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For those interested to speak and read Quenya I will try to present some basic knowledge of the language's grammar and vocabulary.

The course starts on Saturday (March, 21- 2009). It will approach the matter like this:

-presenting grammar
-presenting vocabulary
-giving exercises and text to learn.

-key with answers and more exercises.

I am not very skilled in that, so any help will be appreciated. The comleate course may be delayed if permission by Th. Renk is not given by the date of the scheduled start. I will start anyway with some basic knowledge from other sources.

***** Acknowledgments*****

The course is based on book "Quetin i Lambe Eldaiva" (by Thorsten Renk) >>>Free Download version here<<<, which is originally derived from the courses of Helge Kaare Fauskaanger posted in Ardalambion.

Authors, which works are used for this course:
J. R. R. Tolkien more about
H. K. Fauskaanger more about
Th. Renk more about
A. G. de Castro more about
Here also is Thorsten's article on learning Elvish (since you're linking to his work). In my opinion it basically boils down to agreeing with Carl Hostetter when he writes (for full version see the FAQ at the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship or E.L.F. on the web):

Is it possible to speak Quenya and Sindarin?

No. The vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of Tolkien's invented languages, even of Quenya and Sindarin, are far too incomplete to allow its casual, conversational, or quotidian use.

It's really 'Neo-elvish' that many people study on the net, and Mr. Hostetter looks at the matter in more detail in his article Elvish as She is Spoke (also at E.L.F. if anyone is interested). Anyway, Thorsten writes (edited a bit by me for brevity):

So you want to learn Elvish?

'(a little bit of philosophy)
So, you made up your mind to learn Elvish? I absolutely love the Elvish languages, so I can understand that perfectly, and I wish you plenty of joy!

But there's a question which you might want to ask yourself early on - and maybe later as well - what do you mean by 'learning'?

Do you wish to speak the language, write Elvish poetry and read Elvish stories, use it in roleplaying games and write Elvish letters to your friends? Because all that is actually possible - well, kind of, and that's why I am asking the question. Because all these things require a kind of final form of Elvish, they assume that Tolkien at some point finished Sindarin or Quenya and that this finished language can then be used.

But that is not how Tolkien ever thought about the languages. So, learning Tolkien's thoughts about the languages is a vastly different task than learning to 'speak' one of the languages.

Tolkien never viewed his creations as finished - he was always revising and altering things - even for published things (which he couldn't really alter) he re-invented the underlying explanation - a good example is Gil-Galad - in Letters: ...

(edited example)

Vinyar Tengwar 43 features 6 different versions of the Lord's Prayer in Quenya which allow to trace how Tolkien, not satisfied with the previous versions, altered features of grammar and vocabulary to arrive at a version that would appeal more to him - till he decided to rewrite that one as well. Tolkien's own dictionaries usually contain several layers of entries - early pencilled ones, crossed out, replaced by ink entries, at times crossed out again and re-written, reflecting the constant alteration of the languages in vocabulary and derivation.

Why am I telling all this to you? Because, creating a speakable Sindarin or Quenya is not only about filling in the gaps with clever reconstructions - it involves at times heavy editorial decisions and throwing out Tolkien-made material on the basis of personal preferences.

You see, there's no way to have a language in which l’ can be both 'yes' and 'no' - so if you want to speak Quenya, you have to decide for one of them. But there's no good guideline of doing so - should we go with Tolkien's latest decisions? Then l’ means 'no' in Quenya, but then, a lot of the material in LOTR gets pretty awkward interpretations, as Tolkien's late ideas of the grammar are quite different from his ideas by the time he wrote Nam’ri’. Or should we go with what's closest to LOTR? Then l’ is 'yes' - but we know that Tolkien eventually dismissed that idea. So in the end, it boils down to an editor's choice which one to use.

I have written both a Sindarin and a Quenya course and hence made quite a few editorial decisions of that kind, just to offer an easier-to-learn version for beginners. That is, I feel, okay, because I clearly say so in the course and try to keep is as close as possible to Tolkien's ideas and only try to straighten out contradictions.

But you see, the problems start when you have leaned Sindarin from my or Helge Fauskanger's course and try to explain it to someone else. If you're not careful, that what Tolkien actually wrote gets lost in the process. Because there's something which may be called truth by repetition.

(edited example)

You see, the next difficulty when one 'standardizes' Sindarin is the following - I have a different idea about what is most likely correct than Ryszard Derdzinski or Helge Fauskanger - and for me it's easy to read their texts, because I know what Tolkien has written and what other possible conclusions can be drawn of that (because I rejected those when I made my editorial decisions - but I never forgot them) - but if you know Sindarin only from one secondary source you may wonder a lot about some unfamiliar grammar. So - eventually it pays off to know different interpretations even if you only want to use the language. (But here's a caveat - even if there are often different possible interpretations that does not imply 'anything goes' - we may often not know what is right, but we can boil it down to two or three possibilities, and anything else is still wrong).

What's the point of all this? I would like to ask you to be extremely careful how you present it when you're explaining Elvish to someone if you only know secondary sources yourself. In making statements like that is such and such you're very often twisting the truth in terms of what Tolkien actually had in mind - even if you have the best intentions of helping someone - just keep that distinction by arguing that Helge thinks that... and you're in much better shape, or throw in an occasional I think.... Look into what Tolkien has to say - and you're fine. But ultimately, you're not in a position to explain how Elvish grammar is unless you've studied Tolkien himself.

Just using the languages for fanfic is fine as well, and you can have a lot of fun doing so (I certainly had...) - and you don't have to study all the messy details and clashing interpretations for doing that. But if you really want to understand what Tolkien's thoughts are and how he viewed the Elvish grammar - then I'm afraid a secondary source will never be enough, and that is a lot more work.

So - it's up to you what you mean by learning Elvish - some people are happy just using the languages, others are content just to study them on a formal level without ever writing a bit of text - I have done and enjoyed both. But whatever you do, have fun (it's a hobby after all) and recognize the limits (I guess none of us really wants to spread all these false things).'

Thorsten Renk

This is not posted to ruin the fun of delving into Tolkien's wonderful art, not at all. People can have fun while knowing what it is they are actually engaging in when they study web courses to try to write or speak in Elvish. For those who begin by thinking learning Elvish will be like learning German or Italian, then yes they may be a little disappointed to learn that this is not possible, but as Mr. Hostetter also notes:

So, is it pointless to try to compose in Quenya and Sindarin?

No, there is nothing wrong with it per se, and it can certainly be both fun and instructive (even this editor has done so on occasion; see for example this "Quenya" version of the Lord's Prayer). But it must always be borne in mind by composers and readers alike that such compositions are not authentic, and that there is virtually no chance that Tolkien himself would have produced anything like the results of such exercises (thus, compare the previously mentioned translation with Tolkien's own Quenya translation of the Lord's Prayer published in Vinyar Tengwar 43).

Not that anyone will read all this! but I think it should go before the course actually starts in any case. And I know the thread says 'for beginners' but that, to my mind, is where this commentary belongs... before one begins!

Have fun Smile Smilie
Thank you for posting this, Galin! Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie
I really hope people will read it all. I wish I knew this back when I tried to learn Quenya (from Fauskanger's course and random websites when his list didn't have the word I needed). It certainly would have saved me some confusion! Very Mad Smilie Wink Smilie
Thank You Galin. I hope you will oversee this course every time you have spare moment.

*****to those who start with us*****
In this course we will try to present the High-elven language as it was attested in Tolkien's sources. For example we will not discuss Helge's translation of the "Genesis" (First Book of the Holy Bible) for I also know that there are some speculations in vocabulary. We will keep up with the texts of Renk's course though, but as you will see if you start to read it, they are meant to present the grammar and not to present any idea about elven life, thinking or art. So when we are to deduct "how would an elf say it?", we will look ONLY for Professor's opinion. I shall admit that there will be many times, where we will not be able to answer that otherwise simple question. There is still not enough published text (and text in Quenya at all I believe) to study.

You may learn it for few good reasons:
-gets you into the world of Tolkien (spiritually and physically)
-can help you to develop more keen sense for fantasy and create better fantasy world of your own
-will make you part of a community of Quenya admirers

Whatever the reason, I will be happy to see you around.
Is it possible to speak Quenya and Sindarin?

No. The vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of Tolkien's invented languages, even of Quenya and Sindarin, are far too incomplete to allow its casual, conversational, or quotidian use.

Then what exactly were Liv Tyler, Orlando Bloom et al. gabbling about in the movies?
Few phrases are not exactly conversation. You may speak few words and this does not make you speak a language, otherwise we all would be polyglots.

As for Arwen, Aragorn, Laegolas, Gandalf, Saruman etc.: they were using some words from both languages. As Tolkien himself says: "...the elven languages, both Quenya and Sindarin, are far from complete..."

And we are about to accept these limits and even though they can not be neglected, we shall learn also to use some phrases in Quenya.
How about that- Sindarin is incomplete but you can buy a book "Gateway to Sindarin" (author David Salo) for 141GBP. How is that now?

One more advantage - Quenya course almost for free (it will cost you at least your Internet fee and the price of the time you will spend on it).
Then what exactly were Liv Tyler, Orlando Bloom et al. gabbling about in the movies?

Instead of hiring a language expert to help the actors with examples of actual Elvish from the books, Jackson paid someone to invent Neo-elvish, mail it to them, and then had coaches on hand to help with speaking that.

Almost _none_ of Tolkien's actual Elvish dialogue is retained. I can think of only one instance, in fact: _half_ of the opening spell that Gandalf tries. Instead, we get multiple muffled, breathless tracts of entirely fabricated Elvish, for fabricated dialogue (such as Arwen(!) raising the Bruinen against the Nazgul).

Carl Hostetter from his review of film one

Perhaps Peter Jackson has no idea that one cannot learn to speak Quenya or Sindarin like one can learn to speak German. He's not a linguist anyway, but a film director. That said, one can simply open the books to find examples of the languages as Tolkien himself invented them.
Well, if he can invent Arwen the Warrior Princess, dwarf tossing, Sauron the Floating Red Eye and an Lothlorien elf army sendt by Elrond to Helm's Deep, then why not invent Movie-Sindarin as well? Anyting goes, as long as it looks and sounds nice on the screen. Elf Sticking Tounge Out Smilie
I am not sure if it sounds nice... Anyway I think "inventing" unlike "creating" must follow some blueprints. And say the words were "forged" to suit the needs, I was expecting to at least hear it proper pronounced. Galadriel's "Earendil", for one, does not sound like it but "Erendil".
Galadriel's "Earendil" had me raise an eye brow too, but atleast her Nam’ri’ is correct (and thus also helping me explain who to say Amari’). And Gandalf's "Mordor" when talking about the text on the Ring makes me happy.

Anyhow. The important things is that we can learn in here how to say the genuine words correct. Smile Smilie
Truth It goes in two short days...
*****Notes on copyright, acknowledgment and purpose*****
The language of Quenya is artificial language, invented by John Ronald Rouel Tolkien. It is not attested in its origin outside his works, so no others may pretend to know in full, understand as it was meant to be or fill anyway gaps in grammar or vocabulary. We assume hereinafter that learning the language by acknowledging the authors rights and merit, we do not break any copyrights if such exist for this particular work of mind. All texts used here for the purposes of presenting ’the living language’ are to be used only for that purpose without any commercial benefit. Inseparable part of this copyright statement are all other copyright statements, listed in related sources, linked or anyhow mentioned throughout this course.

The course is based mostly on the work ’Quetin i lambe eldaiva’ from Thorsten Renk, which will be hereinafter referred as ’the BOOK’. This work as the author himself acknowledges is derived from the Quenya analysis of Helge Kaare Fauskaanger. And the works of the last one are based on published texts of J.R.R.Tolkien. Helge’s course I will use as to give some additional information about how to read or understand some letters, clusters, syllables and words.

The purpose of this course is to let the interested Tolkien-fans an ability to understand the texts in Quenya, published in Tolkien’s works. It will present derived knowledge about grammar of the High-elven language and some attested words and phrases. In addition it will present (with proper mark) some derived and not attested grammar and also derived words, presumed to follow the rules, left for word building by the Author himself. And at last there may be some words and grammar rules, place with no idea if they are right or not (as this will be proper noted). It is up to the reader to decide either to use them or not. These last words however you will not meet in original Tolkien source yet published so if you are to stay with the original language, skip these parts.

*****Integrity and Wholeness*****
The Language of the High Elves, named Eldarissa or Quenya, is not finished in grammar and vocabulary in the life time of its inventor and therefore presumably will remain that way for the eternity to come. You shall not expect to be able to translate large texts of any theme in Quenya with the limited sources we have. The language is incomplete in most manners and meaning.
Although unfinished, the language will be presented in integrated course with co-related lessens. That means to study one lessen you must read all previous lessens. In this meaning ’ the course is integrated.

*****Lesson 1*****

download the BOOK
see lessen one in the BOOK
Some preliminary words on lessen one.
1. Skip the Tengwar text ’ you are simply not ready to read it, so we will come back in few lessens and study it properly. Look for the Latin text and translation.

2. There are four groups of sounds in Quenya and they must be known if you are to learn the language.
i. Normal vowels: they are well known in English, but slightly different of use in Quenya. The vowels are A, E, I, O and U. They may be pronounced short (normal) or long (approximately as doubled). The short you will see written as they are in English. The long will appear as ’, ’, ’, ’, ’.
ii. Diphthongs: these combinations of two vowels are counted as single vowel in words. They are two large groups: ending on I (AI, OI, UI) and ending on U (AU, OU, IU).
iii. Normal consonants: some of them may be spelled with more than one Latin character but at the end they still count as one and are presented with single character in Tengwar (the elvish alphabet). These are: C, D, F, G, GW, H, HY, HW, L, LY, M, N, NW, NY, P, QU, R, RY, S, T, TY, V, Y, W, HR, HL.
iv. Diagraphs and consonant clusters: they are only permissible combinations of consonants and you never see them at the beginning or the end of a word. These are: CC, LL, MM, NN, PP, RR, TT, SS, LD, MB, MP, NC, ND, NG, NGW, NQU, NT, PS, TS, CS (KS, X), (LB). Only exclusion for ending consonant cluster is ’NT, which is declinational ending and will discuss later along the course. And only permissible consonant endings of Quenya words are ’L, -N, -R, -S, -T.

try to learn the grammar and the words from vocabulary listed in the BOOK at the end of lesson 1. Exercises come in Wednesday (March 25th, 2009)

’ harya alasse! (have joy!)

Moderator Smilie Grondy edited the above link by removing the enclosed parentheses in order to make it work.
Thank you, Grondy

oh jeeze im about 4 yrs late for this class Sad Smilie and i can't download the book.....

It did not started here anyway there were none to participate, so if there is some interest now we can make something work.

Well i was able to get that download after all, and I am eager to learn!!!