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Tengwar

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Ryszard Derdzinski - Feanor.jpg
Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thîw hin

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Tengwar Parmaite by Måns Björkman
Fëanor designs the first Tengwar

The Tengwar (Quenya. "letters", pron. [ˈteŋʷɡʷar]) had been a writing system invented by Fëanor. It has been used for a variety of languages among the Free peoples and became perhaps the most prominent writing system of Arda, used by a variety of Races through the Ages.

Contents

History

The Classical Quenya mode

Main article: Quenya mode

Fëanor invented the tengwar on the Valian Year 1250 strongly influenced by the Sarati of Rúmil the Loremaster.[1][2] Fëanor constructed the Tengwar both as a general phonetic alphabet, and devised special arrangements to fit the characteristics of all languages of Valinor[3]

Unlike Rúmil, Fëanor considered vowels as indepedent sounds and not just “colours” of the consonants, so he devised the “full writing” (Quanta Sarmë).[2]

However Fëanor also used a more 'conservative' system which seem to have been proved far more popular; he held Rúmil's idea of syllabic analysis of the words by the Sarati, and made also use of tehtar (instead of the full letters).[2].

The classical Quenya mode of the Tengwar may have originated from Fëanor's own arrangement. There is no direct evidence for this hypothesis, but the use of the Quenya names for the individual letters hints to a primate of the Quenya mode. Another hint to a very old age of the classical Quenya mode is that it uses the Calmatéma as a k-series, like the mode of Beleriand which we can assume to have originated in the First Age.

The Mode of Beleriand

Main article: Mode of Beleriand
The Doors of Durin created during the Second Age

When the Noldor rebelled and came to Middle-earth, they adapted their writing for the new languages they learned. Quanta Sarmë was used for languages where the tehtar were not useful[2] which could have been the origin for the Mode of Beleriand.

In Beleriand, it is also possible that the Tengwar influenced the evolution of the Cirth of Daeron, mainly in their shape and arrangement.

We know from the inscription on the Western Moria Gate that in Eregion, a tengwar mode called the Mode of Beleriand was used. This name allows for the assumption that the same mode was used already in the First Age.

At the end of the Third Age, the Elves of Rivendell probably still used that mode, since a transcription of the Rivendell aerlinn A Elbereth Gilthoniel features it[4]. Frodo, however, even though literate in Sindarin, was appearently unable to read this mode.

The General Use

By the end of the Third Age, there was a general use that could be used for a variety of languages including Quenya, Sindarin and the Common Speech.[5] This use could have evolved during the Second Age, in Eregion or even in Númenor.

What is remarkable is that the same mode appears on the Ring-inscription[6]. In his description of it, the Númenorian Isildur says the Ring Inscription "is fashioned in an elven-script of Eregion".[7] It is not certain how this observation is to be understood. It might mean that either the whole mode itself was from Eregion or simply just the script was of an Elvish fashion.

If Isildur referred to the script, this leaves room for speculation that the mode was from Númenor since some Adûnaic words use this mode.[8]. After all, Isildur is perfectly able to read the inscription (though he does not understand the language).

In the Northern part of the Westron-speaking regions, another mode was used that was based on the "general use" but used full letters for the representation of vowels, perhaps by influence of the Elves of Rivendell. This might explain why Frodo was unable to read either the Mode of Beleriand or the Ring Inscription.

Spelling and Pronunciation

Structure

The most notable characteristic of the tengwar script is that the shapes of the letters correspond to the features of the sounds they represent.

The shape of the Tengwar were unirofmely consisted of two elements, the telco (stem) to which is attached a lúva (bow). It is noticeable that some of the letters of the Sarati resembled the telco/lúva shape seen on the Tengwar, therefore it is possible that those particular letters influenced stylistically the Tengwar.

The telco could be normal, raised, shortened or heightened. The lúva would be single or doubled, and these could be open or closed.

All the above combinations can create 31 different shapes of letters. These shapes mirrored phonological significances: The basic form of a tengwa was used for the patakar, the voiceless fricatives; telcor determined how the sound was articulated, and the lúvar where in the mouth it was made:

  • Doubling the bow turns the voiceless consonant into a voiced one.
  • Raising the stem above the line turns it into the corresponding fricative or a corresponding soft version of it.
  • Shortening it (so it is only the height of the bow) indicates the corresponding nasal or, mostly, the approximants.

According to their shape, the 32 different glyphs could be arranged and presented consistently on a table. The principal letters are divided into series (témar) that correspond to the main places of articulation and into six rows (tyeller) that correspond to the main manners of articulation. Both vary among modes.

The table below gives the theoretical[9] values of the Tengwar based consistently on the abovementioned rules. Note that no language possessed all these sounds and the following does not represent an actual table of values. In actuality, the languages used modifications or variations of them.

Labial Dental Velar Labiovelar
Voiceless
plosives
q p 1 t a k z kw
Voiced
plosives
w b 2 d s g x gw
Aspirated
voiceless plosives
Q ph ! th A kh Z khw
Aspirated
voiced plosives
W bh @ dh S gh X ghw
Voiceless
fricatives
e f 3 th d ch c chw
Voiced
fricatives
r v 4 dh f gh v ghw
Voiceless
nasals
y hm 6 hn h n hñw
Nasals t m 5 n g ñ b ñw

Arrangement

By the end of the Third Age, the Tengwar were somehow standardized. Their Quenya names became standard for all modes, and less used ones were not included (although still used), such as those of the extended stems and the Tyelpetéma. The table displayed 36 letters: the 24 standard Tengwar, plus 12 of the additional Tengwar.

Also, the Tengwar were assigned numeric values

Tincotéma Parmatéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
Grade I 1 Tinco q Parma a Calma z Quesse
Grade II 2 Ando w Umbar s Anga x Ungwe
Grade III 3 Súle e Formen d Aha c Hwesta
Grade IV 4 Anto r Ampa f Anca v Unque
Grade V 5 Númen t Malta g Noldo b Nwalme
Grade VI 6 Óre y Vala h Anna n Vilya
Additional Tengwar:
7 Rómen u Arda j Lambe m Alda
8 Silme i Silme nuquerna k Essë , Esse nuquerna
9 Hyarmen l Yanta o Hwesta Sindarinwa . Úre
½ Halla ` Telco ~ Ára

Values

As mentioned, the tengwar had a generic mode that covered a wide range of phonemes. This mode perhaps originated in Eregion and exemplified in the verse of the One Ring and other Westron tengwar texts. It could be used for both Quenya and Sindarin.

The following table gives both the formal Quenya and Numenian[10] names of the tengwar. When two values are given (separated with a / slash), the first refers to the Elvish variation. The dashes indicate when the letter is used initially or finally and/or as a diphthong element.

Parmatéma Tincotéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
1 t
Tinco/Tó
q p
Parma/Pí
a ch (as in church)
Calma/Ché
z k
Quesse/Ká
2 d
Ando/Dó
w b
Umbar/Bí
s j
Anga/Jé
x g
Ungwe/Gá
3 th
Súle/Thó
e f
Formen/Fí
d sh
Aha/Shé
c ch/h (as in loch)
Hwesta/Aha (or Oha)
4 dh
Anto/Adhó
r v
Ampa/Ví
f zh
Anca/Izhe
v gh
Unque/Agha
5 n
Númen/Nó
t m
Malta/Mí
g ny
Noldo/Nyé
b ng
Nwalme/Ngá
6 -r/r
Óre/Ar
y w, -u/w
Vala/Wí
h -i/y
Anna/Yé
n ’?
’á
Additional Tengwar:
7 r
Rómen/Aro
u rh
Arda/Rho
j l
Lambe/Alo
m lh
Alda/Lho
8 s
Silme/Só
i s
Silme Nuquerna/Ós
k ss/z
Esse/Azo
, z
Oza
9 h
Hyarmen/Há
l i-, -e
Yanta/Ai
o wh
Hwesta Sindarinwa/Whí
. -u?
Úre/Au

The following is a full mode variety, related mainly to the north, and uses tengwar (and carriers) as vowels. It was probably created in Arnor, influenced from the Mode of Beleriand used in Rivendell. Even the Dwarf Ori wrote in this hand in the Book of Mazarbul[11]

Parmatéma Tincotéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
1 t
Tinco/Tó
q p
Parma/Pí
a ch (as in church)
Calma/Ché
z k
Quesse/Ká
2 d
Ando/Dó
w b
Umbar/Bí
s j
AngaJé
x g
Ungwe/Gá
3 th
Súle/Thó
e f
Formen/Fí
d sh
Aha/Shé
c ch/h (as in loch
Hwesta/Aha
4 dh
Anto/Adhó
r v
Ampa/Ví
f zh
Anca/Izhe
v gh
Unque/Agha
5 n
Númen/Nó
t m
Malta/Mí
g ny
Noldo/Nyé
b ng
Nwalme/Ngá
6 -r/r
Óre/Ar
y w, -u/u
Vala/Wí
h o
Anna/Yé
n a
'a
Additional Tengwar:
7 r
Rómen/Aro
u rh
Arda/Rho
j l
Lambe/Alo
m lh
Alda/Lho
8 s
Silme/Só
i s
Silme Nuquerna/Ós
k ss/z
Esse/Azo
, z
Esse Nuquerna/Oza
9 h
Hyarmen/Há
l i-, -e/e
Yanta/Ai
o wh
Hwesta Sindarinwa/Whí
. w
Úre/Au
`B i ~B i-/y- ] a š mh

Other modes

Just as with any alphabetic writing system, every specific language written in tengwar requires a specific orthography, depending on the phonology of that language. These tengwar orthographies are usually called modes. All of them, use as a basis the "theoretical values" table above, corresponding the letters to the phonemes of each language's phonology, and even drop out the characters that would be useless

All the modes can be divided into two large categories:

Furthermore, some modes map the basic consonants to /t/, /p/, /k/, and /kʷ/, while others (generally Mannish) use them to represent /t/, /p/, /tʃ/, and /k/.

External History

The sarati, described in Parma Eldalamberon 13, a script developed by Tolkien in the late 1910s, anticipates many features of the tengwar, especially the vowel representation by diacritics (which is found in many tengwar varieties), different tengwar shapes and a few correspondances between sound features and letter shape features (though inconsistent).

Even closer to the tengwar is the Valmaric script, described in Parma Eldalamberon 14, which Tolkien used from about 1922 to 1925. It features many tengwar shapes, the inherent vowel [a]found in some tengwar varieties, and the tables in the samples V12 and V13 show an arrangement that is very similar to the one of the primary tengwar in the classical Quenya "mode".

The tengwar were probably developed in the late 1920s or in the early 1930s. The Lonely Mountain Jar Inscription, the first published tengwar sample, dates to 1937 (The Hobbit, most editions). The full explanation of the tengwar was published in Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings in 1955.

Inspiration

Jim Allan (An Introduction to Elvish, ISBN 0-905220-10-2) compared the tengwar with the Universal Alphabet of Francis Lodwick of 1686, both on grounds of the correspondance between shape features and sound features, and of the actual letter shapes. A corresponance between shape features and sound features is also found in the Korean Hangul alphabet. It is not known whether Tolkien was aware of these previous scripts. However, considering the sarati and the valmaric script of his youth, it is conceivable that Tolkien developed the idea of a general correspondance between shape features and sound features by himself.

Indexing

Mellonath Daeron, the linguistic fan society, devised a system to keep track of all the known genuine (=made by Tolkien) samples of the Tengwar and create a reference list.

The Mellonath Daeron Index of Tengwar Specimina (DTS) lists 67 known sources of tengwar samples and is updated whenever a new sample is published, revealed or discovered.

The DTS is used as a widely accepted standard in Tolkien studies, whenever an essay or article needs to refer to an example or an attested source.

This is a list of few known samples predating publication of The Lord of the Rings (many of them published posthumously):

A few other samples, e.g. a tengwar mode for Gothic are known to exist, but remain unpublished to date [1].

Encoding Schemes

Non-Unicode

The contemporary de facto standard in the tengwar user community maps the tengwar characters onto the regular English character encoding following the example of the tengwar typefaces by Dan Smith. A drawback of the font solution is that if no corresponding tengwar font is installed, an awful string of nonsense characters appears.

Since there is not enough place for all the signs, certain signs are included in a "tengwar A" font which also maps its characters on ISO 8859-1, overlapping with the first font.

For each tengwar diacritic, there are four different codepoints that are used depending on the width of the character which bears it.

Other tengwar typefaces with Dan Smith's encoding include Johan Winge's Tengwar Annatar, Måns Björkman's Tengwar Parmaite, Enrique Mombello's Tengwar Élfica or Michal Nowakowski's Tengwar Formal (note that most of these differ in details).

The following sample shows the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written in English, according to the traditional English orthography. If no tengwar font is installed, it will look nonsense since the corresponding ISO 8859-1 characters (Roman letters, numbers and signs) will appear instead.

j#¸ 9t&5# w`Vb%_ 6EO w6Y5 e7~V 2{( zèVj# 5% 2x%51T`Û 2{( 7v%1+º 4hR 7EO 2{$yYO2 y4% 7]F85^ 2{( z5^8i`B5$i( 2{( dyYj2 zE1 1`N ]Fa 4^(6 5% `C 8q7T1T W w74^(69~N2º


Unicode

A proposal has been made to include the Tengwar in the Unicode standard so that users won't need to install a particular font to see Tengwar on the screen.

The following Unicode sample is meaningful when viewed under a typeface supporting Tengwar glyphs in the area defined in the Tengwar proposal for the ConScript Unicode Registry (U+E000–U+E006F; see External links).

At the moments, the only typefaces that support this proposal are James Kass' Code2000 and Code2001.

The following sample repeats the above one according to the Unicode proposal. It will only display correctly if either of James Kass's fonts is installed.

                             

See also

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, The Annals of Valinor
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Vinyar Tengwar 39, Appendix D to Quendi and Eldar
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, Appendix on Runes
  4. The Road Goes Ever On, A Song Cycle
  5. Howlett Rivendell Inscription (DTS58
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Shadow of the Past
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Council of Elrond
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, Lowdham's Inscription
  9. Observations made by Jim Allan's An Introduction to Elvish, The Evolution of the Tengwar
  10. Jim Allan's Report from Marquette
  11. The second page of the Book of Mazarbul (DTS13) said to be written by Ori, is categorized to belong to the Northern Variety here
  • Christopher Tolkien, The Tengwar Numerals, in Quettar 13, Feb. 1982, pp. 8-9; a further, untitled, explanation of the Tengwar numerals by Christopher Tolkien appeared in Quettar 14, May 1982, pp. 6-7.

External Links

Modes

Software

More of Tengwar software on Tengwar Feanora web-site (in Polish).

Technical

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, The Annals of Valinor
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Vinyar Tengwar 39, Appendix D to Quendi and Eldar
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, Appendix on Runes
  4. The Road Goes Ever On, A Song Cycle
  5. Howlett Rivendell Inscription (DTS58
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Shadow of the Past
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Council of Elrond
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, Lowdham's Inscription
  9. Observations made by Jim Allan's An Introduction to Elvish, The Evolution of the Tengwar
  10. Jim Allan's Report from Marquette
  11. The second page of the Book of Mazarbul (DTS13) said to be written by Ori, is categorized to belong to the Northern Variety here