Learning how to speak the Tengwar language (a.k.a. Elvish)

Elf?

Ok, first of all: NO! You won’t be able to learn how to speak the Tengwar language. No one will. Why???? Read below…

This post is a guide designed for all the people who are getting their very first contact with the languages developed by Tolkien.

So, below you’ll find quick facts for the beginners who honestly wants to learn more (and also for the geeks & nerds who brag about how expert they are and how fluently they can speak Tengwar)

Fact 1

Tengwar is not a language

This is such a basic thing. Something must be very wrong in Wikipedia, because lately so many people have popped up everywhere saying Tengwar IS a language. I got heavily cursed some days ago by unos cabrones when I corrected the later statement. It was so surreal their talk that a lot of my Twitter followers started to reply or retweet what we were writing on the matter.

What do you see in the picture? In which language is that written?

Above you’ll have an example of Roman alphabet. Roman is not a language. People definitely don’t say “I speak Roman, I speak Cyrillic”. Nonsense! That’s exactly the case with Tengwar. It’s just the alphabet, not the language itself. How can one speak an alphabet? (i.e. a set of symbols arranged in any particular order or set and used for writing a language)

Fact 2

Elvish is not a language

This conception mistake is more common and less horrible than the “Tengwar language”. Actually, you must be wondering: “What? Elvish is a language! That’s what elves speak in the movies, right?” So, bear with me! Let’s think harder for a bit!

Elvish: the word that shows you are not versed in Tolkien lore.

How many elvish languages are there? Only one? When someone says “I want to learn Elvish” which language is one referring? Quenya, Sindarin, Telerin, Vanyarin, Common Eldarin, Primitive Quendian…? You see: Tolkien didn’t create one language. He created a multitude! The term “Elvish” says NOTHING! It’s actually an adjective.

If you are lay to the subject, if you are new, you will definitely use “Elvish”, but after you stop and think for a moment…there’s no sense keeping such an inaccurate term which defines and determines no language after all. Ex.: “He speaks Chinese…Wait…Mandarin? Cantonese? What?”

Fact 3

Tengwar is not a code

So true! The name is Tengwar Alphabet, not Tengwar Code. There’s a famous search engine result called Starchamber that could not be worst to teach Tengwar alphabet. It lacks depth. It shows a shallow surface and only contributes to people writing wrongly with no awareness whatsoever how Tengwar really works.

Tengwar is a PHONETIC alphabet, not a code for Roman alphabet.

Perhaps by its simplicity, this site has become famous and people really like it. I don’t know what happens. Kids are strange these days. They don’t put up with being corrected and they rather have something easy and wrong than enhancing their brain’s level a little bit.

Tengwar alphabet was developed phonetically! What really matters are the sounds and not the letters. That’s where this simple approach of Tengwar as a code, fails completely.

Well…

There are so many things that can be added to this guide. Those above are what I can come up with right now. When something weird, wrong and new comes up (oooo and I’m sure it will) I’m  gonna add to make this post a 1st step to getting to know the basic concepts about Tolkien wonderful creations!

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35 Comments

Filed under Elvish, Tengwar

35 responses to “Learning how to speak the Tengwar language (a.k.a. Elvish)

  1. Donovan

    casually was one of those nooby assholes

    Huh.. My eyes.. They hurt with realization.. Good thing I only started my interest in learning this stuff yesterday, so there’s not a whole lot of time between ‘ignorant fuck’ and ‘realizing fuck’ lol.

  2. I respect and admire those who study Tolkien’s languages. I also think that this article is a bit snobbish. As a Tolkien fan and an English teacher, I’d like to point out that writing a post about how people consistently misuse “Elvish” or use grammatically incorrect forms of the words or languages is ridiculous if you can’t post it correctly in English. There were so many English grammar mistakes that I marveled how you managed to learn another language at all, let alone censure those that wish to dabble in that world. I understand that you take this very seriously. However, I hope you understand that I take English very seriously and am offended that you would act and write in such a patronizing manner without regard to the language with which you are communicating.

    P.S. Saying that a man/woman speaks Chinese is acceptable, since Mandarin is the widely accepted form of Chinese. Usually one will specify Cantonese if that is the language to which they refer.

  3. Vampyre1988

    Just wanted to say a big thank you for all you have put together here. I spent about 10 hours studying here and learning so that I could translate my favourite quote from the movies into Quenya and then write it using Tengwar. I got it down and then realised you had a quotes page. You already had the quote translated and written and thanks to your website I had the same thing worked out on my own. Now that I feel confident that I got it correct it is time to get it tattooed.

    Thank you Quenya101

    The quote in question is “Death is just another road” if you were interested.

    • How cool!!!! I’m happy to be helpful specially in such a lovely thing as Quenya, my passion!!!!

      I’d love to see your tattoo if you end up getting it!

  4. Dayna

    I know this is an old post, but I’m wondering if someone would contact me directly as I’m looking to get a tattoo written in the Tengwar alphabet and would like some second (or third) opinions. Please e-mail me if you think you can help! dmschutz1@gmail.com

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