Elenion ancalima.

Languages hide a vast amount of information about a certain people, their history, traditions and culture. Words, phrases, names can be a huge treasury of lore and beliefs, values and viewpoints. When we speak of the Elves, it is also true. They were the Firstborn Children of Eru Ilúvatar — fair and gifted individuals who placed a great importance on the stars in their culture. I have already discussed in this essay how the role of the stars in Elvish tradition is emphasised in different tales of Middle-earth. In the present essay I am going to consider the usage of the word elen — “star” — in the Quenya language.

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The secret tongue.

Different peoples in the world of Arda have their own typical traits that make them special and different from other races. The Dwarves are known to be rather secretive about their own selves. They tend to keep to themselves and very little is known about them or their traditions to the peoples of Middle-earth. One of the aspects of the Dwarvish culture, in which their secrecy shows very vividly, is their language of Khuzdul.

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Want to learn a language? Ask J. R. R. Tolkien how.

J. R. R. Tolkien was a gifted philologist. His philological interests, according to the Professor himself, were largely scientific, and that shows clearly in his own literary work. Just a read through The History of Middle-earth with its linguistic bits, in-depth philological essays, carefully crafted and restored etymologies for his own invented languages demonstrates as much. These languages were first and foremost, the starting point of Tolkien’s tales.

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Are you friend or foe?

It was often the case that in his writings J. R. R. Tolkien used unusual words either in their older meanings changed today, or the ones no longer in active use. It is such words that create a very special old-fashioned atmosphere of most of the Professor’s tales, tone them down to the stories of the past and give lovers of words a chance to dig out a new lexical treasure. One of such interesting choices was the noun unfriend that does not appear in Tolkien’s works very often.

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Oh languages beloved!

One of my most favourite academic works by J. R. R. Tolkien is his lecture English and Welsh. Apart from being a very informative and interesting piece of writing, this lecture is a pleasure to read: it was written by the person who understood languages, their character and essence, treated tongues as living beings, loved and respected them. 

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Wicked witch.

The Nazgûl firmly belong to the category of the most terrifying characters in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium. Many a reader have undoubtedly had their dreams haunted by Sauron’s evil servants: their appearance is enough to chill one’s blood. The Lord of the Nine is especially powerful and horrifying. Fear goes before him and, when gathered together under their leader, the Nine are a true terror. As it was often the case with Tolkien, the Professor used several names in reference to the Lord of the Nazgûl, all of which reveal various traits of his personality. Today we are going to look at the title of the Witch-king of Angmar and what it can tell us about its bearer.

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Fëanor the linguist.

In his tales J. R. R. Tolkien stated that Fëanor was the greatest of the Noldor in all features of his personality: body, mind, hands. Even though tainted by his arrogant, proud, fierce character and evil deeds, Fëanor’s talents were undeniable, and he made a great contribution to various aspects of Elvish culture. One of the fields which Fëanor was especially gifted in was languages.

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The weavers of words.

J. R. R. Tolkien was a gifted philologist: not only did he know his subject exceedingly well, but he also had an innate ability to understand and perceive tongues. Language matters are tightly interwoven into Tolkien’s tales, and they, as the Professor himself stated, were “fundamentally linguistic in inspiration” (Letters, № 165). Thus, it is only natural that Arda had its own talented linguists, and they were the Elves.

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