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Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13 

Foreign Language  


Exploring Elvish with Tolkien
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Aug 25, 2006, 12:24 PST



Grade Level  - 7-12, college
The One Ring of Sauron, engraved with Elvish writing (� 2001 New Line Productions, photograph courtesy New Line Cinema)

Subject  - Foreign Language

Keywords  - Learning elvish, Tolkien languages, Tolkien's elvish language, elvish pronunciation guide, Quenya, Amanye Tenceli, writing Elvish, Tengwar, Elvish, Elvish dictionary, elvish glossaries, Elven languages, Tolkien and Elvish, Tolkien languages, ClassBrain, Movies in the ClassRoom, the Lord of the Rings, The two Towers, The Fellowship of the Rings, The Return of the King

Author - Cynthia F. Kirkeby    thebrains@classbrain.com       

Affiliation - ClassBrain, Inc.

Date – 16 December, 2002

Duration - 2-3 class periods

Background

Tolkien was fascinated by languages and spent a great deal of time creating his own. These languages, including the elvish languages of Quenya and Amanye Tenceli were integral to the creation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some scholars have gone so far as to say that the books were actually created to showcase the work he was doing with these languages.

Finnish and Welsh were two of the languages that he used as a base for his languages. The elvish languages are melodic and quite beautiful to hear. We are now fortunate to be able to hear a great deal of the language presented in the Lord of the Rings films. The extended version of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings actually showcases quite a bit more of this language than in the theatrical release.


Objectives


Project one:

Working with a partner, create your own Elvish glossary. Your project may take the form of a book, a PowerPoint presentation, or a web site. You should define at least 20 words. These may be taken from Tolkien’s works or created from scratch by you. For each word, provide the spelling and phonetic pronunciation, the definition, and the part(s) of speech. Provide background, if possible, on the derivation of the word.

Project two:
Create a recording of at least 15 - 20 of Tolkien’s elvish words or phrases. Pay attention to pronouncing the words clearly. Say each word twice. Then say the English version of the word or phrase. This can be done with a partner or as a solo project. This project may be submitted on a cassette or as a computer sound file on disk or CD. Pay special attention to the Elvish Pronunciation Guide below.

Resources

Beyond the Movie - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Language and Culture

This web site is a companion to a great film on the making of the Fellowship of the Ring. It has excellent information on how Tolkien created his languages and what he went through to bring us these stories. This is a must see for all Tolkien language fans.
Source: National Geographic

Lord of the Rings- The Official Movie Site
This site is full of information for the Tolkien enthusiast. Explore world of Tolkien through interviews and interactive maps. Unfortunately there isn’t much here on the languages, but the site has a great deal ot offer in terms of background.
Source: New Line Productions

Fellowship of the Word-Smiths

This is my favorite Elvish web site. There is a great deal of information presented here, not only on the Elvish language, but also on the calligraphy of the Elvish language. The samples from around the world are gorgeous and wonderful to explore. This is definitely the place to start exploring the Tolkien Elfish languages.
Source: Fellowship of the Word-Smith

Elvish Pronunciation Guide
Start at this site to learn the basics of pronunciation. They’ve put together sound files to give you a start at speaking the Elvish language. There are two different files types: low-fi and mid-fi, for those with different connection speeds. The pronunciations are clear and easy to follow.
Source: Julian Bradfield of the Tolkien Language List

A Free Course in Quenya
This free course can be downloaded in RTF format or in PDF format. The program is designed for complete beginners. Everything is explained, but it doesn’t mean that it’s an easy course. By the author’s own admission, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but if Elvish is your passion this is a wonderful resource.
Source: Ardalambion

Amanye Tenceli - The Writing System of Aman
This page is dedicated to Tolkien's writing systems that are often referred to as Tengwar. There is a great deal of information available presented in a clear fashion. You can also find some beautiful font downloads on this site.
Source: Måns Björkman

Writing With Elvish Fonts
Would you prefer to write Elvish? The fonts available are elegant and fun. This page takes you through the mechanics and leads to links on some beautiful fonts. There are some broken links, but don’t let that discourage you from exploring the other resources available.
Source:
Harri Perälä

Dictionary of the Elvish Language
This dictionary is an attempt to give a full meaning for each word in the languages of Quenya (the High Elven speech) and Sindarin (the Gray Elven speech), from all of J.R.R. Tolkien's writings on Middle-earth. It is a good starting point for research on specific terms.
Source: Dictionary of the Elvish Language

Elvish Glossaries
Look up a word in either English or Elvish and find it’s counterpart.
English to Elvish
Elvish to English
Source:
The Dragon’s Inn

The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship

This international organization is devoted to the scholarly study of the languages invented by J.R.R. Tolkien. This organization tracks scholarly research and publishing. There is a great list of available publications covering Elvish including the Parma Eldalamberon ... The Book of Elven Tongues which is a journal of linguistic studies of fantasy literature, especially of the Elvish languages and nomenclature in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. This group’s resources are definitely worth exploring.
Source: The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship

Fantasy Fonts
Fonts are available for both Tolkien’s Tengwar Fonts and his Cirth Fonts. Both of these fonts are designed for Window’s systems, so Mac users are recommended to visit some of the other sites listed above.
Source: Daniel Steven Smith




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