Introduction (skip it unless you "really" want to know)
Ok, so I'll collect this info and put it here, for now, so I don't end up "losing it". This is in my choppy hack & slash style of preliminary posting. I'll see about cleaning it up later but, for now, it'll be a reference of mine on languages in middle-earth and what I think about it. Thus, if you stumble on this page -- don't expect scholarly formatting or insights -- just some rough calls on what I see as issues and what I like/don't like about it all... Even I take longer than 2 days to learn enough about any given "language" area to converse intelligently about it and that's all the time I've bothered investing in this -- well, almost 2 days... so far...
I really found it difficult to dig up information on this subject so I'm collecting what I've dug up here...
- Why did I get involved in it? Simple: The ring inscription! I decided I'd see if I could create the one ring from scratch (graphically) so I needed to find the inscription source for it. This led me into the Black Speech which is limited in its vocabulary, which led me to Quenya which led to Tengwar which... Trust me -- when I go digging for stuff... I've been working with the internet since before the world-wide-web existed and researching "side-track issues" is something I tend to get distracted by at times...
Tolkien's world was for his languages
The simplest way to view Arda (Middle-Earth) was based upon JRR's life long passion for languages. He studied various languages from around the world -- mostly European based but the roots of the written word, around the world, are tightly intertwined and words are "adopted" across languages in his world as well as in our own. After he did The Hobbit, Tolkien designed his languages and then a world, rich in history, as the background for the various forms of the languages. This is the world our game is built upon -- a language based history -- as the sequel to The Hobbit and this is where all the material came from for The
Because he was telling stories around the languages, some are very well fleshed out whereas others are sidebar mentions with an occasional word/phrase sample, here or there, tossed in. Thus only a couple languages are really usable while others are pretty much "junk" for any practical/decorative use. You aren't expressing ideas well with 10-200 words for your total vocabulary...
Links to Information
- Sindarin to English/English to Sindarin language translator -- easy to use.
- An up-to-date lexicon of Tolkien's invented languages by Paul Strack, which also provides articles on their grammar and phonetics.
- A combination of all trusted dictionaries for Tolkien's invented languages.
- An Online Font Translation Utility (type in "english" based text at the top, specify "source language" for the input (English, Queyan, Sindarin, Black Speech, etc...) and it will translate that to the font codes for what you typed in.
- If you don't have the fonts installed but want to see some results, chose the PNG output. The guy encoded one of the fonts as .png formatted graphic images and will return back the chars, from that one font, based upon your input.
- A trustworthy transcriber for Tolkien's writing systems.
First -- some True Type Font (TTF) links:
- The primary fonts used by the Translation utility are here.
- NOTE: You should NOT take the cursive version. There's a better font for working with the black speech ring text -- see below for a link to that font.
These are references on the languages used in Tolkien's world -- Middle-Earth/Arda.
Reference Guides on Tolkien's Languages
- A compendium on the languages of Middle-earth. (good stuff here -- a primary reference I found, just today -- ( 02/01/2008 )
- An excellent resource for various language listings and articles -- contains samples and "ASCII" versions that can be converted to the fonts.
- Mellonath Daeron's home page
- Mellonath Daeron's Frequently ANSWERED questions page --
- Tolkiensällskapet Forodrim -- The Stockholm Tolkien Society - Forodrim -- (Swedish -- fun to navigate through).
- A society based on mythic language poetry (Tolkien is very prominent in this and man members have written books on and about him and his works).
- A society based upon study of the invented languages of JRR Tolkien.
- A Discord server dedicated to Tolkienian linguistics.
- An exhaustive collection of links and resources about Tolkien's invented languages on Parf Edhellen.
list of Tolkien Languages "in use"
Quenya - the Ancient Tongue
- One of the most developed of all Tolkien's languages. There's even a tutorial introduction to teach you how to write and pronouce this language.
Sindarin - the Noble Tongue
- The other major Tolkien language that is fairly well fleshed out.
Adûnaic - the Vernacular of Númenor
- Unknown really. only a handful of words exist on this language.
Westron - the Common Speech
- The common tongue is, amazingly, uncommon in examples of use.
Telerin - the Language of the Sea-Elves
- Even less words exist on this one.
Doriathrin - the Mothertongue of Lúthien Various Mannish Tongues - the Sadness of Mortal Men? Nandorin - the Green-elven Tongue Old Sindarin - between Primitive Elvish and Grey-elven Ilkorin - a "Lost Tongue"? Avarin - All Six Words Khuzdul - the Secret Tongue of the Dwarves Entish - Say Nothing That Isn't Worth Saying Orkish and the Black Speech - Base Language for Base Purposes
- Black Speech Wordlist
- Orc-names, the meanings of which are unknown, are excluded. DBS means "debased Black Speech" and in effect marks words from the curse of the Mordor-orc, except in the case of sharkû. Of course, some of these words may not differ from their form in pure Sauronian Black Speech. We shall never know.
- agh "and"
- ash "one"
- I -at infinitive suffix, or possibly a specialized "intentive" suffix indicating purpose: Ash nazg durbatulûk "One Ring to rule them all"
- bagronk (DBS) "cesspool", possibly bag+ronk "cess+pool"
- búbhosh (DBS) "great"
- búrz "dark", (isolated from Lugbúrz, q.v.), burzum "darkness"
- dug "filth", tentatively isolated from pushdug, q.v.
- durb- "rule", infinitive durbat, only attested with suffixes: durbatulûk "to rule them all". The verb durb- is remarkably similar to Quenya tur- of similar sense.
- ghâsh "fire" (stated to be derived from the Black Speech, may or may not represent Sauron's original form of the word)
- gimb- "find", infinitive gimbat, only attested with a pronominal suffix: gimbatul, "to find them"
- glob (DBS) "fool"
- gûl "any one of the major invisible servants of Sauron dominated entirely by his will" (A Tolkien Compass p. 172). Translated "wraith(s)" in the compound Nazgûl, "Ringwraith(s)".
- hai "folk", in Uruk-hai "Uruk-folk" and Olog-hai "Troll-folk"; cf. also Oghor-hai.
- ishi "in", a suffixed postposition: burzum-ishi, "in the darkness".
- krimp- "bind", infinitive krimpat, only attested with a pronominal suffix: krimpatul, "to bind them"
- lug "tower". Isolated from Lugbúrz, q.v.
- Lugbúrz the Dark Tower, Sindarin Barad-dûr (Lug-búrz "Tower-dark")
- nazg "ring": ash nazg "one ring", Nazgûl "Ring-wraith(s)"
- Nazgûl "Ring-wraith(s)", nazg + gûl (q.v.)
- Oghor-hai "Drúedain" (UT:379; this may or may not be pure Black Speech)
- olog a variety of Troll apparently developed by Sauron. Olog-hai "Olog-people".
- pushdug (DBS) "dungfilth", possibly push+dug "dung+filth"
- ronk (DBS) "pool", tentatively isolated from bagronk, q.v.
- skai (DBS) interjection of contempt
- sha (DBS) interjection of contempt
- sharkû (DBS?) "old man"
- snaga "slave" (May be DBS.) Used of lesser breeds of Orcs (WJ:390).
- thrak- "bring", infinitive thrakat, only attested with suffixes: thrakatulûk "to bring them all"
- u (DBS) "to"
- -ûk "all", suffixed to pronominal suffixes: -ulûk, "them all"
- -ul pronominal suffix "them".
- -um "-ness" in burzum "darkness".
- uruk a great variety of Orc. According to WJ:390, Sauron probably borrowed this word "from the Elvish tongues of earlier times".
Valarin - Like the Glitter of Swords Primitive Elvish - Where It All Began