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|Created by||J.R.R. Tolkien|
|Setting and usage||Forests within the fictional world of Middle-earth|
|Sources||a priori language, fictionally developed from Common Eldarin and later influenced by Quenya and Sindarin.|
|ISO 639-3||None (
Ents are not hasty creatures; they take their time. Even their language is "unhasty". Their language appears to be based on an ancient form of Common Eldarin, later enriched by Quenya and Sindarin, although it includes many unique 'tree-ish' additions. There are actually two different languages: Old Entish and "New Entish".
Originally, the Ents had no "language" of their own. However the first Elves encountered the first Ents in the primeval forests of Middle-earth, not long after the dawn of both of their races. Apparently recognizing the sentience of Ents and the more "awake" trees, the Elves taught them the concept of communicating using sounds ("They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did" as Treebeard noted of the event).
Having been cured of their "dumbness" by the Elves, the Ents developed a language of their own, described as long and sonorous, somewhat like a woodwind instrument; it was a tonal language. It is unknown if a non-Ent could even pronounce Old Entish correctly: it was filled with many subtle vowel shades and was very longwinded. Only Ents spoke Old Entish; not because they kept their language a secret, as the Dwarves did with Khuzdul, but because no others could master it. It was quite an alien language to all others. The Huorns and trees of Fangorn forest could understand Old Entish and converse with the Ents and each other with it. The only extant sample, a-lalla-lalla-rumba-kamanda-lindor-burúme, the word for hill (or rather a very minute part of a particular hill's name, as Treebeard alludes to something's Entish "name" as including its entire history), was described as a very inaccurate sampling. Even the Elves, master linguists, could not learn Old Entish, nor did they attempt to record it because of its complex sound structure:
- "...slow, sonorous, agglomerated, repetitive, indeed long-winded; formed of a multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity which even the loremasters of the Eldar had not attempted to represent in writing" -- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F
The grammatical structure of Old Entish was also quite bizarre, often described as a lengthy, long-winded discussion of a topic. There may not even have been words for yes and no: such questions would be answered by a long monologue on why the Ent in question did or did not agree with the Ent who asked the question. The Ent Quickbeam was regarded as a very "hasty" Ent for answering a question before another Ent had finished: the end may only have been another hour away. Ents as a rule would say nothing in Old Entish unless it was worth taking a long time to say. For everyday language functions, they usually resorted to "New" Entish.
(Never named as such in the text.) Because of continued contact with the Elves, the Ents learned much from them. The Ents found the Elvish language Quenya to be a lovely language and adapted it after their fashion to everyday use. However, they basically adapted Quenya vocabulary to Old Entish grammatical structure. Thus, unlike Old Entish, the individual words of "New Entish" that characters such as Treebeard spoke were easily translatable. However, in context they formed lengthy run-on sentences of redundant adjectives that could still stretch well over an hour in length. For example, when Treebeard essentially wanted to tell Merry and Pippin, "There is a shadow of the Great Darkness in the deep dales of the forest", he said in New Entish "Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómëanor", which literally translates as "Forestmanyshadowed-deepvalleyblack Deepvalleyforested Gloomyland". Unlike Old Entish, a non-Ent conceivably could speak "New" Entish.
Even when speaking Common Speech, Ents fell into the habit of adapting it into their grammatical structure of repeating compound adjectives used to express fine shades of meaning. For example, when Treebeard was describing that the Orcs assaulting Lothlorien had attempted to invade Rohan while it was undefended, but the Ents drove them back, he said: "There was a great inrush of those, burárum, those evileyed - blackhanded - bowlegged - flinthearted - clawfingered - foulbellied - bloodthirsty, morimaite - sincahonda, hoom, well, since you are hasty folk and their full name is as long as years of torment, those vermin of orcs."