This document uses the International Phonetic Alphabet for phonetic notation, which will be referenced as IPA.
Each vowel in Quenya can be represented as a diacritic, an accent that is placed above a tengwa to denote the vowel that comes AFTER the marked consonant. If the vowel doesn't mark a consonant, it uses a short vowel carrier ` instead. There are five vowels in Quenya:
Vowels also have long forms, and ALWAYS uses a long vowel carrier ~. In the Latin Alphabet, this is shown by using an acute accent mark (or, in some sources, a circumflex eg: â, ê, î, ô, û):
One of the most fundamental rules of Neo-Quenya phonology is that a long vowel can never appear before a consonant cluster. Note, however, that ry, ny, ly, ty do not count as consonant clusters when applying this rule; see below).
Neo-Quenya has 6 diphthongs:
Any other group of two or more sequential vowels cannot form a diphthong. These vowels consequently always belong to separate syllables:
- `V`C ëa "to exist" → [ɛ.a]
- `H`C oa "away" → [ɔ.a]
- 1T`V tië "path" → [tɪ.ɛ]
- j$`N lëo "shade" → [lɛ.ɔ]
- j^`V2$ loëndë "mid year's day (Númenórean Calendar)" → [lɔ.ɛn.dɛ]
In Neo-Quenya spelling in certain situations a diaeresis is used, but it makes no difference to pronunciation at all. It is simply used to denote a pronunciation that is not like the English pronunciation. The use of the diaeresis is thus not obligatory, and why it isn't always published.
The diaeresis can be found on following vowels:
- Word final `V ë (to denote that the vowel is not silent)
- The combinations `V`C ëa, `V`N ëo
- The combination `N`V oë in the word j^`V2$ Loëndë "mid year's day"
The diaeresis moves to the next vowel if the e is capitalized: `V`C7R2%j Eärendil
The pronunciation of most of these is easy as they correspond to the standard pronunciation of these consonants. But let's have a look at them one by one:
- 1 t = /t/
- q p = /p/
- a c = /k/
- 8 - * - i - I - 3 s = /s/
- e f = /f/
- 9 - d h = /h : h - x/
- 5 n = /n/
- t m = /m/
- 7 - 6 r = /r/ (trilled)
- y v = /v/
- h y = /j/
- j l = /l/
Quenya used to have the consonants g ñ (/ŋ/) and 3 th (/θ/). This changed to /n/ and /s/ in Exilic Quenya, and words originating from these letters can either be written by their original pronunciation or modern pronunciation.
- g^m^ - Ñoldo : 5^m^ - Noldo
- 3~M7R - Thúrë : 8~M7R - Súrë
See also Quenya Tengwar.
- This pronunciation doesn't depend on the following vowel (e.g., as in English or French). So even though some actors say [ˈsiːrdan] for z~B625# Círdan (Sindarin name), it should always be pronounced [ˈkiːrdan].
- d is used for medial /h/ sounds, but before t it is pronounced as /x/ (see below).
- 7 is used when precedes a vowel, 6 when it precedes a consonant or at the end of a word.
- Consequently, this letter always denotes a consonant. When using this letter, it has a unique diacritic that's ALWAYS used, and placed below it: hÍ. This diacritic is also found in consonant clusters that have a 'y' sound in them.
The double consonants permitted in Quenya are:
|a; a'||j° j¸||t: t"||5: 5"||q; q'||7; 7'||1; 1'||K ,|
The two different kinds of bars are just for aesthetic purposes of writing, and uses of both are acceptable. They should be pronounced longer than their single counterparts, so it should be possible to hear a clear difference between e.g. a; cc and a c.
Consonant clusters forming a unit
Even though these groups are considered units, when we want to determine the length of a syllable they count as a consonant cluster:
|Consonant Cluster Units|
- b, d, and g can never appear by themselves in Quenya.
- This is always used instead of cw.
- This is always used instead of cs.
Following groups are also units, but they only appear at the beginning of words:
|Initial Consonant Cluster Units|
|½j||hl||(/l/) or (/ɬ/)|
|½7||hr||(/r/) or (/r̥/)|
- Exilic Quenya pronounces them as /l/, /r/. The sounds /ɬ/, /r̥/ come from Pre-Exile Quenya from Eldamar, and are pronounced unvoiced.
- There is one word where hy appears in the middle: the verb `CdÍE ahya- "change", but it still pronounced [ç].
- When nw is found in the middle of a word, it uses instead 5n, which is simply /n/ followed by /w/.
And finally a special group:
|Special Consonant Cluster Units|
These are slightly different as they always count as a single consonant when preceded by a long vowel, but as a consonant cluster when determining syllable length with a short vowel.
Other consonant groups
Neo-Quenya is very restrictive in the use of consonants as only certain combinations are allowed.
Following list contains the consonant groups that are allowed but aren't considered as a unit:
|All Quenya Consonant Combinations|
From this list we e.g. conlude that np isn't allowed and has to be converted into mp.
These are the only consonants that can be found at the end of the word:
|All Final Quenya Consonants|
- The dative dual features the ONLY consonant cluster at the end of a word, and appears nowhere else.
To know which syllable is stressed, we first have to understand the length of a syllable:
A syllable is called long if it contains:
- A long vowel:
- á, é, í, ó, ú
- A diphthong:
- ai, oi, ui, au, eu, iu
- A short vowel followed by a consonant cluster.
So the stress rules are:
- A monosyllabic word is stressed on that syllable
- A disyllabic word is stressed on the first syllable
- A word with more than two syllables is stressed on the penultimate (one but last) syllable if it is long and on the third syllable from behind otherwise.
- Exception: `Cy~C avá "don't" is stressed on the final ~C á
In these examples the penultimate syllable is short:
- yR81Ej$ vestalë "marriage" ves-ta-lë, [ˈvɛs.ta.lɛ]
- j.D7R`C laurëa "golden" lau-re-a, [ˈlau̯.rɛ.a]
- hÎDyE5"%`V Yavannië "september" Ya-van-ni-ë, [ja.ˈvan.nɪ.ɛ]
In these examples the penultimate syllable is long:
- `Vj$4~C7T Elentári "Starqueen" E-len-tá-ri, [ɛ.lɛn.ˈtaː.rɪ]
- 9C81lD5# hastaina "marred" has-tai-na, [has.ˈtai̯.na]
- yEj#7.DaY Valarauco "Balrog" Va-la-rau-co, [va.la.ˈrau̯.kɔ]
- `Vj$2%j Elendil "Elendil" E-len-dil, [ɛ.ˈlɛn.dɪl]
The consonants x and qu count as a consonant cluster (cs and cw):
- 9RjaE7Ea|R Helcaraxë "Helcaraxë" Hel-ca-rac-së, [hel.ka.ˈrak.sɛ]
- aG7ÎDzR5 ciryaquen "sailor" cir-ya-quen, [kɪr.ˈja.kwɛn]
The special consonant clusters ry, ly, ny, ty are considered consonant clusters when determining stress (see above):
- `Vj$5Ì# Elenya "Sunday" E-len-ya, [ɛ.ˈlɛn.ja]
These rules also imply that it is not always a syllable with long vowel that is stressed (in some languages like Swedish this is always true, so speakers of these languages have to be extra careful when stressing such words):
- ~MjlD7T Úlairi "Nazgûl" Ú-lai-ri, [uː.ˈlai̯.rɪ]
- qEj#4~B6 palantír "seeing-stone" pa-lan-tír, [pa.ˈlan.tiːr]
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