Silvan Elvish

From Tolkien Gateway

Silvan Elvish was a name for the tongue spoken by the Silvan Elves.

History[edit | edit source]

Silvan Elvish descended from Nandorin/Danian[1] (from their leader Lenwë/Dân), which was the language of the Nandor, those Teleri Elves who broke from the Great Journey east of the Misty Mountains. As such, Nandorin was a branch of the Common Telerin.

A branch of the Nandor eventually completed the Journey, settling in Ossiriand and became known as the Laiquendi; those spoke West-Danian (also called Ossiriandrin or Ossiriandish,[2] and Laiquenderin). Those who remained in the East spoke East-Danian.[1]

After the First Age, the surviving Elves of Beleriand carried their speech back into the east. In the Third Age the Nandor became known as Silvan Elves, with their language being known as Silvan Elvish, heard both in Lothlórien and the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood. Sindarin-speakers settled in both the main Silvan realms, and in Lórien, at least, Sindarin quickly overtook Silvan Elvish in common use. The history of the tongue in Mirkwood is more difficult to determine - some sources suggest that it, too, was quickly overtaken by Sindarin, but other sources dispute this. Sindarin had become the dominant Elvish tongue of the Westlands, with Nandorin little-spoken; it was represented mainly in old place-names and Silvan dialects developed under its influence.

By the end of the Third Age, the only remnants of Silvan were a few names, like Caras Galadhon,[3] Amroth[4] or Legolas[5][6] which sound like Sindarin, but actually betray the influences of Silvan words.

Other names[edit | edit source]

Legolas calls the dialect the "woodland tongue".[7]

In one note Tolkien calls the language just Silvan.[8]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In The Lhammas (ca. 1937-38), Tolkien used the names Ossiriandic or Ossiriandeb; and Leikvian for East Danian.[9]

See also[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Tengwesta Qenderinwa and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets Part 2", in Parma Eldalamberon XVIII (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne) (manuscript TQ 2, ca. 1951-52), p. 78
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 153)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958)
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 84, 153
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Lothlórien"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (I) The First Phase: 5. Of Eldanor and the Princes of the Eldalië", p. 182 (commentary to §42)
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, V. The Lhammas"
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