Northern Mannish

From Tolkien Gateway

Northern Mannish refers to the Mannish language or languages spoken by the Northmen of Rhovanion.

As the Northmen were distantly related to the Edain and the Númenóreans, their language(s) had common elements with Adûnaic and Westron.

Origins and history

The first Men who migrated West in the First Age spoke at least two languages. One was spoken by the northern group, however most people of the Greater Folk of that group stayed behind while traversing Greenwood the Great in Rhovanion; those were the ancestors of the Northmen. As such, their language was related to that of their cousins, the Edain of the House of Beor and the House of Hador, who reached Beleriand in the West.[1][2]

Those folk had close relations with the Longbeards, the Dwarves who occupied the mountains and hills around Rhovanion. In the Second Age they had mutual respect and warm friendship, and the Longbeards adopted the speech of Men, keeping their own language to themselves.[3][2] The Dwarves even made their own names from N. Mannish elements, or even fabricated names that sounded like N. Mannish.[4][5] The custom apparently reached the Dwarves of Moria, and the Dwarf signing as Narvi.

By the Third Age, the Kings of Gondor recognised the common ancestry with the Northmen and their languages.[6]

As the earliest known location of the Hobbits was the Vales of Anduin (c. T.A. 1050), they were in contact with the Éothéod. The name Kuduk (Hobbit) itself for example is believed to be derived from the Northern kûd-dûkan (Holbytlan; hole builders). During their Wandering Days, the Hobbits retained some peculiar words from old in their dialect, even after adopting Westron.[7]

A prominent Northern language was the language of Dale; the Dwarves of Erebor bore external names in that language.[6]


As Westron is rendered with modern English, Northern Mannish is rendered with archaic Germanic languages, such as Gothic (in the case of Northmen of Rhovanion), Old English (Éothéod and the Rohirrim) and Norse (Dale and Esgaroth).

Many Dwarven characters, as well as Gandalf, bear Norse names, representing their contact with the Language of Dale. Most of them are taken from the Dvergatal, an ancient Norse listing the names of many dwarves.


Christopher Tolkien suggests that "those Dwarf-names in The Hobbit [from Völuspá] provided the whole starting-point for the Mannish languages in Middle-earth."[8][9]


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 · 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