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Tengwar/Quenya mode

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Main article: Tengwar

Quenya mode is a name of the writing method of Quenya using Tengwar.



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].

Although Fëanor was a speaker of Quenya it is possible that he did not invent the Tengwar with Quenya specifically in mind, since the strict Quenya phonology didn't fit absolutely consistently. It's more probable that the Tengwar was created as a general phonological template[4], onto which he later "fit" the Quenya sounds as consistently as possible

History and evolution

First Age

Despite Fëanor is said to prefer the Quanta Sarme, he also used a more 'conservative' system which (judging by the majority of the subsequent samples) seem to have been proved far more popular. Fëanor held the idea of syllabic analysis of the words by the Sarati, and made also use of signs (tehtar) for vowels (instead of the full letters), placed over the preceding tengwar/consonants, indicating their “colour”. A consonant followed by a vowel was concidered as a “full letter” (ñávëa or ñáva-tengwë). The sarat was imported from the previous system, and when a vowel had no preceding consonant, it was used as a carrier for convenience in writing. This system however was used by Fëanor mainly for tradition and brevity, favouring the Quanta Sarme instead.

Apart of the standard consistent characters, there were also additional tengwar which don't fit in the structure. These are usually modifications of the standard tengwar. Hyarmen is a modification of Charma, Úre is of Wilya, and Anna derived from an earlier sarat.


According to Appendix E (mixed with other recently published sources) and our knowledge on Quenya phonology evolution[5], we can reconstruct a Tengwar table, hopefully as close to the original Feanor's concept as possible:

Tincotéma Tyelpetéma Parmatéma Calmatéma Quessetéma
1 t
q p
a k
z kw
! th
extended grade[6]
extended grade
Q ph
extended grade
A kh
extended grade
Z khw
extended grade
2 nd
w mb
s ng
x ngw
3 th > s
Thúle > Súle
e f
d ch
c chw
4 nt
r mp
f nk
v nkw
5 n
t m
g ñg-
b ñgw-
6 ɹ
y v
h 3 > -
n w
Additional Tengwar:
7 r
u rd
j l
m ld
8 s
I s
Silmë nuquerna
k z > r
Ázë > Árë
, z > r
Ázë > Áre nuquerna
9 hy
l *y
. w
½ h[9]
` *(short carrier)
~ (long carrier)


Tengwar names: The names given in Appendix E were based on the 3rd Age table composed in Gondor. It is not known if this arrangement was given then or existed since Fëanor’s days. It is possible, however, that some of the known names may have replaced earlier, unrecorded forms. The best that can be done here is to give the oldest known names (e.g. Charma instead of Aha). This is our evidence:

The problem about the sound of /ɹ/ is that there is no other evidence apart from the mentioned quote.

Extended stems:

Tyelpetéma: Appendix E informs us that Quenya also made use of a palatal series, the Tyelpetéma. Christopher Tolkien, who made the names known, notes that the names are given in a number of different formulations, and he cannot determine which were the standard ones. The only difference from the Tincotéma was the underposed (for tengwar with raised stems) and overposed (for tengwar with lowered stems) dots. Those tengwar, not included in the table of the Appendix E, must have been ommited from the standard letters.

Áze: The /z/ sound later changed to /r/ only in the Noldorin dialect, and this letter took the name Áre.

Azya: This tengwa is given as Arya, and is attested either as a Rómen or as an Óre with the overdots. Since the sound ry derives from original sy > zy (still present in Vanyarin), the form of the letter should be Áze with the dots, changed after z merged with r. But then this tengwa should be placed among the Additional Tengwar, for it is not consisted of a telco and a lúva.

Yanta: Yanta's shape reminds of the Rúmilian letter for y. It might have represented this sound too (Yanta probably written *lD4# , while this word should read **ainta in 3rd Age spelling). In our attested examples of 3rd Age texts, it occurs only as the -i of dipthongs (in lE , lH

ai, oi etc.). Maybe e.g. tuilë was originally spelled *1UlUj$
(tuyulë) like in Rúmilian orthography, before simplified to 1lUj$

. Cf. Úre.

Úrë: Besides that in the attested examples of 3rd Age, Úre appeas as the -u of the dipthongs (.D , .F

au, eu etc.), its original use and etymological relation to the word úrë itself are unknown. Since it’s attested in diphthongs in our samples like Yanta is, we can suppose it was used for intervocalic w, which later became v. Maybe taurë was originally spelled *1D.D7R
(tawarë) before simplified to 1.D7R

, while for initial w, only Wilya was used. Jim Allan suggested that úre should be written as .J7R , a function that reminds of the Rúmilian spelling of long u… – or maybe it was used as u in Quanta Sarme, like in the Mode of Beleriand? Cf. Yanta.

Thúlë: In Noldorin Quenya the sound th had merged with s since very early. The word thúlë thus became súlë.

Ñoldo/Ñwalmë: Those sounds were found only initially. Sometimes written ng- and ngw-, but not to be confused with Anga/Ungwe, which are used only medially.

Nuquernë Tengwar: The table of Appendix E gives us the inverted forms of Silmë and Ázë, which were used when followed by a vowel (since they were too tall to receive a tehta). It is not known if these forms were invented by Fëanor or by later users, but Silmë Nuquerna was used in the Mode of Beleriand (as a vocalic y), which makes us think it was already present in Valinor. If we are to suppose that the original form of Arya was an Ázë with dots, there must also have been an inverted form of it (Arya Nuquerna).


Like the Sarati, the Amanya system of the tengwar is also unknown at this point. According to the theories mentioned above, they will be tentatively reconstructed, showing some tengwar transcriptions of various Quenya words as pronounced in Fëanor’s time. For better understanding the words and the connection between spelling and etymology, alongside are given the etymological roots or the better attested later Quenya forms:

  • dE6U

, *cheru < KHER

  • 1E.6R

, taurë

  • 1`C.D6R

, *tawarë > tavar

  • `C.D,Fj

, *awazel > aurel

  • hEm#

, *3alda > alda

  • 1Ulj$

, tuilë < TUY

Possible examples of Quanta Sarme

We know absolutely nothing about the Quanta Sarme orthography and the following are purely conjectural, based solely on what we know about 'classical' tengwar.

  • ],Ö]

, azya

  • l]y]55]

, Yavanna

  • ½]5.

, hanu < HAN

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