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Taliska was the language spoken by the Bëorian (First) and Hadorian (Third) Houses of the Atanatári, who spoke different dialects. The language of the Third House was more pure and they felt that the dialect of the First House had alien elements.[1]

The Second House of Men spoke an unrelated language, the Haladin tongue. This language and Taliska were not mutually intelligible.

The exact origin of Taliska is not clear, but what is certain is that there are both Elvish and Dwarvish (Khuzdul) influences, suggesting the Atanatári (Fathers of Men) had contact with both peoples before arriving in Beleriand.

Adûnaic, the language of Númenor, and ultimately also Westron (the "Common Speech") as well as the languages of the Northmen are derived from Taliska.

Other versions of the Legendarium

A rather complete grammar and syntax of Taliska is known to exist, but despite work by Tolkienists this has as of 2008 not yet been published.

It is possible that Taliska belongs to an older phase of his creation, put along with Qenya, Ilkorin and Gnomish. The status of Taliska changed inconsistently:

  • In an earlier version, the name "Taliska" referred to the language of the Houses of Bëor and Haleth. The House of Hador 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).

In this later conception, we cannot know what would happen to the name "Taliska" since Tolkien did not use it: it should refer to the language either of the Haladin still or of the Hadorians-Beorians.

The term Taliska, as in this article, is used sometimes to refer to the common language of the Hadorians-Beorians (instead of Haleth), but this usage is unofficial and perhaps mistaken.


Taliska was an early language developed by Tolkien. Unlike his later languages which are 'original' (a priori), it was based directly on the Germanic languages, and has a lot in common with the Gothic language; 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 Part One. Gothic was an early interest of Tolkien.

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


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"

"Mannish", Ardalambion (accessed 25 May 2016)