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Adûnaic ("Language of the West") was the Númenórean language, spoken by the Men of Númenor during the Second Age.


[edit] Origins and family

Adûnaic was derived from the Hadorian tongue, related to the Bëorian—collectively called Taliska. It was more distantly related to the languages of the Middle Men of the east, such as the Men of Eriador and the Northmen.[1] During the First Age these languages were much influenced by Khuzdul,[2] Avarin, but also by the languages of the Eldar, as the Elf-friends spoke Sindarin.[3]

Despite it being a millennium or more after their separation, the Númenórean mariners who returned to Middle-earth in the Second Age could find common roots and words with the Middle Men of Eriador (related to the Folks of Beor and Hador), and talk about simple matters.[4] This is also partly due to the Númenórean longevity, and the slow change of their language.[5]

In the western districts of Númenor, the rustic folk still used another dialect, a last remnant of the Bëorian language.[6]

Taliska was not related to the Haladin tongue at all, therefore the Númenóreans did not recognise the peoples of Enedwaith and Minhiriath as their distant kin, who spoke unrelated languages.[7]

[edit] History

Adûnaic was generally considered to be a language of less prestige than the Elven tongues. Most locations of Númenor, and most of the lords and ladies of the Dúnedain, had also Quenya or Sindarin names beside their native ones.[8] Even most commoners knew Sindarin to some degree.

Most of the House of Bëor had been killed after the Dagor Bragollach,[9] but even during the Second Age a Bëorian accent of Adûnaic still survived in parts of Númenor, most notably in Emerië and around the harbour of Andúnië.

[edit] Days of pride

About 2,000 years into the Second Age, the Númenóreans began to envy the immortality of the Firstborn, which extended to the languages of the Elves; the Kings and their followers used the Elven tongues less and less. Though the Kings and Queens had all taken their names in Quenya, after some time their supporters used their Adûnaic names to refer to them.

Eventually Ar-Adûnakhôr took his name in Adûnaic and forbade anyone to speak the Elven tongues in his presence. Adûnaic was now the language of the royal court. Its supremacy was most strongly enforced by Ar-Gimilzôr: he outlawed the use of Elvish anywhere in Númenor, which antagonized the few Faithful Númenóreans still living in the land.

However, his son Inziladûn took a Quenya name again, Tar-Palantir, repealed the ban on the Elven tongues and gave peace to the Faithful. His daughter Míriel would probably have continued his reforms, but her cousin Pharazôn seized power and, in addition, gave her an Adûnaic name (Ar-Zimraphel).[8]

[edit] Decline

In Middle-earth, the Faithful settlers (who controlled the shorelands of the Westlands from Lune to Pelargir), neglected their native tongue and favored Sindarin and devised names in it; no doubt as a reaction against the rebel Kings who banned the Elvish tongues. This was the case among the Faithful of high lineage who used Sindarin as their native tongue, and became a mark of Númenórean descent, while Adûnaic was left as the daily language of the illiterate, neglected to unheeded change. However some Númenóreans who had Sindarin as their mother tongue, learned this "vulgar" language when it was needed.[5]

With the Downfall of Númenor came the end of classical Adûnaic. The study and preservation of the language was neglected by the Exiles of Númenor, because they associated it with the rebellious and repressive Númenórean Kings.[10]

However, this debased tongue, spread from the early Númenórean sailors and colonists, continued to spread as their settlements increased in size and influence and met more peoples, who came under their rule. Those Men of different kinds used this language as a lingua franca among them. This process became of general importance after the Realms in Exile; from Eriador to Gondor the tongue became widely current, being adopted both by inhabitants and incomers, eventually becoming their native language, which they called Westron, widely spoken during the Third Age.[5][11][1]

[edit] Structure

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[edit] Etymology

Adûnaic is an Anglicized name of the language. It's unknown how it would be called in the own language, but later Westron speakers called their language Adûni.[12] Some hypothetical words have been modeled after Nimriyê ("Elvish"): Adûnaiyê,[13] Adûnâyê[14] and Adûnâiyê. [15]

[edit] Inspiration

Tolkien said the Númenórean language is based on Hebrew.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", p. 317
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of Men into the West"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes", #71
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes", #72
  8. 8.0 8.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", p. 315
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages", p. 316
  13. Andreas Moehn, "Etymologies of the Atani Languages", Lalaith's Middle-earth Science Pages (Web Archive) (accessed 7 September 2019)
  14. Thorsten Renk, "Etymologies of the Atani Languages", Parma Tyelpelassiva (accessed 7 September 2019)
  15. Paul Strack, "Ad. Adûnâiyê n.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 7 September 2019)
  16. Clyde S. Kilby, Tolkien and The Silmarillion, "2. Summer with Tolkien", p. 24

[edit] External links

Languages in Tolkien's works
Elvish languages Avarin · Common Eldarin · Gnomish · Nandorin · Noldorin · Primitive Quendian · Quenya (Exilic · Qenya · Telerin · Valinorean · Vanyarin) · Silvan · Sindarin (Doriathrin · Falathrin · Númenórean · Ilkorin · Mithrim · Old)
Mannish languages Adûnaic · Dalish · Drúedainic · Dunlendish · Pre-Númenórean · Rohirric · Taliska · Westron (Hobbitish)
Dwarvish languages Iglishmêk · Khuzdul
Other languages Black Speech · Entish · Orkish · Valarin · Warg-language
Outside the legendarium Animalic · Arktik · Mágol · Naffarin · Nevbosh
Scripts Angerthas/Cirth (Daeron · Erebor · Moria) · Goblin Alphabet · Moon-letters · Tengwar · Sarati · Valmaric script
"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation