Gi suilon! Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn.
Did you know that the languages were the first thing that Tolkien created for his mythical universe? According to the author, his stories grew out of his languages as he creates races to speak the tongues he had constructed. Quenya (high-elven) was the first, and most complete, of these languages, the other being Sindarin (grey-elven).
Elvish is strongly influenced by Finnish and Welsh, but is surprisingly easy to learn how to use! It also looks particularly nice in a gift card with a dozen freshly baked loaves of Lembas Bread.
Using the examples of ‘Robert’ and ‘Lynne’, Star Chamber gives us a step-by-step instruction on learning the language of elves — and writing with it — in under ten minutes. They also provide a handy alphabet key if, like me, you want to cheat your way through this linguistics course.
Let’s start with the name ‘Robert’.
- Write the name ROBERT
- Shift the vowels up and to the left so they are above the letters they follow.
- Substitute the letters using the alphabet provided. Notice there are two forms for the letter T. One is for R as in ‘red’ and one is R as in ‘car’. The name Robert starts with R-red and the other R is R-car.
Now let’s take a look at ‘Lynne’.
- Write the name LYNNE
- Shift the vowels down and to the left.
- Doubled letters take up one space.
Of course, Elvish is a very ancient and complex language, so there’s more rules and examples to truly understand how it works. And it can be a bitch to learn how to pronounce it, although YouTube has some good tutorials!
The most important thing to remember when writing Elvish is that vowels go above (or below) the consonants. You can put the vowels above the letter they follow (Quenya style, as above) or above the letter they precede (Sindarin style). It’s up to you, just try to keep it consistent.