Tolkien's Elvish languages
The philologist and high fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien created many languages for his Elves, leading him to create the mythology of his Middle-earth books, complete with multiple divisions of the Elves, to speak the languages he had constructed. The languages have quickly spread in modern-day use. His interest was primarily philological, and he stated that his stories grew out of his languages. The languages were the first thing Tolkien created for his mythos, starting with what he originally called "Qenya", the first primitive form of Elvish. This was later called Quenya (High-elven) and is one of the two most complete of Tolkien's languages (the other being Sindarin, or Grey-elven). The phonology and grammar of Quenya are influenced by Finnish, while Sindarin is influenced by Welsh.
|Internal history of Tolkien's Elvish languages|
|Primitive Quendian |
the tongue of all Elves at Cuiviénen
the tongue of the Elves during the March
combined languages of the Avari (at least six), some later merged with Nandorin
the language of the Ñoldor and the Vanyar
|Common Telerin |
the early language of all the Lindar
also Vanyarin Quenya, daily tongue of the Vanyar
also Ñoldorin Quenya, colloquial speech of the Noldor
the language of the Teleri who reached the Undying Lands; a dialect of Quenya
language of the Sindar
languages of the Nandor, some were influenced by Avarin
Tolkien conceived a family tree of Elvish languages, all descending from a common ancestor called Primitive Quendian. He worked extensively on how the languages diverged from Primitive Quendian over time, in phonology and grammar, in imitation of the development of real language families. In addition to Quenya and Sindarin, he sketched several other Elvish languages in far less detail, such as Telerin, Nandorin, and Avarin.
In addition to Tolkien's original lexicon, many fans have contributed words and phrases, attempting to create a language that can be fully used in reality.
Other Elvish languages
Since Tolkien, others have invented Elvish languages in their own fiction. Some have borrowed sounds, forms, and whole words from Tolkien's Elvish languages.
|The Ancient Language||The Inheritance Cycle||Old Norse, Tolkien||Used by elves and by the riders and other magic users to cast spells. It was the language of the now extinct Grey Folk. One cannot lie in the Ancient Language and one is bound by what one says in it.|
|Ellylon and Hen Llinge (Elder Speech)||Andrzej Sapkowski||The Witcher saga||Welsh, Irish, French and English|||
|Eltharin||Warhammer Fantasy||Has its own font. Includes Fan-Eltharin, the language of the Wood Elves; Tar-Eltharin, the language of the Sea Elves and High Elves; Druhir, the language of the Dark Elves|
|Elvish||Gael Baudino||Strands series||Romance languages|||
|Elvish||Warcraft universe||Superficially resembles Tolkien's Elvish||Darnassian, Nazja, and Thalassian are considered the modern elvish tongues spoken by the modern Kaldorei, the Naga, and the highborne (respectively), while Elvish itself is an ancient tongue no longer used as a primary language. It is assumed that Elvish is the language from which Darnassian evolved; Darnassian then branched into Nazja, spoken underwater by the Kaldorei that followed Queen Azshara after the sundering, and later on, Thalassian, spoken by the highborne and Blood Elves.|
|Gnommish||Artemis Fowl series||Letter-substitution cipher for English||Sometimes read in a spiral.|
|Ehlnofex||The Elder Scrolls||The Elves, or Mer, use languages derived from ancient Ehlnofex, including Dunmeris, Pyandonean, Orcish (Orsimeris) and Bosmeris.|
|Shiväisith||David J. Peterson||Thor: The Dark World||Finno-Ugric||The language of the Dark Elves. Written in Todjydheenil runes, based on Nordic runes.|
|Övüsi||David J. Peterson||Bright|||
|Hen Llinge (Elder Speech)||David J. Peterson||Netflix's The Witcher|||
- Carpenter, Humphrey; Tolkien, Christopher (1981). The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. United Kingdom: George Allen & Unwin. Letter No. 165. ISBN 0-04-826005-3.
- From a letter to W. R. Matthews, dated 13–15 June 1964, published in Parma Eldalamberon (17), p. 135.
- J. R. R. Tolkien, "Tengwesta Qenderinwa", Parma Eldalamberon 18, p. 72
- 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, "Invented Languages", ISBN 978-0-9816607-1-4
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Ehlnofex - the language of the Ehlnofey ... Aldmeri - the language of the Aldmer, the first elves. Most other languages, like Dunmeri and Nedic, stem from here. Very similar to Ehlnofex, but more stable in meaning. ...
- "Counting in Shiväisith". Of Languages and Numbers. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
- Peterson, David J. "Övüsi Pronunciation Guide" (PDF). Dedalvs. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
- Wahlgren, Yens (2021). The Universal Translator: Everything you need to know about 139 languages that don't really exist. The History Press. p. Pt 65. ISBN 978-0750995924.