The language Quenya evolved in Valinor, but a separation could also be observed there among the Vanyar and the Noldor, especially considering that the Vanyar decided to abandon Eldamar and come closer to the Valar while the Noldor stayed in closer contact with the Falmari and their language.
The speech of the Vanyar (being closest to the Valar), had many Valarin loanwords in their language. Furthermore, their dialect was more conservative than that of the Noldor who were more innovative.
However, the Vanyarin loremasters would give their assent to changes introduced by the Noldor in order to be considered genuine Quenya in their common speech community. One of those changes was the consonant -r in plural words instead of -i, which the Vanyar adopted.
Concerning the parallel evolution of the two languages, we are told that Fëanor viewed the matter of the sound change of þ to s by his people as a personal insult to the memory of his mother who was called Þerindë, and resisted it. On the other hand, the Vanyar also pronounced the sound f- very softly, threatening to merge it with hw-, and Fëanor jested them that they would pronounce his name as Hwëanáro.
Since the Noldor came to Middle-earth and their language became known among the Sindar, the Silvan and afterwards the Dúnedain, Vanyarin was considered a less known, elusive dialect, spoken only in Valinor.
Not much is known about how distinct the speech of the Vanyar was from that of the Noldor other than some sound changes which occurred only to the latter. All in all however, the two dialects were virtually identical, with few differences of minor importance; at least before the Exile of the Noldor.
- Seen in the title of the poem Aldudénië; intermedial "d" does not exist in classical Quenya, which probably was not the case in Vanyarin.
- Equivalent to Noldorin /lv/. While (Noldorin) Quenya as we know it, does not allow /lb/, the word ulban (borrowed form Valarin), is associated with the Vanyar. Perhaps Vanyarin phonology did allow /lb/.
- This is a particular sound change which we know occurred in the word Quenya while the Vanyar still pronounced this word Quendya, without the simplification. Presumably other complex clusters simplified in everyday Quenya speech, were retained in Vanyarin.
- f = almost hw
- Fëanor noted that initial /f/ was so soft (bilabial [ɸ]) that it was often confused with /hw/ (labiovelar [ʍ]) to Noldorin ears. The Noldor opposed this tendency, helped by influence from the Telerin language, with which they had contact. Whether the Vanyar ever actually did merge /hw/ with /f/ is unclear—it's possible they did not, considering that the equivilent voiced phonemes /w/ (labiovelar [w]) and /v/ (bilabial [β]) did not merge among the Vanyar.
- þ (or th)
- Shortly before the Rebellion of the Noldor, they had begun merging the sound /þ/ (dental [θ]) with the sound /s/ (alveolar [s]). The Vanyar retained that sound, as did Fëanor along with his sons for a time. V. Þerindë N. Serindë
- Around that time, also the Noldor merged the sound /z/ with /r/. Again, it was something not occurring among the Vanyar. V. ázë N. árë
- The Exiles (after the First Age) also simplified initial /w/ to /v/. The Vanyar most presumably kept that distinction. Whether Finarfin's Noldor in Tirion also did this is unclear. V. wanwa N. vanwa
- After the Second Age among the Exile, the Noldor simplified the initial sound of /ñ/ (velar [ŋ]) to /n/ (coronal [n]), but this is not mentioned about Vanyarin. Again, whether this occurred in Tirion is unclear. V. Ñoldo N. Noldo
Nothing is known about what differences Vanyarin had from Noldorin, other than it retained the final long vowel in accusative (Eldá, ciryá etc), a feature dropped by the Noldor.
Originally, Primitive Elvish formed the plural with the ending -î. The Noldor invented the ending -r for words that end in a vowel (Valai > Valar) something that the Vanyar adopted. In adjectives, the -i was assimilated in Noldorin (vanima > vanimë) but it is not known if the Vanyar followed this.
Quenya borrowed some words from Valarin, like the names of the Valar and the names Máhanaxar and Ezellohar. The Vanyar had this custom more frequently even in simple words. Some of them are the color words ulban (Q. luin), ezello (Q. laiqua), nasar (Q. carnë) and tulka (Q. malina).
Some other known Quenya words are said to bear some influence from Sindarin which happened only to the Noldorin exiles. For example orco derives from urco, but after influence from Sindarin orch. Such words should be ruled out from the Vanyarin vocabulary.
Quendya is the archaic name of the word Quenya which Tolkien said was still used among the Vanyar, therefore they would refer to their language as such. Although it still would encompass the dialects of the Noldor and the Teleri.[source?]
Other versions of the legendarium
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Quenya Phonology", in Parma Eldalamberon XIX (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 88, 128
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, p. 26
- Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, July 2000
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XI. The Shibboleth of Fëanor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Quenya Phonology", in Parma Eldalamberon XIX (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 70 (footnote 14)
- Helge Fauskanger, "Quettaparma Quenyallo", Ardalambion (accessed 28 September 2022)
|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|