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Quenya (pronounced [ˈkʷwɛnjɑ])[1] is a constructed language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is one of the many fictional language set in his Secondary world, often called Middle-earth.

Quenya is one of the many Elvish languages spoken by the immortal Quendi (or Elves in Quenya). Quenya meant, inside the Fictional world, simply "language", or in contrast to other tongues that the Elves met later in their long history "elf-language". But the tongue actually called Quenya was in fact in origin the speech of the Noldor and the Vanyar, two clans of Elves living in Eldamar, "Elvenhome" in Quenya.

The Noldor and the Vanyar spoke two slightly different, though mutually intelligible, dialects of Tarquesta,[2] as Quenya is called in its everyday or vernacular form: Noldorin Quenya and Vanyarin Quenya. Later Noldorin Quenya became Exilic Quenya, when these Elves followed their leader Prince Fëanor from Eldamar back to Middle-earth in exile, where the immortal Elves first awoke.

In the Third Age, (the time of the setting of The Lord of the Rings) Quenya was no longer a living language of the Elves of Middle-earth. Exilic Quenya was learned at an early age by all Elves of Noldorin origin, and it continued to be used in spoken and written form, but their mother-tongue was another Elven-tongue, Sindarin.

Men learned and used Quenya for official names (as Aragorn did with Telcontar), and writings, and as a ceremonial language, these were the noble Númenoreans of the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. Quenya had in the Third Age almost the same statue as Latin language had in medieval Europe, and is called Elven-latin by Tolkien.[3]

Quenya is in its "Classical" written form called Parmaquesta, or "book-language".[4] Thus Tolkien imagined a diglossic Elven society with its Tarquesta and Parmaquesta. Its older form, recorded first in the sarati of Rúmil in Eldamar, is called Old or Ancient Quenya (Yára-Quenya in Quenya). It evolved from Common Eldarin, the tongue of the Eldar before their divisions, e.g. those Elves who decided to follow the god or Vala Oromë and undertook the Great March to Valinor, and Eldamar, and before that the Eldar spoke the original speech of all Elves, Primitive Quendian, called Quenderin in Quenya.

Most of the time Tolkien wrote his grammars and lexicons of Quenya in English using the Latin script for Quenya. But inside his Secondary World Elves, Men and Hobbits of Middle-earth are supposed to use a different script when writting, the tengwar of Fëanor, seen on the One Ring and the Doors of Durin in The Lord of the Rings. Prior to their Exile, the Noldor Elves used first the sarati of Rúmil to record Ancient Quenya. In Middle-earth, Quenya appears to be rarely written using the "Elvish runes" or cirth, named certar in Quenya. A Runic inscription in Quenya was engraved on the sword of Aragorn (II), Andúril.

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