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Mátengwië

Mátengwië refers to the "language of the hands" among the Eldar.[1] It was also known as hwermë, and it was not a sign language of its own like Iglishmêk among the Dwarves (although both shared surprising analogies), but part of the corporal expression of the Eldar, which was the first thing they paid attention to when speaking.[2] Early loremasters did not give much importance to hwermë, but it is said that Pengolodh collected much material concerning gesture-systems before departing from Middle-earth.[3]

[edit] Examples

Men had similar gestures, but with different or opposite meaning. Elves put great attention to the details, so their gestures could change depending even the fingers.[1] Some known examples are:

  • "Asking for a gift" = one hand palm upwards (opening all fingers indicates great need).[1]
  • "Be at the service or command of someone" = both hand palms upwards.[1]
  • "Prohibition, silence, demanding stop, rejection" = one hand palm forwards (opening all fingers indicates more hostility).[1]
  • "Greeting or welcome" = one hand palm backwards (waving of the fingers towards the signaller indicates emphasis). In casual greeting, the hand was held edge forward.[4]
  • "Peace, completely unarmed" = both arms opened wide below shoulder-level with palms outwards.[1]

In making the one-handed gestures, either hand could be used without change in significance. Using both hands was more emphatic, indicating a command from a community or party, or from an authority via a subordinate.[5]

[edit] Etymology

Mátengwië is Quenya, being a combination of ("hand") + tengwië ("language"). At first, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the term as málambë, but as Patrick H. Wynne explains, lambë refers to "tongue movement", so the term was corrected to a word coming from the TEÑ stem ("indicate, signify").[6]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 9
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, "From Quendi and Eldar, Appendix D" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 39, July 1998, p. 5
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Appendix D. *Kwen, Quenya, and the Elvish (especially Ñoldorin) words for 'Language'", pp. 395, 397
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, "Notes", p. 13, note 8
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 10
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, "Notes", p. 23, note 26
Languages in Tolkien's works
Elvish languages Avarin · Common Eldarin · Mátengwië · Nandorin · Primitive Quendian · Quenya (Exilic · Valinorean · Vanyarin) · Silvan · Sindarin (Doriathrin · Falathrin · Númenórean · Mithrim · Old) · Telerin
Mannish languages Adûnaic · Dalish · Drúedainic · Dunlendish · Pre-Númenórean · Rohirric · Taliska · Westron (Hobbitish)
Dwarvish languages Iglishmêk · Khuzdul
Other languages Black Speech · Entish · Orkish · Valarin · Warg-language
Earlier legendarium Gnomish · Ilkorin · Noldorin (Kornoldorin) · Qenya
Outside the legendarium Animalic · Arktik · Mágol · Naffarin · Nevbosh
Real-world AB language · Celtic · English (Old English, Middle English) · Finnish · Germanic · Gothic · Hebrew · Welsh
Scripts Angerthas/Cirth (Daeron · Erebor · Moria) · Gnomic Letters · Goblin Alphabet · Gondolinic Runes · Moon-letters · Tengwar · Sarati · Valmaric script
"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation