Learning Elvish the Easy Way


Learning Elvish the easy way

There are different types of Elvish tongues just like it is with most languages. At first, learning a new language might seem like a herculean task, but with the right guidance and steps, it would be a fun and wonderful experience. 

We would be sharing some tips, and a list you can follow to help you understand Elvish better. The first thing you should ask yourself is why learn Elvish? You cannot converse with people with it, you would not be meeting an Elf anytime soon. Why then are you interested in learning the language? 

You can learn Elvish the easy way by using free mobile apps which can be found on Google Play and iPhone app store. There are also hardcover books and web forums, but Apps are the best.

Tolkien could understand and speak different languages. Also, the history tied to the language is enough to raise your curiosity in learning the language. One of the most beautiful languages that you can hear is from the Eldarian descent. Everything about Elves is beautiful, and the same goes for their language. All lovers of Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit should have a knack for Elvish.

History of Elvish

Elvish is a family containing different languages, and it was conceived in 1965 by Tolkien. The language originated from Primitive Quendian, which is the prototype language for all elves. This is the common descendant of all Elvish languages. Some Elvish languages that we have are; Avarin, Eldarin, Quenva, Quenya, Telerin, Nandorin, Doriathrin, and Falathrin. These Elvish languages are dependent on the clan and locations of the Elves. So if you are interested in learning Elvish, you should know what exactly you want to learn, so you would not be beating around the bush in a bid to learn the language. When you see any vowel with macron, this is to indicate that it is a long vowel, and must be stressed when it is in a word. It also indicates that the vowel should be pronounced separately, and it is not a diphthong. 

After Tolkien created the language, most of the written samples that he sent out where in Latin alphabets, though when he was creating the fiction, he imagined different writing systems. Among them are the Tengwar, and the Sarati. Here is a list of the Elvish scripts created by Tolkien: Tengwat, Gondolinic Tunes, Valmaric Script, Qenyatic, and the Cirth of Daeron. 

What Elvish does Legolas speak?

As we all know, there are different types of Elvish languages available. In Lord of the Rings, Legolas does not speak only Elvish. He also converses in English. The most common Elvish language is Sindarin, and that was what Legolas was brought up with. His father Thranduil was Sindarin, and his mother died when he was at a tender age. So he has been used to Sindarin, and this was the language he conversed in. 

Though Legolas also spoke English in LOTR, this was just to show the beauty in Elvish. Apart from Elvish, Leoglas can also speak Westron. Legolas did not speak Quenya, because it was the language of the Noldorin Elves. Legolas is not Noldorin, and his father holds a personal grudge against them, so there is no way Legolas could have learned Quenya. So the three main languages spoken by Legolas are; Silvan, Westron, and Sindarin. Just like Legolas, Arwen speaks purely Sindarin. Arwen is the Lady of Rivendell, Queen of Men and Elves, and the Queen of Gondor.

Types of Elvish

Just like other languages, there are different variations of Elvish. Each language has its technicality. Thus you must know that there are different types of Elvish before you proceed into learning the language. So you would be certain of what you are learning. During The Lord of the Rings time, there were two major branches of Elves. The Sindarin and Quenya. The Quenya is the most popular, this is because of the abundant materials readily available on it. However, the same cannot be said for Sindarin.

Apart from Sindarin and Quenya, Tolkien is known to have created several languages, though there is not much information about them. Another Elvish language he created is Noldorin. However, Noldorin converted into Sindarin. So it is no longer studied, except for Enthusiasts that are interested in studying the history of Sindarin.

Sindarin is the regular language among everyone in the Middle Earth. While Quenya sounds more formal, and it is spoken by ancient Elves. For those willing to learn the Language, you should start by memorizing the vowels and consonants. This should be easy because they also sound like English. You should then try working on some words before moving to learn phrases. Since Quenya and Sindarin are the most common Elvish Languages, it is fitting that we discuss more of them. Quenya has about 2,000 words in all, while Sindarin has about 1,200 words. While the least developed Telerin has 300 words. These languages can be used to coin several prose texts and meaningful poetry. Here is a list you can follow for an easy understanding of Quenya.

Tips on Learning Quenya

  1. Learn and Memorize the vowels: Unlike English, the vowels are fixed, and they do not change regardless of their location in a word. When you see a diacritic sign over a vowel, it means you have to pronounce it longer. You should learn the vowel sounds and memorize them. The written form of Quenya is Tengwar, while its spoken form is Quenya.
  2. Identify the consonants different in English: Most of the consonant in Quenya is the same as English.
  3. Stress the vowel if the word starts with a vowel: If the word starts with a vowel, the first syllable must be loud and pronounced thoroughly. While the others come off easy. If there are just two syllables, always stress the first syllable, even when there is no vowel.
  4. For words that start with a consonant, you have to stress the third syllable: If the word has more than two syllables, you have to stress the third, so your voice must incline on the third syllable. You would notice that most third syllables in every word have a vowel sound. This is universal in Elvish.
  5. Apply an Italian Accent to sound Elvish: This is a pro-tip, if you want to sound Elvish, you can use an Italian accent in pronouncing Elvish words. This makes you sound like you have practiced thoroughly even when you have not.

However, Quenya has its own unique rules that are not peculiar to English. Learn and practice these rules, so you would get familiar with it.

Quenya Rules

  • “C” and “K” have the same pronunciation in Quenya. Though they are written as “C” and “K” in Tengwar, their pronunciation is the same.
  • “R” is always rolled. Just like the way Mexicans and Spanish roll their “R”.
  • There are also nasal constants, and they are pronounced by allowing air to pass through the nose. They are: “N”, “M”, and “NY”.
  • “Y” is a consonant, so emphasis should always be laid on it whenever you want to pronounce it.

Tips on Learning Sindarin

  1. Use your English Pronunciation only some exceptions: Consonants in Sindarin are similar to English.
  2. The first syllable should be stressed: When pronouncing in Sindarin, the first syllable is always stressed. Regardless of its letters, you should always emphasize the first syllable.
  3. For words with more than three syllables, the third must be stressed: This is a simple rule. If there are four or more syllables, you should stress the third syllable.
  4. For a Sandarin accent, use an Irish or Scottish accent: The Scots always emphasize the first sound when they are speaking English. This is a great method of learning Sindarin. Like this, you would have a basic Sindarin accent.

However, there are some rules that you should have in mind, and they should be constantly practiced so it would be a part of you.

Sindarin Rules

  • The “C” and “K” are pronounced hard and they are identical.
  • The letter “R” must be rolled.
  • “WH” and “DH” are pronounced “TH”, just like it is in English.
  • “G” must always be stressed, and when “V” is at the end of the word, it is silent.
  • Vowels in Sindarin are identical to Quenya, except “Y”. “Y” is treated as a consonant in Sindarin.

Follow these steps, and you are on your way to speaking Elvish fluently. Whichever language you choose, you should be proficient in it, and that is what the list above would help you do.

Common Elvish Phrases in Quenya and Sindarin

Common PhrasesQuenyaSindarin
A star shines on the hour of our meetingElen síla lúmenn’ omentielvoÊl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn
Do you speak Elvish? Ma istal quet’ Eldarin?Pedig edhellen?
May we speak as friends now?Quetuvangwë sí ve nildu?Peditham hi sui vellyn?

Is Elvish easy to learn?

The answer to this depends on your personal preference. Elvish is quite similar to English. You just need to distinguish the differences and familiarize yourself with them. However, before you delve into learning Elvish, you should know that there are different dialects, so you can choose from that which you find easier. This also depends on personal preference. To some people, Quenya is easier than Sindarin, while to some, it is the opposite.

Neither of them is simpler than the other. The reason why people place them above each other is because of the language they speak normally. Irish and Welsh would find Sindarin easier because its ideas are similar to theirs. However, Latin and Finnish students would rather opt for Quenya. Elvish is easy to learn if you are ready to learn. Regarding which dialect to pick, you should select that which interests you more. When you pick the language that interests you more, you would not get bored if you choose that which interests you more. If you are willing to go the extra mile, you can learn both. What it requires is practice and dedication, within a short time you would speak Elvish fluently.

Can you learn Elvish on Duolingo?

One of the most popular platforms for you to learn languages is Duolingo. They make learning fun, educative, and free. The platform is designed like a game, and this has proven to be very effective. There is attest carried out on the platform, and results from this test are accepted in more than 2,000 colleges all over the world. There have been several investors in this already established platform.

No, you cannot learn Elvish on Duolingo, and there are several reasons for this, though the language is a beautiful and historical one, there are some issues with learning the language on Duolingo. 

When Tolkien created the language, he made them for his amusement. He did not make them to be learned or studied. So, the language as a limited vocabulary, even in The Lord of the Rings, some things were changes. Frodo had an iconic greeting “Elen Sila lumenn’ Omentielmo”. This was later changed to; “Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo”. This is a sign that the language is not yet completely established. This is one of the reasons you cannot learn it on Duolingo.

Most people teaching Elvish are only teaching the version of Tolkien. He has different conceptions of the language, and this makes it difficult to get the right thing. The language might not be based on Tolkien’s exactly, but they are related. It gets even worse, the language can be split to Sindarin and Quenya. Quenya has some documentation that would facilitate learning the language. It also has a richer history. You can even apply as a contributor to Duolingo’s contributor. Trying to teach Sindarin on Duolingo would be tricky because of the different versions available to learn from.

Both languages can be used for a composition, but trying to teach them on a platform like Duolingo could seem a bit of a task. Teaching via Duolingo would not be thoroughly effective. If it were to be taught, it would just be the basics, so that the learners would not be confused. This would be to help avoid errors. However, you can also go all in, but you would be deviating from the teachings of Tolkien. A form of Quenya that does not conform with that of Tolkien would be used. As said earlier, Quenya is more documented, so teaching Quenya would be much simpler than Sindarin. However, you cannot learn Elvish on Duolingo.

Apps for Learning Elvish 

Though Duolingo does not teach Elvish, there are some apps that would come in handy for situations like this. With these applications, you can practice and understand different Elvish phrases. These applications make learning Elvish pretty simple. You do not have to go through the hassle to learn the language. Apart from this, there are Elvish translators and dictionary. These would make learning the language very easy. Apart from Elvish, these fantasy appsOpens in a new tab. are available for learning different types of languages. 

For those interested, here is a list of the fantasy languages you can learn on the app; Dothraki, Atlantean, Na’vi, Elvish, Aliense, Aklo, and many more. All these fantasy languages are learnable on the app, but there are different means available for you to learn them. So instead of paying for a face-to-face class, and committing your time to attend those classes. You can easily download the app, and peruse at your own convenience. 

For iPhone users, you can download “Elvenspeak” on your iOS. It is a guide that would help you in perfecting your Elvish. It has an English to Elvish dictionary, a date converter, and many more. The services that these app offers are free of charge. It is all for the culture and the love of The Lord of the Rings. The app features  Elven music, An Elvish course, searchable Elvish dictionary, and a converter. You can downloadOpens in a new tab. via iTunes or your app store.  

How to say your greetings in Elvish

Here is a list of some of the remarkable greetings and sayings for a quick Elvish study.

Good day; ‘Quel re

Good morning; ‘Quel amrun

Good afternoon; ‘Quel andune

Good evening; ‘Quel undome

Greetings everyone; Vedui’ il’er

It has been too long; Nae saian luume’

How to say common Elvish Phrases

A star shall shine on the hour of our meeting; Elen sila lumen omentilmo

Ever is thy sight a joy; Oio naa elealla alasse’

May the leaves of your life tree never turn brown; Aa’ lasser en lle coia orn n’ omenta gurtha

My heart sings to see thee; Cormamin Lindua ele lle

Look at this cool book: A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings at Amazon.com

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