Elvish languages

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Elvish languages are constructed languages used by Elves in a fantasy setting.

Tolkien's Elvish languages[edit]

Author J. R. R. Tolkien created many languages for his Elves, which eventuated in the creation of a mythology (expounded in his books), complete with races, to speak the languages he had constructed. The language has quickly spread among modern-day use, resulting in Quenya and Sindarin to become legally stated languages.[citation needed]His interest was primarily philological, and he said 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 strongly influenced by Finnish, Latin, Greek and elements of ancient Germanic languages, and Sindarin is strongly influenced by Welsh.

Internal history of Elvish languages
Primitive Quendian
the tongue of all Elves at Cuiviénen
Common Eldarin
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
Exilic Quenya
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.[1]

Other Elvish languages[edit]

Since Tolkien, others have invented Elvish languages in their own fiction. Several borrow sounds and forms (or even whole words) from Tolkien's Elvish languages, especially Quenya, while others are quite distinct, for example the Elvish spoken in the book titled Elvish, by S.G. Prince.[2]

  • Elven, the language of RuneScape's Elves, is basically Welsh with a slight twist.[clarification needed]
  • The Ancient Language, the language of the elves in The Inheritance Cycle. Also used by the riders and other magic users to cast spells. It was based on Old Norse and was the language of the now extinct Grey Folk. One cannot lie in the Ancient Language and is bound by what one says in it.
  • Elven, the language of the surface Elves of Dungeons & Dragons (of which there are several dialects including Ssamath of the Drow, which drow use in conjunction with Deep Speech).
  • Ellylon and Hen Llinge (Elder Speech), Elvish languages of Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher saga, based on Welsh, Irish, French and English.
  • Eltharin, the language of the elves of Warhammer Fantasy setting:
    • 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
  • Sperethiel, the language of elves in Shadowrun.
  • Elvish language of Gael Baudino's Strands series, based on the Romance languages.
  • The Elvish language(s) of the Warcraft universe (Darnassian, Nazja, and Thalassian), are not described in detail but superficially resemble Tolkien's. Together, Darnassian, Nazja, and Thalassian are considered the modern elvish tongues of the Warcraft universe spoken by the modern Kaldorei, the Naga, and the highborne (respectively) while Elvish itself is considered an ancient tongue that is 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, which is spoken by the highborne as well as the Blood Elves.
  • "Gnommish" The language of the Artemis Fowl series, sometimes read in a spiral.
  • Elvish, the language of the Dalish elves in the Dragon Age series of videogames (and, to an extremely limited extent, the City Elves as well).
  • The Elves, or Mer, of the universe of The Elder Scrolls, use various languages derived from ancient Ehlnofex. Such languages include Dunmeris, Pyandonean, Orcish (Orsimeris) and Bosmeris, among others.
  • The elves in the film Hellboy II: The Golden Army speak a language based on Old Irish.

David J. Peterson made several Elvish conlangs, including:


  1. ^ 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 0-9816607-1-1
  2. ^ Prince, S.G. Elvish. ISBN 1521435480.

External links[edit]