Tolkien Gateway

Númenórean Sindarin

Revision as of 03:38, 24 May 2020 by Kulid123 (Talk | contribs)
"Many used some other tongue than the Common Speech, but it was not long before he learned at least what was meant by "Ernil i Pheriannath"..."
― Pippin in Minas Tirith[1]

Númenórean Sindarin[2] was a dialect of Sindarin spoken by the Númenóreans and later the Dúnedain in Middle-earth.


Internal History

When the Edain settled in Númenor, the common speech of the new realm derived in the most part from the language of the People of Hador, giving rise to a tongue known as Adûnaic. In the northwestern parts of the island, however, the newly settled Edain were mainly descended from the Bëorians. These people had early abandoned their own language for Sindarin and they preserved this tradition in Númenor. Thus a dialect of Sindarin, Númenórean Sindarin, was preserved especially in Andustar.

One example of how Númenórean Sindarin differed from its parent tongue is the word rath, which originally meant "climb", but came to be applied to long streets (and was much later used in Minas Tirith to name streets such as Rath Celerdain and Rath Dínen). There was relatively little change in this version of Sindarin due to continued contact between the Númenóreans and the Eldar of Eressëa.

Although relations between the Númenórean rulers and the Elves declined in the later history of Númenor, Númenórean Sindarin was kept alive, and survived in secret until the Downfall of Númenor more than four hundred years later. When Elendil led the Exiles to Middle-earth after the Downfall, the tongue was still the usual spoken language of his followers.

The Faithful used this tongue for all the names of places that they gave anew in Middle-earth. All men of Númenórean descent and all those who were taught to read and write used Númenórean Sindarin, even as a daily tongue among themselves. In some families, Númenórean Sindarin even became the native tongue. The Sindarin was not however taught to aliens, both because it was held a mark of Numenorean descent.

Westron was the first language of Gondor. The nobility usually learned Sindarin, and used it to be polite to other nobles and strangers alike.[3] Although an ancient form of Sindarin was taught in school (and regarded in high esteem), its daily use corrupted it in comparison to the Sindarin as spoken by the Elves.[4] Because it was both an acquired and a learned language, it had some notable differences with "regular" Third Age Sindarin.


Like any acquired language, the second language's sound range is directly influenced by the speaker's original sound range. Westron did not possess ch[5] or y,[6] and pronounced them differently.

The y was pronounced by Sindarin Elves as IPA [y], a close front rounded vowel. Of all languages, only Sindarin had this sound, so it was problematic for speakers of other tongues. Gondorians generally pronounced it as an i,[6] though it was sometimes substituted with an e, as in the Gondorian plural for onod, ened (rather than the usual enyd).[7]

Also frequent in Sindarin was the ch, the velar fricative, which the Gondorians also encountered among pre-Númenórean placenames such as Erech[8] and Eilenach.[9]

The most notable use of the voiceless velar fricative was in the name of Gondor's new northern neighbour, Rohan. Originally envisioned as Rochand, in Gondor this became Rohan. Though the tongue of the Éothéod did possess the voiced ch, it adopted the southern use.[5] The voiced velar fricative, found in Rochand, was pronounced as a sounded h,[7] while the voiceless variant, at the end of words, was pronounced as a k. Those very learned would pronounce them correctly, but forcibly so.[5]


Another notable difference from regular Sindarin was purely philological. Those Gondorians learned in lore wished to speak like Noldor, and the Sindarin they spoke in the First Age was North Sindarin. At least one feature from North Sindarin was reintroduced: whereas "true Sindarin of the Elves" changed both the voiced and voiceless combination of a sonorant consonant and a spirant to a long sonorant, the Gondor Sindarin retained the spirant. Thus in the case of the former, malt ("gold") and orn ("tree") became Mallorn, in Gondor this remained Malthorn.[10][11]

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", note 16
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages", Note #74
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 49
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Pronunciation of Words and Names", "Vowels"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967)
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 51
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, pages 5-31, esp. 27
  11. Carl F. Hostetter, The Two Phonetic Values of ll in Elvish Sindarin in The Lord of the Rings, published on Tengwestië, December 7, 2003
Languages in Tolkien's works
Elvish languages Avarin · Common Eldarin · Nandorin · Primitive Quendian · Quenya (Exilic · Valinorean · Vanyarin) · Silvan · Sindarin (Doriathrin · Falathrin · Númenórean · Mithrim · Old) · Telerin
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
Earlier legendarium Gnomish · Ilkorin · Noldorin (Kornoldorin) · Qenya
Outside the legendarium Animalic · Arktik · Mágol · Naffarin · Nevbosh
Scripts Angerthas/Cirth (Daeron · Erebor · Moria) · Gnomic Letters · Goblin Alphabet · Gondolinic Runes · Moon-letters · Tengwar · Sarati · Valmaric script
"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation