What is language for a people? The most obvious answer is that it is a means of communication. But what if we look deeper and examine other properties of language rather than communication alone?
As a gifted and prolific philologist, J. R. R. Tolkien had great love of languages. During his life he studied many tongues of old: Gothic, Old English, Old Norse, and for Tolkien the languages were closely connected with the tales of the people who spoke them. Those tongues and tales influenced him, all in different ways, but one thing remains: Tolkien realised very well that language and mythology form one inseparable whole, and this interdependence permeates his own mythology of Middle-earth which rose out of his invented language.
Among the characters in The Silmarillion one of the most renowned for his deeds of valour and nobility was Fingolfin’s eldest son Fingon. Named the Valiant, Fingon won great honour for his glorious feats and showed himself as a person of real courage.
Beautiful she is, sir! Lovely! Sometimes like
a great tree in flower, sometimes like a white
daffadowndilly, small and slender like. Hard as
di’monds, soft as moonlight. Warm as sunlight,
cold as frost in the stars. Proud and far-off as a
snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass
I ever saw with daisies in her hair in springtime.
(Two Towers, p. 357)
As many major characters in Tolkien’s work, the greatest villain of Middle-earth Morgoth had a lot of different names and titles among Elves and Men that reflected his character and personality. Read more
The Two Trees of Valinor created by Yavanna were the source of illumination in Valinor. Being the luminaries of the natural origin the Trees were noted for their soft light, gentle dew and cycles of waxing and waning which led to the beginning of time measurement.
The matter of Elvish names is one of the most interesting ones in Tolkien’s Legendarium. The way of Elves’ giving names to their children presents a very thought-out system showing the depth of Elvish culture, the importance of family values to them and their skill in giving the names that capture the inner nature of a person. Let’s have a look at the story of Fëanor’s name and how it reflects his personality.
Languages are prone to changes. Influenced by many factors, they never stay the same but always evolve at all levels. J. R. R. Tolkien was well-known for creating his own languages which became more than just different words in his works. His invented languages actually worked within Arda and turned into one of the most important elements of the narrative.