History of Elven Writing Systems/Third Age

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Quenta Eldatencelion
Foreword
Age of Starlight
Sarati
Early Tengwar
*An alternative mode
Certhas
Certhas Daeron
First Age
Mode of Beleriand
Runes of Gondolin
Second Age
Quenya Mode
Angerthas Daeron
*Angerthas Moria
Third Age
Classical Quenya Mode
"General Use"
*"General Use" Westron
*"General Use" Sindarin (Sindarin Tehtar Mode)
"Full Writing" with "General Use" Consonants
*Sindarin "Full Writing" with "General Use" Consonants
*Westron "Full Writing"
Angerthas Erebor
Appendix

Classical Quenya Mode[edit]

At least in that Age, we see the Tengwar Table divided in Series (Témar) and Grades (Tyeller) as found in Appendix E. It was divided in two parts: the 24 “primary” letters, those composed by a telco and lúvar, and 12 “additional”. There was applied a number to each of them, Tinco being the #1 and Úrë the #36, making the glyphs useable as numbers.

A number of tehtar are described by Tolkien concerning the modes used near the end of the Third Age (which doesn’t mean they hadn’t been invented as early as in 2nd Age, or even since Fëanor’s time): The two dots of Tyelpetéma were now considered separate tehtar, able to be imported by other letters (like Anna and Hyarmen as we saw). A 'hook' is known (a small version of Silmë?) called Sa-rince in Quenya and Gammas in Sindarin, that indicates “following s” in the clusters ts, ps and ks/x. An under-tilde was used to indicate long consonants.

We can state with certainty at last, that Yanta and Úrë were now used only for for dipthong compounds.

Tyelpetéma was discarded, as well as the grade with extended stems, although they were used in various ways according to each one’s needs.

The names of the tengwar were now regularised, their Quenya names being the official ones. It is also stated that the Númen, Formen, Rómen, Hyarmen were used as direction marks even in maps written in other languages.

Table[edit]

Tincotéma Parmatéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
1 t
Tinco
q p
Parma
a k
Calma
z kw
Quesse
2 nd
Ando
w mb
Umbar
s ng
Anga
x ngw
Ungwe
3 s
Súle
e f
Formen
d h
Aha
c hw
Hwesta
4 nt
Anto
r mp
Ampa
f nk
Anca
v nkw
Unque
5 n
Númen
t m
Malta
g ñ- > n-
Noldo
b ñw- > nw-
Nwalme
6 r [not pre-vocalic]
Óre
y v
Vala
h -
Anna
n v-, w
Vilya
Additional Tengwar:
7 r [pre-vocalic]
Rómen
u rd
Arda
j l
Lambe
m ld
Alda
8 s
Silme
i s
Silme nuquerna
k ss
Esse
, ss
Esse nuquerna
9 h
Hyarmen
l -i
Yanta
o -
Hwesta Sindarinwa
. -u
Úre
½ h
Halla
` (carrier)
Telco
~ (carrier)
Ára

Notes[edit]

  • Aha: This letter, previously used for initial and afterwards for medial ch, softened even more and became a breath h in all cases (with few exceptions: between e/i and a consonant or the end of a word it is still pronounced ch; the word tehta was pronounced techta).
  • Hyarmen: Initial breath h is now written with Hyarmen, which replaced Halla.
  • Wilya: Some evidence (like vende < wende) show us that by the late 3rd Age, w- had merged with v-. So Wilya changed to Vilya, but Wilya used still instead of Vala for older w (like vende).
  • Ñoldo/Ñwalme: In 3rd Age ñ- merged with n- and words like nolme (< ñgolme), nwalca (< ñgwalca) were still written with Noldo and Nwalme. ñw- became nw- in the same way.
  • Hwesta Sindarinwa: This letter had no value in Quenya mode, but was a fixed part of the table since it was useful in the General Use modes.
  • Rómen/Óre: Rómen was used for r followed by a vowel in the same word and Óre any other r (like final or before consonants) even though there was no difference in pronunciation.
  • Halla: This letter now was reduced for use only for initial hr-/hl-.

Examples[edit]

It is interesting to compare the 3rd Age with earlier spelling:

- `V1 `V`C7Rj°^ `V2^7R5#: `M1~Mj%`V5 = 8`B5^t$ t#7&yE5 `C6 9TmT5#Ì6 1R5: `Cw#6 t$1E; --

Et Earello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn’ Ambar metta.

3Df#9DÍ2^ Sangahyando < *Thangahyando (‘Thong-cleaver’, a name)

`V7Fj^°dE6 *Erellochar < Ezellochar (Green Mound in Valinor)

9FjnE Helwa < HEL (pale blue)

9YqE Hópa < *Chópa (harbour)

g^jt$ nolme < ñgolme (knowledge)

nR2$ *vende < wende (maiden)

½7~ByR hríve (Winter, a season of the Calendar of Imladris)

Tolkien has written Namárie in Tengwar. Some inconsistencies with other rules and sample are found, like non-constant use of Esse and Silme nuquerne, Vala where Wilya would be expected and absence of Súle (súrinen and hísie with Silme although < thúrinen and híthie). That means maybe that some rules weren't followed strictly by the end of the 3rd Age. He has also forgot the ‘following y’ underdots in maryat, the first a of the first namárie and he provides an alternate spelling of the dipthong in caita.

lE j.D7T`V j#4#6 j#KG 8~M7G5$5 = Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen,
hÎ~V5% ~M5~N1Tt$ yR 7Et#6 `Cm#7Y5 Á= yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron!
hÎ~V5T yF j%4$ hÎUm#6 `Cy~C5T`V6 = Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
t~B `N7Yt#uT j%,R t%7Uy~N7RyE = mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva
`C2~M5$ qRj°# yEuY 1Rj°&t#6 = Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar
5& jlJ5% hÎEKF5 1G4%j#6 `B`Vj$5% = nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni
~Nt#7YÎ lE7F1~C7Tj%7G5$5 -- ómaryo airetári-lírinen.
8~B t#5 `B hÎUjt# 5%5 `Vv#4&yE À-- Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva?
`C5 8~B 1T4#j°$ yEuD lY`Nj^KF`N = An sí Tintallë Varda Oiolossëo
yR eD5Ì#6 t#7E1 `Vj$4~C7T `N61E5R = ve fanyar máryat Elentári ortanë
`C6 `Bj$´ 1G`V6 `M2&j~CyR j&w&j$ - ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë
`C6 IG2#5~N7T`Vj°^ aEl1E t^65%`V = ar sindanóriello caita mornië
`B eDjt#j%5:#6 `Bw$ t$1 = i falmalinnar imbë met,
`C6 9~BiT`V `M4~MqE aEj#aT7Y t~B7T lY`Cj$ - ar hísië untúpa Calaciryo míri oialë.
8~B yE5nE 5~C 7~Nt$j°^ yE5nE yEj%t#6 = Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar!
5t~C7T`V Á 5lE 9G7UyEj$´ yEj%t#6 Á Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar!
5lE `Vj$´ 9G7UyE Á 5#t~C7T`V =-= \ Nai elyë hiruva! Namárië!

"General Use"[edit]

In The Howlett Rivendell Inscriptions, Tolkien affirms that there was a "general use (applicable to both S[indarin] and Q[uenya]) of the period of the tale" (which refers to The Lord of the Rings). He provides three samples: The Sindarin name Imladrist [sic] `Btj#27T81 and two versions of the English name Rivendell 7Tr2{$j and 7r%2{j$. Possibly, this mode already existed as early as the Second Age, and used in Eregion.

No other samples are explicitly called "general use". There is however a mode that is attested with Sindarin, Quenya and English: A tehtar mode where the Quessetéma is a k-series while Calmatéma is used for postalveolar/palatal sounds. This matches also with the "Westron mode" as described in Appendix E and with the Numenian Mode Chart. So we can consider all these modes to represent applications of the "general use" to different languages.

The "general use" was mainly used by men. It is attested primarily with English, which supposedly corresponds to the Westron (or Numenian) language, and the Elvish texts attested in this mode relate closely to men: Elendil's Oath seen behind the throne of Gondor on The Return of the King Jacket (draft), and the letter of Aragorn to Samwise seen in the King's Letter, Third Version.

The vowel placement in the "general use" seems to be variable: either on the preceding or on the following tengwa. The main Quenya text places them on the following tengwar. Most English texts place them on the preceding tengwar, but there are also contrary samples. The inclusion of the letters Yanta (named "Ai") and Úre (named "Au") in the Numenian Mode Chart may be a hint that the usual Westron placement was with the vowel tehtar on the preceding tengwar.

"General Use" Sindarin (Sindarin Tehtar Mode)[edit]

This mode is attested in the King's Letter, Third Version. Therefore this mode was probably used mainly by Men, and not by Elves.

The main difference between this mode and other varieties of the "general use" is the representation of the semivowel /j/, which is not represented with the letter Anna, but with the letter Yanta. The distribution of the letters Óre and Rómen is also special, the former only being used at word endings.

When an article causes mutation to the following consonant, the whole cluster is written as one word (transcribed with a hyphen by Tolkien: i-Varanduiniant, r%7#2{#hU5`C1[E). A new tehta appears, for the Sindarin vowel y, which is 2 amatixi (overdots) over a consonant. The bar of nasalisation (seen in i-Varanduiniant) except d, t and g, is used also over n, to double it (annon, 5{#5^) and maybe this could be applied to m as well. We also see the w-tilde used in words like edwen, and the under-bar of doubling consonants. There appears the letter mh. This sound became v in 3rd Age, and in other cases we see it transcribed as v, but as it seems the traditional spelling was kept in tengwar.

Most of the tengwar are not attested in that text, and their value is guessed by analogy, but many of them seem to have been useless for this mode.

Table[edit]

Parmatéma Tincotéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
1 t
Tinco
q p
Parma
a z k
Quesse
2 d
Ando
w b
Umbar
s x g
Ungwe
3 th
Súle
e f
Formen
d c ch
Hwesta
4 dh
Anto
r v
Ampa
f v
5 n
Númen
t m
Malta
g b ng?
Nwalme
6 -r
Óre
y w, -u
Vala
h -i
Anna
n
Additional Tengwar:
7 r
Rómen
u rh
Arda
j l
Lambe
m lh
Alda
8 s
Silme
i k ss
Esse
9 h
Hyarmen
l i-, -e
Yanta
o Hwesta Sindarinwa . Úre
` (short carrier) ~ (long carrier) š mh

Notes[edit]

  • Yanta: This letter is used both as a diphtong part (ae, oe) and as an initial y- (spelled i- in Sindarin by Tolkien)
  • Óre: it is used for final –r, as in Quenya, even if it belongs to a word which is the first part of a compound (like in Perhael < per+sael).
  • Ñwalme: Maybe is used for the final nasal sound transcribed by Tolkien as –ng.
  • Anna: used in diphthongs like ai, ei etc.
  • Vala: this letter is not attested but analogy to other "general use" samples suggests that it is used for semivowel w and a diphthong compound –u

Examples[edit]

The King’s Letter is the longest Sindarin text, and its written in this mode.

j$k$6D 1j$z1[^6E 7Ex#7^5 7E3E7^5`B5^ 4$j$97D5 x{#j5{$3E`C r%7E2{#hJ5`B1[^ 7R5% 2j^3Y5$ eRhUj › x$6Y w5$ x5R2$`B2# 275{#hEj 7R5% xè7T3T 2$è5$ › 6E 5{$8D 5#~B7`C `B 7E5# x2{^6^ 6D 7D56Y 6D 9~B6 w{%hE6 5#hJ 8hJj5{#2# šj$°5Ô ~B5 ehD5 =-= 2$7x$jY `V5#~BÄ`C 1~B72# cT6R26B q6R9lEj › `B 85{$hJ q1[E9lEj 8$13D6E lD5 › z2{^6T 2%75{# - 6E t7Rj% wk$ 2~B5- 6D j$5#6Y= t7RjT= xj7Ye5{%j$= hR7`B5$ 8j°$3E 2~B56E l7^9lEj = xj$6G = z7Y2r^ = w7Dr#7Y5 l5{^3E 2~B5 =-= `C e7R9lEj 6D t# t7Rj% 8hJj2# hU5 7E5# `N t5%iE 17T3T 5j$c lD55$ 52$ c$hU6 - œ% ÃB

Elessar Telcontar Aragorn Arathornion Edhelharn anglennatha iVaranduiniant erin dolothen Ethuil (egor ben genediad Drannail erin Gwirith edwen) ar ennas aníra i Aran Gondor ar Arnor ar Hír iMbair annui suilannad mhellyn ín phain. Edregol eaníra Tírad iCherdir Perhael (i sennui Panthael estathar aen) Condir iDrann. Ar Meril bess dín. Ar Elanor, Meril, Glorfinniel, Eirien sellath dín ar Iorhael, Gelir, Cordof, Baravorn ionnath dín. A Pherhael ar am Meril suilad uin Aran o Minas Tirith nelchaenen ned Echuir -16

And some interesting words. Note that diphthongs au, -aw and the semivowel w aren’t attested, so these are only theis supposed forms.

1b# tang (string)

1y#7# 5% 27~M2$h#5 Tawar-in-Drúedain (forest of the Woses)

Xè.E5 gwaun (goose)

1~Gy Têw (letter, tengwa)

b% bj$h#4 in ngelaidh (the trees)

t#5^ m.# Amon Lhaw (Hill of Hearing)

Sindarin "Full Writing" with "General Use" Consonants[edit]

This Mode appears in another version of the King’s Letter. Probably used by the Dûnedain of Arnor and came to Gondor when Aragorn ascended the throne. It derived from the Mode of Beleriand used in Imladris, but keeps some Adunaic elements.

It differs from the tehta-mode, as well as the Mode of Beleriand. The rules are the same that apply to the Mode of Beleriand, but now Númen and Malta have the value of n and m as in Quenya, and Óre is interchangable with Rómen (no constant rules appear for when each one should be used).

In the King’s Letter, two different ways are found for the diphthong ae: Yanta can be written as an overposed tehta above a (Iorhael, ~h79]àj and ~h79]lj).

There are two similar "full writing" modes where the k-series is repsented by the quessetéma and not by the calmatéma as in the Elvish modes (classical Quenya and Sindarin mode of Beleriand). One of them is attested with Sindarin, the other with English translations of Westron texts. The were used by Westron speakers, Gondorian men and dwarves from the Erebor. The Sindarin version may be deprecated.

Table[edit]

Parmatéma Tincotéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
1 t
Tinco
q p
Parma
a z k
Quesse
2 d
Ando
w b
Umbar
s x g
Ungwe
3 th
Súle
e f
Formen
d c ch
Hwesta
4 dh
Anto
r v
Ampa
f v
5 n
Númen
t m
Malta
g b ng?
Nwalme
6 -r
Óre
y w, -u
Vala
h o
Anna
n
Additional Tengwar:
7 r
Rómen
u rh
Arda
j l
Lambe
m lh
Alda
8 s
Silme
i k ss
Esse
9 h
Hyarmen
l i-, -e
Yanta
o Hwesta Sindarinwa . Úre
`B i ~B i- ] a š mh

Examples[edit]

In this mode a slightly different version of the King’s Letter is written. Let’s compare

ljlk]6 1ljzh1[]6 ]7]xh65 ]6]3h65`Bh5 l4lj9]65 ]6]5 xh2{h6 ]6 ]65h6 ]6 9`V6 `Bw{]Ö6 ]5{.Ö ]x{jl5{]3] `B r]6]2{{.Ö5`B]1[ l6`B5 2hjh3l5 l3.Öj - lxh6 wl5 xl6l2`B]2 26]5{]Öj l6`B5 xè`B6`B3 l2èl5-= ]6 l ]5`B6] l5{]8 8.Öj]5{]2 šlj°®5 `V5 e]Ö5ˆ l27l xhj l ]5`V6] 1`V6]2 `B cl62`B6 ql69]lj › `B 8l5{.Ö q]1[9]lj l81]3]6 ]Ý5 › zh2{`B6 `B 26]5{ - ]6 tl6`Bj wlk 2`V5 - ]6 lj]5h6= tl6`Bj= xjh6e`B5{`Blj ]6 lÖ6`Bl5 8lj°]3 2`V5 - ]6 ~Bh69]Ýj= xlj`B6= zh62hr= ]6 w]6]rh65 = ~Bh5{]3 2`V5 = ] el69]Ýj ]6 ]t tl6`Bj 8.Öj]2 .Ö5 ]6]5 h t`B5]81`B6`B3 5ljc]Ý5l5 .Ö5 lc.Ö7

Elessar Telcontar Aragorn Arathornion Edhelharn Aran Gondor ar Arnor ar Hír iMbair Annui anglennatha i Varanduiniant erin dolothen Ethuil, egor ben genediad Drannail erin Gwirith edwen. Ar e anira ennas suilannad mhellyn in phain. Edregol e aníra tírad I cherdir Perhael (I sennui Panthael estathar aen) Condir I Drann. Ar Meril bess dín, ar Elanor, Meril, Glorifinniel ar Eirien sellath dín, ar Iorhael, Gelir, Cordof ar Baravorn, ionnath dín A Pherhael ar am Meril suilad uin Aran o Minas Tirith nelchaenen uin Echuir

And the previous words. Note that diphthongs au, -aw and the semivowel w aren’t attested either.

1]b Tang (string)

1]y]7 `B5 27.Fl2]Ö5 Tawar-in-Drúedain (forest of the Woses)

Xè]ê5 Gwaun (goose)

1ly Têw (letter)

`Bb blj]Ö4 in ngelaidh (the trees)

]th5 m]ê Amon Lhaw (Hill of Hearing)

"General Use" Westron[edit]

The Westron speakers seem to have fitted perfectly the sounds of their language in the table, according to the shapes of each letter, better than any elvish language did. The main reason was maybe the wider variety in Westron phonology.

The names of the letters may be a sound game. They used the vowel o for dental names, i for labial, e for palatal and a for alveolar. It seems they considered o a frontal vowel, a a back vowel and i, e their intermediate.

Table[edit]

This table uses the letter names attested on the Numenian Mode Chart.

1 t
q p
a ch
Ché
z k
2 d
w b
s j
x g
3 th
Thó
e f
d sh
Shé
c h
Aha/Oha?
4 dh
Adhó
r v
f zh
Izhe
v gh
Agha
5 n
t m
g ny
Nyé
b ng
Ngá
6 r
Ar
y w
h y
n ’?
’á
Additional Tengwar:
7 r
Aro
u rh
Rho
j l
Alo
m lh
Lho
8 s
i s
Ós
k z
Azo
, z
Oza
9 h
l -i?
Ai
o wh
Whí
. -u?
Au

Notes[edit]

  • Ós/Oza: they seem to had same function as the nuquerne tengwar, as the inverted form of their name indicate
  • ’á: Maybe indicates a glottal stop (never attested in Westron words) or maybe an ommited consonant (like an apostrophe)
  • Whi: This letter, also known as Hwesta Sindarinwa, was used to indicate the sound hw of Sindarin in modes where Hwesta has another value.
  • Ar/Aro: Seems to had the same use as their Quenya ancestors. If we take example of the words themselves, Ar indicates a final/preconsonantal r (hence its name which is different from the other of its Series, or it would rather be **Ró instead) while Aro for medial/intervocal.
  • Aha/Oha: Two different sources name this letter with two different names. Its not sure which one is a misreading/mistyping, but more probably the true form is Aha.
  • Aha/Há: Looking at their names, maybe Aha used medially and Há initially?
  • Ai/Au: Those names seem like the known Quenya diphthongs. Maybe they were used in diphthongs as in Quenya.

Examples[edit]

There are of course no Westron texts by Tolkien, or even single Westron words written in the Numenian mode, but our best examples of this mode are the English Tengwar transcriptions (like the Title Page) and the Ring Inscription that both used a mode similar to Numenian (where the tehtar were placed above maybe the preceding consonant). Following this, we will try to represent a few known Westron (Hobbitish) names as they could be written.

w#1'T ,Tjw%7~CeD Batti Zilbirâpha (Barney Butterburr)

t.D7E j#w%b% Maura Labingi (Frodo Baggins)

7E,D5&6 1~Mz Razanur Tûc (Peregrin Took)

m^37Et Hlothram (cottager)

Northern Numenian Mode[edit]

This mode is a Westron convention in its northern variety. It is exemplified (as English texts) in the King’s Letter and the Book of Mazarbul.

The main difference from the other known full modes is of course the value of the letters which match those of the Numenian mode and not Sindarin. Note also that the letter ‘a is used for a instead of the known crescent a-tengwa. An underdot is used by Tolkien to indicate unvoiced sounds in English, which maybe fulfilled the absence of ‘a.

In the King’s Letter, a distinction is made between Ar and Aro, like Óre and Rómen in Quenya. Au is used as semiconsonatal w and Wí has the value of u. Consonantal y is expressed by the long carrier. However in the Book of Mazarbul, Aro takes the value of w, as in the Adunaic Mode.

Dipthongs are shown again with the two amatixi and the w-tilde. It is interesting to note that except the long consonants, even long vowels make use of the under bar.

Table[edit]

1 t
q p
a ch
Ché
z c
2 d
w b
s j
x g
3 th
Thó
e f
d sh
Shé
c h
Aha/Oha?
4 dh
Adhó
r v
f zh
Izhe
v gh
Agha
5 n
t m
g ny
Nyé
b ng
Ngá
6 r
Ar
y u
h o
n a
‘á
Additional Tengwar:
7 r/w
Aro
u rh
Rho
j l
Alo
m lh
Lho
8 s
i s
Ós
k z
Azo
, z
Oza
9 h
l e
Ai
o wh
Whí
. w
Au
` i ~ y-

Examples[edit]

It’s interesting to compare the same words as written with this mode.

wn1'` ,`jw`7n;en Batti Zilbirâpha (Barney Butterburr)

tnê7n jnw`b` Maura Labingi (Frodo Baggins)

7n,n5y6 1y;z Razanur Tûc (Peregrin Took)

mh37yt Hlothram (cottager)

Angerthas Erebor[edit]

In TA 1981, the Dwarves fled from Moria. Years later Thráin I came to Erebor and founded a dwarf-kingdom. There the Cirth were modified further and some new were added, but some reverted back to their Elvish usage.

They reintroduced $ and q but substituted R and T again for g and gh this time, or as variants to their original cirth. The only cirth they introduced are only X and C for ps and ts.

This mode was used in Westron by Dwarves. The lower inscription of Balin’s Tomb is written in English, as well as the Book of Mazarbul. There we find some new cirth for vowel combinations and dipthongs, not known if valid in Westron or just used only by Tolkien in English.

We learn also how long vowels and consonants are treated. An over circumflex indicates a long consonant while an under bar indicates a long vowel. Must we exclude the cirth for long vowels? There is however a distinct letter for long ll by Tolkien for English words like fall.

After the 2nd Age, the Cirth were obsoleted by the Tengwar among the western races and the Cirth remained in use only by Dwarves and Men. The Rohirrim and the Men of Dale used two related simplified forms. The Dwarves developed even pen-written cursive forms, since they used them exclusively in any form of writing communication, even in paper.

Table[edit]

1 p 8 t # ch e c i kw R g f h
2 b 9 d $ j o gw T gh
3 f 0 th % sh t ch p chw a l g s
4 v ! dh q zh Q ghw/w
5 hw @ r w x u n W ñgw d nd h ñ J ou
6 m E ñw : ll j ng K eu
7 mb
l i ; y- S u z e c a b o , n / (e) X ps & ai V +h
A hy D z x é v á n ó . h Z (u) C ts * au B &
F w m œ ( ea
G y ) oa

Notes[edit]

:: This certh is said to represent ll in English words like fall. However it is interesting to note that Welsh has the digraph ll which denotes a sound, similar to the Sindarin and Westron hl (as Tolkien transcribed it). It's possible that this ll was used for Westron hl however there is no such evidence published.

Examples[edit]

That is how a Dwarf or a Northerner could write these Westron words.

2c8ÊlIDla2l@cÎ3c Batti Zilbirâpha (Barney Butterburr)

6*@cIac2lhl Maura Labingi (Frodo Baggins)

@l2c9Gcu Ribadyan (byrding)

.c6c,S:cg Hamanullas (‘Lobelia’)


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