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


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".

Other versions of the legendarium[edit]

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.


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."[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  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. Helge Fauskanger, "Valarin - like the glitter of swords", Ardalambion (accessed 2 July 2011)
Valar  Lords   Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · Melkor
Queens   Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Maiar   Arien · Eönwë · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Salmar · Tilion · Uinen
Wizards   Saruman · Gandalf · Radagast · Blue Wizards
Úmaiar   Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs
Music · Valarin · Almaren · Valinor · Valmar · Second Musicitalics indicates Aratar
Languages in Tolkien's works
Elvish languages Avarin · Common Eldarin · Mátengwië · Nandorin · Primitive Quendian · Quenya (Exilic · Valinorean · Vanyarin) · Silvan · Sindarin (Doriathrin · Falathrin · Númenórean · Mithrimin · Old) · Telerin
Mannish languages Adûnaic · Dalish · Drúadan · Dunlendish · Northern Mannish · 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, Middle) · Finnish · Germanic · Gothic · Hebrew · Welsh
Scripts Angerthas/Cirth (Daeron · Erebor · Moria) · Gnomic Letters · Goblin Alphabet · Gondolinic Runes · Moon-letters · New English Alphabet · Tengwar · Sarati · Valmaric script
"A Secret Vice" (book) · "The Lhammas" · "The Tree of Tongues" · Sub-creation