Parma Eldalamberon 19
- Quenya Phonology:
Outline of Phonetic Development
Outline of Phonology
By J. R. R. TOLKIEN
An aspect of Tolkien's fiction that is widely appreciated but not often studied is the artistry of his invented names, especially those supposed to have emerged from the languages spoken by Elves. Not only do the names of Ulmo, Valinóre, Morgoth, or Rauros (just to give a few) seem quite suitable to those people and places; their derivation from the Quenya and Sindarin languages is also part of the fictional history. Thus part of the literary effect is the consistency in phonetic style between such names and the words of these languages (which also seem to display an appropriateness of sound to sense), e.g. _ondo_ 'stone', _andúne_ 'sunset', _ñoldo_ 'gnome', _umbar_ 'fate', _haudh_ 'funeral mound', or _tinúviel_ 'nightingale'.
Tolkien's talent for ascribing suitable meanings to his invented words and names is perhaps inexplicable; but he did write about the phonetic styles of the languages he invented. In the case of Quenya in particular, he not only described its sound patterns in elaborate detail, but also provided an historical explanation of how these patterns emerged through specific changes from the ancestral speech it shared with other Elvish languages and dialects. Tolkien's writings on this topic dating from the time of his composition of _The Lord of the Rings_ have now been published in _Parma Eldalamberon_ No. 19.
The "Outline of Phonology" is a survey of the sounds and sound-combinations of Quenya, including divergences among the Vanyarin, Noldorin and Telerin dialects, and variations over its recorded history between _Parmaquesta_ 'book-language' and _Tarquesta_ 'high-speech'. There are sections on Consonants in Isolation, Initial Consonant Groups, Medial Combinations of Sounds, and Consonants Standing Finally, as well as an unfinished section on Vowels. The text was composed around the time Tolkien began his revision of _The Silmarillion_ in 1951, and includes additions and emendations from certainly as late as 1959 and probably later.
The "Outline of Phonetic Development" is an earlier version of essentially the same survey, probably composed around the time of _The Etymologies_. In this text the part dealing with Vowels was completed, and it includes sub-sections on Changes Due to Accent and Stress, and Changes Produced in Hiatus.
The "Comparative Tables" are a series of charts laying out the regular correspondences among the sounds of the Elvish languages Tolkien had invented by the late 1930s or conceived of as part of his history, including Valarin, Quenya, Lindarin, Telerin, Noldorin, Ilkorin, Danian and Lemberin, as well as the Mannish language Taliskan. These are accompanied by Tolkien's notes on the general phonetic characteristics of their historical development, and about their phonological types in terms of the "real" languages on which they were modelled.
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