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Discussing: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

A story I'm working mentions a letter written from Elrond to Isildur (during the Last Alliance I think) announcing the birth of Valandil - is it reasonable to assume that it could have been written in Quenya?  I know that Valandil was born at Imladris; and canon doesn't specify Isildur's whereabouts at the time (and he had to have been pretty busy).  As for the language; would the Exiles have used Quenya for important documents?  In Unfinished Tales, the words Atarinya and Senya are used (among the last words between Isildur and his older sons) - they sound Quenya to me, though I'm not sure it was ever specified as anything other than "Elvish". 





Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

I think such a letter might well have been in Quenya if it was a formal announcement. Atarinya and Senya are Quenya in any case.

Canon only says that Isildur marches off to the Last Alliance in the year Valandil is born, so a letter is a reasonable assumption.



Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

Thanks much, Nath!

I'm assuming that Isildur was in Annuminas or elsewhere in Arnor when Valandil was born, then he marched off to war, and kept the letter with him, and left it in Gondor (mistakenly or deliberately) after Sauron's defeat and before his own ill-fated journey  north.




Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

There's some interesting information here -

But the Westron was used as a second language of intercourse by all those who still retained a speech of their own, even by the Elves, not only in Arnor and Gondor but throughout the vales of Anduin, and eastward to the further eaves of Mirkwood. Even among the Wild Men and the Dunlendings who shunned other folk there were some that could speak it, though brokenly. Appendix F: Of Men - ROTK.

But this is much more definitive - though very long - I think it is crucial...

These were the Númenoreans, the Kings of Men, whom the Elves called the Dúnedain. The Dúnedain alone of all races of Men knew and spoke an Elvish tongue; for their forefathers had learned the Sindarin tongue, and this they handed on to their children as a matter of lore, changing little with the passing of the years. And their men of wisdom learned also the High-elven Quenya and esteemed it above all other tongues, and in it they made names for many places of fame and reverence, and for many men of royalty and great renown. But the native speech of the Númenoreans remained for the most part their ancestral Mannish tongue, the Adûnaic, and to this in the latter days of their pride their kings and lords returned, abandoning the Elven-speech, save only those few that held still to their ancient friendship with the Eldar. In the years of their power the Númenoreans had maintained many forts and havens upon the western coasts of Middle-earth for the help of their ships; and one of the chief of these was at Pelargir near the Mouths of Anduin. There Adûnaic was spoken, and mingled with many words of the languages of lesser men it became a Common Speech that spread thence along the coasts among all that had dealings with Westernesse. After the Downfall of Númenor, Elendil led the survivors of the Elf-friends back to the North-western shores of Middle-earth. There many already dwelt who were in whole or part of Númenorean blood; but few of them remembered the Elvish speech. All told the Dúnedain were thus from the beginning far fewer in number than the lesser men among whom they dwelt and whom they ruled, being lords of long life and great power and wisdom. They used therefore the Common Speech in their dealing with other folk and in the government of their wide realms; but they enlarged the language and enriched it with many words drawn from the Elven-tongues. In the days of the Númenorean kings this ennobled Westron speech spread far and wide, even among their enemies; and it became used more and more by the Dúnedain themselves, so that at the time of the War of the Ring the Elven-tongue was known to only a small part of the peoples of Gondor, and spoken daily by fewer. These dwelt mostly in Minas Tirith and the townlands adjacent, and in the land of the tributary princes of Dol Amroth. Yet the names of nearly all places and persons in the realm of Gondor were of Elvish form and meaning. A few were of forgotten origin, and descended doubtless from days before the ships of the Númenoreans sailed the Sea; among these were Umbar, Arnach and Erech; and the mountain-names Eilenach and Rimmon. Forlong was also a name of the same sort. Most of the Men of the northern regions of the Westlands were descended from the Edain of the First Age, or from their close kin. Their languages were, therefore, related to the Adûnaic, and some still preserved a likeness to the Common Speech. Of this kind were the peoples of the upper vales of Anduin: the Beornings, and the Woodmen of Western Mirkwood; and further north and east the Men of the Long Lake and of Dale. From the lands between the Gladden and the Carrock came the folk that were known in Gondor as the Rohirrim, Masters of Horses. They still spoke their ancestral tongue, and gave new names in it to nearly all the places in their new country: and they called themselves the Eorlings, or the Men of the Riddermark. But the lords of that people used the Common Speech freely, and spoke it nobly after the manner of their allies in Gondor; for in Gondor whence it came the Westron kept still a more gracious and antique style. Wholly alien was the speech of the Wild Men of Drúadan Forest. Alien, too, or only remotely akin, was the language of the Dunlendings. These were a remnant of the peoples that had dwelt in the vales of the White Mountains in ages past. The Dead Men of Dunharrow were of their kin. But in the Dark Years others had removed to the southern dales of the Misty Mountains; and thence some had passed into the empty lands as far north as the Barrow-downs. From them came the Men of Bree; but long before these had become subjects of the North Kingdom of Arnor and had taken up the Westron tongue. Only in Dunland did Men of this race hold to their old speech and manners: a secret folk, unfriendly to the Dúnedain, hating the Rohirrim. Of their language nothing appears in this book, save the name Forgoil which they gave to the Rohirrim (meaning Strawheads, it is said). Dunland and Dunlending are the names that the Rohirrim gave to them, because they were swarthy and dark-haired; there is thus no connexion between the word dunn in these names and the Grey-elven word Dûn 'west'.

In my own thoughts, the Men of Gondor spoke and wrote Sindarin. (Faramir and his men, as you well know, spoke Sindarin at Henneth-Annûn.) It seems that the 'norm' was Sindarin.

As an aside and for Isildur - if he was going to be reading a letter, I think he would have done it more easily in Sindarin. Being directly from Númenor, I think he would have 'kept' Thingol's decree - if my recollection is correct - the Men of Númenor were directly descended from the daughter of Thingol, Luthien... And Thingol forbade the speaking of Quenya. Those of the House of Marach and the House of Bëor were descendants of Thingol. It seems, from all I've read, that Quenya was just not spoken much at all in Middle-earth...Thus I surmise that the Faithful and Isildur would have used Sindarin for almost all communications. As for Elrond.... I cannot imagine him writing in Quenya. I could, however, see Galadriel doing such a thing! That was her birth tongue. AND YET - the names of the Kings of Númenor, especially the Faithful, were Quenya - see above from ROTK: Appendix F.

Tolkien really made it difficult - IMHO - for writers! Can't wait to read the tale!



Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

Agape, I agree with you on the quote about the end of the Third Age, but I think it's a bit more complicated even then, and there is room to justify a letter for Isildur in Quenya Grin .

Isildur addresses his sons in Quenya in Unfinished Tales. Elendil's oath upon arrival in Middle-earth is in Quenya (what Aragorn uses at his coronation: "Et Earello ... etc."), and the oath of Cirion and Eorl is also in Quenya. 

A bit more obscure: in HoME 5 (pg. 62-63),  Firiel's Song, which is a song of Numenor, is in Quenya, and is mentioned as sung by both Faithful and King's Men (though with slightly different words).

Thingol may have succeeded in repressing Quenya in his own domain, but Elrond's also descended from Tuor and Idril, and Gondolin wouldn't necessarily follow Thingol's rules (I think there's a reference somewhere in HoME...). Gondolin was probably bilingual because of the Sindar that went there with the Noldo, but I don't think Quenya would have been suppressed very hard in Gondolin, or given the mix of people who ended up there, at Sirion. It would be more a case of not many speakers than the stigma attached to it. Also, even if Elrond didn't learn Quenya in his earliest years (unlikely imho), I'm fairly certain the time he spent with Maglor would have set that right. Also, from the Silmarillion, after Thingol's ban: "...the Exiles took the Sindarin tongue in all their daily uses, and the High Speech of the West was spoken only by the lords of the Noldor among themselves. Yet that speech lived ever as a language of lore, wherever any of that people dwelt."

Ah, found the Gondolin material secondhand through Ardalambion:

"Even in Gondolin, Quenya "had become a language of books" for most people, "and as the other Noldor they used Sindarin in daily speech". Nonetheless, Tuor heard the Guard of Gondolin speak "in the High Speech of the Noldor, which he knew not". It is also stated that "Quenya was in daily use in Turgon's house, and was the childhood speech of Eärendil" (UT:44, 55). PM:348 confirms that "Turgon after his foundation of the secret city of Gondolin had re-established Quenya as the daily speech of his household". Aredhel left Gondolin and was captured by Eöl, to whom she bore a son, and "in her heart she gave him a name in the forbidden tongue of the Noldor, Lómion, that signifies Child of the Twilight" (Silm ch. 16). Eöl later called his son by the Sindarin name Maeglin, but Aredhel "taught Maeglin the Quenya tongue, though Eöl had forbidden it" (WJ:337).

So, all in all, I'd say that such a letter might well have been written in Quenya, depending on how formal the announcement was. Or it might have been just a quick note in Sindarin. Or Elrond might have wanted to practice his Adunaic Laugh out loud.



Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

Great quotes, Nath! I'm going to save them in my own notes for my epic... It's always a struggle trying to figure out, at least for me, what on earth Denethor and his sons might be speaking at such and such a time.

As for Elrond - I never imagined him NOT knowing Quenya - just didn't think he'd 'use' it much. But your quotes definitely make it seem more likely that he would use it more than I ever thought.

Isildur, of course, would speak/read/write it fluently...

It is difficult to imagine that the ancestor of Rohan would speak an oath in Quenya... This was so long ago and the Rohirrim had not even a written language for the common people.... If you have the exact reference, I'd love to read it...

As for Adunaic... Yup! I think you're correct - He wrote the note in Adunaic! Laugh out loud



Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

I didn't see these later messages - wow, what a wealth of knowledge.  Thanx much, Agape and Nath!

It is sometimes difficult to figure out which tongue the characters would be speaking, not to mention historic questions of linguistics.  I'm still not sure whether the official language of Fourth Age Ithilien would be Sindarin (which Faramir's Rangers, as well as probably Denethor's own household, spoke) or Westron; not to mention Faramir's own family (Westron or Sindarin?  I'm sure they also learned the Eorling tongue through Eowyn, though Eowyn was raised from childhood in a Sindarin-speaking household, so it makes things even more complex)... 

I finished the story (two years in the making), of which the usage of Quenya in late 2nd Age Imladris is a small but important part, and posted it tonight, here:

For The King Who Has Everything





Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

That's a really interesting thought, Raksha, about Fourth Age Ithilien... This might also be true for Minas Tirith. I'm thinking that perhaps the introduction - to the common people - of another language might pose some serious problems. Most folk do NOT take to change easily - though I'm sure Sindarin was used for official statements, in the Hall, and at ceremonial events, that the common folk probably spoke Westron... IMHO....

I still fight the use of metric - and I'm not the only one - I can well imagine the 'grumbling' about the Citadel....

But I also like the idea of the 'purity' of the language and bringing it back to perhaps, once again, lift Gondor to newer heights of civilization?

Great thread.



Re: Quenya usage in early Third Age Dunedain/Imladris?

I'd think that normally between themselves Denethor and his sons would speak Sindarin, though I can quite easily see Denethor and Faramir trying out their Quenya on each other, with a slightly bored Boromir failing to see the point of learning/speaking a language that's as good as dead in daily use. (Hm, maybe I should let that particular nuzgul out of its cage again?)

The Oath of Cirion and Eorl is in Unfinished Tales (pg. 303-305 in my edition, Cirion and Eorl), Cirion swears in Quenya, Eorl in his own language, both repeat the words in Westron.



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