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  1. #1
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    The Language of the Elves

    Well I could look around on the internet, but posting a topic in these forums is always much more fun. And Im also lazy.

    In any case, I was RPing in Laurelin speaking (Sindarin[S]), when another one of my newly joined kin came up and spoke in (Quenya[Q])She being a human, me being an elf talking to another elf. I was suprised, IRL and IC, as I am still relatively new to RP in general, being I have not seen many unique backstories/characters yet. So I asked how she came to learn the language of Valinor, she replied saying she was taken in by Greenwood elves after her village was burned to the ground when she was a baby. She said she grew up speaking it. This puzzled me greatly, as I am currently reading the Silmarillion, and it was my understanding that Quenya broke off into Sindarin(Of the Grey Elves)/Silvan(Language of the Nandor), and remained the same to the Vanyar and Noldor in Valinor. However when the Noldor brought it back to Middle Earth in their exile, it was eventually decreed by Thingol to not be spoken. And so it was thus that Quenya was not spoken except by the Noldor by themselves, and was called High Elven. I pointed this fact out (on a much simpler basis) and was greeted with an arguement that I will not go into detail.

    Essentially, my question is, "Is it in fact accurate that given the human girl's backstory she learned Quenya "Growing up" in Greenwood, given that they speak a Sindarin with some hint of Silvan form.? In the index as stated below it does say 'Common to all elves', but I feel that I can assume it would not be 'common' to most elves in Greenwood, except maybe the older families."

    Silmarillion index- Quenya: The ancient Tongue, common to all elves, in the form that it took in Valinor, brought to Middle' Earth by the Noldorin exiles, but abandoned by them as a daily speech, especially after the edict of King Thingol against its use....Not named as such in this book, but referred to Eldarin....High Eldarin....High Elven....the tongue of Valinor....the speech of the elves of Valinor....the tongue of the Noldor....the High Speech of the West....

  2. #2
    I agree with you. I would not expect many elves of the Greenwood to know much Quenya. Plus it would have been know as Mirkwood for many generations of men (since about 1050 Third Age) Quenya would have been known in Lindon, in Hollin and was known by the learned men of Gondor.
    "You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mozzarellala View Post
    Well I could look around on the internet, but posting a topic in these forums is always much more fun. And Im also lazy.

    In any case, I was RPing in Laurelin speaking (Sindarin[S]), when another one of my newly joined kin came up and spoke in (Quenya[Q])She being a human, me being an elf talking to another elf. I was suprised, IRL and IC, as I am still relatively new to RP in general, being I have not seen many unique backstories/characters yet. So I asked how she came to learn the language of Valinor, she replied saying she was taken in by Greenwood elves after her village was burned to the ground when she was a baby. She said she grew up speaking it. This puzzled me greatly, as I am currently reading the Silmarillion, and it was my understanding that Quenya broke off into Sindarin(Of the Grey Elves)/Silvan(Language of the Nandor), and remained the same to the Vanyar and Noldor in Valinor. However when the Noldor brought it back to Middle Earth in their exile, it was eventually decreed by Thingol to not be spoken. And so it was thus that Quenya was not spoken except by the Noldor by themselves, and was called High Elven. I pointed this fact out (on a much simpler basis) and was greeted with an arguement that I will not go into detail.

    Essentially, my question is, "Is it in fact accurate that given the human girl's backstory she learned Quenya "Growing up" in Greenwood, given that they speak a Sindarin with some hint of Silvan form.? In the index as stated below it does say 'Common to all elves', but I feel that I can assume it would not be 'common' to most elves in Greenwood, except maybe the older families."

    Silmarillion index- Quenya: The ancient Tongue, common to all elves, in the form that it took in Valinor, brought to Middle' Earth by the Noldorin exiles, but abandoned by them as a daily speech, especially after the edict of King Thingol against its use....Not named as such in this book, but referred to Eldarin....High Eldarin....High Elven....the tongue of Valinor....the speech of the elves of Valinor....the tongue of the Noldor....the High Speech of the West....
    You're quite right, Elves from there would speak their own local variety of Elvish for daily use and in point of fact, no Elf of Middle-earth would speak Quenya as a living language; Tolkien said it had become a kind of 'Elf-Latin', used for lore and poetry only; it had been a 'dead' language since the First Age. The Noldor had adopted a rather posh Quenya-influenced dialect of Sindarin as the language they used in daily life.

    btw... 'Greenwood'? It had been a long time since it had been called that, I thought.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    btw... 'Greenwood'? It had been a long time since it had been called that, I thought.
    Thank you both for the clarification...and I think Greenwood just sounds better than Mirkwood

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mozzarellala View Post
    Essentially, my question is, "Is it in fact accurate that given the human girl's backstory she learned Quenya "Growing up" in Greenwood, given that they speak a Sindarin with some hint of Silvan form.? In the index as stated below it does say 'Common to all elves', but I feel that I can assume it would not be 'common' to most elves in Greenwood, except maybe the older families."
    No, anyone growing up in Greenwood--it would have been called Mirkwood during the lifetime of any Man at this time in history--would not speak Quenya. Who would teach it to her? No Elves spoke it as a daily language at this point in history, and especially none in Mirkwood. It is also unlikely that she would speak Sindarin, even if she had close relations to the Elves.

    Tolkien wrote in a footnote in a letter he wrote to Richard Jeffery dated 17 December 1972, Letter 347 of The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien:

    The Silvan Elves of Thranduil's realm did not speak S.[indarin] but a related language or dialect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    'Greenwood'? It had been a long time since it had been called that, I thought.
    You are correct. Greenwood the Great became known as Mirkwood shortly after the return of Sauron to Dol Guldur c. 1000 of the Third Age.
    Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’.

  6. #6
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    To add to what everyone else has said, Thranduil is a Sinda, and thus Sindarin is likely the spoken tongue of the Elves of Mirkwood.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berephon View Post
    To add to what everyone else has said, Thranduil is a Sinda, and thus Sindarin is likely the spoken tongue of the Elves of Mirkwood.
    At least that of the royal house. I remember writings on the "ethnicity" of the Elves of Mirkwood and their kings (Thranduil and his predecessor who fell in the Battle of Last Alliance) in Unfinished Tales, but my copy is with a friend right now.

    Landroval: Kibilturg (Watchers of Elendil); Taurunion, Erohtar (Taters and Traders)
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  8. #8
    The status of either Sindarin or Silvan (aka Nandorin) in Northern Mirkwood at the end of the 3rd age is problematic due to conflicting statements provided by Tolkien.

    Badger has cited letter 347 where JRRT states a dialect related to Sindarin (likely to be Nandorin based on JRRT's other writings) was the dominant tongue in Thranduil's realm. Furthermore he states that Sindarin was likely spoken as a language by more Men (specifically Gondorians) than elves in the late 3rd Age.

    However the Unfinished Tales provides a contradictory statement in that "By the end of the Third Age, the Silvan tongues had probably ceased to be spoken in the two regions that had importance at the time of the War of the Ring: Lórien and the realm of Thranduil in northern Mirkwood. All that survived of them in the records was a few words and several names of persons and places."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    However the Unfinished Tales provides a contradictory statement in that "By the end of the Third Age, the Silvan tongues had probably ceased to be spoken in the two regions that had importance at the time of the War of the Ring: Lórien and the realm of Thranduil in northern Mirkwood. All that survived of them in the records was a few words and several names of persons and places."
    LOTR is quite definite about it, and it agrees with what you've cited there. It says in a footnote in Appendix F that 'In Lorien in this period', they spoke Sindarin but with an 'accent' reflecting the Silvan origin of most of the Elves there. It sounded different enough to the Sindarin Frodo had learned that what with that and his limited command of the language, he couldn't make out much of what was said. Legolas could reply in the same language, though, implying that it was spoken in Thranduil's realm as well. So there you have it, it's apparently a woodsy dialect of Sindarin.

  10. #10
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    Smile


    Yes, that's the conclusion I've apparently bought and stored, and thus I've been semi-liberally bending some of my in-game Sindarin constructions with a pretext of dialectality

    Landroval: Kibilturg (Watchers of Elendil); Taurunion, Erohtar (Taters and Traders)
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  11. #11
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    Is it possible that your friend's character could have learned Quenya from the elves of Mirkwood?

    Yes. However, it would be a small possibility in my opinion. I imagine that Quenya would be known to some of the more learned of the elves of Mirkwood who could have theoretically instructed your friend's character in it.

    Is it feasible that your friend's character could have learned Quenya from the elves of Mirkwood?

    In my opinion not really. Even if the more learned amongst those elves did have a knowledge of Quenya it would most likely be used as an academic or ritual language in much the same way as Latin is used today. That is to say there is little reason to teach or learn such a language except for specialised purposes. I studied both Latin and Anglo-Saxon, but neither of them is much use to me in every day life. The same would be true of Quenya. The question should be why the Mirkwood elves taught her what is essentially a dead language rather than their own dialect of Sindarin, which would be more useful to her to enable her to converse with the Mirkwood elves.
    Last edited by MrWarg; Feb 15 2013 at 12:58 AM.

  12. #12
    Quenya is mainly used as a formal speech and Sindarin for common....as I understand it. It's been awhile since I played or read up on ME though. Tengwar is another language, used mainly for writing.

    Savo 'lass a lalaith

  13. #13
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    Tengwar is the name of one of the two writing systems (the other being Cirth). They are not languages.

    Quenya is primarily the language of the Noldorin elves who came back to Middle-earth from Aman on a semi-self-imposed exile resulting from their rebellion against the Valar after the Darkening of Valinor and the rαpe of the Silmarilli by Melkor Morgoth.

    The king of the Sindarin elves of Middle-earth, Elu Thingol, edicted a ban on the open usage of Quenya, the language of Noldor many of whom participated in the kinslaying in Alqualondë during their revolt. As a result, the exiled Noldor adopted the Sindarin language for colloquial usage while retaining their ancient Quenya as a language of lore and rituals.

    The tradition was adopted by the Edain who eventually became Númenóreans, and handed down by their faithful branch down to Elendil and his heirs and thus preserved in the kingdoms founded on exile (after the fall of Númenórë): Arnor and Gondor.

    Landroval: Kibilturg (Watchers of Elendil); Taurunion, Erohtar (Taters and Traders)
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  14. #14
    I wish the game had gone more into the different groups of elves, how they relate to each other, and how they feel about non-elves. The game just treats Elves as if they are all the same...but in Tolkien's world Silvan elves are different than Noldor elves in culture and skills, for example.

  15. #15
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    That might have to do with licencing issues, or just because LOTRO was in its tweens before coming of age when the Elven lands were created. I'm expectant of the future though, with solid lore-monkeys on board and all

    Landroval: Kibilturg (Watchers of Elendil); Taurunion, Erohtar (Taters and Traders)
    Crickhollow: Kibilturg (Tarciryan Knights), Zigilturg (Forever Notorious), Birnavor (The Northern Kingdom), Nuncle (Casual Wanderers)

  16. #16
    It was certainly a confusing beginning for my wood elf, wondering how she got to be with Elrond...and then why she was helping out dwarves when her people have a distrust of them.

    Anyways, as for a human being raised by the wood elves...no. If they did anything, they would send the human off to the nearest human settlement...and it would not learn Quenya from them. But since this game is far from lore, I won't fuss about it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berephon View Post
    To add to what everyone else has said, Thranduil is a Sinda, and thus Sindarin is likely the spoken tongue of the Elves of Mirkwood.
    I'm sorry, that is not correct. Please see my previous post, the one just above yours.
    Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    Furthermore he states that Sindarin was likely spoken as a language by more Men (specifically Gondorians) than elves in the late 3rd Age.
    The context of this being that there were fewer Elves remaining in Middle-earth at this time than there were Men in Gondor.
    Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jestina View Post
    It was certainly a confusing beginning for my wood elf, wondering how she got to be with Elrond...and then why she was helping out dwarves when her people have a distrust of them.

    Anyways, as for a human being raised by the wood elves...no. If they did anything, they would send the human off to the nearest human settlement...and it would not learn Quenya from them. But since this game is far from lore, I won't fuss about it.
    Oh, but I would because in this case it's not about lore so much as what makes a plausible story. The game does at least try to tell a story with some coherence, and so lore or lack of it isn't much of an excuse for a dubious story. It's obvious from a common-sense point of view that Elves wouldn't simply raise a foundling themselves (a child of Men would belong among Men, and in Mirkwood there would be other Men living not so very far away from any village that might have been attacked, an awful closer than the nearest settlement of Elves). Elves were supposed to be wise, after all, and it would be unkind to raise such a child among Elves 'just because'.

    Merely being rescued by Elves would make for a remarkable story by Middle-earth standards. (And be a good reason for an uncharacteristic wish to seek out Elves in later life, too).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jestina View Post
    I wish the game had gone more into the different groups of elves, how they relate to each other, and how they feel about non-elves. The game just treats Elves as if they are all the same...but in Tolkien's world Silvan elves are different than Noldor elves in culture and skills, for example.
    No thanks. I don't want quite that much complexity in my computer games.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by maxjenius View Post
    No thanks. I don't want quite that much complexity in my computer games.
    Stick to consoles then. RPG's are so dumbed down now, compared to what they used to be.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Jestina View Post
    Stick to consoles then. RPG's are so dumbed down now, compared to what they used to be.
    I know what you mean. There's very few hard choices to make in most games these days beyond your options in weapons and armour. When there are, many players just pigeon-hole themselves into the usual roles of tanks, dps, buffer or healer.
    "You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81



  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    It's obvious from a common-sense point of view that Elves wouldn't simply raise a foundling themselves (a child of Men would belong among Men, and in Mirkwood there would be other Men living not so very far away from any village that might have been attacked, an awful closer than the nearest settlement of Elves). Elves were supposed to be wise, after all, and it would be unkind to raise such a child among Elves 'just because'.
    Within the given context I mostly agree with you. However, it is not completely outside of Tolkien's works to have a Man living with, and in at least one case, raised by Elves. Aragorn was fostered in Imladris, of course this was a special case since he was the lone surviving heir of Isildur and in need of protection from Sauron. In The Silmarillion Túrin lived at various times among the Elves, both in Doriath and Nargothrond. Tuor came to live among the Elves in Gondolin, but he, too, was a special case.


    [derail]

    Quote Originally Posted by tuor66 View Post
    When there are, many players just pigeon-hole themselves into the usual roles of tanks, dps, buffer or healer.
    And battle-minstrels.

    We used to joke a lot about that in the days before the war-speech skills were implemented. Now that it's actually possible, to a degree, the joke isn't quite a funny.

    [/derail]
    Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy-Stories’.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldbadgerbrock View Post
    ...in at least one case, raised by Elves. Aragorn was fostered in Imladris...
    Tuor was fostered by Elves. Túrin was for a while fostered in Doriath. Possibly there are even more examples

    Landroval: Kibilturg (Watchers of Elendil); Taurunion, Erohtar (Taters and Traders)
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldbadgerbrock View Post
    Within the given context I mostly agree with you. However, it is not completely outside of Tolkien's works to have a Man living with, and in at least one case, raised by Elves. Aragorn was fostered in Imladris, of course this was a special case since he was the lone surviving heir of Isildur and in need of protection from Sauron. In The Silmarillion Túrin lived at various times among the Elves, both in Doriath and Nargothrond. Tuor came to live among the Elves in Gondolin, but he, too, was a special case.
    Context is key. Men and Elves weren't estranged in the First Age, but by the Third Age things had changed. I have read the Sil, you know

 

 
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