On linguistic creation: what makes Tolkien’s invented languages special.

Language creation was one of the greatest interests that J. R. R. Tolkien had in his life. The Professor’s stories were closely connected with his invented tongues which were an integral and vital part of the whole mythology of Arda. There are a lot of various aspects to look at Tolkien’s language creation from, so to begin with the exploration of this amazing manifestation of his creativity, I am going to look into what makes Tolkien’s languages resemble those we speak in our world.

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In the Land of Heroes: Tolkien, Kalevala and Finnish.

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.

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His sharp tongue or Fëanor’s talent to insult.

Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’s eldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.  Read more

On the wonders of Faërie.

Mortals’ attitude to Faërie and being there defines the nature of their experience in the Otherworld. Arrogance, impudence, importunity or inner evil, though unwitting at times, can lead to various degrees of disaster. What is the best way to approach Faërie then? There is a character in Tolkien’s writings who shows how mortals can visit the world of Elves happily, enjoy the experience and become enlightened by it. It is Smith from Wootton Major. Read more

On the perils of Faërie.

“Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold”.

J. R. R. Tolkien (On Fairy-Stories)

When it comes to Faërie, mortals must exercise great care in dealing with it. While the land of eternal life and plenty presents a desirable destination for many, it is not fit for earthly beings, save for a temporary abode or occasional visits, most likely for a special reason and with a seal of approval from Faërie inhabitants themselves. Read more

Christopher Tolkien: the son’s literary feat.

Tolkien readers, scholars and enthusiasts of today are incredibly fortunate as they have a unique collection of Professor’s writings available to them. Apart from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, some poems, short stories and academic papers, which appeared during Tolkien’s life, there are also posthumously published works, including early and transitional versions of the well-known stories, non-Middle-earth and academic writings. None of this would have been possible, though, had it not been for Tolkien’s son Christopher. Read more

Escape to the book: J. R. R. Tolkien’s view on escapism from the realia of the Robot Age.

When we speak about fantasy or fairy-tales, the term “escapist literature” often goes hand in hand with them. However, it is not always used in a good sense: while some view escapism as good and harmless, others treat it with contempt and mistrust. Read more