Tolkien Gateway


"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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Animalic was a private language invented by Mary Incledon and Marjorie Incledon, Tolkien's young cousins, around 1905. Tolkien, then about ten years old and already strong in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, found it amusing and learned it. The only surviving fragment of the Animalic is the phrase given by Tolkien in The Monsters and the Critics p. 200: Dog nightingale woodpecker forty, meaning "you are a donkey". Forty was the Animalic word for "donkey" while donkey was the word for 40. It appears that the Animalic was a rather awkward language; certainly it was not rational that extremely frequent grammatical words like "are" or the article "one / one" be rendered by long words like nightingale and woodpecker. We will never know how many animal words Mary and her sister made. Tolkien's judgment is harsh, but justified  : the Animalic was "raw ... to the extreme" (MC: 200). However, he was one of his very first acquaintances in invented language, perhaps the first. And he was going to generate the Nevbosh - the first invented language to which Tolkien contributed.