Adûnaic

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Adûnaic
Created byJ. R. R. Tolkien
Setting and usageFantasy world of Middle-earth
Purpose
Sourcesa priori language, but related to other languages of Arda
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
GlottologNone
IETFart-x-adunaic

Adûnaic (or Adunaic) ("language of the West") is one of the fictional languages devised by J. R. R. Tolkien for his fantasy works.

One of the languages of Arda in Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Adûnaic was spoken by the Men of Númenor during the Second Age.

Fictional history[edit]

Adûnaic was the language of Númenor,[1] and after its destruction in the Akallabêth, the "native speech" of the people of Elendil in the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in the west of Middle-earth, though they usually spoke Sindarin. By the time of the War of the Ring, it had developed into the common speech or Westron.[2] Tolkien called Adûnaic "the language of the culturally and politically influential Númenóreans."[3]

Concept and creation[edit]

Although Tolkien created very few original words in Adûnaic, mostly names, the language serves his concept as the ancestor of a lingua franca for Middle-earth, Westron, a shared language for many different peoples.[3]

Tolkien devised Adûnaic (or Númenórean), the language spoken in Númenor, shortly after World War II, and thus at about the time he completed The Lord of the Rings, but before he wrote the linguistic background information of the Appendices. Adûnaic is intended as the language from which Westron (also called Adûni) is derived. This added a depth of historical development to the Mannish languages. Adûnaic was intended to have a "faintly Semitic flavour".[4] Its development began with his 1945 work The Notion Club Papers. It is there that the most extensive sample of the language is found, revealed to one of the (modern-day) protagonists, Lowdham, in a visionary dream of Atlantis. Its grammar is sketched in the unfinished "Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language", included in Sauron Defeated.[4]

Tolkien remained undecided whether the language of the Men of Númenor should be derived from the original Mannish language (as in Adûnaic), or if it should be derived from "the Elvish Noldorin" (i.e. Quenya) instead.[5] In The Lost Road and Other Writings it is implied that the Númenóreans spoke Quenya, and that Sauron, hating all things Elvish, taught the Númenóreans the old Mannish tongue they themselves had forgotten.[6]

Phonology[edit]

The phonology is as follows:[4]

  Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Occlusive p b t d k ɡ ʔ
Fricative f v θ s z ʃ x ɣ h
Affricate p͡f t͡θ t͡ʃ d͡ʒ k͡x
Nasal m n ŋ
Trill r
Approximant l j w
Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid 1 1
Open a

1Adûnaic is fundamentally a three-vowel language, with a length distinction; the long and are derived from diphthongs aj and aw, as is the case in Hebrew and in most Arabic dialects, in line with the Semitic flavour that Tolkien intended for both Adûnaic and Khuzdul, which influenced it.

Grammar[edit]

Most information about Adûnaic grammar comes from an incomplete typescript Lowdham's Report on the Adûnaic Language, written by Tolkien to accompany The Notion Club Papers.[4] The report discusses phonology and morphological processes in some detail, and starts to discuss nouns, but breaks off before saying much about verbs, other parts of speech or the grammar as a whole. It appears that Tolkien abandoned work on the language after writing this portion of the Report, and never returned to it.[4]

Nouns[edit]

Most nouns are triconsonantal, but there are a number of biconsontantal nouns as well. Nouns can be divided into three declensions, called Strong I, Strong II and Weak. The two strong declensions form their various cases by modifying the last vowel, similarly to English man/men. The weak declension forms its cases by appending a suffix.[4]: 413–440 

There are three numbers, singular, plural and dual. Dual is used mainly for "natural pairs", like eyes and shoes. There are three cases, Normal, Subjective and Objective. The Subjective case is used as the subject of a verb. The Objective case is used only in compound expressions and appears only in the singular. The Normal case is used in all other circumstances, such as the object of a verb.[4]

Example declensions:

Strong I Strong II Weak
Meaning house sea strength
Singular Normal zadan azra abār
Singular Subjective zadān azrā abārā
Singular Objective zadun azru abāru
Dual Normal zadnat azrāt, azrat abārat
Dual Subjective zadnāt azrāt abārāt
Plural Normal zadīn azrī abārī
Plural Subjective zadīna azrīya abārīya

Sample Text[edit]

This Adûnaic text, part of the tale of the Fall of Numenor, appears in The Notion Club Papers. It is fragmentary because it appeared in a dream to the character Lowdham, and is only partially translated by him because he did not know the language. Words in bold are not translated at the point in the text where the translation is first given, but their translation is given later in the story.[4]

Kadō

and so

zigūrun

Sauron

zabathān

humbled

unakkha

he-came

...

...

ēruhīnim

Children of God

Kadō zigūrun zabathān unakkha ... ēruhīnim

{and so} Sauron humbled he-came ... {Children of God}

dubdam

fell

ugru-dalad

shadow-under

...

...

ar-pharazōnun

Ar-Pharazon

azaggara

was warring

dubdam ugru-dalad ... ar-pharazōnun azaggara

fell shadow-under ... Ar-Pharazon {was warring}

avalōiyada

against Powers

...

...

bārim

Lords

an-adūn

of-West

yurahtam

broke

dāira

Earth

avalōiyada ... bārim an-adūn yurahtam dāira

{against Powers} ... Lords of-West broke Earth

sāibēth-mā

assent-with

ēruvō

God-from

...

...

azrīya

seas

du-phursā

so-as-to-gush

akhāsada

into chasm

sāibēth-mā ēruvō ... azrīya du-phursā akhāsada

assent-with God-from ... seas so-as-to-gush {into chasm}

...

...

anadūnē

Numenor

zīrān

beloved

hikallaba

she-fell down

...

...

bawība

winds

dulgī

black

... anadūnē zīrān hikallaba ... bawība dulgī

... Numenor beloved {she-fell down} ... winds black

...

...

balīk

ships

hazad

seven

an-nimruzīr

of-Elendil

azūlada

eastward

... balīk hazad an-nimruzīr azūlada

... ships seven of-Elendil eastward

Agannālō

Death-shadow

burōda

heavy

nēnud

on-us

...

...

zāira

longing

nēnud

on-us

Agannālō burōda nēnud ... zāira nēnud

Death-shadow heavy on-us ... longing on-us

...

...

adūn

west

izindi

straight

batān

road

tāidō

once

ayadda:

went

īdō

now

kātha

all

batīna

roads

lōkhī

crooked

... adūn izindi batān tāidō ayadda: īdō kātha batīna lōkhī

... west straight road once went now all roads crooked

Ēphalak

far away

īdōn

now (is)

Yōzāyan

Land-of-Gift

Ēphalak īdōn Yōzāyan

{far away} {now (is)} Land-of-Gift

Ēphal

far

ēphalak

far away

īdōn

now (is)

hi-Akallabēth

She-that-hath-fallen

Ēphal ēphalak īdōn hi-Akallabēth

far {far away} {now (is)} She-that-hath-fallen

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 313, entry for Adûnakhor, ISBN 978-0-395-25730-2
  2. ^ Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina (2005). The Lord of the Rings: a Reader's Companion. London: HarperCollins. pp. 16, 78–79, 686. ISBN 978-0007209071.
  3. ^ a b Solopova, Elizabeth (2009), Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J. R. R. Tolkien's Fiction, New York City: North Landing Books, pp. 70, 84, ISBN 978-0-9816607-1-4
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Tolkien, J. R. R. (1992), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, Boston, New York, & London: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 241, 247–250, 413–440, ISBN 0-395-60649-7
  5. ^ The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 63.
  6. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 68 and note p. 75, ISBN 0-395-45519-7

External links[edit]