Forum: Languages in Arda

Discussing: Use of Quenya--where, and by whom?

Use of Quenya--where, and by whom?

This was my attempt to address a query of my Beta on whether or not Quenya would have been know by someone in Mirkwood late-Third Age. Maybe someone in this forum could comment:

I read somewhere, since I am pretty new to this I don't remember where (too many sources: multiplicity of internet language sources, Tolkien lst and 2nd degree canon works, Tolkien letters, fanfic discussions, etc.--I'll be much more careful to keep track of my story research in the future, since it is hard to re-do!) that Silvan Elves, probably mixed with Avari Elves, already lived in the area that became Greenwood the Great (later to be called Mirkwood after the Southern part of it was invaded and "darkened" by Sauron).

Thranduil (of Sindarin heritage) came to the forest--early second period?--accompanied by other Sindarin Elves. Later still, over time, Noldor (would have possibly dribbled into this part of Middle-earth--around the time of Celeborn and Galadriel coming to Lothlorien (not all that geographically distant) (and possibly could have earlier still crossed the Helcaraxe with Galadriel, Finrod, and Fingolfin)).

Such Noldor, for the purpose of my tale, included my OC family. By the time of my story, they would have spoken Sindar day-to-day, but the older generation would have come from a Quenya-speaking background. By the late-Third Period, Sindar had become the principal language of Mirkwood (with the Silvan languages falling into disuse). Also, in Third Period, Quenya was in use as a ceremonial/historical language (perhaps somewhat like ecclesiastical Latin). It would have been known at least by educated elves and known among the literate in Gondor.

On the specific use in the tale: It has always been common, within families who speak more than one language, for the parents and grandparents to use the less common language to talk about "adult" topics in front of younger children.



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