Númenórean Sindarin

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"Many used some other tongue than the Common Speech, but it was not long before he learned at least what was meant by "Ernil i Pheriannath"..."
― Pippin in Minas Tirith[1]

Númenórean Sindarin[2] was a dialect of Sindarin spoken by the Númenóreans and later the Dúnedain in Middle-earth.

History[edit | edit source]

Before the Downfall[edit | edit source]

When the Edain settled in Númenor, the common speech of the new realm derived in the most part from the language of the People of Hador, giving rise to the Adûnaic tongue.[3] In the northwestern parts of the island, however, the newly settled Edain were mainly descended from the Bëorians.[3] These people had early abandoned their own language for Sindarin and they preserved this tradition in Númenor.[3] Thus a dialect of Sindarin, Númenórean Sindarin, evolved, especially in Andustar.[3] There was relatively little change in this version of Sindarin due to continued contact between the Númenóreans and the Eldar of Eressëa.[4]

Although relations between the Númenórean rulers and the Elves declined in the later history of Númenor,[4] Sindarin was kept alive, and survived in secret.

The Faithful, who held dominions on the coast of the Westlands, used this tongue for all the names of places that they gave in Middle-earth.[5] All men of Númenórean descent and those taught to read and write used Sindarin, even as a daily tongue among themselves. In some families, Sindarin even became the native tongue. Sindarin was not taught those of lesser race, as it was held a mark of Númenórean descent.[5]

After the Downfall[edit | edit source]

After the Downfall, Sindarin was the regular spoken tongue of the Exiles of Númenor.[6] When they arrived, few among the colonists on the coasts remembered Sindarin since the neglected Adûnaic was used as a lingua franca among the Men of Middle-earth, which developed into the Westron tongue.[5][4]

The Dúnedain of Arnor and Gondor; the kings and high lords, and indeed all those of Númenórean blood in any degree, used this tongue.[7] Many of the Men of Gondor could also speak it, a notable distinction and characteristic among the Dúnedain of the South.[4] Sindarin had long ceased to be a "first language" in Gondor, but was learned in youth (by those claiming Númenórean descent) from loremasters, and used by them as a mark of rank and high-blood.[8] For example, the Stewards of Gondor belonged to a family of the ancient Faithful who used (beside the Common Speech) the Sindarin tongue after the fashion of Gondor.[8]

Being a learned language in Gondor, Sindarin had changed very little since the Downfall[8] and schools taught an ancient form (regarded in high esteem).[9]

Westron became used more and more by the Dúnedain of Gondor themselves, so that at the time of the War of the Ring, Númenórean Sindarin was known to only a small part of the peoples of Gondor (and spoken daily by fewer); they dwelt mostly in Minas Tirith and the adjacent townlands, and in the land of the tributary princes of Dol Amroth.[4] Númenórean Sindarin was used to be polite, especially in Minas Tirith.[10]

Peculiarities[edit | edit source]

Although taught an archaic language, the Men of Gondor used a corrupted version in daily speech (some sounds were altered) distinguising it from the Sindarin proper as spoken by the Elves.[9] Despite some differences, the dialects of the Gondorians and the Elves were mutually intelligible.[8]

Phonetical[edit | edit source]

Like any acquired language, the second language's sound range is directly influenced by the speaker's original sound range. Westron did not possess ch[11] or y,[12] and pronounced them differently.

The y was pronounced by Sindarin Elves as IPA [y], a close front rounded vowel. Of all languages, only Sindarin had this sound, so it was problematic for speakers of other tongues. Gondorians generally pronounced it as an i,[12] though it was sometimes substituted with an e, as in the Gondorian plural for onod, ened (rather than the usual enyd).[13]

Also frequent in Sindarin was the ch, the velar fricative, which the Gondorians also encountered among pre-Númenórean placenames such as Erech[14] and Eilenach.[15]

The most notable use of the voiceless velar fricative was in the name of Gondor's new northern neighbour, Rohan. Originally envisioned as Rochand, in Gondor this became Rohan, because in the middle of words, ch developed to h; however at the end of words, it became c (k) (so roch “horse” on its own would become *roc), because in that position it had been articulated more forcefully in the correct pronunciation already.[11] In the beginning of words, ch had become h in Standard Sindarin already, so no differences in the Gondorian pronunciation are to be expected.[16] Though the tongue of the Éothéod did possess the voiced ch, it adopted the southern use.[11]

Philological[edit | edit source]

Another notable difference from regular Sindarin was purely philological. Those Gondorians learned in lore wished to speak like Noldor, and the Sindarin they spoke in the First Age was North Sindarin. At least one feature from North Sindarin was reintroduced: whereas "true Sindarin of the Elves" changed both the voiced and voiceless combination of a sonorant consonant and a spirant to a long sonorant, the Gondor Sindarin retained the spirant. Thus in the case of the former, malt ("gold") and orn ("tree") became Mallorn, in Gondor this remained Malthorn.[17][18]

Another example is the word rath, which originally meant 'climb', but came to be applied to long streets (and was much later used in Minas Tirith to name streets such as Rath Celerdain and Rath Dínen).[2]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", note 16
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", note 19
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", note 16
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil"
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages", Note #74
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 49
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Pronunciation of Words and Names", "Vowels"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 297, (dated August 1967)
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", note 51
  16. Paul Strack, "S. initial [x-] became [h-]", Eldamo — An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 30 June 2022)
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, pages 5-31, esp. 27
  18. Carl F. Hostetter, The Two Phonetic Values of ll in Elvish Sindarin in The Lord of the Rings, published on Tengwestië, December 7, 2003
Languages and scripts in Tolkien's works
Elvish Angerthas (Angerthas Daeron) · Avarin · Cirth (Certhas Daeron) · Common Eldarin · Mátengwië · Moon-letters · Nandorin · Primitive Quendian · Quenya (Exilic · Valinorean · Vanyarin) · Sarati · Silvan Elvish · Sindarin (Doriathrin · Falathrin · Númenórean · Mithrimin · Old) · Telerin (Common) · Tengwar
Mannish Adûnaic · Dalish · Drúadan · Dunlendish · Halethian · Northern Mannish · Pre-Númenórean · Rohanese · Taliska · Westron (Bucklandish · Hobbitish · Stoorish)
Dwarvish Angerthas (Erebor · Moria) · Aulëan · Iglishmêk · Khuzdul
Other Black Speech · Old Entish · Orkish · Valarin · Warg-language
Earlier legendarium Gnomish · Gnomic Letters · Gondolinic Runes · Ilkorin · Keladian · Noldorin (Kornoldorin) · Melkian · Oromëan · Qenya · Valmaric script
Outside the legendarium Animalic · Arktik · 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

Andor · Atalantë · Elenna · Mar-nu-Falmar · Númenórë · Westernesse
Regions Andustar · Arandor · Emerië · Forostar · Hyarastorni · Hyarnustar · Hyarrostar · Mittalmar · Nísimaldar · Orrostar
Towns and cities Almaida · Andúnië · Armenelos · Eldalondë · Moriondë · Nindamos · Ondosto · Rómenna
Buildings Calmindon · Eämbar · King's Court · Temple · White House of Erendis
Natural features Bay of Eldanna · Bay of Rómenna · Firth of Rómenna · Hallow of Eru · Meneltarma (mountain) · Nísinen (lake) · North Cape · Nunduinë (river) · Oromet (mountain) · Siril (river) · Sorontil (mountain) · Tarmasundar (ridges) · Tompollë
Plants and trees Fragrant Trees · Lairelossë · Laurinquë · Lavaralda · Nessamelda · Nimloth · Oiolairë · Taniquelassë · Vardarianna · Yavannamírë
Heirlooms Aranrúth · Bow of Bregor · Dramborleg · Elendilmir · Narsil · Palantíri · Ring of Barahir · Sceptre of Annúminas · Sceptre of Númenor · Tile and Textiles · Helmet
Concepts Adûnaic · Ban of the Valar · Council of the Sceptre · Downfall of Númenor · Great Bear-dance · Heirship · Númenórean Sindarin · Three Prayers (Eruhantalë · Erukyermë · Erulaitalë)
Key people Aldarion · Amandil · Anárion · Captain of the King's Ships · Elendil · Elros (House of Elros) · Erendis · Faithful · Great Armament · Guild of Venturers · Guild of Weaponsmiths · Isildur · Kings and Queens of Númenor · King's Archers · King's Men · Lords of Andúnië · Meneldur · Miriel · Palantir · Pharazôn · Sauron · Silmariën
Main texts The Silmarillion ("Akallabêth") · Unfinished Tales ("A Description of the Island of Númenor" · "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife" · "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor") · The Lord of the Rings ("Appendix A" · "Appendix B") · The Nature of Middle-earth ("Lives of the Númenóreans" · "Of the land and beasts of Númenor")