AB language

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.

The AB language refers to a medieval literary dialect first identified by J.R.R. Tolkien in the article "Ancrene Wisse and Hali Meiðhad" (published in Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association, 14).


Tolkien had found that the Middle English spelling habits of the manuscript Ancrene Wisse (i.e., "A") showed great similarities to the manuscripts of the Katherine Group (i.e., "B"). This lead Tolkien to propose the existence of a standard literary language (the AB language) in the West Midland area of England in the 13th century. Tolkien's further investigations of the AB language led him to publish his Ancrene Wisse in 1962.

According to Arne Zettersten, Tolkien's research on the AB language was perhaps his most important academic contribution, influencing the work of his student and colleague Simonne d'Ardenne and Zettersten himself, as well as contemporary research on Middle English.[1]

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Languages and scripts in Tolkien's works
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Earlier legendarium Gnomish · Gnomic Letters · Gondolinic Runes · Ilkorin · Keladian · Noldorin (Kornoldorin) · Melkian · Oromëan · Qenya · Valmaric script
Outside the legendarium Animalic · Arktik · Gautisk · Goblin Alphabet · Mágol · Naffarin · New English Alphabet · Nevbosh · Privata Kodo Skauta
Real-world Celtic · English (Old · Middle · AB) · Finnish · Germanic · Gothic · Hebrew · Runic alphabet · Welsh
"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation