Introduction to Elvish

Many Elvish Tongues

"Elvish" is a broad term for the numerous Elven languages. The languages started out as one language, which is often referred to by Tolkien-language enthusiasts as "Primitive Elvish" but over the millenia of separation - the language fractured into many languages: Avarin, Nandorin, Lindarin, Sindarin, Mithren, Falathren, Telerin and Quenya. Middle-earth is home to the majority of these languages.

Out of all of these vibrant and varying tongues, Tolkien put most of his effort into two of the languages: Sindarin and Quenya, even going as far as to develop different dialects of them! (Sindarin has four dialects: Doriathren, Exilic, Númenórean/Gondorian, and Woodelven; Quenya has three: Vanyarin, Númenórean, and Exilic. Of these, the dialects of Doriath and the Vanyar are considered the most "pure": the others being influenced by learning them as second languages.

By the Third Age, Sindarin had become the Elven Lingua Franca of Middle-earth. That doesn't mean that it had completely replaced the other Elven languages, but it was used as a second language by many Elves of Middle-earth.

Quenya isn't used much in Middle-earth. You can find it in Kingly names of Númenórean and later, Gondorian rulers, and it is spoken by Exiles to other Exiles, (Exiles being Noldor who returned to Middle-earth, exiling themselves from Valinor). Quenya is the language in majority in Valinor - though it shares the land with Telerin and Valarin - the language of the Valar.

If you were to meet an Elf in Middle-earth, it's safest to start speaking in Sindarin. If you are in Valinor, it's better to start greeting them in Quenya.

Terms of Use

Elvish is from different sources (see credits below), but it is compiled and arranged by Arwen and Dreamingfifi of Merin Essi ar Quenteli. Pictures, collected movie transcripts, and format are by Arwen, but pronunciation guides, phrasebooks, and the training and recording of voice actors is by Dreamingfifi of Merin Essi ar Quenteli. If you wish to use any Elvish sections on your web site, you may, but please state clearly that Elvish is compiled by Depending on what you choose to use, please also credit the sites mentioned in the intro to each section. By no means use all of the info; even two pages is stretching it.

Thanks to:
Gwaith-i-Phethdain for the translations of the Elvish dialogue, songs, and inscriptions.
Glǽmscrafu - Tolkien's Linguistic Cellar for the translations of the Elvish from the books.
dreamingfifi for revamping the Elvish section.
David Salo for the interview, and doing the translations in the movies!
The following voice actors who took the time to learn how to the Elvish lines and go through hours of recording to get them right:
Aaron Shaw (Random Elves, Sam Gamgee, and songs)
Adam Elliott (a song)
Arron Clark (Legolas and Glorfindel)
Camden Jenkins (Treebeard, songs, and weapon inscriptions)
Cody Leatzow (Gandalf, Saruman, Random Elf, songs, and weapon inscriptions)
E. A. Hartmann (Frodo and songs)
Eve Haegele (Galadriel and songs)
Fiona Jallings (Gilraen and a song)
Fiona McNeal (Arwen and songs)
Spencer Reh (Elrond, Haldir, Celeborn, songs, and a weapon inscription)
Thomas Elrod (Aragorn and a song)
The University of Montana Anime Club (the people of Gondor)