J.R.R. TOLKIEN (–) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings. The languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth, especially his Elvish languages, when Tolkien created his Elvish languages, Quenya and Sindarin remain the most. J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy The Lord of the. Rings was for words and languages, the author's story- and The Road to Middle Earth (Houghton. Mifflin .
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Ruth Noel's The Languages of Tolkien's Middle Earth is outdated. Most of the text from which we derive Quenya grammar has been published since The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth book. Read 70 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. The same delight that led Tolkien to invent. Writing & Language in JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth or: everything I ever needed to know about linguistics I learned from reading The Hobbit Dr. Marc Zender.
Tolkien — , the most popular has always been Quenya. It also seems to be the most highly developed of all the languages Tolkien devised. Until recently, Sindarin was poorly understood, and its complex phonology may daunt fresh students especially if they have no linguistic training. Tolkien, p. However, it should be emphasized that Finnish was an inspiration only; Quenya is in no way a garbled version of Finnish, and only a few words of its vocabulary display any semblance to the corresponding Finnish words. Tolkien also mentioned Greek and Latin as inspirations; we can evidently add Spanish to the list as well. Later one of the clans of the Elves, the Noldor, went into exile in Middle-earth, bringing the Quenya tongue with them.
Quenuvalye i lamber Eldareva. Four words, and three of them are wrong. This should read Quetuvalye i lambi Eldaive. The translation is also wrong. It means 'Thou wilt [not 'canst'] speak the tongues of the Elves'.
It's not true, by the way. We will probably never be able to speak them. Pages Lenition is fundamental to the Sindarin language, and the fact that the word 'lenited' does not even appear in RN's book is a good indication of how little Sindarin can be learned from it. RN says, "If it is hypothesized that these verbs are regular I have never seen a language in which the verb 'to be' is regular, although I suppose there could be some.
The Eldalambengolmor on TolkLang spend endless hours trying to reconcile the various attested forms of past tense verbs, but none of them consists of -e added to the stem. The 'subjunctive' nai is not n-ai , but na-i 'be it that', where i in this case is a relative pronoun.
The pronoun suffix - l met combines the subject -lme 'we' and the object -t 'them'. It is only one of several forms of 'we', the explication of which is another of the favourite topics on TolkLang.
There is hardly a correct Quenya form on these pages, although some of the Sindarin looks OK.
Compound words cannot be formed in Sindarin without knowing the rules for lenition. Unfortunately, no one knows all the rules for lenition. The rule for the Q. Also, lassi is not the plural of las but of lasse ; nor is fanyar the plural of fana but of fanya.
This is not really a possessive genitive, anyway; it is more of a partitive genitive. The possessive ending is -va. RN seems somehow to have missed the allative motion towards prepositional suffix -nna , even though it occurs at least four times in The Lord of the Rings. The examples of Sindarin plurals are OK, but of little help in pluralizing any other words. The sentence structure in nearly all the fragments quoted is governed by metrical considerations, not normal Q.
The rule for pluralizing adjectives is incorrect I think that's enough. Picturing oneself as an Elvish native speaker in Valinor back in the First Age may be overly ambitious.
But it is eminently possible to write quite long Quenya texts if one deliberately eschews the unfortunate gaps in our knowledge, and we can at least hope that some of these gaps especially regarding grammatical features will be filled in by future publications. All in all, this was certainly a good work; the fact that material that has been published after it was written now reveals certain shortcomings, cannot be held against the author.
However, many would like to have a more updated course, and I have repeatedly been approached by people suggesting that I would be the right person to write it. Nonetheless, I have been so privileged that I have been able to spend much time studying these matters starting more than ten years ago , and I see it as my duty to record and pass on whatever insights I may have gained. Hence in the end I sat down and started writing this course, intended for beginners. This conveniently allows me to fill the uncritical, vulnerable minds of fresh students with my interpretation of Quenya grammar, which interpretation I inevitably hold to be the best and most accurate.
Ha ha ha. However, this course does not seek to imitate a Linguaphone-like format with long dialogues etc. Why study Quenya? Obviously not because you are going to Valinor on holiday and need to be able to communicate with the natives.
He referred to. The invention of languages is the foundation. To me a name comes first and the story follows. I now find that many would have liked more. The Letters of J. Tolkien, pp. One may call Quenya and the other languages works of art, but no matter what word we use to describe them, in the end it all boils down 8 to this: Tolkien was not just a descriptive linguist, passively exploring and contemplating pre-existing tongues — he was a creative linguist as well.
It should certainly be able to command interest for its own sake. Some years ago, recognized Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey observed that. And I would not be at all surprised if, you know, there were valuable observations buried in the invented languages.
So there may be, in fact, something which emerges from it. Yet the symphony is fixed in its form, while a language can be infinitely recombined into ever new texts of prose and poetry, and yet retain its nature and flavour undiminished. In Quenya his vision of Beauty lives on, awaiting those capable of comprehending and appreciating it.
We study something that does not exist, just for fun. This is something you can afford when you have everything else; food, shelter, clothes, friends, and so on. The Tolkien languages are well worth studying for their high aesthetic values alone.
Obviously we are not talking about physical, tangible objects, but that goes for any language. These are not fictional languages, but languages as real as Esperanto or any other constructed language. Unlike Esperanto, Quenya is however strongly associated with a fictional internal history. Tolkien once stated that Esperanto had been more successful if there had been an Esperanto mythos to go with it!
Yet it must be emphasized that Quenya does exist as an actual entity in our own world, and as mentioned above, it indeed has a steadily growing literature, mostly in verse: The texts presently in existence must already be hundreds of times more comprehensive than all the Quenya texts Tolkien ever wrote himself.
He endlessly refined the structure and imaginary evolution of his invented languages, but he wrote remarkably few substantial texts in them. Tolkien had his fun in sheer invention; that was his privilege as the original creator. However, I daresay quite few people are capable of deriving much pleasure from mere passive contemplation of the structure of a language, or from reading the grammar of an invented language as if it were some kind of novel.
Such exercises are provided in this course. Yet these few compositions gain a steadily growing international audience, an audience that would very much like to hear more — much more — music of this kind.
The original composer being dead, what are we to do? There is only one way to go: We must carry out a thorough study of both the published compositions and the more theoretical writings, to make out and internalize the rules and principles for this kind of music. Then we can start to compose ourselves, making entirely new melodies that yet comply with the general structure devised by the 11 original inventor.
In somewhat the same manner, the quality of the numerous post-Tolkien Quenya texts varies greatly. In the case of some early attempts, written when very little source material was available, it is now easy to spot various shortcomings and misinterpretations of what Tolkien really intended.
Today, with much more material available, I would say it is possible to write texts that Tolkien probably would have recognized as at least roughly correct Quenya though I think reading Quenya texts not originating with himself would have been a strange experience for him; his invented languages were originally something very private.
None of these are mutually exclusive, of course. Whatever your angle is, I hope you would like to have a part in making Quenya literature grow and flourish.
However, debates revolving around copyright issues have sadly caused a great deal of bitterness among students working in the field of Tolkien-linguistics; such debates essentially blew apart the TolkLang mailing list, leading to the establishing of Elfling instead.
Nobody is trying to make any money or otherwise profit from this. If the Tolkien Estate, or rather HarperCollins, might ever want to publish this course in book form, I would be happy to let them do so, and I would not expect to receive any royalties. In and early , on the TolkLang list, lawyer W. One hopes the part about firearms was a figure of speech. I cannot imagine that when studying available Quenya texts, is it illegal for us to put our conclusions into words and tell others about them.
If this is what copyright means, then all sorts of scholarly commentary and literary criticism immediately go down the drain. While Hicklin said he reported the position of Christopher Tolkien whom he claimed to know on a first-name basis , the Tolkien Estate itself has so far declined to present its opinion on these issues, even when asked to do so by TolkLang moderator Julian Bradfield.
It may be noted that copyright law is not the area Mr. To return to the analogy of our genius composer who invents a new form of music: His copyright to his own compositions, and to his writings on this form of music as fixed texts, cannot and should not be disputed by anyone. But he or his heirs cannot well assert that publishing entirely new compositions, or wholly original descriptions of the principles of this kind of music, would somehow violate their copyright.
This course is written and published for free on the Internet by me as 13 a private person. No disrespect is intended when I point out that any endorsement by the Estate would not have meant much in the way of a quality guarantee, since certain earlier works on Quenya that were published with explicit permission from the Estate can now be seen to contain certain obvious shortcomings and misinterpretations.
There is little reason to believe that Estate lawyers or Christopher Tolkien himself are capable of judging the quality of a Quenya grammar and likewise no reason to hold this against them; learning Quenya from the primary sources is a long and challenging study reserved for the especially interested.
In such a situation I hope and believe that the Tolkien Estate respects the right of scholars to carry on their studies undisturbed, and to present the results of such research — especially when the relevant publications are entirely non-commercial.
Despite the strong claims made by Hicklin and a very few others, there is presently no concrete evidence that the Estate or Christopher Tolkien see such studies as a violation of their copyright.
If they do, let them contact me and we will talk. The interpretation of Quenya grammar that it here set out is based on a study of the available sources, mostly analysis of actual Quenya text, and on exegesis of the relatively few explicit notes on grammar that are presently available. Tolkien himself was aware that names cannot be copyrighted Letters, p. Some words in common use today, such as robot, first occurred in a context of fiction.
Legal inquiries conducted after Hicklin made his flamboyant claims have confirmed that words as such automatically enter public domain the second they are coined, and nobody can monopolize them or claim exclusive ownership to them. It is not just a tree growing in Middle-earth that can be termed an alda; the word works just as well if I write a Quenya poem about a tree growing outside my house. I agree, though, that Quenya and the other languages enjoy some protection in their capacity as parts of the Middle-earth setting.
But again: this course is most certainly not intended as derivative fiction. When discussing copyright issues, we must distinguish very clearly between the fictional context and actual use of systems or ideas described within this fiction; the latter is quite irrelevant for a discussion of copyright.
By way of comparison: I fully agree that if anyone were to write new fantasy stories involving a race of small people with hairy feet living in underground structures called smials, then this writer would clearly plagiarize Tolkien and possibly even violate his copyright. The new Quenya texts are copyright to no one but their writers. If the Estate has no problems with this, I can only assume that their lawyers also agree that it is perfectly legal for anyone to write Quenya grammars or compile Quenya wordlists.
Otherwise we should be left with the rather absurd notion of a language that can be used, but not taught or in a scholarly way described. I cannot imagine that the Estate would assert that the by now quite large number of Quenya texts that are not written by Tolkien and have nothing to do with his fiction cannot be subjected to grammatical or lexicographical studies simply because they happen to be written in Quenya.
All of his texts lie in the copyright of the Tolkien Estate until it expires in or was it ? We should feel some kind of moral obligation, or even gratitude, towards Tolkien as the creator of this language. Quenya as we know it is the result of decades of painstaking work and endless refinement; its creator intended it to have an august or even sacred flavour, and it is not to be used for unworthy or downright silly purposes.
This is a wish I urge any and all students to respect. It has been brought forth and must now go its appointed way in the world, though naturally I take a deep interest in its fortunes, as a parent would of a child. And this brings us back to the structure of Quenya itself. What kind of language is this, structurally speaking?
It seems that Finnish provided considerable inspiration not only for the sound-patterns, but for the basic structure as well. That is, words appear in many different forms depending on their precise function in any given grammatical context. The differing forms are for the most part constructed by employing a plethora of endings, endings with meanings that in English would often be expressed as separate words instead.
Hence an English translation of a Quenya text will normally consist of more words than the Quenya original: In Unfinished Tales p. Some may see this as evidence that Quenya is a more efficient language than English, but whether one uses one long word or several shorter words to express a given meaning is not very crucial. Quenya should be enjoyed for its own qualities, not by comparing it to other languages. Undoubtedly there are many presently unsuspected complexities waiting for us in the vast amount of unpublished material.
It may be an involved and intricate construct, but certainly less complicated than Sindarin, and the acquisition of Quenya as we know it is in no way a superhuman feat. Any devoted student should be able to achieve basic mastery of the grammatical system in relatively short time, weeks or even days rather than months.
Bearing in mind that some people who want to study Quenya are quite young, I have tried to pre-suppose virtually no knowledge about linguistics, and I will explain even elementary linguistic terms — more knowledgeable students may feel that I sometimes go into boring baby-talk.
It must still be understood that it is not a streamlined Esperanto we are dealing with here.
So perhaps the Eldar, being very much conscious of the structure of their speech, would tend to make languages with a relatively tidy grammar. Unfortunately — and here I must ask fresh students to brazen themselves for their first big shock, though the shocking fact has already been alluded to — very little of this material is available to us.
However, Christopher Tolkien has apparently tried to make arrangements for its publication. As pointed out by TolkLang moderator Julian Bradfield, it may be that this member of the group is inventing insults against himself, but currently it is politically correct to refer to this group simply as the Editorial Team, 19 abbreviated ET. Whatever we call them, the group consists of Christopher Gilson, Carl F. Hostetter, Patrick Wynne and Arden R. Smith in recent years, Bill Welden has also joined in.
Before they started to receive Tolkien manuscripts, these people quite regularly published the Tolkien-linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar edited by Hostetter and Parma Eldalamberon edited by Gilson , generally maintaining a high standard. Some of us are not impressed. What little material has appeared has been nicely presented, but with the present rate of publication, the completion of the project must be very far off indeed.
Still, we must hope that in ten or twenty, or thirty.