- 1 What writing system(s) does this language use?
- 2 How many people speak this language?
- 3 Where is this language spoken?
- 4 What is the history of this language?
- 5 Who are some famous authors or poets in this language?
- 6 What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
- 7 What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
- 8 References
What writing system(s) does this language use?
Quenya is a constructed language invented by British author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. His most well-known books are the Lord of the Rings series and the Hobbit. Tolkien uses Quenya as well as other languages he created in many of his books. This language uses a special kind of a writing system named Tengwar. "Tengwar" in Quenya means "letters". Letters of the Tengwar script are different than those of the Roman alphabet, which is used for writing English. However, it is possible to write Quenya using the letters of the Roman alphabet, too. Quenya uses the following letters:
- a, á, b, c, d, e, é, f, g, h, i, í, l, m, n, o, ó, p, q, r, s, t, u, ú, v, w, x, and y.
There are also several combinations of these letters used to represent other tengwar: ny, ty, ly, gw, nw, cw (which is usually spelled as qu), etc.
Since the Roman alphabet is not the original alphabet used for writing Quenya words, some differences may appear when two different persons write the same word using the letters of the Roman alphabet. For example, some would write cirya (ship), while the others would write kirya. You may also find the letter e having two little dots over it: ë. This does not affect the pronunciation, but is used sometimes to mark the letter e when it is final in a word: minë (one).
constructed language — a language that someone invented. This is unlike English and other natural languages whose rules and vocabulary evolved over hundreds or thousands of years.
How many people speak this language?
There are many people who study this language for fun. In Tolkien's stories, Quenya is spoken by some Elves and Humans in the lands named Middle-Earth and Valinor. However, very few people actually speak the language.
Where is this language spoken?
Tolkien has created a world just like ours, named Arda. There are many peoples living in Arda, and Quenya is the language of the Elves. Some Elvish peoples speak other languages such as Sindarin, Telerin, and Nandorin, just like how not all humans speak the same languages. The other Elvish languages are all similar to Quenya because Tolkien created them as related languages. Many human languages are related also, for example Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian are all similar because they are related languages.
People who studied Quenya for fun usually use it for writing poems and songs as it is said to be a pleasant and musical-sounding language.
What is the history of this language?
In Tolkien's stories, all the Elves at first spoke one single language, usually referred to as Primitive Elvish. Then they started a big journey from Cúvienen, where they lived at first. As the time passed, and they were moving, the language spread, and Elves began to speak it differently. This is why several different Elvish languages appeared, one of which is Quenya.
Tolkien continued to change Quenya for his entire life. He first started to work on it while he was still a young boy, and he kept improving it right up to his death. Because of this, early Quenya words and grammar were very different from the way they would end up at the end of Tolkien's life.
Quenya is usually used for writing poems, stories, and songs.
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973) is the creator of Quenya and several other Elvish languages. His son, Christopher Tolkien, continued publishing Quenya-related material after his father's death.
Helge K. Fauskanger and Thorsten Renk are considered some of the best researchers of Tolkien's languages today. They wrote textbooks of Quenya and Sindarin languages, and articles about Tolkien's languages.
What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
- Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo - A star shines on the hour of our meeting. (In other words: "Hello.")
- aran - king
- tári - queen
- Elda - Elf
- Eldar - Elves
- atto ar mamil - Dad and Mom
- malta - gold
- ondo - stone, rock
- cár - head
- masta - bread
- Anar - Sun
- Isil - Moon
- lírë - song
- laire - poem
- minë 1
- atta 2
- neldë 3
- canta 4
- lempë 5
- enquë 6
- otso 7
- tolto 8
- nertë 9
- cainen 10
- minquë 11
- rasta 12
- carnë - red
- culuina - orange
- fána or fánë - white (like clouds)
- helwa - pale blue
- laiqua - green
- laurëa - golden
- lossë - white (like snow)
- luin - blue
- malina - yellow
- morë or morna - black
- ninquë - white
- silma - silver, shining white
- sindë or sinda - grey
- varnë - dark brown
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
Try to learn this little song from "The Lord of the Rings" named Rhyme of Lore:
Hallë ciryar ar hallë arani
neldë lúr neldë,
man tuncet Atalantello
or i úlëa eär?
Otso eleni ar otso ondor
ar minë ninquë alda. *
- * - translation to Quenya by David F. Ponessa
It sounds like this:
Halle keeryar ar halle aranee
nelde loor nelde
man toonket atalantello
or ee oolea ear
otso elenee ar otso ondor
ar meene neenkwe alda
And that means:
Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three,
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.
Introduction • Glossary • Authors and Contributing • Print Version