From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.

Taliska[note 1] was a Mannish language spoken by the Edain of the House of Bëor and House of Hador.

Origins[edit | edit source]

The ancestors of the folk of Beor and Marach were originally one group when they migrated to the West. In the northern Rhûn they met some Dwarves[1] who probably influenced their language.[2] It was at the Northern shore of the Sea of Rhûn that the tribes separated. They didn't meet often, and their languages soon diverged.[3]

The Greater Folk seemed to have been related to the ancestors of the Northmen[4] (whose language eventually evolved in the various languages of the Northmen in the Third Age[5]). The Lesser Folk had extensive contact with the Dark Elves and they adopted "many words and devices" that influenced their language.[6][2]

History[edit | edit source]

When the two tribes reached Beleriand, they already spoke different dialects. The language of the folk of Marach was more pure and they viewed the dialect of the folk of Beor, with the adopted Elvish elements, of lower status.[2]

The folk of Haleth spoke the unrelated Haladin tongue, which was unintelligible to the Houses of the Northern Tribes of Men.

The language of the House of Beor eventually was almost extinct, both because of the adoption of Sindarin and because the House was mostly annihilated after the Dagor Bragollach.[7] On the other hand, the House of Hador did not wholly abandon their language, it survived the War of Wrath and was still spoken when the Edain migrated to Elenna. Thus it later became Adûnaic.[6]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

Helge Fauskanger and Ellen Schousboe noted several changes in the conception of Taliska:[8]

  • The name "Taliska" originally referred to the language of the Houses of Bëor and Haleth whereas it was the House of Hador that spoke another language, which would eventually be conceived as Adûnaic. In an early text by Tolkien, some words he labels as Taliska refer to terms which in the later version would be used by the Haladin.
  • Later, in the essay "Of Dwarves and Men" (published in The Peoples of Middle-Earth), Tolkien wrote that the Bëorians and Halethians did not speak related languages: The Hadorians still spoke "ancient Adûnaic", and the Bëorians had a closely related language; it was the language of Halethians that was unrelated to both of them (see pre-Númenorean).

The later conception establishes a wider Hadorian/Beorian language, which however is not given a name. The fate of the term Taliska is vague, and while it could refer to the Halethian isolate (cf. the older conception) sometimes it's used conventionally to refer to the Hadorian/Beorian family.

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Taliska was an early language developed by Tolkien. Unlike his later languages which are a priori, it was based directly on the Germanic languages, and has a lot in common with the Gothic language, an early interest of Tolkien;[9] this shows that Tolkien tried to connect his mythos with the origins of Europe, something that was evident in The Book of Lost Tales.

The connection with Germanic persisted in the framework of The Lord of the Rings. The Mannish languages that would derive from Adûnaic, are rendered as Gothic, Norse, Old English, modern English, etc. Non-Taliskan languages are usually rendered with Celtic elements, if at all.[5] (q.v. for more references).

A rather complete grammar and syntax of Taliska is known to exist,[10] but despite work by Tolkienists, this has not yet been published.


  1. The name "Taliska" is used in this article conventionally. See #Other versions of the legendarium


External links[edit | edit source]

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