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Thread: Guidence needed on translation

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I was wondering if someone could translate these passages from the Silmarillion for me, or guide me in the proper direction. Are there different forms of Elvish? If so which form would be accurate to the time of the creation of the 2 trees of Valinor, and the Silmarils? "...some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he pondered how the light of the trees... might be preserved imperishable." "Under her song the saplings grew and became fair and tall, and came to flower; and thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor." As implied, my tattoo is going to depict the 2 trees of Valinor, some representation of the Silmarils, and include one or both of these short passages in Elvish. I also plan the background to be "Starry Night" by Van Gogh, and have the final Silmaril be within one of those stars. Slightly ambitious, not sure how it's going to work out, I need to work out some details, then talk to my tattoo artist about starting drawings (which I will post for opinions!). So where do I start with this translation? Any design ideas? Are there any picture representations of the trees or the silmarils that anyone knows of?

Wow that sounds awesome. As a tattoo lover, sometimes it's best to hear brutal honesty, and I gotta say I think the starry night might push it a little over the top :X  It might be perfect, but definitely make sure you get a detailed drawing before making the plunge. That's such a vivid image and is meant to be the "centerfold" of Starry Night, so it might be kind of overwhelming. BUT if you can find a nice balance between boldness and class, then it would be one of the coolest looking tats ever.

Anyways, what you want is Qenyan. I don't know of anywhere that specifically translates passages, but I believe you can piece the words together yourself if you have a "dictionary." We can't post links here, so go to google and search "English to Elven Translator." There will be a Yahoo question link with that same question that has a bunch of other links inside which involve translating to elvish. It might be a bit of a task though, but then your tat will feel that much more genuine. Good luck, be sure to let us know how it goes!

Yes Cassandria sounds ambitious and beautiful. As Balrogs said, there are a few translators on line, however creating sentences can be tricky. Few people, if any on Earth have or can master Quenya and there are errors everywhere. Especially if you want actual Feanorien script and not Westron translation. I'd have a really good look for someone who has actually studied. Good luck!

I call thee forth Galin!

Thank you guys for responding, I have had quite a time finding anyone to give me any guidance on this. I am VERY hesitant to translate it myself, or completely trust anyone (should they give me some unsavory script to tattoo on myself... LOL )


I'm a little lost.  And I really don't want it to be incorrect.

Honestly, I don't really see someone who actually devoted their time to studying and learning elvish trying to swindle someone who wants to put all that time to good use. You could ask at the tattoo shop, I'm sure someone else has wanted elvish and had to find someone to translate it for them. I don't know where you're from, but Craigslist, maybe?

True Tolkien elvish can't be learn but there are people who have added things in making it a more usable language. But as stated earlier, translating a sentence will be hard.

Hello Cassandria (and Arath) Smile Smilie

Someone somewhere could likely suggest something in Neo-elvish, but that's what it would be, a fan invented Neo-elvish suggestion. Some people don't mind that, but this is what Carl Hostetter (an expert in Tolkien's languages) has to say, in part, on the matter of translation, from his website (the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship):

'... but that is a far cry from being able to speak these languages, and cannot even justify a claim of 'authenticity', since for any but the most trivial compositions it will remain exceedingly unlikely that Tolkien himself would have produced or countenanced the result himself.'

So if you want accuracy, especially for a tattoo, I think it's best to take something directly from Tolkien, or at least keep things very simple. Also I don't recommend dictionary translation in general, even if you can find a reliable enough Quenya dictionary on the web. 

Anyway what you could do is write these sentences in English using the Elvish lettering, that way it will still look Elvish.

For Quenya [most people mean Exilic Quenya when they say Quenya, as there are different stages of Quenya] I would go out on a limb (no pun intended) and say *Aldu Valinóreo for 'Two Trees of Valinor', considering Tolkien's Aldudénie and his Yénie Valinóreo for 'Annals of Valinor', although obviously you wanted much more than that. 

I realize if you don't know how to write English using the Elvish letters you are still in a similar boat. I could transcribe my Neo-elvish *Aldu Valinóreo for you by referring you to the numbered chart in the back of The Return of the King (in other words, I could give certain numbers from the chart and you could look them up to see the basic shapes of the letters), but the English quotes are a bit long.

Some can make the Elvish writing appear in these threads. They are wizards I guess. I cannot. Sorry.

Next best thing is google for Tolkien font. It will look elvish.

I am dying of excitement, I may have found someone to do it.

Are you going with Neo-elvish, written with Elvish letters too? Or English written with Elvish letters?

Or Neo-elvish written with Roman characters? Although I don't think I've ever seen anyone request this.

Smile Smilie

I will post a photo if she's able to do it, I'm still waiting to hear back, but her flickr has a lot of other lines I think are meant to be put on my body somewhere. LOL.

[edit: Links aren't allowed here. Please read the website rules for more information]

That is one of them. I absolutely could have died when I found her page today.

For anyone who is wondering: The woman sent me an email, this is amazing, I couldn't have hoped for more. The transcription into Tengwar is coming.

"I can indeed translate to Quenya and transcribe to Tengwar, but please be aware that Quenya is incomplete, so translations tend to need rephrasing (or even uncertain words).

So, before I transcribe the translated passages to Tengwar I would obviously prefer to know whether you even like the translations.

General Notes for translations:
Uncertain words are marked with a star * (uncertain = meaning unclear, word deduced from other material or newly formed compounds).
(I avoid uncertain words whenever possible.)
There's no indefinite article in Quenya.

Here's a possible way to translate the first:

"... lumbe apaceno tulle senna i manaro ya úvane; ar sananes manen i cala i ornion... cé quén pole hepe útyélala."
(... a shadow of foresight came to him of the doom which drew near; and he thought how the light of the trees... maybe one can keep unceasing.)


"... lumbe apahandeo tulle senna i mandeo ya tulle hare; ar sanwerya né manen i cala i aldaron... cé hampa lá tyélala ná."
(... a shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom which came near; and his thought was how the light of the trees... maybe is kept not ceasing.)

lumbe - shadow, gloom
*apacen - foresight, (literally) after-sight; "after" because for the Eldar the future is something that comes after the present
-> Attested form is "apacenyë"; yet the context and the form of the word itself indicate that it is the plural form of an adjective *apacenya "of foresight".
(Compare: tercen - insight, (literally) through-sight)
-o, plural -on - of; genitive case ending
tul- - come; past tense tulle - came
se - he/she, him/her
-nna - to, towards, upon, into; allative case ending
i - the
manar, mande - doom, final end, fate, fortune
ya - which, that
úva- - impend, draw near, be imminent; past tense úvane; nearly always in a bad sense
ar - and
*sana- - think, reflect; past sanane - thought, reflected; deduced from sanar - mind, thinker
-s - he, she, it
manen - how
cala - light
orne, plural orni - tree (usually a high, isolated tree)
cé - maybe, perhaps
quén - one, somebody
pol- - can, be able to; aorist tense (=timeless truth) pole
*hep- - keep, retain; infinitive hepe; deduced from the stem KHEP (retain, keep, do not give away or release, keep hold of)
ú- - no, not, un-, in-; pref. denying presence or possession of thing or quality
tyel- - end, cease; active participle tyélala - ceasing, ending

hande - understanding, knowledge, intelligence
-> *Apahande (lit. afterknowledge) is a compound formed after the example of *apacen; apa - after
hare - near
sanwe - thought, act of thinking
-rya - his, her
né - was
alda, plural aldar - tree (in general)
hampa - kept, restrained, delayed
lá - no, not
ná - is

And the second:

"Nu linderya i nesse aldar tuianer ar vanime ar halle ner, ar tuller lohtienna; ar sie tasse eccoitaner i ambaresse i aldar atta Valinóreo."
(Under her song the young trees sprouted and were beautiful and tall, and came to putting forth flowers; and thus there awakened in the world the two trees of Valinor.)


"Undu lírirya i vinye orni tuianer ar vanime ar halle ner, ar tuller lohtienna; ar sinen tás eccoitaner i ambaresse i orni atta Valinóreo."
(Under her song the young trees sprouted and were beautiful and tall, and came to putting forth flowers; and so there awakened in the world the two trees of Valinor.)

nu - under
linde - song, air, tune, singing
-rya - her, his
i - the
nessa, plural nesse - young
alda, plural aldar - tree
tuia- - sprout, spring; past tense tuiane, pl. tuianer - sprouted, sprang
ar - and
vanima, pl. vanime - beautiful, fair
halla, pl. halle - tall
ner - were
tul- - come; past tense tulle, pl. tuller - came
lohta- - put forth leaves or flowers; gerund lohtie - putting forth leaves or flowers
-nna - to, towards, upon; allative case ending
sie - thus
tasse - there
eccoita- - awake; past eccoitane, pl. eccoitaner - awakened, awoke
ambar - world, earth
atta - two
-sse - in, at, on; locative case ending
Valinóre - Valar-land, Land of the Valar; short form: Valinor

undu - under, down, beneath
líre, líri- - song
vinya, plural vinye - young, new, fresh
orn, pl. orni - tree
sinen - so, in this way, thus
tás - there"

I'm not going to see if I agree with everything above, but there is some obvious work put into this Neo-Quenya. And can I note something I think is somewhat humorous?

Smile Smilie

The only thing I suggested ['two trees of Valinor'], only two words in my Neo-Quenya, actually differs from this person's suggestion.

This person has either: i aldar atta Valinóreo (or) i orni atta Valinóreo. Which appears to mean 'the trees two of Valinor' (aldar and orni being different tree words in the plural).

My *Aldu Valinóreo for 'Two Trees of Valinor' contains a dual inflexion however -- an already plural form for two [instead of a plural marker -r  [alda-r] plus a word for two] -- considering Tolkien's Aldudénie 'Lament for the Two Trees'

So two people came up with two different suggestions [about the Two Trees] for but one little bit of this request!

Just as a follow up here, I have completed the tattoo. Not the one I discussed above, but a different LOTR tattoo that actually functions as a cover up. In 3 sessions and a total about 7 hours it is finished! If anyone wants to check it out, PM me as I cannot post links! Thanks for everyone's input.