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Quenya, the Elvish Language

Updated on May 23, 2011

J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, or Ronald as he was known to his friends, author of “The Hobbit” “Lord of the Rings” and many other shorter works, was the creator of Quenya, the Elvish language. Born 3rd January 1892, died 2nd September 1973. He was Professor of Anglo- Saxon studies at Oxford from 1925 until 1945 then was professor of English language and literature from 1945 until he retired in 1959,

Tolkien was a master of linguistics; it had been his passion from an early age. He learned Latin, French and German from his mother, and while at school he learned Middle English, Old English, Finnish, Gothic, Greek, Italian, Old Norse, Spanish, Welsh, and Medieval Welsh. He was also familiar with Danish, Dutch, Lombardic, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, Middle Dutch, Middle High German, Middle Low German, Old High German, Old Slavonic, and Lithuanian.

He gave courses in Old English heroic verse, history of English, various Old English and Middle English texts, Old and Middle English philology, introductory Germanic philology, Gothic, Old Icelandic, and Medieval Welsh.

It was this passion that gave him the idea of creating newlanguages. He attached this language creation to a mythical world called Arda. Giving it a background and a dynamic, with war and migration playing vital parts in its development. From this created myth was born the famous trilogy “Lord of the Rings”

Utuvielye Quenya (You have found Quenya)

It is difficult to establish how many people speak Quenya today. Frequently evening classes are offered and sci-fi and fantasy conventions always have their groups of people speaking Elvish as though it were, as Tolkien put it, a cradle tongue. Perhaps it’s the Mythos around the language that Tolkien created that gives it such an appeal. It cannot be denied that Tolkien himself declared that he had set out to build a beautiful language. He seems to have succeeded.

In the fictional world of Tolkien, the Elves were the first to awaken. They awoke under the stars at a place called Cuivienen. They immediately had the gift of speech and so called themselves “Quendi” Meaning “Those that speak with voices” The first thing they saw were the stars. The word for star is “El” and so they became known to the Valar (Angel-like beings) as “Eldar” the people of the stars. Quenya words were normally written in Tengwar. A runic alphabet also invented by Tolkien.

By the time of the occurrences in the Lord of the Rings, referred to in the story as the Middle Age, Quenya was no longer in common use. The common tongue of the Elves was Sindarin and men spoke Westron. More of Tolkien’s invented languages. Quenya itself had become a language used for formal occasions, much as Latin would be used today. Though it was with Quenya that Frodo was welcomed by the Elves elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo . “A star shines on the hour of our meeting.” This was a singular honor the Elves were bestowing on Frodo by greeting him in this, to them, very formal speech.

 Quenya, in itself, has a complete structure with definite rules and syntax. Though a made up language it is internally true to itself and has all the necessary requirements of a true language. There are on-line courses as well as opportunities to meet and converse with Elvish speakers. And then;

 

Nai aistalë Eldaron hilya le!  'May the blessing of the Elves go with you!'

 

 

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    • iantoPF profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Freeman 

      7 years ago from Pen-Bre, Cymru/Wales

      Hello Serrano; thank you for stopping by. Yes, Quenya was the original language, by the time of Aragorn and the one ring the common speech of the Elves was Sindarin. The old ones such as Galadriel and Elrond still spoke it.

    • profile image

      Serrano 

      7 years ago

      Wow that just made me make my final choice. I'm gonna choose quenya because correct me if I'm wrong it seems tj be the first elven language and more origal than the others.

    • iantoPF profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Freeman 

      7 years ago from Pen-Bre, Cymru/Wales

      Hello Elefanza; Thank you for reading and for the comment. I love that song myself.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Good post. Loved the video attachment.

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