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Tag: quenya

Episode 16: Tolkien’s Languages: Part 2: The Tree of Tongues

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Map of Beleriand (drawn by Christopher Tolkien)


  • J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, “Part Two. Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings: Chapter 5: The Lhammas”
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “Tengwesta Qenderinwa and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets Part 2”, in Parma Eldalamberon XVIII (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 28-9, 81 (additional tables)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “Words, Phrases and Passages, Appendices, The Quendian Languages”, in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 127-135
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, “Part Four. Quendi and Eldar”
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, “Part One. The Grey Annals”
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “From Quendi and Eldar, Appendix D” (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 39, July 1998

Episode 15: Tolkien’s Languages: Part 1


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References, Notes and Useful Links

  • Brackmann, Rebecca. “‘Dwarves Are Not Heroes’: Antisemitism and The Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Writing.” Mythlore, vol. 28, no. 3, 10 Apr. 2010. 109/110 Spring/Summer.
  • Tolkien reciting namarie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6de_SbVUVfA
  • Tolkien singing namarie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkuHrD_xlJY
  • Hostetter, Carl F. “Elvish as she is spoke” http://www.elvish.org/articles/EASIS.pdf
  • http://www.elvish.org/gwaith/movie_elvish.htm
  • Convenient condensed writeups of the various Tolkien languages covered
    • Fauskanger, Helge K. “Valarin – like the Glitter of Swords.” Ardalambion, folk.uib.no/hnohf/valarin.htm (accessed 8 September 2019)
    • Fauskanger, Helge K. “Various Mannish Tongues – the sadness of Mortal Men?” Ardalambion, folk.uib.no/hnohf/mannish.htm (accessed 8 September 2019)
    • Fauskanger, Helge K. “Quenya – the Ancient Tongue” Ardalambion, folk.uib.no/hnohf/quenya.htm (accessed 8 September 2019)
    • Fauskanger, Helge K. “Sindarin – the Noble Tongue” Ardalambion, folk.uib.no/hnohf/sindarin.htm (accessed 8 September 2019)
    • Fauskanger, Helge K. “Adûnaic – the vernacular of Númenor” Ardalambion,folk.uib.no/hnohf/adunaic.htm (accessed 8 September 2019)
    • Fauskanger, Helge K. “Orkish and the Black Speech – base language for base purposes” Ardalambion, folk.uib.no/hnohf/orkish.htm (accessed 8 September 2019)


  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Qenya Phonology”, in Parma Eldalamberon XII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 22
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “Quenya Phonology”, in Parma Eldalamberon XIX (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 22
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “Quenya Grammar”, in Parma Eldalamberon XIX (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 28-34
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, “Words, Phrases and Passages”, in Parma Eldalamberon XII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 12
  • Letter 176. In H. Carpenter and C. Tolkien (Eds.), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien.New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin
  • Gilson and Wynne, ‘The Growth of Grammar in the Elven Tongues’ 1992
  • Gilson, Christopher, “Narqelion and the Early Lexicons. Some Notes on the First Elvish Poem”, in Vinyar Tengwar 40 (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), p. 6
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lost Road and Other Writings. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. Vol. 5. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. Print. History of Middle­ earth.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. Sauron Defeated. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. Vol. 9. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1992. Print. History of Middle­ earth.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. War of the Jewels. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. Vol. 10. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. 301­66. Print. History of Middle ­earth.
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. “Appendices” in The Lord of the Rings. Allen & Unwin.

Episode 14: Quenya Catholic Prayers

  • Tolkien, J.R.R. ""Words of Joy": Five Catholic Prayers in Quenya. (Part One)" Ed. Patrick Wynne, Arden R. Smith, and Carl F. Hostetter. Vinyar Tengwar 43 (2002): 5­38. Print.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. ""Words of Joy": Five Catholic Prayers in Quenya. (Part Two)" Ed. Patrick Wynne, Arden R. Smith, and Carl F. Hostetter. Vinyar Tengwar 44 (2002): 5­20. Print.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon." Ed. Christopher Gilson, Carl F. Hostetter, Patrick Wynne, and Arden R. Smith. Parma Eldalamberon 12 (1998)
  • Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War : the threshold of Middle-earth. London: HarperCollins, 2003.
  • Letter 142. In H. Carpenter and C. Tolkien (Eds.), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien.New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin

Episode Mentions

Vinyar Tengwar Homepage
Elven Linguistic Fellowship
Vinyar Tengwar Issue 43

Episode 6 Extras: Etymologies

Episode 6 Extras: Etymologies

As promised in episode six, here is the (mostly quenya) etymologies of the various terms used in the episode. I will provide a link, where possible, to Eldamo, the best resource for deconstructing elven vocabulary and my primary tool in this guide. I will attempt to be consistent in my notes, giving the roots and derivations but i may wander a bit. Caveat Emptor.

A note about diacritics:

Tolkien used a number of different diacritics over his vowels. I will highlight the two he uses specifically in Quenya.

  • ó – called various the acute or circumflex, this denotes that the vowel should be lengthened.
  • ö – i refered to this as an umlaut in the episode but its proper name is diaeresis, and tolkien uses it to remind the reader that this vowel should be pronounced and not skipped over or elided.


Quenya, noun. pl. fëar

Glossed as "(indwelling or incarnate) spirit, soul", as opposed to a soul or spirit whose natural state is not in union with a hröa, such as ëala (being, spirit) or maiya (angelic spirit).

The primitive elvish root from which the root is derived, √PHAY originally had the meaning "radiate, send out rays of light" and only later was changed to “spirit”. The Eldamo page on the root has a nice writeup about the change, and makes the interesting point about how the derivitives of the root, including fëa, all originally had this first meaning, but were changed to the new one, tho retained some sense of "radiance" thereafter.


Quenya, noun. pl. hröar

Unlike fëa, which really only ever had a single version, hröa, which translates roughly to "body" specifically the flesh and physical form, went through a number of different evolutions. The first form of this word was hrón, based on the primitive elvish root √SRON. In the course of the writing of Laws and Customs of the Eldar (specifically between manuscripts A and B) this was changed into hrondo, which shared the same root. By the time he was done with manuscript B however, Tolkien once again changed his mind, and this time somewhat more substantially. Hrondo was to become hröa, and now the root from which the word was derived changed as well, into √SRA(W) meaning "body, flesh", where √SRON had meant the somewhat more general "flesh, substance, matter". Despite the shift in meaning, notes indicate that in all cases √SRA(W) replaces √SRON. Additionally unlike fëa, hröa has an intermediate derivation in primitive elvish: srawā meaning "body". (the rules by which the sound shifts change srawā into hröa is not, at the moment, relevant)

As to its meaning, in the Athrabeth Tolkien described hröa as being "roughly but not exactly equivalent to ‘body’". The vocabulary notes at the end of Morgoth’s Ring take pains to emphasize it is the body of "an incarnate being". How exactly it is not equivalent to a body, but is specific to an incarnate being is something thats not elaborated on in any of these texts.


Quenya, collective name.

Glossed consistently in Morgoth’s Ring and Vinyar Tengwar 39 as "Incarnate(s)" or "Incarnate Beings", it refers specifically to the children of Eru for whom the union of a body and soul (hröa and fëa) was their natural, unmarred state of being. It is derived from the primitive elvish mi-srawanwe, meaning literally "put into flesh".

Mi- means "in" and through a sound transformation hröa becomes -rroa- but the last part of the word is "obscure" according to eldamo.


Quenya, noun.

Literally translated meaning "the One" but used to mean "God", this word is derived from the primitive elvish root √ER meaning "one, single, alone". There’s something fairly poignant and illuminating about this choice of etymology Tolkien made, as the english word is of obscure origin.


Quenya, Name.

A name for god translated as "Father of All" or "All-Father" (hey Tolkien, your nodic fanboy is showing). It is a compound of the quenya words ilúve "all" and atar "father".


Quenya, noun. pl. ainur

This word has one of the more interesting etymologies we’ve got here. The word means "holy one, spirit" and specifically refers to the order of beings who helped Eru with the creation of the world. The word appears to be derived from the primitive elvish root √AYA(N) meaning “blessed; treat with awe/reverence”, HOWEVER in War of the Jewels we are also told it is derived from an entirely different language called Valarin, the language of the Valar, specifically from their word ayanūz, of which it is a cognate. The root √AYA(N) may or may not have been influenced or derived from this valarin word.


Quenya, noun. pl. maiar

Glossed variously as "anglic spirits" or "spirit", this word has two possible roots, √MAG “good (physically); to thrive, be in a good state” and √MAY “excellent, admirable, beautiful; make [art]; suitable, useful, proper, serviceable; right”.


Quenya, noun. pl. ëalar

Composed of the elements ëa- "to be, exist" and the active participle suffix -ila, in a footnote on a late revision of the Quenta Silmarillion, Tolkien defined ëala as "’spirit’ (not incarnate, which was fëa… ëala ‘being’." (MR165)


Quenya, noun.

We didn’t actually mention this one in the episode, but we made reference to it. Fana glosses to “raiment, veil; (bright) shape or figure; bodily form of an angelic spirit”. We get this word primarily from a document called "Word, Phrases and Passages", written on and off between 1955 and 1960 and published in Parma Eldalamberon 17 in 2007. It was composed in responses to fan demands for clarifications about the names, words and other linguistic details, but in classic Tolkien fashion he never was satisfied with it and it never actually got published.

The word itself is derived from the primitive elvish root √PHAN meaning “cover, screen, veil; white, (light white) shape; shape, vision” and its use in this sense apparently was owed to the faint radience the valar’s physical forms had.

Episode 5 Extras: Names


A note about elven names

Elves have a lot of names A LOT OF NAMES. Often these names are significant and/or portentous. They can have three kinds of “Anessi”, given names.

  • The first is the fathername (we dont have an actual word for fathername in quenya), given at birth.

  • The second, amilessë, is the “mother name” and is given later in life. Mothers were thought to have insight, often prophetic, into their childrens character, so mothernames had a great deal of significance.

  • Epessë, “afternames”, were names or titles of honor either granted to the elf or self chosen.

  • There is a fourth kind of name, the Kilmessë, which is chosen by an elf once they are “capable of lámatyáve” which is to say “fluent enough to take joy in individual sounds and words”. This name was a private name, though not secret, and using it without permission was considered presumptuous or an insult.

Fun Fact about Valar Names

While Melkor’s names, as you will see below, are traditionally quenya and sindarin, he is actually the exception to the rule. The other Valar’s names, while often having both quenya and sindarin forms, are based on their names in YET ANOTHER language Tolkien invented, called Valarin. This language is BONKERS WEIRD. It barely counts as a “language” as Tolkien only really sketched out some words and a bit of structure but its cool to see.


Fëanor: sindarin rendering of his amilessë, Fëanáro, meaning “spirit of fire”.

Curufinwë: quenya, his fathername, meaning “skillful son of Finwë”


Melkor – quenya, lit. “mighty rising”, translated in the Silmarillion as “he who arises in Might”

Morgoth – sindarin for “dark foe”


While the translation of Sauron as a quenya word meaning “The Abhored” is pretty consistent, the origin for this word went through a number of iterations over time. the elfdict entry for the word has a great rundown.


pronunciation: gweyeth-ee-mear-deyen

sindarin for “the People of the Jewel-smiths”

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