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.
The Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar, Elves, are fair and wise, possess great knowledge and supreme skills in crafts, are gifted in creating new things and versed in lore. All of these are native to their nature and being. Another aspect of Elvish essence that makes them very different from other dwellers of Middle-earth is their special outlook on life based around hope.
Stars have been a vital part of the Elves’ lives since the Firstborn awoke near Cuiviénen under the starlight. It was their doom appointed by Eru Ilúvatar, so being the first thing the newly awoken race saw, the stars cannot have been anything but of paramount importance for the fair people.
In my personal universe winter is closely associated with the development of my fascination with Tolkien. It was in December that I first picked up The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with the latter sitting on my bookshelf for several years after the purchase, untouched and unopened, biding its time to storm into my life precisely when it meant to. I spent the whole last month of the year with my nose buried in the books, unable to part with the stories. However, no matter how much I loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it was my January dive into The Silmarillion that sealed my respect and love of Tolkien’s books and turned me from just a reader into the student of his works.
Pronunciation of words in real and invented languages can be of various kinds: in some tongues words are pronounced in the same way they are spelt, but in others there are entire systems with reading rules of different degrees of complexity. In some cases the way a word is spelt versus the way it is pronounced can be divided by a yawning gap. Some languages have special marks above or below letters to indicate certain peculiarities in their pronunciation. J. R. R. Tolkien’s invented languages Quenya and Sindarin are no exceptions. Read more
In many ways Elvish immortality in Tolkien’s Legendarium is more like a doom for its bearers, rather than a blessing: being not permanent living per se, it is rather the state of an immensely long life until the end of Arda without any knowledge of what comes afterwards. Thus, alongside moments of joy, Elves carry great burdens of battles lost, dear ones dead and sorrows experienced over the courses of their really long lives, and the burden becomes only heavier with years. As Men are growing stronger and more powerful, Elves are waning and fading gradually. In Tolkien’s own words, they “are concerned rather with the griefs and burdens of deathlessness in time and change, than with death” (Letters, № 131).
Alongside common and rather familiar to us food J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories sometimes feature provisions not very typical of our world. Apart from being the means of nutrition, they also have potent powers, like, for instance, lembas. The waybread of the Elves is able to revive one’s powers even after a small bite. There is also a drink with similar qualities, and that is miruvor.
Those who read Tolkien deeply and wish to discover more about his Legendarium could have noticed the word Gnomes in the early versions of the tales that the Professor used to refer to the Elves known as the Noldor. Later, though, he abandoned the term opting only for the Quenya word Noldor instead. This change has a history.
Unions between immortal Elves and mortal Men were rare in Middle-earth: the fates of these two kindreds are very different to be interwoven easily. When Elves and Men did intermarry, it was usually for a high, noble purpose, but had a sorrowful end.