Elvish languages (Middle-earth)

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J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy fiction contains several Elvish languages. The author, a philologist by profession, spent much time on these constructed languages. His interest was primarily philological, and the languages were the first thing Tolkien created for his secondary world. He said his stories grew out of his languages.

Tolkien originally called "Qenya", his first Elvish language, Elfin. This he later called Quenya (High-elven) and is one of the most complete of Tolkien's language. The phonology, vocabulary and grammar of Quenya and Sindarin are strongly influenced by Finnish and Welsh, respectively. These two are members of a family of related languages, but no others were as well developed.

Tolkien also created scripts for his languages, including Sarati, Tengwar and Cirth.

There was a tradition of philological study of Elvish languages within his fiction. Elvish philologists are referred to by the Quenya term Lambengolmor. The Lambengolmor were skilled linguists and historians, and created many works about the Elves and their languages. Known members were Rúmil, who invented the first alphabet; Fëanor, inventor of the Tengwar; and Pengolodh, who is credited with many works.


Internal development

As conceived late in Tolkien's life, the family tree of Elven-languages is as follows:

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