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Valarin, also called the Eldest Speech,[1] was the tongue of the Ainur.

Description[edit | edit source]

As angelic beings with the ability to communicate through thought, strictly speaking the Valar had no need for a spoken language, but it appears that it was adopted as part of their assumption of physical, humanlike forms.

Valarin was extremely alien to the ears of the Elves, sometimes to the point of genuine displeasure,[2] and very few of them ever learned the language, only adopting some of the Valarin words into their own Quenya. The Valar learnt Quenya instead, and used that to converse with the Elves, or with each other if Elves were present. Valarin seemed to use long words, for example the Valarin word for Telperion, Ibrīniðilpathānezel is eight syllables long. The Vanyar adopted more words from Valarin into their dialect Quendya than the Noldor, as they lived closer to the Valar.

Valarin is unrelated to all the other Languages of Middle-earth as it arose outside of Arda, and except for a few words (mainly proper names) nothing is known of the language. Before it, the only form of language was the Music of the Ainur, the purest form of language, as it was thought itself, with no need for reference; each thought was a definite article in and of itself, and as such, the Music was entirely self-sufficient structure. Eru only showed the Ainur their music in a different form by adding the final note to their song: , "Be".

Fëanor, before the growth of his discontent, is said to have learned more of this tongue than any others before his time, and his knowledge must at any rate have far surpassed the little that is now recorded; but what he knew he kept to himself, and he refused to transmit it even to the Lambengolmor because of his quarrel with the Valar.[3]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In older versions of The Silmarillion and in the Lhammas, Valarin is further subdivided in Oromëan, Aulëan and Melkian. In this conception, all Elvish languages arose from Oromëan, but this view was later dropped.

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Helge Fauskanger has noted suggestions that Valarin might have been influenced by ancient Babylonian:

"[...] some feel that the general style of Valarin is reminiscent of such words as "Etemenanki", the name of the great tower (ziggurat) of Babylon. However, such views are purely conjectural, and we may rightly ask why Tolkien would use Babylonian as a model for the language of the gods of his mythos. More likely he simply aimed for a very peculiar style, since this is supposed to be a language wholly independent of the Elvish language family, and moreover a tongue developed and spoken by superhuman beings."[4]

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


  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), p. 71
  2. 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': Note on the 'Language of the Valar'", p. 398
  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': Note on the 'Language of the Valar'"
  4. Helge Fauskanger, "Valarin - like the glitter of swords", Ardalambion (accessed 2 July 2011)
Valar Lords Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · Melkor
Valier Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Maiar Arien · Blue Wizards · Eönwë · Gandalf · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Radagast · Salmar · Saruman · Tilion · Uinen
Úmaiar Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs
Concepts and locations Almaren · Aratar (indicated in italics) · Creation of the Ainur · Fana · Máhanaxar · Ainulindalë · Order of Wizards (indicated in bold) · Second Music of the Ainur · Timeless Halls · Valarin · Valinor · Valimar
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