Learn the language of the Elves of Middle Earth

This post will give you a short history of the language of the Elves and some ideas on how to learn it. To give you a visual overview I made a linguistic map of the how the Elvish language developed over time. There is a lot of verbiage on the web, so I thought a clear language tree would clarify how Elvish changed into its modern forms.

Evolution of the Elvish language.

 

Elves and their language


What was the language of the Elves? It was created by Tolkien and contained elements of Finnish and Welsh and I think ancient old Norse.  Elvish also took inspiration from Anglo, Saxon, Old Germanic and the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien worked on the languages of the Elves his whole life. The primal Elf language was Quenya and Sindarin. Tolkien being a fan of philological studies was able to create a grammar and structure that people actually learned. I know a few people who were really into the Lord of the ring books and learned the language of the Elves.

Any mention of the Elves and or fantasy worlds and reality conjures up the likes of Sheldon Cooper, however it has a serious academic basis and value as a linguistic study. If there was a college course in Elvish I am sure it would have full enrollment.

Any escapist fantasy reader like myself lives between both worlds.

Mythology of Elvish
The Elvish languages came about when the Elves awoke in the land of  Cuiviénen in ancient times in the years of the trees. The Elves started to communicate with each other in a Primitive Quendian is the proto-language Elvish. Cuiviénen has since been destroyed and the Elves left this land. From Qundian two other modern Elvish language groups evolved.

  • Avarin (the ones that did not come to Land of the Valar). From this six other languages evolved.
  • Common – kwendī – Eldarin  ascended into three branches:
  1. Quenya, Eldamar Elves who live beyond the great Sea;Telerin
  2. Teleri Elves, who live in Alqualondë and Tol Eressëa.
  3. Nandorin the language of the Nandor and Sindarin is a derivative of Nandorin.

The detailed history of the language can be found in the writings and notes of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Elvin tongue was started in 1910 and he worked on it until his passing in 1972.

Invented languages are always interesting. Most are based on some ancient human language. Elf language is similar to the Old Norse language for example. If people can create a language and learn the vocabulary, then speak it, learning a language that is spoken by millions, such as a modern European language is can be done.

Try to write you name in Elvish.

The phonetics of of the language is often written in a Latin script but there are a few variation of the a Tolkien created script called Tengwar. I have wanted to create the fonts in a photo editor and then see if I could integrate it in some way with a qwerty keyboard overlay. Or at least make the fonts available for upload in a photo editor so you could write or produce art in the language of Middle Earth. I do not know anyone who has done this. If you have interest in this project let me know.

I think it would be fairly popular over the long-term because interest in Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit and The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin and lesser known work are not going out of style.

I think it would be a worthy study to learn some of the language because it is classical and inflected and although it would be a cognitive challenge you could extrapolate what you learn to other languages.

To learn the Elf language do the same as any language:

  • I would create language flashcards to develop vocabulary with pronunciation on the cards until I understood how to read the letters phonetically.
  • Focusing on verbs at first are the hardest but allows you to express ideas
  • Build the basic vocabulary of about 2,500 words
  • Practice by reading Elvish text and try to at least communicate with someone else who is learning it.
  • Also take a lot of clues from Scandinavian languages in terms of structure and pronunciation.

Can you imagine if there was actually a community of people who spoke this language? I think it would be interesting.

9 Replies to “Learn the language of the Elves of Middle Earth”

  1. I would like to learn the elvish language and live in Middle Earth. In lieu of being transported there I will embark on the endeavor of learning a little of the language.

  2. I have always been fascinated by mystical beings, especially elves. I would really love to learn the elvish language; can anybody tell me where I can start learning?

  3. Yes I would like to lean the Elvish language to somebody please tell me where i can learn the language

  4. Im interested in learning to speak the Elf language, and would love a learning audio CD. Is one available?

    1. I have thought of making one, as I have all the equipment and tools as I write language and mp3 software. However, getting a native speaker to record the language of the elves would be hard. However, I have a solution for that, that is believe it or not some one that can come close to a native elf speaker.

  5. Ok No such thing as a native speaker of elvish since it is a fabricated language, and even if there were actual elves their language would not be the same as the imagining of Tolkien, It is very interesting however and it could be fun to learn.

  6. wow.. where can I find community that speak elvish language ? wuhuw !

  7. I find it funny that you think elves are not real when they are I am one but I am one of the last of my kind there are A few that still live on this earth and there are not just elves there are different kinds night elves , wood elves , and blood elves I am a night elve . The only Reason why I am on this earth is to Watch the human race grow for 2520 years I have watched . For I have two body’s one on earth and one in the astro planes it is a place that every one has seen but they don’t Realizes it

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