Tolkien Gateway

Letter 144

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 144
RecipientNaomi Mitchison
DateApril 25, 1954
Subject(s)The Lord of the Rings, Languages

Letter 144 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.


Naomi Mitchison had a number of questions about the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien begins the letter by thanking her for all her letters and appologizes for not answering them. He states that some of the questions are answered in The Silmarillion, but since the publisher won't publish the book he needs to write an appendix to the third volume to address some of the issues.

Tolkien explains that Westron is the Common Speech of the Third Age of Middle-earth and these words have been translated into English. Forms of speech related to Westron he has turned into forms of speech releated to English. He states that for the language of the Rohirrim he used a modified verision of Old English, while the language of Dale and Esgaroth would be a modified Scandinavian.

Furthermore, Tolkien describes the Elven languages of the The Lord of the Rings: Quenya and Sindarin. Quenya is grammatically inspired from Latin, Finnish and Greek. Sindarin has a linguistic character similar to British-Welsh.

Tolkien also explains that the Quendi are similar in appearance to Men with greatly enhanced aesthetic and creative faculties, greater beauty and longer life. There are two types of Quendi: the Eldar who heard the summons to take the Great Journey and the Lesser Elves who did not answer. The Eldar themselves branched off into two different types: the Noldor or High Elves and the Sindar or Grey-elves. The Noldor at the time of The Lord of the Rings are Exiles.