Tolkiens Languages

Dictionaries and Concordances   
Journals and Periodicals   
General Linguistic Resources   


Personally I am a believer in an 'artificial' language, at any rate for Europe - a believer, that is, in its desirability, as the one thing antecedently necessary for uniting Europe, before it is swallowed by non-Europe; as well as for many other good reasons - a believer in its possibility because the history of the world seems to exhibit, as far as I know it, both an increase in human control of (or influence upon) the uncontrollable, and a progressive widening of the range of more or less uniform languages. Also I particularly like Esperanto, not least because it is the creation ultimately of one man, not a philologist, and is therefore something like a 'human language bereft of the in- conveniences due to too many successive cooks' - which is as good a description of the ideal artificial language (in a particular sense) as I can give.
J.R.R. Tolkien in A Secret Vice

Though Tolkien at some point had a somewhat different stance (c.f. Note 1 to A Secret Vice) it can be said that his interest in languages - real or artificial - began early in his childhood and never ceased throughout his lifetime. Already in his pre-school years he was very interested in English and Latin, but he disliked French. Later, in his teenage years, he made acquaintance with an invented language called animalic, a language constructed mainly out of animal names. Only little later he began to invent a new and somewhat more sophisticated language which was called Nevbosh, or the New Nonsense, which represents still ''no real breaking away from 'English' or the native traditional language.

What Tolkien felt was missing in this 'rudimentary' approach, was the pleasure obtained by the perception of beauty in the very word-form itself. Such pleasure, as he had found in e.g. Greek, Finnish and Welsh, was, what for Tolkien would represent the next progress above the Nevbosh stage, and this was the area, where refinements needed to be made. Naffarin represented this next stage and it showed Latin and Spanish influences.

At this point Tolkien seems to have felt, that any further development needed another approach, which was crucial not only for his future career as a linguist and philologist, but - even more so - for his future career as an author - the involvement of a mythology. Or - as Tolkien put it - ...language construction will breed a mythology.[A Secret Vice]

So this was, what led Tolkien not only to begin developing his most refined artificial languages, but also an according mythology. The task was begun in his early twenties and never abandoned throughout his lifetime. The outcome is not - as is often assumed - a single language, often loosely called "Elvish" because it is thought to be spoken by the Elves of his invented mythology, but rather a variety of several different languages, spoken by different groups or races in his mythology. Some of these languages are better developed, others have a corpus of only a few words. The two best developed and most refined languages are Quenya and Sindarin, they show influences of Finnish and Welsh, respectively. The according mythology was first presented as the LostTales, those tales were the fundament of what much later became "The Silmarillion" (edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher).

For a complete overview of Tolkien's invented languages see Ardalambion



Dictionaries and Concordances    

  • A Working Concordance,
  • A Working English Lexicon,
  • A Working Reverse Dictionary (with or without meanings),
  • A Working Reverse Index,
  • A Working Reverse Glossary,
  • A Working Tolkien Glossary (in 7 volumes),
  • A Comprehensive Index of Proper Names and Places.
All those are available in printed form and on disk (DOS format) from Paul Nolan Hyde, 8520 Jean Parrish Ct. NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87122, USA.

Journals and Periodicals    

  • Vinyar Tengwar The (bi-monthly) Journal of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship. Highly recommendable for everyone studying Tolkiens languages!
  • {Parma Eldalamberon}? Journal of linguistic studies of fantasy literature, especially of the Elvish languages and nomenclature in the works of J.R.R.Tolkien. Published at irregular intervals. (PE Issue No.12 contains the entire "Qenya Lexicon").
  • {Beyond Bree}? Newsletter of the Tolkien Special Interest Group of American Mensa
  • Mythlore A journal published by the Mythopoeic Society
  • Quettar A tri-annual journal of Tolkienian linguistics, currently "in a state of suspended hibernation".



Fonts and Writing-systems

General Linguistic Resources    

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