languages is as a rule not taken seriously by mainstream linguistics, a number of serious scholars have worked on compiling all that can be recovered about their histories and grammars.
An early book dedicated to Eldarin is "An Introduction to Elvish" by Jim Allan (published by Bran's Head Books), written before the publication of "
The Silmarillion" in 1977and therefore mostly outdated.
There are several journals dedicated to the subject:
Parma Eldalamberon, Vinyar Tengwarand Tengwestiëare published by the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship.
Tyalie Tyelellievais published by Lisa Star.
Quettar, Bulletin of the Linguistic Fellowship of The Tolkien Society, edited by Julian C. Bradfield.
Websites on the subject include Ardalambion, created and maintained by [http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/whoami.htm Helge Fauskanger] . Hosted by the
University of Bergen, it has been online since 1997. Tolklang, Elflingand Lambengolmorare mailing lists dedicated to Tolkien linguistics.
"Further information:" "
Lhammasand Elvish language"
In the history of Middle-earth, the tongues of the Elves are separated as part of the speakers emigrate to
Amanwhile others stay behind, leading to a split of Quenya(High-Elvish, or Elf-Latin) and Sindarin.
Therefore it may be noted that such tongues in turn may have contrasted due to dislike among the elven kindreds. For example, the leader of Sindar Grey Elves (Elwë Singollo) had an ardent hatred of the house of Fëanor due to their many ill deeds, and would not permit their tongue to be spoken in his domain. One may deduce from this that Sindarin may well have changed further over the years due to this. Naturally, Noldorin itself was changed even more as a result of the folly and pride of its speakers.
The invention of writing is attributed to
Rúmil, who first invented an alphabet: the Sarati(literally "letters"). Fëanorlater enhanced and further developed this alphabet into the Tengwar, which were spread to Middle-earth by the Noldorand remained in use ever after. Daeronof Doriath, independently of Rúmil and Fëanor, had invented the Cirthrunes. These were only used for inscriptions, and otherwise replaced by the Tengwar, except among the Dwarves.
An important source of Middle-earth linguistic scholarship is
Pengolodhof Gondolin who wrote in Quenya. He is the author of "Quendi and Eldar", the " Lhammas" and " Osanwe-kenta".
In Quenya, "lambë" is the term for spoken language or verbal communication while "tengwesta" is a more abstract term for a system or a code of signs and may be translated as "grammar"....
Writing and spelling
Sindarin and Quenya are often written in the "
Tengwar" script, which Tolkien especially devised for them, or alternatively in the rune-like " Cirth". When Middle-earth languages are written with the Latin alphabet, either acute accents (á, é, í, ó, ú) or circumflexaccents (â, ê, î, ô, û, ŷ) mark long vowels depending on language or other convention. The diaeresis(ä, ë, ö) is normally used to mark that a short vowel is to be separately pronounced, that it is not silent or part of a diphthong. For example, the last four letters of "Ainulindalë" should be sounded as if spelled "dah-leh" in English rather than as "dale" and the first three letters of "Eärendil" represent something like "eh-ahr" rather than the English word "ear". (But occasionally, especially when writing proto-Eldarin forms, Tolkien used the macronto indicate long vowels and the dieresis on ä, ö, and ü as in German to indicate "i"-modification or "e"-modification.)
In the "Lord of the Rings", Tolkien adopted the literary device of claiming to have replaced the original
Westronwith English. This device of rendering an "imaginary" language with a "real" language he carried further, rendering Rohirric, related to an older form of Westron, by Old English, and names in the tongue of Dale in the north of Rhovanionby Old Norse forms, thus mapping the genetic relation of his fictional languages on the existing historical relations of the Germanic languages. A natural consequence of this is that the languages thus "replaced" were never worked out by Tolkien in any detail because they never appeared in the texts.
List of languages
Avarin languages (at least six languages)
Sindarin(at least three dialects, namely Northern, Doriathrin and Gondorian)
#****Nandorin languages (influenced by Avarin)
#Mannish languages (all showed influence by Avarin tongues as well as
#*Languages of forefathers of the First and Third Houses of the
Westronor "Common Speech" (influenced by Sindarin, and languages of Eriador)
Hobbitish (influenced by languages of Northmen)
#****Black Adûnaic of
#**Languages of Men of
Eriadorduring the Second Age
#*Language of forefathers of the Second House of the Atanatári
#**Language of the Drúedain of
#**Language of the Woses of
#*Many tongues of
#Languages of Dwarves:
#Languages of the Ents
#Languages of the Ainur (Valar and Maiar)
Black Speech, created by Sauron
#Languages of the Orcs
#Various debased forms of the
Black Speechand regional dialects influenced by Westron
#Primitive methods of communication
#*Language of the Trolls
#*Language of the Wargs
*H. Fauskanger, [http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/ Ardalambion - a source for the languages of Arda]
*C. F. Hostetter, "Tolkienian Linguistics: The First Fifty Years",
Tolkien Studies4 (2007).
*L. Star (ed.), [http://www.geocities.com/tyalie/tyaljour.html Tyalië Tyelellieva] , ISSN 1539-7238.
* [http://www.jrrvf.com/~glaemscrafu/texts/index-a.htm Glǽmscrafu - a site with recordings of most Tolkien languages]
* [http://www.elvish.org The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship: Publishes the journals Parma Eldalamberon, Tengwestië, and Vinyar Tengwar]
* [http://www.elvish.org/FAQ.html The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship's Tolkienian Linguistics FAQ]
* [http://www.elvish.org/resources.html The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship's Resources for Tolkienian Linguistics]
* [http://www.omentielva.com/otatya.htm The Second International Conference on J.R.R. Tolkien's Invented Languages]
* [http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/misc/local/TolkLang/ the Tolkien language mailing list]
* [http://www.lotrlibrary.com/ The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Library]
* [http://www.jerekdain.com/tolkien.html Tolkien information: Languages, Elves, the Ainur, and the Valar]
* [http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/ Ardalambion]
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