Tengwar English Mode VS Tengwar English Mode

Now that we have extensively had posts about Tengwar Fonts and now that I’m 0% sick as I was a couple of days ago, let’s take a look at the most debatable and popular Tengwar Mode of all…..ENGLISH mode!


As you may be aware, English is a language spoken by many many living creatures in the Milky Way. Among them, there are many who not only speak the language, but is fond of reading books in English. Not so surprisingly, those English readers (most of the time) enjoy reading Tolkien books (after all he’s pretty good). AND……..somewhere down the road, they fuse what Tolkien created with their own language, English. There we have it! Tengwar English Mode.

But that’s not new! Tolkien himself developed Tengwar English Mode. It was his mother tongue, so it’s only natural he would experiment his newly begotten alphabet with what he spoke on a daily basis.

Gondor…we have a problem!


Tengwar English Mode is crooked in its essence. Ok, let me add the words “in my opinion”, otherwise Morelen may have a stroke or something. What I mean is: Tengwar is a beautiful glove which fits perfectly and naturally right and left hands made of five fingers (i.e. Quenya and Sindarin), now…when you’re trying to fit that same glove in a cloven hoof….I think you got the picture. That’s Tengwar English Mode. It’s pretty good but, I don’t know….you know….

flag_of_gondor_under_sauron_by_lordbojangles-d32ra7yI, myself, started with Tengwar English Mode. A decade ago, at college. It was the introduction for me. It was what I learned first when I knew little about the real deal. When I realized there was more, there was Quenya; everything made sense and I never looked back. Do you wanna see it for yourself?

Below, I’ll share with you an interesting essay talking about the differences between Tengwar English Mode and Tengwar English Mode! (Wait, is there two now?) Yeah…kind of…..See? A five-finger glove for a cloven hoof!

Tengwar – General Use: English

There are two distinct methods with which the General Use is applied to the English language. One method is to follow the spelling used in the Roman alphabet, transliterating the numerous peculiarities of English orthography with fair accuracy. The other is to reproduce each sound of the spoken language, letting each tengwa represent an English phoneme. The two methods have on occasion been referred to as orthographic andphonemic spelling, and these terms will be used here.

As Tolkien points out,

There was of course no ‘mode’ for the representation of English. One adequate phonetically could be devised from the Fëanorian system. The brief example on the title-page [i.e. DTS 5] does not attempt to exhibit this. It is rather an example of what a man of Gondor might have produced, hesitating between the values of the letters familiar in his ‘mode’ and the traditional spelling of English. [AppE]…”

Read more at the excellent source: http://at.mansbjorkman.net/teng_general_english.htm




Filed under English, Guide, Tengwar, Tolkien

10 responses to “Tengwar English Mode VS Tengwar English Mode

  1. Cillendor

    I love that this is how you began studying Quenya. I started with Sindarin the same way. Last winter, I began teaching myself a sort of hybrid English mode for personal note-taking. Then a coworker challenged me to try learning Sindarin with him. He gave up a few weeks in, but I’ve been at it for almost a year now. It’s so much fun. This summer, I plan to pick up Quenya and work toward “fluency” in both languages, with the end goal of being able to translate between them without passing through English (unlikely but not impossible, I think).

    • You got yourself a very nice coworker!!!!! That’s rare! I mean…nobody at my job takes the language seriously as I do. Some find it amusing, some think it’s pretty cool to have that kind of knowledge and some think it’s waste, but nobody feels the way I do about it.

      Translating from one to the other must be KRWWAZY! I really don’t click myself with Sindarin. Ahhhh, I realize it’s pretty good with neat mechanisms as well, but I don’t feel it. There’s no heat for me. Quenya is my mistress and she’s pretty hot! 😀

  2. “spoken by many many living creatures in the Milky Way”
    yI’jatlh’eghmeH, tlhoy bIpiH

    “otherwise Morelen may have a stroke or something”
    You give yourself too much credit…

    Also, good job on posting something that’s basically just snarky commentary and then simply quoting another source.

    You also forgot the earlier mode used for English that’s found in DTs16-18/23-25.

    And I guess lost on you is the irony of you using a Tolkien quote to justify your view while you like to ignore the Appendix E quote on “a dot below” on other occasions…
    (quoting you: “Vowels are made to come ABOVE tengwar!”)


    • You are aware that “Milky Way” was a device used to show the reader how English has acquired today’s lingua franca status, right?

      Well, I’m only allowed to work with the credits that are given to me.

      Tell me: How many words have I written in your Flickr? 4,068? No..wait, that’s your count here! Thank you for the credits… and your time!

      Thank you! I’m happy you enjoyed the post! I knew you would!

      Why would I cite the earlier mode used for English if that was not my intention at first place? I thought you had gotten the mood of the post correctly.

      Tolkien’s quote is there. Read as you want and interpret it as you like; as justification or not. It’s all up to you! It’s not my concern how you end up concluding whatever you want.

      • You are aware that it was a joke?
        Because, you know, Klingons aren’t real.

        Feel free to come over and comment as much as you want!
        Like you did I will read it all and answer.

        • Well, I chose not to assume it was a joke, as it could be one of those faithful and serious Klingon arguments about the loftiness of Klingon language. You’re still here discussing Tengwar/Quenya issues, so…who knows if you’re not an ardent fan of Klingon too?

          When credit is due, I will give it to you there!

  3. Michael

    I’m glad you posted this but your placement of the charts is a little confusing. It looks to me as if the first chart is the “phonemic” mode and the second the “orthographic” mode, is that correct? I have fallen back on the orthographic mode for English since it seems more natural to me.

    • I just placed them. No intention to clarify none of them (nor to confuse as well).

      Yes, your observation is correct. First one follows the phonetic method and the other, the orthographic.

  4. Atyarwen

    I’ve already tried to learn English Mode……It’s too confusing for me (not native English spoken girl.. 🙂 )

    • Hmmmmm…that’s a point I haven’t considered before, Atyarwen! People who are not English natives trying to learn Tengwar English Mode…..man,….that must be rough on the edges!!!

      Anyway, nevermind that! There’s always good ol’ Tengwar Quenya and Sindarin Mode which are way better to be concerned about.

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