Quenya: grey-elven

Language of the Sindar in Beleriand, and later the Noble Tongue of the Westlands.


Language of the Sindar, therefore part of the Telerin branch of languages. Sindarin took its form from the (hypothetical) language known as ArchaicSindarin? while the Eglath traversed the mortal lands of Beleriand, and therefore much differientated from the original ancient speech of the Elves. For this it was also less beautiful and lyrical than Quenya. It became the standard language of all the Sindar. In FirstAge the Noldor and the Edain adopted Sindarin as a second language or even in their daily speech. In Beleriand Sindarin was distinguished in three dialects: Doriathrin (or Iathrim), Mithrim and Falathrim, of which only the latter survived.

During the {Years of the Trees}, Sindarin was written with the primitive Cirth (Runes) of Daeron. With the arrival of the Noldor, Sindarin began to be written with the Tengwar of Feanor they brought with them from Aman. The {Mode of Beleriand} was the first adaptation of the Tengwar for Sindarin. After this, the Runes were used rarely among the Eldar.

In SecondAge Sindarin was spoken in the realms of the Sindar who ruled over the 'lesser' Silvan Elves, like Lorien and Mirkwood, and this was true of course in Lindon and Eriador. Sindarin was also the noble speech in Numenor, used for formal documents or the daily speech of royal families, until it was banned along with everything Elvish during the Shadow.

This was more or less true for the ThirdAge. Sindarin was in use anywhere Elves lived and this is the reason why it is known simply by the term Elvish. For the Dunedain it was regarded as the noble tongue of their kingdoms: their names were Sindarin (eg. Kings of Arthedain, Stewards) and considered as a noble speech for royal documents and letters.

The final fate of Sindarin is unknown. It mught have extinct with the passing of the old days, but many elements and words of Sindarin were borrowed from Mannish tongues.


Sindarin was based on Welsh, a language much loved by Tolkien. It presents some similarities to it and it shared many words that look and sound alike, by chance or by Tolkien's intention. For example the Elven name of the minstrel Daeron in Welsh means 'birds'.

During its history Sindarin changed much, due to its formation from ArchaicSindarin? in the mortal lands, where time was vicious. The final vowels were lost, producing thus words that almost always end in consonants. The medial consonants (between vowels) were changed (or more linguistically, mutated) into hard, more voiced equivalents. The silent sounds t, p, c therefore exist only initially and in all other places they became b, d, g. Those hard sounds, along with consonant cluster initially (bronweg) and finally (Aragorn) give Sindarin its 'hard' feel. Prominent is also the frequent presence of the sound th, which in Quenya is absent.

Tolkien states that after the first rising of the Sun, everything started to change fast, the languages of the Elves as well. According to our perception this is not true: Sindarin reached its almost final form in the FirstAge, and afterwards almost ceased to evolve. All the changes that formed Sindarin are much earlier, during the {Years of the Trees}?.

But Tolkien's statement might apply only to the grammar, which is poorly documented. However we see almost no grammatical difference between the few FirstAge and ThirdAge words, phrases and texts, written by Tolkien. Phonologically there have been some very few and small changes after the FirstAge though: Initial ch- was softened into h- and final -nd was simplified to -n, and the cluster -nr- became -dhr-. So the well-known name Hurin, in proper FirstAge pronunciation would be 'Churind', and Caradhras would be Caranras.

In ThirdAge, the Gondorians had their own Sindarin dialect, with pronunciation different from that of the Elves: medial ch was always soft h (Rohan is a Sindarin name, but invented by the Gondorians. The Elves would pronounce it Rochan), y was pronunced simply i, and ll was pronunced lth (Cormallen is actually pronounced Cormalthen)


The most prominent similarity to Welsh is the case of the mutations of initial consonants, depending on the preceding word or the syntactic position.

For example: while 'book' is parf, 'the book' is i-barf.

This happens because Sindarin changed almost all of the consonants between vowels. cf. Quenya atar vs. Sindarin adar. After the article i, or some words, the initial consonant is no more initial but medial, therefore it mutates.

Sindarin also tended to lose all its endings and final sounds and most of the words end in consonants. For this reason, its grammar is not based much on endings, but on the abovementioned mutations, or the umlauts. For example, 'fathers' in Quenya is atari by adding the ending -i. However in Sindarin it becomes edair.

Further Study

Contrary to the popular belief and hope, many people believe that Sindarin can't be spoken. However it has been extensively developed by Tolkien and it can be studied seriously, and compose a few texts with it. Some useful links are these: - Ardalambion's article about Sindarin grammar - I Lam Arth is a site with 'scientific' articles attempting to bring Sindarin's structure to light - The best Sindarin dictionary availiable for download, in the form of a Windows/Linux aplication

See also: TolkiensLanguages

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