This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Since the Noldor came to Middle-earth and their language became known among the Sindar, the Silvan and afterwards the Dunedain, Vanyarin is considered a less known, elusive language, spoken only in Valinor.
The speech of the Vanyar was more conservative than that of the Noldor who were more innovative. The Vanyarin loremasters should give their assent before any changes introduced by the Noldor should be considered genuine Quenya in their common speech community. One of those changes was the consonant -r in plural words instead of -i, which the Vanyar adopted.
Fëanor viewed the matter of the sound change of th to s by the Ñoldor as a personal insult to the memory of his mother who was called Therindë, and resisted it. The Vanyar also pronounced the sound f- very softly, threatening to merge it with hw-, and Fëanor jested them that they would pronounce his name as Hwëanáro.
Not much is known about how distinct the speech of the Vanyar was from that of the Noldor other than some sound changes which we know occurred only to the latter. Therefore all our knowledge of Vanyarin comes only from comparison from the Noldor
- th > s: Shortly before the Rebellion of the Noldor, they had begun merging the sound /th/ with the sound /s/. The Vanyar retained that sound. V. Therindë N. Serindë
- z > r: Around that time, also the Noldor merged the sound /z/ with /r/. Again, it was something not occurring among the Vanyar. V. ázë N. árë
- Ñ > N: After the Exile, the Noldor simplified the initial sound of /Ñ/. There is no reason to assume that the same happened in Vanyarin. V. Ñoldo N. Noldo
- w > v: The Exiles also simplified initial /w/ to /v/. The Vanyar most presumably kept that distinction. V. wanwa N. vanwa
- ch > h: We are told that in some cases, /h/ derives from earlier ancient /ch/. Perhaps this simplification did not occur in Vanyarin.
- ndy > ny: This is a particular sound change which we know occurred in the word Quenya while the Vanyar still pronounced this word Quendya, without the simplification. Presumably other complex clusters simplified in everyday Quenya speech, were retained in Vanyarin.
- hw = f: Fëanor noted that initial /f/ was so soft that was often confused with /hw/ among the Vanyar. The Noldor opposed this change, helped by influence from the Telerin language, with which they had contact.
- b, d: While (Noldorin) Quenya as we know it, does not contain the sounds /d/ and /b/, we know the words Aldudénië and ulban (borrowed form Valarin), which are associated with the Vanyar. Perhaps Vanyarin phonology did allow those sounds.
Nothing is known about what differences Vanyarin had from Noldorin, other than it retained the final long vowel in accusative (Eldá, ciryá etc), a feature dropped by the Noldor.
Originally, Primitive Elvish formed the plural with the ending -î, which retained in the Elvish languages. The Noldor invented the ending -r for words that end in a vowel (Valai > Valar) something that the Vanyar adopted. In adjectives, the -i was assimilated in Noldorin (vanima > vanimë) but it is not known if the Vanyar followed this.
Quenya borrowed some words from Valarin, like the names of the Valar and the names mahanaxar and ezellohar, The Vanyar had this custom more frequently even in simple words. Some of them are the color words ulban (Q. luin), ezella (Q. laiqua), nasar (Q. carnë) and tulka (Q. malina).
The dialect of the Vanyar is not named distinctly by Tolkien. Quendya is the archaic name of the word Quenya which Tolkien said was still used among the Vanyar, therefore they would refer to their language as such. Although it still would encompass the dialects of the Noldor and the Teleri, it is sometimes used by the fans particularly for their dialect.
Other versions of the legendarium
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Vinyar Tengwar 41
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Peoples of Middle-earth, Quendi and Eldar
- ↑ The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor