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This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.

Taliska[note 1] was a Mannish language spoken by the Edain of the House of Bëor and House of Hador.


[edit] Origins

The ancestors of the folk of Beor and Marach were originally one group when they migrated to the West. In the northern Rhûn they met some Dwarves[1] who probably influenced their language.[2] It was at the shores of the Sea of Rhûn when the tribes separated. They didn't meet often, and their languages soon diverged.[3]

The Greater Folk seemed to had been related to the ancestors of the Northmen[4] (whose language eventually evolved in the various languages of the Northmen in the Third Age[5]). The Lesser Folk had extensive contact with the Dark Elves, they adopted "many words and devices" that influenced their language.[6][2]

[edit] History

When the two tribes reached Beleriand, they already spoke different dialects. The language of the folk of Marach was more pure and they felt that the dialect of the folk of Beor had alien elements.[2]

The folk of Haleth spoke the unrelated Haladin tongue, which was unintelligible.

The language of the House of Beor eventually was almost extinct, both because of the adoption of Sindarin and because the House was mostly annihilated after the Dagor Bragollach.[7] On the other hand, the House of Hador did not wholly abandon their language, it survived the War of Wrath and was still spoken when the Edain migrated to Elenna. Thus it later became Adûnaic.[6]

[edit] Other versions of the Legendarium

Helge Fauskanger and Ellen Schousboe noted several changes in the conception of Taliska:[8]

  • The name "Taliska" originally referred to the language of the Houses of Bëor and Haleth whereas it was the House of Hador that spoke another language, which would eventually be conceived as Adûnaic. In an early text by Tolkien, some words he labels as Taliska refer to terms which in the later version would be used by the Haladin.
  • Later, in the essay "Of Dwarves and Men" (published in The Peoples of Middle-Earth), Tolkien wrote that the Bëorians and Halethians did not speak related languages: The Hadorians still spoke "ancient Adûnaic", and the Bëorians had a closely related language; it was the language of Halethians that was unrelated to both of them (see pre-Númenorean).

The later conception establishes a wider Hadorian/Beorian language, which however is not given a name. The fate of the term Taliska is vague, and while it could refer to the Halethian isolate (cf. the older conception) sometimes it's used conventionally to refer to the Hadorian/Beorian family.

[edit] Inspiration

Taliska was an early language developed by Tolkien. Unlike his later languages which are a priori, it was based directly on the Germanic languages, and has a lot in common with the Gothic language, an early interest of Tolkien;[9] this shows that Tolkien tried to connect his mythos with the origins of Europe, something that was evident in the The Book of Lost Tales.

The connection with Germanic persisted in the framework of The Lord of the Rings. The Mannish languages that would derive from Adunaic, are rendered as Gothic, Norse, Old English, modern English etc. Non-Taliskan languages are usually rendered with Celtic elements, if at all.[5] (q.v. for more references).

A rather complete grammar and syntax of Taliska is known to exist, but despite work by Tolkienists this has not yet been published.


  1. The name "Taliska" is used in this article conventionally. See #Other versions of the Legendarium


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Problem of Ros", Note 13
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 4
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of Men into the West"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  8. Helge Fauskanger, "Mannish", Ardalambion (accessed 21 September 2017)
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Quenya Phonology", in Parma Eldalamberon XIX (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 22

[edit] External links