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Tolkien Gateway > Council > Diaereses

User:Morgan and me, wondered if we could establish a standard on the spelling of Quenya, namely the matter of diacritics, namely the diaereses. As we all know, the diaereses in Quenya words are Tolkien's "invention" regarding the 'ancient' Quenya language, to make the words readable by the English readers. But should we also adopt them or not?

Personally I am against the diaereses for the following reasons:


  • Not significant nor a part of the Quenya language. If we suppose that Quenya existed as an ancient language, the diaereses are a recent invention, only for the English readers. Yávë is no more canonical than Yáve, as amarë is no more valid "English transcription" for latin amare
  • Anglo-centric. Of course the wiki is in the English language, but English is also an international language. Besides the English and the French, other readers won't mind the diaereses, not to mention that the diaereses have other meanings in other languages (eg. Albanian).
  • Matter of minimalism. The diacritics are used to tell one letter apart from the other (eg short e vs long é). It is a fixed rule that all e's in Quenya are pronounceable, and doesn't need to be noted since there are no exceptions. ë = e, ergo e = e

Even if the above are insignificant, I believe the following are actual, practical problems caused by the diaereses which cannot be neglected (and will make me suffer):

  • The most important reason, is the 'trouble' needed to type a special character. In the midst of typing, having to click, or copy-paste, or enter the combination of a special character or its unicode, is very annoying.
  • Search. Can disrupt Search in the wiki if we try to search for 'Yáve' and not 'Yávë'. The matter can be solved with redirects, however there are two issues:
    • Redirects will work only with title-names; the engine will not recognize a 'dotted' vs 'undotted' word in the bulk of a text.
    • The wiki database will be filled with 'useless' redirects, which can be avoided if we decide not to include the diaereses altogether.
  • Confusion. Makes the language appear more complicated than it is. I have seen several people troubled by the diaereses while they shouldn't; some ask "how the ë's are pronounced"; or apologize for typing 'Earendil', worried that they spelled the word "wrong"; followed by a notification that "it actually has two dots over the a"; or ask how to type them, believing (unnecessarily) they are an integral part of Quenya spelling

I conclude that the diaereses not only are totally optional, but they also bring some technical issues regarding typing them. I don't think the valid points which support their usage are important enough enough to "condemn" us to the trouble of using them.

And these are some points to use the diaereses.


  • The "Canonical" books by the Professor use them. Period.
  • Some English speakers find them useful and this is an English language wiki
  • Makes the language more visually exotic; dots can look ornamental
  • Evoking the "trouble" typing the dots is laziness, and laziness is not a valid argument
  • Opting against the diaereses should perhaps mean that all existing articles using them must be renamed for the sake of consistency.
  • Help visually distinguish Quenya from other languages.

Sage 10:43, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Further reading[edit]

User:Morgan's opinion[edit]

Three trivial and basic premises:

  1. Always be truthful to the source
  2. Space for text is never (or seldom) a problem in a wiki/wiktionary
  3. Primary sources are Tolkien's published writings, secondary sources are his posthumously published writings, tertiary sources would be everything else.

What does this mean for our current discussion on linguistic standards on TG?

I think we shouldn't make it more difficult than it is. Following the above premises, we can in most cases find a 'linguistic standard' for articles.

  • Scenario 1: the word , said to be a word in language Y, appears in a primary source. However, the word also appears in two different secondary sources, spelt and xe. The name of the article would be "Xë" (premise 1 and 3), and then we should note the variant spellings (premise 2), perhaps even indicating which spelling that would be most "correct" (when so can be argued).
  • Scenario 2: the word ye appears in a secondary source. According to guidelines set forth in a primary source, the word in that language should (or could) be spelt . However, the word itself is not found in any primary source (neither ye nor ). This scenario is a little more tricky. My suggestion would be to have "Ye" as the article title (premise 1), and then perhaps note that according to the primary source, the word should be spelt (premise 2).

In my opinion, we should not try to devise our "own" linguistic system (or follow any common usage in tertiary sources). This would only yield a lot of discussion on interpretations. I understand that standards are important in, e.g., a guideline written to be used for beginning learners of a Tolkienian language. But, as a wiki, we cannot have an "agenda", a plan for how we want concepts to appear. We just have to use what is found in the sources. --Morgan 18:23, 9 December 2010 (UTC) ¨