philosophy in transcribing English
- Greetings, all!
I'm new (again) to Elvish, having had my first round with it 25 years ago
when I was in high school and was producing a hand-lettered version of the
LotR in the Mode of Beleriand.
I've decided to go back to an ancient love -- Elvish, of course -- and now I
find myself looking at it with a more confused perspective than I had then.
There are basically two conflicting philosophies when transcribing English
One is to go phonetic, which in the process renders all homophones with the
same spelling and really plays holy hell with English spelling in general. It
would render "their" "their" and "they're" as all the same word: "Der." It
would call for a lot more imagination in creating word sounds, and in a way
could make life more difficult for readers who would have to intuit that "ai
em nau hapi tu bii yor neiber" is actually "I am now happy to be your
The other is to ignore phonetics and go straight with "each letter represents
a tengwa and vice-versa." Of course, TH and DH and so on would be replaced by
the proper tengwar, but other than that, the native English spelling would be
What is the general consensus on this issue? I tend to prefer the Mode of
Beleriand when working in English, but I'm really in a quandry as to how best
to deal with this.
Tony (Who, many, many years ago, used the name "Valeldaron")
- Well, Tony, when writing in English, I generally use the mode Tolkien
used for writing English in the King's Letter in 'Sauron Defeated'. I
agree that phonetic transliteration can be mind-boggling when trying to
read someone else's work. The person who writes something might have a
different interpretation of the sounds in words. Vowels can also be a
pain since written vowels and spoken vowels in English often seem to
have little to do with each other. The 'plain letters', as Rose Gamgee
calls them, are based on orthography rather than pronunciation ... even
the silent 'gh' in words like 'eighth' and 'daughter' is retained. There
are a couple of nods to pronunciation: the distinction between voiced
'th' (anto) and voiceless 'th' (thúle) is kept; hard 'c' is written
as quesse, while soft 'c' is represented by silme nuquerna; silent 'e'
or schwa is written with the under-dot tehta while the 'clearer' 'e' is
written as a yanta; and the distinction between strong 'r' (rómen) and
weak 'r' (óre) is retained. Vowels are written as full letters rather
than tehtar, but there are some tehtar used for a few things (nasal bar,
's' curl, 'w' tilde, diphthongs, etc.). As someone used to English
spelling, I find it more useful and eminently clearer than the 'mode'
used on the title page of LotR. As far as its 'canonicity', it was
devised and used by Tolkien himself, so it's got to be acceptable! If
you want to know more about this mode, let me know.
Cuio mae, Danny.
- Valeldaron teithant:
> [...]and now I
> I've decided to go back to an ancient love -- Elvish, of course --
> find myself looking at it with a more confused perspective than Ihad then.
> There are basically two conflicting philosophies when transcribingEnglish
> into tengwar.Mode of
> What is the general consensus on this issue? I tend to prefer the
> Beleriand when working in English, but I'm really in a quandry asto how best
> to deal with this.English must be one of the more difficult languages to write with
tengwar, for many reasons. (The phonemic/orthographic choice is
only one). I have so far dodged that language in my guides
(http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_teng_primers.html) -- Swedish
is *much* easier since spelling reforms have kept the orthography
close to the pronounciation.
When studying Tolkien's english tengwar, one should not ignore
the largest specimina published so far, DTS 16-18
published in e.g. _Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien_.
They seem to have a fairly consistent mode.
It is said that Tolkien wrote his diary with tengwar, and
often changed his mind about how to use them. (It seems to
me that he liked to experiment and invent). So whatever mode
you use, it's just one of many possible.
(Nope, I don't like that answer myself! :-)
- gildir_1 wrote:
>Shoot. Umm... know any good Sindarin expletives? <G>
> English must be one of the more difficult languages to write with
> tengwar, for many reasons. (The phonemic/orthographic choice is
> only one). I have so far dodged that language in my guides
> (http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_teng_primers.html) -- Swedish
> is *much* easier since spelling reforms have kept the orthography
> close to the pronounciation.
>Thanks, I'll take a look at this. I've got piles of Tolkien writings here
> When studying Tolkien's english tengwar, one should not ignore
> the largest specimina published so far, DTS 16-18
> published in e.g. _Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien_.
> They seem to have a fairly consistent mode.
(HoME and the art books); I'll have to take a closer look at how JRRT used
>"It is said, 'Go not to the elves for advice, for they will say both yes and
> It is said that Tolkien wrote his diary with tengwar, and
> often changed his mind about how to use them. (It seems to
> me that he liked to experiment and invent). So whatever mode
> you use, it's just one of many possible.
> (Nope, I don't like that answer myself! :-)
- Alternate is to find out the actual sounds, and transcrib them as
It seems that JRR had a chart of the consonants and their place in the
mouth when he did the Tengwar, maybe base the characters on the chart?
When it comes to vowels and all, well have fun.. I prefer the
diacritical marks and all, but sometimes individual letters works.
Myself when it comes to spellings. Well English was Middle English,
until those who created dictionaries decided to enrich the lingo with
all those french words that they were to loss cause English had
finally won out over French. So go with good spelling versus how they
are spelled in the dictionaries for they (dictionaries) often have
little consistancy at times when it comes to spelling, most spelling
look more like they had some origin in French, even the English words
look like they are French. The spelling works great for French, but
loosy for English.