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Thread: Invented Languages

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Hello Beloved Friends, I was reading recently a History of so called "invented Languages; actually , i think the phrase is a misnomer. All languages, i think, are in one sense "invented".....English had to be invented at some time , somewhere , by somebody. I understand, though, what is generally meant; i.e. that most languages evolve organically , from many different, sources; over a long period of time. Whereas, other languages, like Elvish, Klingon...(hope there are some Star Trek fans here)..and Esparanto , were developed mostly by one person , in a short space of time. I was reading that many hundreds of thosands of people worldwide, now speak Elvish...(and Klingon)...whearas less than a few thousand speak Esperanto.... I have a possible theory for this; my thesis is that I feel language. to become popular, must have a cultural, or mythological context, which gives it meaning. Elvish & Klingon both have a cultural context, albeit a fictional or mythological one...(although, of course, as a true LOTR fan, I would dispute the term "fictional"....); but i feel that Esparanto does not. The motivation for learning Elvish is that we want to gain a greater understanding of the world & culture of the Elves...but what is the motivation for lerarning Esperanto?.......(My apologies if there are any Espaeranto fans here!....) Anyway, i was just thinking, and , well...does anyone have any views...? Love to you all.....
What a Wonderful thread Alana. I, like most Tolkien fans, adore reading about Tolkiens various languages, especially the languages of the Elves. Although I can't speak or read either Quenya or Sildarin, I love simply learning various lineS and words and committing them to memory. I have great respect for those who have the skill and patience to Learn any 2nd or 3rd language and I'm sure there are a number of these special people on this site. I look forward to hopefully reading some great examples here in the future.

I was reading that many hundreds of thosands of people worldwide, now speak Elvish ...



In my opinion speaking Elvish is not possible -- the following articles explain in more detail what I mean by this, and what I mean by 'speaking' Elvish (Carl Hostetter's 'Elvish as She Is Spoke', the second link below, is more in depth than the FAQ concerning various points)... 

Brego...thanks so much; nice to talk to you again....

Galin; I do take your are absolutely right....I perhaps should have said that many people have a "working knowledge" of Elvish.....

Although this does raise an interesting point....presumably the elves must have have a workable spoken language; to enable them to communicate day to day, on a trivial level...?

Or did they use the Common Tongue?...but then, when they dwelt in The Blessed Realm, they must have had a workable day to day means of communication....??

(You see I take this world totally seriously,,,as do we all here on PT...)

Your ruminations on this would very interesting.....

Oh absolutely Alana -- generally speaking, within the conceit, Grey-elven was the living language of the Eldar in Middle-earth, used for daily communication in Frodo's day. Quenya could be spoken too of course (by some), but by this time (in Middle-earth) it had become more of a language of lore, or song, or employed for 'high matters' and so on.

In theory there were many Elvish dialects and languages, and the reader imagines these languages existed 'in full', just like we imagine there is much more to Entish or Westron than we actually see represented in the books. 

The issue is external: Tolkien never tried to complete any of his Elvish languages so that they could be spoken by modern people (like Esperanto); and he was not against changing his mind about linguistic matters both great and small, but in any case he did put enough in print to make Middle-earth seem all the more real to the reader.


And yes, in general, when the Elves are 'speaking' English in the book (if one is reading an English translation that is), then they are imagined to be speaking Westron.

Wonderful thread Alana! I love it and I didn't know that anyone could speak Elvish or another fantasy language. I would like it very much. If any of PT members can suggest me a book or website to learn a bit of it, I would be very thankful. Elvish sounds so sweet, pure and calm. 

I agree when you say that languages had an origin in cultures, folks, etc. but someone had to begin calling the things for a name. History is too long and I don't know much about this subject, but there are so many details in languages that you can create a story about it at least in your mind. I mean, I've learnt 4 different languages in a school, apart from the 2-mother-tongue languages I already speak, and it's very rewarding to find the nuances in words. It's beautiful to understand other languages with simple words but if you just do a small effort, you can discover how immense and fascinating a language is. Dictionaries are books full of wise when you read trying to understand the differences between similar words.

Yes, I know you are probably thinking: "Elbereth is nuts!" but you know, everyone of us has his/her hobbies...Hahaha.

Yes, I see now; thanks for elucidating that , Galin.....

Elbereth, you are not nuts at all; i often just read a dictionary; I love words....the power of words can change the world.....the pen is mightier than the keep reading, my darling......

Interesting links, thanks for them!

Galin, I agree. I don't think that anyone could speak Elvish. Of course - it would be awesome to be able to. But when it comes to speaking a foreign language there's a lot more than just knowing the right words, there's a lot of those unique mechanisms (not only in written form, but also in conversations, because   real, regular conversations would also make an impact on the language) and we're incapable of knowing all of them simply because they weren't developed.

Yes, learning a new language requires time and the everlasting patience. I can understand people and express myself more or less in other languages but to master a foreign language is very difficult.

With respect to the dictionary I was joking, I find it very interesting and it really surprises me from time to time. How many words, even a native speaker wouldn't use or learn them in a lifetime!

I don't think I have time to learn Elvish actually because I have too many things to do, if I could tell... too many! But maybe later, with time I would be really pleased to learn some Elvish because it sounds pretty sweet and wise.