COTW: Appendix F.1 The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age

18 views
Skip to first unread message

Larry Swain

unread,
Aug 30, 2005, 5:02:41 PM8/30/05
to
Here it is. I hope the trees come through. I really had trouble coming
up with discussion points though, so I have to apologize for that.

The languages of Middle Earth are largely, and not surprisingly,
oriented toward the races who speak them. Interestingly enough, much of
Tolkien's philological background sneaks into the LoTR, but as much as
there is it is surprising that there isn't more.

Tolkien deals first with the language of the Elves. Elvan tongues are
split into 2 main language groups:West and East. The Eastern branch is
not represented and so is not discussed, though many of their folk are
at least alluded to. (One might note similar division in the Germanic
language branch, or in Tolkien's day, Indo-European in general, split
roughly between centum and satum (words for hundred), and most centum
languages were Western and most satum were eastern.)

The Western branch is further split into two branches: Quenya or High
Elven and Sindarin or Grey Elven. The former was the language of those
Elves who crossed the sea and then returned in the First Age as exiles
to fight against Morgoth. This language was the first to be recorded in
writing, Sindarin grew from the common Elvish speech before crossing the
sea and was the language of those who came to the shores of Middle Earth
but did not cross. Over the years the languages changed and grew into
separate languages. When the exiles returned to Middle Earth, they
adopted the language of the more numerous Grey Elves for daily use,
reserving Quenya for tales, poetry, ceremony and the like. Tolkien
makes the analogy that this would be like Latin in the Medieval and
Modern periods, a learned language for high matters.
In the tree below I've used "Proto-Elven" as a descriptor though this is
not what Tolkien calls it.

"Proto-Elven"
|
|
/\
Western Eastern

/ \

/ \

/ \

Quenya Sindarin

There are multiple languages of men mentioned or listed. Most of those
of concern to LoTR are related to Adunaic, the language spoken by the 3
houses of the Edain, the houses of men who aided the elves in their wars
against Morgoth. From this language or its immediate ancestor the
following languages are descended:

Westron--aka. Common Speech. This language developed as originally the
Adunaic of the 3 houses of men. Later, after the establishment of
Numenor, those who returned or who had remained mixed this language with
the languages of those whom they ruled. After the fall of Numenor and
the coming of Elendil the Tall, the language was again influenced by a
dialect close to its root, enriched by the influx of many Elvish words
and names from Sindarin and Quenya. The combination then of Adunaic,
local language, plus the influx of "high" Adunaic prodcued Westron, the
language of Gondor and Arnor that was quickly adopted by the peoples
whom they ruled either as a first language or a second.

Most of the humans dwelling in Middle Earth were related or descended
from the Edain and so the languages they spoke were closely related to
Adunaic. The Beornings, the peoples of the upper Anduin, and the
Woodmen of Western Mirkwood, and the people of Dale and the Long Lake.

The people of Rohan, the Eorlingas, were like these: related to the 3
houses, they spoke a language related to Adunaic. After coming south to
occupy Rohan, they still spoke their native tongue among themselves, but
the lords at least of the Rohirrim also spoke Westron and used the
dialect of Gondor and her lords to do so. I've used "proto-mannish" to
describe the root language.

---------------------------------------------------------------------Proto-Mannish---------------------------------

|
|
|
|
|
Druadan
/\
Dunlendish(?)




Adunaic
/ | \

| / | \

| | | \

| Rohirric | \

| | \

Westron | \

Beorning
Dale/Long Lake

Other languages among men unrelated to these people are also mentioned
in LoTR. The Dunlanders spoke a language unrelated to Adunaic, or at
least distantly related. The men, or rather their spirits, who had
lived around Dunharrow were related as were the men of Bree. The latter
had in the Third Age adopted Westron when ruled by the North Kingdom
Arnor.

From a completely different language family comes the language of the
Druadan. Few words are preserved in writing.

Hobbits are more closely related to men than to other races, a "branch"
of the same tree as Tolkien says in a letter. Whatever their original
language was, they soon adopted whatever human languages they lived
near. Once west of the Misty Mtns they quickly adopted Westron, and by
the time they had reached Bree they had already begun to forget their
native language. From the names and few words which survive, their
native tongue seems to have related to the languages of the upper Anduin
and so akin to Rohirric and that branch of the language.

Ents
The Ents had their own peculiar language. It seems to have been slow,
sonorous, repetitive, and agglomerated, with heavy use of vowels of
which their were multiple shades of, and distinctions in tones, quality.
Only the hobbits attempted to preserve something of it in writing.
The Ents however were able to quickly learn the languages of the other
peoples of Middle Earth. Their own language no one could learn, but
they did use the common speech when dealing with their non-entish
neighbors.

Orcs-Orcs did not have a single language. They took of what they could
from other languages and adapted these to their own uses. As a result
breeds, and even villages of orcs, couldn't speak to another unless they
used Westron.

Black Speech-this is a language of Sauron's devising meant to be the
language of those who served him. At the end of the Second Age it all
but died, only to be revived by Sauron when the tower again was lifted up.

Trolls--few trolls could speak much or well. Sauron made us of them and
gave them some knowledge of the Black Speech.

Dwarves had their own language but they kept this secret. After the
Great Worms destroyed many of their mansions they wandered and they used
the langauges of men among whom they dwelled and worked. And so their
language become one of lore rather than common speech and they kept it
close as an heirloom of the past.


Discussion Points:

1) Tolkien mentions that the Dunlenders were to some degree replaced by
the Rohirrim, whom they called Strawheads. The Dunlenders are called
"Dun..." because they were "swarthy and dark haired." "Dun" in English
is a borrowed Celtic word meaning dark (swarthy also means dark) as in
Dunharrow--dark hill, dun raven---black raven, etc. In real history
Celts were often called "dark" because of the higher proportion of dark
haired people in contrast to the blonder Anglo-Saxons. So is the
relationship and even the words between the Rohirrim and the Dunlenders
meant to suggest to us readers something about the distant past of
England? If so, what impact does this have on the debate about a
"mythology for England" discussion?

2) It is well known that it was Tolkien's invented languages that fueled
his imagination. If so, why not more language or philological jokes in
the story? Why not more dwarvish (Kudzul) for example.


3) Why is the North so unpopulated so long after the fall of the North
Kingdom?

4) Languages change. How is it that the hobbits and Breelanders who
have long been sundered from other men still speak a form of Westron
perfectly understandable to a man of Gondor. Considering that other
languages change in Tolkien's world, why not this one?

5) What is your take on the langauges? Do you appreciate them in the
book, or better left out? Do they enhance the story?

John W. Kennedy

unread,
Aug 30, 2005, 8:02:01 PM8/30/05
to
Larry Swain wrote:
> 4) Languages change. How is it that the hobbits and Breelanders who
> have long been sundered from other men still speak a form of Westron
> perfectly understandable to a man of Gondor. Considering that other
> languages change in Tolkien's world, why not this one?

Both kingdoms are still long-lived at the social apex, and culturally
conservative; and I imagine that, until a generation or so before the
War of the Ring, that there was more trade along the Greenway than we
see in the books.

--
John W. Kennedy
"Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light."
-- Tom Stoppard. "Night and Day"

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Sep 1, 2005, 7:31:07 PM9/1/05
to
Larry Swain wrote:

<snip excellent summary and discussion>

> 5) What is your take on the langauges? Do you appreciate them in the
> book, or better left out? Do they enhance the story?

Larry, I don't know why Google didn't pull up this post -- sorry about
that! Well, maybe my post will be a good supplement, bringing in the
primary world JRRT was working in. My take on the languages as
mentioned is that they are difficult to get into but valuable -- the
whole root of the secondary world is in them. I think they do enhance
the story quite a bit, even for a non-linguist.

Barb

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 1:08:43 AM9/2/05
to

John W. Kennedy wrote:
> Larry Swain wrote:
>
>> 4) Languages change. How is it that the hobbits and Breelanders who
>> have long been sundered from other men still speak a form of Westron
>> perfectly understandable to a man of Gondor. Considering that other
>> languages change in Tolkien's world, why not this one?
>
>
> Both kingdoms are still long-lived at the social apex, and culturally
> conservative; and I imagine that, until a generation or so before the
> War of the Ring, that there was more trade along the Greenway than we
> see in the books.

But the North Kingdom has been gone a LONG LONG LONG time by this point,
more than a couple of generations.

the softrat

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 3:25:12 AM9/2/05
to

Let's send some Norwegian five year olds out to *find* it!!

the softrat
Sometimes I get so tired of the taste of my own toes.
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
If I don't blow my horn, who will? It's got my spit on it.

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 4:35:41 PM9/2/05
to

the softrat wrote:
> On Fri, 02 Sep 2005 00:08:43 -0500, Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
>
>
>>
>>John W. Kennedy wrote:
>>
>>>Larry Swain wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>>4) Languages change. How is it that the hobbits and Breelanders who
>>>>have long been sundered from other men still speak a form of Westron
>>>>perfectly understandable to a man of Gondor. Considering that other
>>>>languages change in Tolkien's world, why not this one?
>>>
>>>
>>>Both kingdoms are still long-lived at the social apex, and culturally
>>>conservative; and I imagine that, until a generation or so before the
>>>War of the Ring, that there was more trade along the Greenway than we
>>>see in the books.
>>
>>But the North Kingdom has been gone a LONG LONG LONG time by this point,
>>more than a couple of generations.
>
>
> Let's send some Norwegian five year olds out to *find* it!!
>

Hee hee! I've misplaced the URL at the moment, but there was a report I
sent to another list ratty and I are on about some 5 year olds who found
some Viking age artifacts that they played with like they were toys
until the parents finally looked a little closer. Maybe they could help
Arnor!

Count Menelvagor

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 5:29:36 PM9/2/05
to

and there were large swaths of territory between the shire and gondor,
much of which was uninhabited. furthermore, tolkien says that hobbits
spoke a rustic dialect, which, given the nature of rustic dialects,
would itself have been highly fragmented. the similaritiy between
hobbitish and the speech of gondor is thus extreemly unlikely, unless
the hobbits had a strong tradition of a standardised written language
-- but i know of noe evidence that they did.

Emma Pease

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 9:02:53 PM9/2/05
to

It is mentioned that literate hobbits tended to write large numbers of
letters. Three of the four hobbits came from wealthy families that
did have a tradition of literacy and it seems that both the Tooks and
the Brandybucks had extensive libraries. My guess is that Frodo
definitely and probably Merry and Pippin could language switch between
the local dialect and a more formal dialect that was understandable to
the people in Gondor.


--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht

John W. Kennedy

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 9:27:56 PM9/2/05
to

As an effective state, yes. It still exists as a de-facto nation (else
were the original question pointless).

--
John W. Kennedy
"I want everybody to be smart. As smart as they can be. A world of
ignorant people is too dangerous to live in."
-- Garson Kanin. "Born Yesterday"

John W. Kennedy

unread,
Sep 2, 2005, 9:29:15 PM9/2/05
to

They also had an intense interest in history and genealogy.


--
John W. Kennedy
A proud member of the reality-based community.

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 3, 2005, 1:57:16 PM9/3/05
to

Written language and spoken language are not the same. What one reads
and what one speaks are not the same. FOr example, all of us can read
Shakespeare and probably have read Shakespeare, but this doesn't mean
that we speak in pentameters or pepper our speech (much less our writing
in NGs!) with "thee, thou" and other charactertistic forms, phrases, and
words current in the Shakespearean corpus. By analogy then, we
shouldn't expect the hobbits to be any different, we would in fact
expect their language, and that of the Breelanders, to differentiate
itself overtime from the languages in the south...in fact if we look at
Tolkien's own discussion of the languages of the immortal elves and of
other men we find just this phenomenon at work. But not here with the
hobbits.

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 3, 2005, 1:58:37 PM9/3/05
to

John W. Kennedy wrote:
> Larry Swain wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> John W. Kennedy wrote:
>>
>>> Larry Swain wrote:
>>>
>>>> 4) Languages change. How is it that the hobbits and Breelanders who
>>>> have long been sundered from other men still speak a form of Westron
>>>> perfectly understandable to a man of Gondor. Considering that other
>>>> languages change in Tolkien's world, why not this one?
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Both kingdoms are still long-lived at the social apex, and culturally
>>> conservative; and I imagine that, until a generation or so before the
>>> War of the Ring, that there was more trade along the Greenway than we
>>> see in the books.
>>
>>
>>
>> But the North Kingdom has been gone a LONG LONG LONG time by this
>> point, more than a couple of generations.
>
>
> As an effective state, yes. It still exists as a de-facto nation (else
> were the original question pointless).
>

A "de facto" nation? I'm afraid I don't follow what you mean here.

John W. Kennedy

unread,
Sep 3, 2005, 4:50:24 PM9/3/05
to

There are people there, and local government, a general sense (even, in
Bree, between Men and Hobbits) of being a single people, and, for a
large part of the last 1,000 years, peace.

--
John W. Kennedy
"But now is a new thing which is very old--
that the rich make themselves richer and not poorer,
which is the true Gospel, for the poor's sake."
-- Charles Williams. "Judgement at Chelmsford"

the softrat

unread,
Sep 4, 2005, 12:48:14 AM9/4/05
to
On Sat, 03 Sep 2005 12:58:37 -0500, Larry Swain
<thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
>>
>A "de facto" nation? I'm afraid I don't follow what you mean here.

He mean he don' unnerstan' "de factos".

the softrat
Sometimes I get so tired of the taste of my own toes.
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--

Never trust a pitbull named Fluffy.

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Sep 4, 2005, 1:19:15 AM9/4/05
to
On Sat, 03 Sep 2005 12:57:16 -0500, Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com>
wrote:


>Written language and spoken language are not the same. What one reads
>and what one speaks are not the same. FOr example, all of us can read
>Shakespeare and probably have read Shakespeare, but this doesn't mean
>that we speak in pentameters or pepper our speech (much less our writing
>in NGs!) with "thee, thou" and other charactertistic forms, phrases, and
>words current in the Shakespearean corpus. By analogy then, we
>shouldn't expect the hobbits to be any different, we would in fact
>expect their language, and that of the Breelanders, to differentiate
>itself overtime from the languages in the south...in fact if we look at
>Tolkien's own discussion of the languages of the immortal elves and of
>other men we find just this phenomenon at work. But not here with the
>hobbits.

But Hobbitish speech *had* drifted; it just hadn't moved far enough to
become a separate language rather than a dialect. Factors involved:
Hobbits generations are longer than (non-Numenorean) Big Folk
generations, Hobbits are quite conservative by nature, Hobbits tend to
speak like the local Big Folk, who were small rural populations, whose
language tends to change more slowly, and those other peoples they would
occasionally meet -- Dwarves, Elves, Gandalf -- lived even longer and
would have even slower rates of change. Still, ultimately it comes down
to the needs of the narrative, though. The primary world provides the
*reason* Hobbits and Men and Orcs and Elves (mostly) speak one language
-- except for Frodo, the Hobbits would be linguistically isolated if
they didn't and having your viewpoint characters unable to follow the
dialog doesn't work very well. The secondary world of Middle-Earth only
provides justifications for this fact, and if you don't accept the
justifications given, there isn't much that can be done about it, except
maybe to fall back on blaming it on the Elven Rings and their purpose of
conserving things unchanged.

--
R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Sep 5, 2005, 11:16:04 AM9/5/05
to
the softrat wrote:
> On Sat, 03 Sep 2005 12:58:37 -0500, Larry Swain
> <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
>
>>A "de facto" nation? I'm afraid I don't follow what you mean here.
>
>
> He mean he don' unnerstan' "de factos".
>

It mean sump'in lak dis 'ear:

Afterward in the peace that followed the Shire-folk ruled
themselves and prospered. They chose a Thain to take the place of
the King, and were content; though for a long time many still
looked for the return of the King. But at last that hope was
forgotten, and remained only in the saying /When the King comes
back,/ used of some good that could not be achieved, or of some
evil that could not be amended.

De jure, OTOH, acquitted OJ Simpson, much to the surprise of the rest of
the civilized world...or sump'in lak dat dere.

Barb

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 5, 2005, 5:14:03 PM9/5/05
to
John W. Kennedy wrote:
> Larry Swain wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> John W. Kennedy wrote:
>>
>>> Larry Swain wrote:
>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> John W. Kennedy wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Larry Swain wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>>> 4) Languages change. How is it that the hobbits and Breelanders
>>>>>> who have long been sundered from other men still speak a form of
>>>>>> Westron perfectly understandable to a man of Gondor. Considering
>>>>>> that other languages change in Tolkien's world, why not this one?
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Both kingdoms are still long-lived at the social apex, and
>>>>> culturally conservative; and I imagine that, until a generation or
>>>>> so before the War of the Ring, that there was more trade along the
>>>>> Greenway than we see in the books.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> But the North Kingdom has been gone a LONG LONG LONG time by this
>>>> point, more than a couple of generations.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> As an effective state, yes. It still exists as a de-facto nation
>>> (else were the original question pointless).
>>>
>> A "de facto" nation? I'm afraid I don't follow what you mean here.
>
>
> There are people there, and local government, a general sense (even, in
> Bree, between Men and Hobbits) of being a single people, and, for a
> large part of the last 1,000 years, peace.

Ah, thanks, but that is precisely what I mean. No matter that the Shire
and Bree (and the other hamlets in the neighborhood) have a certain
understanding of themselves as a "unit", the fact is that other than the
occasional ranger or dwarf passing through Bree and staying at the Inn,
they've no contact with other Westron speakers and there is no
government imposing a language from the top. So over the 1000+
(1974-3018 TA) year period we'd expect some significant if not total
differentiation in Breelandish and Shirespeak (to coin terms for these
dialects of Westron) and the varieties of Westron and spoken by Rohan
and Gondor as we do see similar differentiation between elven languages
and other languages of men sundered for less time and over less distance.

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 5, 2005, 5:21:35 PM9/5/05
to
NO worries.

Emma Pease

unread,
Sep 5, 2005, 7:39:55 PM9/5/05
to
In article <Ms6dncQV_eK...@rcn.net>, Larry Swain wrote:


> Ah, thanks, but that is precisely what I mean. No matter that the Shire
> and Bree (and the other hamlets in the neighborhood) have a certain
> understanding of themselves as a "unit", the fact is that other than the
> occasional ranger or dwarf passing through Bree and staying at the Inn,
> they've no contact with other Westron speakers and there is no
> government imposing a language from the top. So over the 1000+
> (1974-3018 TA) year period we'd expect some significant if not total
> differentiation in Breelandish and Shirespeak (to coin terms for these
> dialects of Westron) and the varieties of Westron and spoken by Rohan
> and Gondor as we do see similar differentiation between elven languages
> and other languages of men sundered for less time and over less distance.

The Westron speaking dwarves seem to have been fairly common visitors
not only in Bree but also along the main road through the Shire.

Also we have the Westron spoken by the men east of the Misty Mountains
(Dale, Long Lake, Beornings) though how much interaction there was
seems debatable.

Where was Westron spoken?

Gondor - Westron most common birth tongue (some still seem to learn
Sindarin but probably bilingually with Westron).
Rohan - Westron almost always learned as a second language

Dale/Long Lake - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue
Beornings - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue

Breeland - Westron
Shire - Westron
Tharbad - Westron
Dunedain in Eriador - Sindarin but Westron as a second tongue.
Other dwellings of men in Eriador (e.g., along the coasts or in
isolated valleys). Just because we aren't told about them
doesn't mean they don't exist (it would be interesting to know
how Boromir did his journey to Rivendell, how often did he
have to hunt, how often could he buy supplies after leaving
Rohan).

Dwarves (Blue Mountains, Lonely Mountain, Iron Hills) - Westron to outsiders

Easterlings - A separate language
Haradrim - A separate language (or did they speak Westron?)

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 7, 2005, 12:49:00 AM9/7/05
to
Emma Pease wrote:
> In article <Ms6dncQV_eK...@rcn.net>, Larry Swain wrote:
>
>
>
>>Ah, thanks, but that is precisely what I mean. No matter that the Shire
>>and Bree (and the other hamlets in the neighborhood) have a certain
>>understanding of themselves as a "unit", the fact is that other than the
>>occasional ranger or dwarf passing through Bree and staying at the Inn,
>>they've no contact with other Westron speakers and there is no
>>government imposing a language from the top. So over the 1000+
>>(1974-3018 TA) year period we'd expect some significant if not total
>>differentiation in Breelandish and Shirespeak (to coin terms for these
>>dialects of Westron) and the varieties of Westron and spoken by Rohan
>>and Gondor as we do see similar differentiation between elven languages
>>and other languages of men sundered for less time and over less distance.
>
>
> The Westron speaking dwarves seem to have been fairly common visitors
> not only in Bree but also along the main road through the Shire.

They went through the Shire frequently, but even saying they stopped
over at an inn frequently, how many hobbits are they going to be talking
to and influencing? Even under the best conditions, a roomful at most,
hardly enough to keep the language of the Shire stable over a 1000 year
period.


> Also we have the Westron spoken by the men east of the Misty Mountains
> (Dale, Long Lake, Beornings) though how much interaction there was
> seems debatable.

a) other than Bilbo there was no direct contact between these peoples
and the Shire/Bree except via dwarvish traffic, for which see above.
b) these men spoke Westron only as a second language, if at all, their
native tongues related to, but not the same as Andunaic, the ancestor of
Westron.

> Where was Westron spoken?
>
> Gondor - Westron most common birth tongue (some still seem to learn
> Sindarin but probably bilingually with Westron).

Yes, according to Tolkien Westron was their "birth" language, Sindarin
and Quenya were learned languages, and both learned only by a few.

> Rohan - Westron almost always learned as a second language

Tolkien mentions specifically the nobles, not the people as a whole.


>
> Dale/Long Lake - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue

Not according to Tolkien's own explicit statement to the contrary in the
appendix

> Beornings - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue

see above.
>
> Breeland - Westron

Yes, and hence the question I asked.

> Shire - Westron

see above

> Tharbad - Westron

Once under Gondor's control, so yes.

> Dunedain in Eriador - Sindarin but Westron as a second tongue.

Where do you get this? That they spoke both, particularly in the days
after the fall of the NOrth Kingdom when their very survival depended on
Elrond and his people, but that Sindarin was their birth tongue? Evidence?

> Other dwellings of men in Eriador (e.g., along the coasts or in
> isolated valleys). Just because we aren't told about them
> doesn't mean they don't exist (it would be interesting to know
> how Boromir did his journey to Rivendell, how often did he
> have to hunt, how often could he buy supplies after leaving
> Rohan).

Argument from silence. As for Boromir's trip, considering the
Fellowship on foot makes the journey in the winter to Lorien in 3 weeks
or so, Boromir didn't have that much of a problem on horseback. Granted
he had to search for Rivendell and said he had been many weeks on the
road, but he could hunt, there was water in the snow, creeks, and
rivers, and apparently traffic on the Greenway. I don't think we need
posit large population centers or even villages in the North other than
where Tolkien has indicated them.

>
> Dwarves (Blue Mountains, Lonely Mountain, Iron Hills) - Westron to outsiders

As noted in the summary.

Kevin

unread,
Sep 7, 2005, 9:00:17 AM9/7/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
> Emma Pease wrote:
>> In article <Ms6dncQV_eK...@rcn.net>, Larry Swain wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>>Ah, thanks, but that is precisely what I mean. No matter that the Shire
>>>and Bree (and the other hamlets in the neighborhood) have a certain
>>>understanding of themselves as a "unit", the fact is that other than the
>>>occasional ranger or dwarf passing through Bree and staying at the Inn,
>>>they've no contact with other Westron speakers and there is no
>>>government imposing a language from the top. So over the 1000+
>>>(1974-3018 TA) year period we'd expect some significant if not total
>>>differentiation in Breelandish and Shirespeak (to coin terms for these
>>>dialects of Westron) and the varieties of Westron and spoken by Rohan
>>>and Gondor as we do see similar differentiation between elven languages
>>>and other languages of men sundered for less time and over less distance.

I think there _was_ significant differentiation, just not total
differentiation. Hobbits and the Men of Gondor could understand each other,
but I think it's pretty clear that there were significant differences in their
accent, sentence structure, etc. For example, hobbits didn't use the formal
form of "you," while the Men of Gondor did.
I imagine that the differentiation was somewhat slowed from what we
might expect simply because both hobbits and Men of Gondor were longer-lived
than we are. I figure that the linguistic differentiation was about what we
might expect after 500 or 600 years of isolation, rather than 1000.



> They went through the Shire frequently, but even saying they stopped
> over at an inn frequently, how many hobbits are they going to be talking
> to and influencing? Even under the best conditions, a roomful at most,
> hardly enough to keep the language of the Shire stable over a 1000 year
> period.

I agree that Dwarves and Rangers probably weren't a major linguistic
influence on hobbits.

>> Other dwellings of men in Eriador (e.g., along the coasts or in
>> isolated valleys). Just because we aren't told about them
>> doesn't mean they don't exist (it would be interesting to know
>> how Boromir did his journey to Rivendell, how often did he
>> have to hunt, how often could he buy supplies after leaving
>> Rohan).

In Unfinished Tales, Tolkien mentions that there were numerous fisher-folk
living on the coast of Eriador. As for what language they spoke, I have
no idea.


Kevin

the softrat

unread,
Sep 7, 2005, 12:29:46 PM9/7/05
to
On Tue, 06 Sep 2005 23:49:00 -0500, Larry Swain
<thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

<snipped -- for clarity>

Larry, Larry, Larry, Larry -----

When *will* you learn??

The hobbits were such boring, stick-in-the-mud people that they didn't
change their language: that would have been too much like work.

PS: They didn't *do* neologisms, either.

HTH!

Yr feind,


the softrat
Sometimes I get so tired of the taste of my own toes.
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--

Turn on, tune in, drop out. Do not attempt while in an aeroplane.

ojevin...@bredband.net

unread,
Sep 8, 2005, 10:50:43 AM9/8/05
to
Emma Pease wrote:

>Other dwellings of men in Eriador (e.g., along the coasts or in
isolated valleys). Just because we aren't told about them
doesn't mean they don't exist (it would be interesting to know
how Boromir did his journey to Rivendell, how often did he
have to hunt, how often could he buy supplies after leaving Rohan).

I agree. For example, in UT (I think) there is a mention of a forested
cape called Eryn Vorn south of the outlet of the Brandywine. It was
inhabited by people who had lived there since before the Númenoreans
began to visit Middle-earth. However, we are told that they isolated
themselves and were unfriendly to the Númenoreans because of all the
forests the Númenoreans cut down to build ships, so they very likely
spoke another tongue than Westron.
We are also told that the variety of Westron spoken by Hobbits was
regarded as very rustic by the people of Gondor. Still, I agree with
those who say that the difference should be much bigger than he one
depicted. Something like the diference between English and Dutch.
Finally, there are statements of people both in Minas Tirith and
among those whose families had fled from Ithilien speaking Sindarin
with each other in everyday contexts, so it does seem Sindarin had
survived as a first language among a minority of the people of Gondor.
To everybody: please don't snip the followup to alt.fan.tolkien.

Öjevind

Count Menelvagor

unread,
Sep 8, 2005, 5:31:13 PM9/8/05
to

ojevin...@bredband.net wrote:
> We are also told that the variety of Westron spoken by Hobbits was
> regarded as very rustic by the people of Gondor. Still, I agree with
> those who say that the difference should be much bigger than he one
> depicted. Something like the diference between English and Dutch.
> Finally, there are statements of people both in Minas Tirith and
> among those whose families had fled from Ithilien speaking Sindarin
> with each other in everyday contexts, so it does seem Sindarin had
> survived as a first language among a minority of the people of Gondor.

i guess sindarin was used as french used to be (and now english is):
for snob appeal (or éclath).

Emma Pease

unread,
Sep 8, 2005, 9:43:12 PM9/8/05
to
In article <qrGdnfUNm76...@rcn.net>, Larry Swain wrote:
> Emma Pease wrote:

>> Where was Westron spoken?
>>
>> Gondor - Westron most common birth tongue (some still seem to learn
>> Sindarin but probably bilingually with Westron).
>
> Yes, according to Tolkien Westron was their "birth" language, Sindarin
> and Quenya were learned languages, and both learned only by a few.

Except Sindarin was used in daily conversation by some in Minas Tirith
(note Pippin heard people using it to call others to come see the
ernil ...). Sam also heard some of the rangers using it if I recall
correctly.

My own speculation is that in Numenor most of the inhabitants used
proto-Westron as a birth tongue; however, some among those in the
western area who were most friendly to the elves used Sindarin as a
birth tongue. Among those who escaped Numenor the majority were of
the Sindarin speaking group as were some of the earlier immigrants
though the majority in what was to become Arnor and Gondor were
Westron speakers. Some families continued to use Sindarin in daily
talk.

Also I think Sindarin was still known by most of the Dunedain even at
the time of the War of the Ring.

>> Rohan - Westron almost always learned as a second language
>
> Tolkien mentions specifically the nobles, not the people as a whole.

Not clear in my meaning. I meant that few if none learned it as a
birth tongue (or even bilingually as babies, Theoden would be an
exception as he was born in Gondor).

>> Dale/Long Lake - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue
>
> Not according to Tolkien's own explicit statement to the contrary in the
> appendix

But they certainly knew Westron as Bilbo had no trouble understanding
them.

>> Beornings - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue
>
> see above.
>>
>> Breeland - Westron
>
> Yes, and hence the question I asked.
>
>> Shire - Westron
>
> see above
>
>> Tharbad - Westron
>
> Once under Gondor's control, so yes.
>
>> Dunedain in Eriador - Sindarin but Westron as a second tongue.
>
> Where do you get this? That they spoke both, particularly in the days
> after the fall of the NOrth Kingdom when their very survival depended on
> Elrond and his people, but that Sindarin was their birth tongue? Evidence?

Well for people like Aragorn who was raised in Rivendell, almost
certainly as a birth tongue.

>> Other dwellings of men in Eriador (e.g., along the coasts or in
>> isolated valleys). Just because we aren't told about them
>> doesn't mean they don't exist (it would be interesting to know
>> how Boromir did his journey to Rivendell, how often did he
>> have to hunt, how often could he buy supplies after leaving
>> Rohan).
>
> Argument from silence. As for Boromir's trip, considering the
> Fellowship on foot makes the journey in the winter to Lorien in 3 weeks
> or so, Boromir didn't have that much of a problem on horseback. Granted
> he had to search for Rivendell and said he had been many weeks on the
> road, but he could hunt, there was water in the snow, creeks, and
> rivers, and apparently traffic on the Greenway. I don't think we need
> posit large population centers or even villages in the North other than
> where Tolkien has indicated them.

Boromir lost his horse at Tharbad. Also did Boromir follow the road
or did he cut cross country after Tharbad.

>> Dwarves (Blue Mountains, Lonely Mountain, Iron Hills) - Westron to outsiders
>
> As noted in the summary.

Prai Jei

unread,
Sep 9, 2005, 1:14:41 PM9/9/05
to
Count Menelvagor (or somebody else of the same name) wrote thusly in message
<1126215073.1...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>:

Quite likely. It does have that certain je ne sais quoi about it :)
--
There are very few spiders found on bananas that bite.

Interchange the alphabetic letter groups to reply

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 12, 2005, 5:29:30 PM9/12/05
to
Emma Pease wrote:
> In article <qrGdnfUNm76...@rcn.net>, Larry Swain wrote:
>
>>Emma Pease wrote:
>
>
>>>Where was Westron spoken?
>>>
>>>Gondor - Westron most common birth tongue (some still seem to learn
>>>Sindarin but probably bilingually with Westron).
>>
>>Yes, according to Tolkien Westron was their "birth" language, Sindarin
>>and Quenya were learned languages, and both learned only by a few.
>
>
> Except Sindarin was used in daily conversation by some in Minas Tirith
> (note Pippin heard people using it to call others to come see the
> ernil ...). Sam also heard some of the rangers using it if I recall
> correctly.

I think you jump to conclusions. The use of a Sindarin phrase in the
presence of Pippin taken to be a lordling is hardly evidence that a)
Sindarin was a "birth language" or that it was used in daily
conversation. The most that can be said is that "many" used it to draw
attention to Peregrin who was walking down the street: a special use.

>
> My own speculation is that in Numenor most of the inhabitants used
> proto-Westron as a birth tongue;

Adunaic.

however, some among those in the
> western area who were most friendly to the elves used Sindarin as a
> birth tongue.

"The Dunedain 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 NUMENOREANS REMAINED FOR THE MOST PART
THEIR ANCESTRAL MANNISH TONGUE, THE ADUNAIC, AND TO THIS IN THE LATTER
DAYS OF THEIR PRIDE THEIR KINGS AND LORDS RETURNED, ABADNONDING THE
ELVEN SPEECH, SAVE ONLY THOSE FEW THAT HELD STILL TO THEIR ANCIENT
FRIENDSHIP WITH THE ELDAR..." Tolkien, Appendix F, OF Men.

I. E. The "birth" language of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, they learned
Sindarin, and a few learned Quenya. In the latter years, most rejected
things and languages Elven, the Faithful continued to preserve it AS A
MATTER OF LORE, but their birth language was Adunaic.

Among those who escaped Numenor the majority were of
> the Sindarin speaking group as were some of the earlier immigrants
> though the majority in what was to become Arnor and Gondor were
> Westron speakers. Some families continued to use Sindarin in daily
> talk.
>
> Also I think Sindarin was still known by most of the Dunedain even at
> the time of the War of the Ring.

Being known and being one's first language are two different things.

>
>>>Dale/Long Lake - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue
>>
>>Not according to Tolkien's own explicit statement to the contrary in the
>>appendix
>
>
> But they certainly knew Westron as Bilbo had no trouble understanding
> them.

Their knowledge of the language isn't in question, it was the claim that
this was their birth tongue. It wasn't.

>
>>>Beornings - Westron seems to have been the birth tongue
>>
>>see above.
>>
>>>Breeland - Westron
>>
>>Yes, and hence the question I asked.
>>
>>
>>>Shire - Westron
>>
>>see above
>>
>>
>>>Tharbad - Westron
>>
>>Once under Gondor's control, so yes.
>>
>>
>>>Dunedain in Eriador - Sindarin but Westron as a second tongue.
>>
>>Where do you get this? That they spoke both, particularly in the days
>>after the fall of the NOrth Kingdom when their very survival depended on
>>Elrond and his people, but that Sindarin was their birth tongue? Evidence?
>
>
> Well for people like Aragorn who was raised in Rivendell, almost
> certainly as a birth tongue.

How do you figure? Do not Elendil and his people know Westron? Do not
a number of them speak it fluently? That Aragorn knew and spoke
Sindarin I think a given, that it was his "birth" language simply
because he was born in Rivendell goes against the evidence.

>
>>>Other dwellings of men in Eriador (e.g., along the coasts or in
>>> isolated valleys). Just because we aren't told about them
>>> doesn't mean they don't exist (it would be interesting to know
>>> how Boromir did his journey to Rivendell, how often did he
>>> have to hunt, how often could he buy supplies after leaving
>>> Rohan).
>>
>>Argument from silence. As for Boromir's trip, considering the
>>Fellowship on foot makes the journey in the winter to Lorien in 3 weeks
>>or so, Boromir didn't have that much of a problem on horseback. Granted
>>he had to search for Rivendell and said he had been many weeks on the
>>road, but he could hunt, there was water in the snow, creeks, and
>>rivers, and apparently traffic on the Greenway. I don't think we need
>>posit large population centers or even villages in the North other than
>>where Tolkien has indicated them.
>
>
> Boromir lost his horse at Tharbad. Also did Boromir follow the road
> or did he cut cross country after Tharbad.

Unknown, we're not given a lot of info about Boromir's journey. We are
told that Tharbad is a deserted and dead town, so no supplies there.
And no supplies from Dunlenders who hated Gondor almost as much as they
did Rohan. So that leaves Boromir two choices: to follow the Greenway
and so come eventually to Bree or to follow the river toward Rivendell.
Much depends on how much Boromir knew (he doesn't give details) about
the general locale of Rivendell (unknown) and what supplies he had at
Tharbad after losing his horse (also unknown). So again, I don't think
we need look for large towns or even hamlets along Boromir's route in
the North.


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 4:26:38 AM9/13/05
to
In message <news:X6idnSVPzPe...@rcn.net>
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> enriched us with:
>
> Emma Pease wrote:
>>
>> In article <qrGdnfUNm76...@rcn.net>, Larry Swain wrote:
>>>
>>> Emma Pease wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Where was Westron spoken?
>>>>
>>>> Gondor - Westron most common birth tongue (some still seem to
>>>> learn Sindarin but probably bilingually with Westron).
>>>
>>> Yes, according to Tolkien Westron was their "birth" language,
>>> Sindarin and Quenya were learned languages, and both learned only
>>> by a few.
>>
>> Except Sindarin was used in daily conversation by some in Minas
>> Tirith (note Pippin heard people using it to call others to come
>> see the ernil ...). Sam also heard some of the rangers using it
>> if I recall correctly.
>
> I think you jump to conclusions. The use of a Sindarin phrase in
> the presence of Pippin taken to be a lordling is hardly evidence
> that a) Sindarin was a "birth language" or that it was used in
> daily conversation.

I was drawn to the conversation between Mablung and Damrod when
guarding Frodo and Sam:

They spoke together in soft voices, at first using the
Common Speech, but after the manner of older days, and
then changing to another language of their own. To his
amazement, as he listened Frodo became aware that it
was the Elven-tongue that they spoke, or one but little
different; and he looked at them with wonder, for he
knew then that they must be Dúnedain of the South, men
of the line of the Lords of Westernesse.
[LotR IV,4 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit']

Would Frodo have mistaken ancient Adûnaic for 'the Elven-tongue'? It
seems to me more likely that they were speaking Sindarin in an older
form ('this they handed on to their children as a matter of lore,
changing little with the passing of the years.'), which would show
that they at least were familiar enough with it to converse in it
when they would (alike, I suspect, to the way many Danish parents
will speak together in English when they don't want the kids to
understand).

<snip>

> I. E. The "birth" language of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, they
> learned Sindarin, and a few learned Quenya. In the latter years,
> most rejected things and languages Elven, the Faithful continued
> to preserve it AS A MATTER OF LORE, but their birth language was
> Adunaic.

Certainly -- Adûnaic was always the native speech of the Númenoreans
and their Dúnedain descendants. My impression is that Sindarin, in
Minas Tirith at the time of the War, held a position similar to that
which English now holds in many countries where it is not the native
speech -- nearly all people learn it, and most people know enough for
at least simple conversations (albeit speaking it haltingly and
horribly mangled <G>), and a few are really proficient with it. Of
course this was declining for Sindarin in Gondor whereas the position
of English is strengthening these years.

The statement about the Dúnedain teaching Sindarin to their children
as a matter of lore would still, IMO, hold for the Dúnedain of Gondor
and Anor, though these had become a minority of the population in
both places. The Dúnedain were the upper class in Gondor and like the
upper class in Europe a century or so ago put great store in knowing
Latin or Greek, so did the Dúnedain, IMO, put great store in knowing
Sindarin.

<snip>

>> Also I think Sindarin was still known by most of the Dunedain
>> even at the time of the War of the Ring.
>
> Being known and being one's first language are two different
> things.

Very much, believe me ;-)

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

The trouble with being a god is that you've got no one to
pray to.
- /Small Gods/ (Terry Pratchett)

ojevin...@bredband.net

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 7:47:52 AM9/13/05
to
Larry Swain wrote:

>Emma pease wrote:

>> Except Sindarin was used in daily conversation by some in Minas Tirith
>> (note Pippin heard people using it to call others to come see the
>> ernil ...). Sam also heard some of the rangers using it if I recall
>> correctly.

>I think you jump to conclusions. The use of a Sindarin phrase in the
presence of Pippin taken to be a lordling is hardly evidence that a)
Sindarin was a "birth language" or that it was used in daily
conversation. The most that can be said is that "many" used it to draw

attention to Peregrin who was walking down the street: a special use.

I agree with Emma. If people in the street call to each other in
Sindarin to come and see the "Prince of the halflings", that surely
indicates use of that language in everyday speech. By a minority of
Gondorians, granted, but even so. Don't forget that the Anglo-Normans
genuinely spoke French as their native tongue for generations, even
though they lived among a majority of people whose mother tongue was
English.

Öjevind

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 12:33:43 PM9/13/05
to

Hi Troels, good to hear from you! I had forgotten about this
conversation. Even so, though, I would say a few things about what it
means to our conversation:
1) it is war time, Sindarin could be being used as a kind of code
language (orcs and Southrons and Haradrim would not understand it;
Sauron, Black Numenoreans, and the 9 would, but I don't think Faramir's
men expect to encounter such in their own encampment).
2) We again have noblemen, not your average run of the mill sort. That
noblemen knew Sindarin and used it was not disputed.

So again, even this conversation and its context does not show a) that
Sindarin was a birth language or b) that it was used in "every day
speech" since the context here is obviously to keep prying ears of
non-Gondorans (Frodo and Sam) from hearing their conversation.

>>I. E. The "birth" language of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, they
>>learned Sindarin, and a few learned Quenya. In the latter years,
>>most rejected things and languages Elven, the Faithful continued
>>to preserve it AS A MATTER OF LORE, but their birth language was
>>Adunaic.
>
>
> Certainly -- Adûnaic was always the native speech of the Númenoreans
> and their Dúnedain descendants. My impression is that Sindarin, in
> Minas Tirith at the time of the War, held a position similar to that
> which English now holds in many countries where it is not the native
> speech -- nearly all people learn it, and most people know enough for
> at least simple conversations (albeit speaking it haltingly and
> horribly mangled <G>), and a few are really proficient with it. Of
> course this was declining for Sindarin in Gondor whereas the position
> of English is strengthening these years.

I think this is the right direction, but overstated. The closer one's
family is to the royal and Steward lines, and the purer one's ancestry
the more likely one would be to know Sindarin well enough to speak. The
further away the less likely.


> The statement about the Dúnedain teaching Sindarin to their children
> as a matter of lore would still, IMO, hold for the Dúnedain of Gondor
> and Anor, though these had become a minority of the population in
> both places.

Agreed, but Emma lacked this specificity in her claim.


The Dúnedain were the upper class in Gondor and like the
> upper class in Europe a century or so ago put great store in knowing
> Latin or Greek, so did the Dúnedain, IMO, put great store in knowing
> Sindarin.

Would agree, and like the upper classes of Europe a century ago,
conversations could be held in those languages (just look at Tolkien as
a wee lad composing debating club speeches in Latin, Greek, and
Gothic!), nonetheless, these languages were not used for daily speech
anymore than they were birth languages for the European nobility.

Always good to have you show me the error of my ways, Troels!

Larry

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 1:16:18 PM9/13/05
to

So people in a public building asking about "habeas corpus" or in a bar
a chap says "cogito ergo sum" and this indicates that they know Latin
and can speak it in everyday usage? How about people who say "je ne
sais qua"--all of those folk fluent in French? The presence of Ernil i
Pherianath (lit. prince of the halflings) takes 2 people to et the ball
rolling, one to say it and one to repeat it, before being taken up by
"many"--again, not strong evidence of Sindarin as "everyday speech",
only a general familiarity of it among a minority.

The analogy of the Anglo-Normans and Anglo-French doesn't quite work
here. Sindarin was NEVER the birth or native language of the
Numenoreans whether we're speaking of the First Age, the Second, or the
Third. It was always a learned language. Unlike French, which was the
native language of the Anglo-Normans, and until the 14th century was not
a learned language for them. When it became a learned language, they
stopped speaking it in everyday use.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 3:10:57 PM9/13/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

<snip>

> The analogy of the Anglo-Normans and Anglo-French doesn't quite work
> here. Sindarin was NEVER the birth or native language of the
> Numenoreans whether we're speaking of the First Age, the Second, or
> the Third. It was always a learned language. Unlike French, which
> was the native language of the Anglo-Normans, and until the 14th
> century was not a learned language for them. When it became a
> learned language, they stopped speaking it in everyday use.

It is an interesting comparison though. Do we have records of how
exactly French declined among the Anglo-Normans, or did the
Anglo-Normans just gradual become English? Would it have started when
they lost their lands in France?

Going back to Middle-earth, I am thinking here of the time when the
Numenoreans FIRST came to Middle-earth and began to explore the coasts
and set up harbours. I think (not entirely sure) that this was a fair
amount of time after Numenor had been founded, but I can't remember what
Tolkien said, if anything, about what language the Numenoreans found
being used by the Men who had lived through the Dark Years.

And then we have the case of the Exiles fleeing the Downfall of Numenor.
You would have them bringing their birth tongue (Adunaic) which would be
similar but different to the languages of the Men they find in
Middle-earth, and also Sindarin. The question would be, how much is the
Westron we see in the Third Age influenced by all this?

Oh. I've just re-read Appendix F.1 and all my questions have been
answered!

I'm also going to go back and read the thread more closely...

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 3:50:20 PM9/13/05
to
[Restoring AFT]

Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
> Emma Pease wrote:

<snip>

Larry quoted this bit, and I wanted to comment on it briefly:

> "The Dunedain alone of all races of Men knew and spoke an Elvish
> tongue

"alone of all races". Does this apply throughout the time period
covered, or is Tolkien referring specifically to a point in the Second
Age? If he is referring to the Third Age as well, then it means that the
people of Rohan, apart from Theoden, would not speak any Elvish tongue,
not even the nobility.

Also, note that it says that they "spoke" Elvish. Certainly when the
Edain of Beleriand had been living with Elves in Beleriand, some would
have spoken Sindarin as fluently as their birth tongue. It would have
been more than just a language of lore then. The process of change may
have been gradual, with the fluency of the population of
Sindarin-speakers decreasing with the years as it was less often learnt
from birth, and maybe more often learnt in later years and needed to
converse with the Eldar that visited Numenor.

> 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.

Larry then emphasised the following:

> BUT THE NATIVE SPEECH OF THE NUMENOREANS
> REMAINED FOR THE MOST PART THEIR ANCESTRAL
> MANNISH TONGUE, THE ADUNAIC

"for the most part"?

Does this not imply that some Numenoreans did not have Adunaic as their
birth tongue? I'm not suggesting that the implied exceptions to the rule
were learning an Elvish language. It would make more sense if some were
learning this Common Speech, or some debased form of Adunaic (as opposed
to the pure Adunaic found in Numenor). Tolkien might possibly be
implying that those Numenoreans living on the coasts of Middle-earth,
the colonists so to speak, are the ones that were "going native" so to
speak and adopting a new birth tongue. But see also the next comment.

> AND TO THIS IN
> THE LATTER DAYS OF THEIR PRIDE THEIR KINGS AND
> LORDS RETURNED

They "returned" to Adunaic? In the context of a sentence that starts off
by talking about "native speech", how can you "return" to a native
speech except by having a different native speech to begin with?

> ABANDONING THE ELVEN


> SPEECH, SAVE ONLY THOSE FEW THAT HELD STILL
> TO THEIR ANCIENT FRIENDSHIP WITH THE ELDAR..."

> Tolkien, Appendix F, Of Men.


>
> I. E. The "birth" language of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, they
> learned Sindarin, and a few learned Quenya. In the latter years,
> most rejected things and languages Elven, the Faithful continued to
> preserve it AS A MATTER OF LORE, but their birth language was
> Adunaic.

I don't think that entirely follows from what you quoted.
My commentary above should show why I think this.

Emma then wrote:
>> Well for people like Aragorn who was raised in Rivendell, almost
>> certainly as a birth tongue.

And you replied:


> How do you figure? Do not Elendil and his people know Westron? Do
> not a number of them speak it fluently?

Elendil knew Westron? In Appendix F it seems to say that the process of
Westron forming from the various sources is still very much ongoing in
Elendil's time. I would have thought it very possible that you would
have had translators for the first few years after the Downfall. It says
that they used the Common Speech, but that does not imply fluency.

> That Aragorn knew and spoke
> Sindarin I think a given, that it was his "birth" language simply
> because he was born in Rivendell goes against the evidence.

It depends how old he was. He wasn't born in Rivendell, but was taken
there to live (with his mother) when he was 2 years old, when his father
was slain, and it is implied that this was done because he was now "the
Heir of Isildur".

It is said elsewhere that the sons of the chieftains were fostered in
Rivendell, but this description of the process for Aragorn implies to me
(unless Tolkien is being inconsistent) that it was normal for the first
few years of life for a son of the Chieftain of the Dunedain to be spent
with his birth kindred, and only later (probably after learning the
birth tongue of the Dunedain of the North in the Third Age) being
fostered in Rivendell. It looks like Aragorn was taken to Rivendell
_early_ because his father died early and he was now the Heir.

As a side note: I wonder who ruled the Dunedain until Aragorn came of
age? Would they have had a steward-type figure?

And being raised in Rivendell from such an earlier age (possibly earlier
than normal for a son of the Cheiftains of the Dunedain) may have made
things different for Aragorn, and he may have been more fluent in
Sindarin?

We do see Glorfindel cry out to Aragorn in Sindarin (the "Mae govannen"
bit in 'Flight to the Ford'), but we are not told what language the
subsequent conversation was in.

There is Elvish singing in the Hall of Fire at Rivendell.

In Lothlorien, we see Legolas and Haldir speak in another Elvish tongue,
that Frodo does not understand. I wonder if Aragorn would have
understood it?

We also read about Aragorn murmuring as in a dream to Arwen, at Cerin
Amroth: "Arwen vanimelda, namarie". So we can now ask ourselves what
language Aragorn spoke to Arwen in? Would they have mixed Sindarin and
Westron, or spoken mostly Sindarin?

<snip>

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 3:56:35 PM9/13/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
> Emma Pease wrote:

<snip>

>> Rohan - Westron almost always learned as a second language


>
> Tolkien mentions specifically the nobles, not the people as a whole.

Appendix F says that the nobles of Rohan spoke the _noble_ form of the
Common Speech (as spoken in Gondor). I think this implies that the
people as a whole spoke Rohirric as their birth tongue, and the nobles
spoke the noble form of the Common Speech as a second language.

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 6:14:49 PM9/13/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> [Restoring AFT]
>
> Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
>
>>Emma Pease wrote:
>
>
> <snip>
>
> Larry quoted this bit, and I wanted to comment on it briefly:
>
>
>>"The Dunedain alone of all races of Men knew and spoke an Elvish
>>tongue
>
>
> "alone of all races". Does this apply throughout the time period
> covered, or is Tolkien referring specifically to a point in the Second
> Age?

I think the larger period is in view, not just the second age. Even if
not, however, there is no evidence that any other peoples (whether men,
dwarves, ents, orcs, trolls, etc) spoke an elven tongue.

If he is referring to the Third Age as well, then it means that the
> people of Rohan, apart from Theoden, would not speak any Elvish tongue,
> not even the nobility.

True, and do we have any evidence that any of them did, including
Theoden, who spoke Westron?


>
> Also, note that it says that they "spoke" Elvish. Certainly when the
> Edain of Beleriand had been living with Elves in Beleriand, some would
> have spoken Sindarin as fluently as their birth tongue. It would have
> been more than just a language of lore then.

Depends on who they are speaking to, doesn't it? I think in the First
Age we're talking about the men who interact with elves, rather than all
the members of all 3 houses all the time, or even most of any of those.
I. E. those for whom it was not "just a language of lore" would have
been small in number of the whole. I think the analogy of Latin in
medieval Europe a good model here: there are some who were very fluent
in speaking and reading and composing in Latin. Many more who could
figure some stuff out, but chiefly it was used for diplomacy as a spoken
language when the principles didn't speak a common tongue.


>
>
> Larry then emphasised the following:
>
>
>>BUT THE NATIVE SPEECH OF THE NUMENOREANS
>>REMAINED FOR THE MOST PART THEIR ANCESTRAL
>>MANNISH TONGUE, THE ADUNAIC
>
>
> "for the most part"?
>
> Does this not imply that some Numenoreans did not have Adunaic as their
> birth tongue?

It could, I suppose, but do we really think that Tolkien meant it to be
read that way rather than just as an intensifier?

I'm not suggesting that the implied exceptions to the rule
> were learning an Elvish language. It would make more sense if some were
> learning this Common Speech, or some debased form of Adunaic (as opposed
> to the pure Adunaic found in Numenor).

Which Tolkien suggests at the end of the paragraph and in the next
paragraph: "In the years of their power the Numenoreans had maintained
many forts and havens upon the western coasts of ME for the help of
their ships; and one of the chief of these was at Pelargir....There
Adunaic 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 Westerness.


Tolkien might possibly be
> implying that those Numenoreans living on the coasts of Middle-earth,
> the colonists so to speak, are the ones that were "going native" so to
> speak and adopting a new birth tongue. But see also the next comment.

NOt really, more that the birth tongue, Adunaic, was beginning to change
in Middle Earth through influence with the languages of other men whom
the Numenoreans ruled.

>
>>AND TO THIS IN
>>THE LATTER DAYS OF THEIR PRIDE THEIR KINGS AND
>>LORDS RETURNED
>
>
> They "returned" to Adunaic? In the context of a sentence that starts off
> by talking about "native speech", how can you "return" to a native
> speech except by having a different native speech to begin with?

In the pre-modern period, send an ambassador from Italy to England: the
ambassador speaks Italian, his audience speaks English, and in between
is Latin. He's likely either going to learn English or speak Latin to
be understood and carry out his embassage. Neither language is his
native language.

Or to put this in boring ol' prose: Tolkien pretty specifically states
that Sindarin and Quenya are learned languages in Numenor. He indicates
less clearly that the language of the Numenorean court was Sindarin, as
(if we continue the analogy) many native English speakers of the 12-14th
centuries learned French as the language of court, but upon leaving
court they "returned" to their native language.

In this case, we know that Sindarin is a learned language. We also can
safely suspect that the Numenorean court at first used Sindarin as the
language of court. When they began to doubt and question the Ban and
all that, they stopped using Sindarin, and "returned" to using Adunaic
as the language of court and culture, except for the Faithful.

On the other hand, if you have native speech B, but your ancestors had
native speech A, how will you return to native speech A unless someone
is still around to teach it to you? Nowhere does Tolkien suggest that
Sindarin was the native language of Numenor, nowhere does he suggest
that Adunaic was "learned" or "studied" though he does do so in regards
to the elven tongues. It seems to me that the answer to your query
simply is that "turning again" to their native language is not an
implication that Sindarin was their native speech, but that they used
Sindarin, a learned language, and later abandoned the learned language
in favor of their native tongue.


>
>>ABANDONING THE ELVEN
>>SPEECH, SAVE ONLY THOSE FEW THAT HELD STILL
>>TO THEIR ANCIENT FRIENDSHIP WITH THE ELDAR..."
>>Tolkien, Appendix F, Of Men.
>>
>>I. E. The "birth" language of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, they
>>learned Sindarin, and a few learned Quenya. In the latter years,
>>most rejected things and languages Elven, the Faithful continued to
>>preserve it AS A MATTER OF LORE, but their birth language was
>>Adunaic.
>
>
> I don't think that entirely follows from what you quoted.
> My commentary above should show why I think this.

How does this not follow? A. BUT THE NATIVE SPEECH OF THE NUMENOREANS


>>REMAINED FOR THE MOST PART THEIR ANCESTRAL

>>MANNISH TONGUE, THE ADUNAIC--Christopher, according to Tolkien, the
native speech of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, not Sindarin, so that
follows. Where does he say that Sindarin was ever a native language of
any human group,even the Numenoreans? Nowhere I know of. He does
explicitly say that they LEARNED Sindarin and they learned Quenya. So
that follows. We know from the Silm and from earlier in the appendices
that the majority of the Numenoreans rejected things Elven, save the
Faithful, when they began to question and chafe at the ban...so that
follows.


>
> Emma then wrote:
>
>>>Well for people like Aragorn who was raised in Rivendell, almost
>>>certainly as a birth tongue.
>
>
> And you replied:
>
>>How do you figure? Do not Elendil and his people know Westron? Do
>>not a number of them speak it fluently?
>
>
> Elendil knew Westron?

Sorry, I meant Elrond.


>>That Aragorn knew and spoke
>>Sindarin I think a given, that it was his "birth" language simply
>>because he was born in Rivendell goes against the evidence.
>
>

> And being raised in Rivendell from such an earlier age (possibly earlier
> than normal for a son of the Cheiftains of the Dunedain) may have made
> things different for Aragorn, and he may have been more fluent in
> Sindarin?

Being more fluent, particularly as an adult, isn't the point I'm
contending. The point I'm contending is Emma's claim that Sindarin was
Aragorn's BIRTH LANGUAGE, and was the birth language of ALL the Dunedain
in the North.


> We do see Glorfindel cry out to Aragorn in Sindarin (the "Mae govannen"
> bit in 'Flight to the Ford'), but we are not told what language the
> subsequent conversation was in.
>
> There is Elvish singing in the Hall of Fire at Rivendell.
>
> In Lothlorien, we see Legolas and Haldir speak in another Elvish tongue,
> that Frodo does not understand. I wonder if Aragorn would have
> understood it?
>
> We also read about Aragorn murmuring as in a dream to Arwen, at Cerin
> Amroth: "Arwen vanimelda, namarie". So we can now ask ourselves what
> language Aragorn spoke to Arwen in? Would they have mixed Sindarin and
> Westron, or spoken mostly Sindarin?

None of which demonstrate that Aragorn's native, first, "birth" language
was Sindarin, only that as an adult he was fluent, a point I would agree
with.

Larry Swain

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 6:27:57 PM9/13/05
to
Hey Christopher,

If I may quote from my summary:

The people of Rohan, the Eorlingas, were like these: related to the 3
houses, they spoke a language related to Adunaic. After coming south to
occupy Rohan, they still spoke their native tongue among themselves, but
the lords at least of the Rohirrim also spoke Westron and used the
dialect of Gondor and her lords to do so. I've used "proto-mannish" to
describe the root language.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 6:39:25 PM9/13/05
to
In message <news:cridnQ1R3cj...@rcn.net>
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>
>> In message <news:X6idnSVPzPe...@rcn.net>
>> Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> enriched us with:
>>>
>>> Emma Pease wrote:
>>>

The spread of the knowledge of Sindarin in Gondor:

>> Certainly -- Adûnaic was always the native speech of the
>> Númenoreans and their Dúnedain descendants. My impression is that
>> Sindarin, in Minas Tirith at the time of the War, held a position
>> similar to that which English now holds in many countries where
>> it is not the native speech -- nearly all people learn it, and
>> most people know enough for at least simple conversations (albeit
>> speaking it haltingly and horribly mangled <G>), and a few are
>> really proficient with it. Of course this was declining for
>> Sindarin in Gondor whereas the position of English is
>> strengthening these years.
>
> I think this is the right direction, but overstated. The closer
> one's family is to the royal and Steward lines, and the purer
> one's ancestry the more likely one would be to know Sindarin well
> enough to speak. The further away the less likely.

I think that is also part of the point when Pippin is going down the
streets of Minas Tirith:

People stared much as he passed. To his face men were
gravely courteous, saluting him after the manner of Gondor
with bowed head and hands upon the breast; but behind him
he heard many calls, as those out of doors cried to others
within to come and see the Prince of the Halflings, the
companion of Mithrandir. Many used some other tongue than
the Common Speech, but it was not long before he learned
at least what was meant by Ernil i Pheriannath and knew
that his title had gone down before him into the City.

I think the intention is that those 'many' who used 'some other
tongue' were also those who used the phrase /Ernil i Pheriannath/ --
in other words that they used Sindarin for the whole gossip message
rather than only the title.

The point, however, is that this is in a city at war. Most of the
commoners have left (and those who hadn't would be on their way out
of the city at that moment or had special permission to stay), and we
are left only with the soldiers and nobles.

We must also recall that this was the heart of the Dúnedain realms at
the time -- Gondor in general and Minas Tirith in particular had the
largest concentration of Dúnedain anywhere (in particular because the
Dunédain in Gondor were the Lords -- the 'Important People' who have
a tendency to gravitate towards the centre of power -- in Gondor the
power of the Steward, exerted from Ecthelion's tower).

I would, in other words, expect the frequency of Sindarin-speaking
people to be far larger in Minas Tirith than anywhere else in the
realm -- so high that most of them could expect to live within
shouting distance of a neighbour of similar education.

How well the Elven-tongue was known among those of mixed heritage is
impossible to say -- it probably depended on their position in
society -- but I think that only very few of those without Númenorean
blood would know any Elvish.

>> The Dúnedain were the upper class in Gondor and like the
>> upper class in Europe a century or so ago put great store in
>> knowing Latin or Greek, so did the Dúnedain, IMO, put great store
>> in knowing Sindarin.
>
> Would agree, and like the upper classes of Europe a century ago,
> conversations could be held in those languages (just look at
> Tolkien as a wee lad composing debating club speeches in Latin,
> Greek, and Gothic!), nonetheless, these languages were not used
> for daily speech anymore than they were birth languages for the
> European nobility.

Precisely. But if you took a stroll from Magdalen Bridge to
Christchurch, you would still expect to be understood by someone if
you should cry out 'Look at that midget' in Greek ;-)

> Always good to have you show me the error of my ways, Troels!

All that talk about classic education and Oxford made me recall a
famous detective who, in his Oxford days, one never failed to find
'planted in the centre of the quad and laying down the law with
exquisite insolence to somebody.' (should be easy -- only a two-point
quotation that).

I do not aim that high, though ;-)

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left
the path of wisdom.
- Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Graeme Thomas

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 6:57:42 PM9/13/05
to
In article <Xns96D16AE9...@130.133.1.4>, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> writes

>All that talk about classic education and Oxford made me recall a
>famous detective who, in his Oxford days, one never failed to find
>'planted in the centre of the quad and laying down the law with
>exquisite insolence to somebody.' (should be easy -- only a two-point
>quotation that).

That's two of the easiest points on offer anywhere.

Lord Peter Wimsey ("Wimsey of Balliol"), as referred to by Peake of
Brasenose, in _Gaudy Night_ by Dorothy L Sayers. Page 275 in my copy.
--
Graeme Thomas

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 7:12:44 PM9/13/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>> [Restoring AFT]
>>
>> Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Emma Pease wrote:
>>
>> <snip>
>>
>> Larry quoted this bit, and I wanted to comment on it briefly:
>>
>>> "The Dunedain alone of all races of Men knew and spoke an Elvish
>>> tongue
>>
>> "alone of all races". Does this apply throughout the time period
>> covered, or is Tolkien referring specifically to a point in the
>> Second Age?
>
> I think the larger period is in view, not just the second age. Even
> if not, however, there is no evidence that any other peoples (whether
> men, dwarves, ents, orcs, trolls, etc) spoke an elven tongue.

OK. This bit was because of my confusion below.

> If he is referring to the Third Age as well, then it means that the
>> people of Rohan, apart from Theoden, would not speak any Elvish
>> tongue, not even the nobility.
>
> True, and do we have any evidence that any of them did, including
> Theoden, who spoke Westron?

Oops. I got confused here and thought that the bits about Theoden
learning a second language were talking about him learning Sindarin in
Gondor. Silly me. It was saying he learnt 'high' Westron, as I realised
in another post. Sorry about that.

>> Also, note that it says that they "spoke" Elvish. Certainly when the
>> Edain of Beleriand had been living with Elves in Beleriand, some
>> would have spoken Sindarin as fluently as their birth tongue. It
>> would have been more than just a language of lore then.
>
> Depends on who they are speaking to, doesn't it? I think in the First
> Age we're talking about the men who interact with elves, rather than
> all the members of all 3 houses all the time, or even most of any of
> those. I. E. those for whom it was not "just a language of lore"
> would have
> been small in number of the whole.

I vaguely remember that in the early days some sons of the Edain went
off to serve in Elvish households. But you are probably right about the
number being small. Moving away from birth tongues, how many Men would
have learnt Sindarin to communicate with the Elves, and how many Elves
would have learnt Adunaic to communicate with Men? And would the dwarves
have learnt Sindarin and Adunaic to communicate with Men and Elves in
the First Age? I guess what I am saying is: was there another 'Common
Speech' that was used in the First Age (and maybe even the Second Age),
and was it different from the Westron of the Third Age?

There are references to Andunaic being enriched and softened by the
influence of Sindarin in the First Age, but I wonder whether it went
further than that, and if not, why not? I couldn't find anything
definite in Appendix F. Did Tolkien say anything in HoME or /The
Silmarillion/ about First Age languages and a First Age 'Common Speech'
or were the populations and timescales too small? I think it was only a
few hundred years from the Return of the Noldor to the War of Wrath.

There are definitely Men who dwelt for long periods of time with Elves.
We know that Turin lived in Doriath for many years, and also in
Nargothrond. Beren had to speak with Luthien somehow. And Hurin and Huor
spent time in Gondolin. Tuor stayed in Gondolin and married (and
hopefully talked with) Idril and was high in the counsel of Turgon. Lots
of Sindarin there. I guess all these examples of Men living with Elves
would have Adunaic as their birth tongues, with varying levels of skill
in Sindarin for the Men.

But what about the offspring of parents with different birth tongues? I
wonder what Earendil's birth tongue was? What about Dior? What about
Eldarian for that matter. Would Arwen have taught Sindarin to him and
his sisters?

> I think the analogy of Latin in
> medieval Europe a good model here: there are some who were very fluent
> in speaking and reading and composing in Latin. Many more who could
> figure some stuff out, but chiefly it was used for diplomacy as a
> spoken language when the principles didn't speak a common tongue.

Would that fit the First Age issues I raised above? Would Sindarin have
been the Common Tongue of First Age Beleriand?

>> Larry then emphasised the following:
>>
>>> BUT THE NATIVE SPEECH OF THE NUMENOREANS
>>> REMAINED FOR THE MOST PART THEIR ANCESTRAL
>>> MANNISH TONGUE, THE ADUNAIC
>>
>> "for the most part"?
>>
>> Does this not imply that some Numenoreans did not have Adunaic as
>> their birth tongue?
>
> It could, I suppose, but do we really think that Tolkien meant it to
> be read that way rather than just as an intensifier?

Maybe you could give an example of where the phrase "for the most part"
is used as an intensifier without implying that there is an exception to
the rule?

> I'm not suggesting that the implied exceptions to the rule
>> were learning an Elvish language. It would make more sense if some
>> were learning this Common Speech, or some debased form of Adunaic
>> (as opposed to the pure Adunaic found in Numenor).
>
> Which Tolkien suggests at the end of the paragraph and in the next
> paragraph: "In the years of their power the Numenoreans had maintained
> many forts and havens upon the western coasts of ME for the help of
> their ships; and one of the chief of these was at Pelargir....There
> Adunaic 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 Westerness.
>
> Tolkien might possibly be
>> implying that those Numenoreans living on the coasts of Middle-earth,
>> the colonists so to speak, are the ones that were "going native" so
>> to speak and adopting a new birth tongue. But see also the next
>> comment.
>
> NOt really, more that the birth tongue, Adunaic, was beginning to
> change in Middle Earth through influence with the languages of
> other men whom the Numenoreans ruled.

That is definitely a better way to put it. But my point is that you
couldn't really say that these Numenoreans had the same birth tongue as
the Numenoreans back in Numenor. At what point does a divergence produce
a totally new language? I guess without isolation, the change is
gradual, but if the forces driving the change continue to have their
effect, at some point the lack of comprehension between speakers of
languages diverging from a common root reaches a critical level.

But hey. I'm sure there is LOTS of theory out there about this!

>>> AND TO THIS IN
>>> THE LATTER DAYS OF THEIR PRIDE THEIR KINGS AND
>>> LORDS RETURNED

If I understand what you have said below, the above fragment is saying:

"...and to this [native speech called Adunaic] in the latter days of
their pride their Kings and Lords returned[,] [using it as their courtly
language instead of Sindarin]."

>> They "returned" to Adunaic? In the context of a sentence that starts
>> off by talking about "native speech", how can you "return" to a
>> native speech except by having a different native speech to begin
>> with?
>
> In the pre-modern period, send an ambassador from Italy to England:
> the ambassador speaks Italian, his audience speaks English, and in
> between
> is Latin. He's likely either going to learn English or speak Latin to
> be understood and carry out his embassage. Neither language is his
> native language.
>
> Or to put this in boring ol' prose: Tolkien pretty specifically states
> that Sindarin and Quenya are learned languages in Numenor. He
> indicates less clearly that the language of the Numenorean court was
> Sindarin, as (if we continue the analogy) many native English
> speakers of the 12-14th centuries learned French as the language of
> court, but upon leaving
> court they "returned" to their native language.
>
> In this case, we know that Sindarin is a learned language. We also
> can safely suspect that the Numenorean court at first used Sindarin
> as the language of court. When they began to doubt and question the
> Ban and
> all that, they stopped using Sindarin, and "returned" to using Adunaic
> as the language of court and culture, except for the Faithful.

You've convinced me. Thanks! :-)

> On the other hand, if you have native speech B, but your ancestors had
> native speech A, how will you return to native speech A unless someone
> is still around to teach it to you?

Doh! Should have thought of that!

> Nowhere does Tolkien suggest that
> Sindarin was the native language of Numenor, nowhere does he suggest
> that Adunaic was "learned" or "studied" though he does do so in
> regards
> to the elven tongues. It seems to me that the answer to your query
> simply is that "turning again" to their native language is not an
> implication that Sindarin was their native speech, but that they used
> Sindarin, a learned language, and later abandoned the learned language
> in favor of their native tongue.

It all seems so clear now!

>>> ABANDONING THE ELVEN
>>> SPEECH

[as their learned language]

>>> SAVE ONLY THOSE FEW THAT HELD STILL
>>> TO THEIR ANCIENT FRIENDSHIP WITH THE ELDAR..."

Noting that this was still a learned language, BUT, the Faithful of the
Second Age were interacting with native speakers of the language. This
situation contrasts sharply with many of the speakers of Sindarin in the
Third Age. Specifically, for the Gondorians, Sindarin really was now a
language of lore as they were no longer interacting with the Eldar. By
contrast, Aragorn at least, and maybe a proportion of the Northern
Dunedain, were still interacting with Elves who were native speakers of
Sindarin.

Maybe not really related to the preceding discussion, but something I
thought of just now. I know the thread was about 'The Languages and
Peoples of the Third Age', but I'm finding this discussion of First Age
and Second Age stuff very interesting!

>>> Tolkien, Appendix F, Of Men.
>>>
>>> I. E. The "birth" language of the Numenoreans was Adunaic, they
>>> learned Sindarin, and a few learned Quenya. In the latter years,
>>> most rejected things and languages Elven, the Faithful continued to
>>> preserve it AS A MATTER OF LORE, but their birth language was
>>> Adunaic.
>>
>> I don't think that entirely follows from what you quoted.
>> My commentary above should show why I think this.
>
> How does this not follow?

I retract that! It does follow! :-)

Except that Third-Age-Dunedain Sindarin was more lore and a learned
language than Second-Age-Dunedain Sindarin. What language would Elendil
and Gil-galad have spoken in? Would there have been a common tongue for
the Armies of the Last Alliance, or even indeed for the Battles in the
First Age where Men, Elves and Dwarves fought together and communication
would have been very important.

>> Emma then wrote:
>>
>>>> Well for people like Aragorn who was raised in Rivendell, almost
>>>> certainly as a birth tongue.
>>
>> And you replied:
>>
>>> How do you figure? Do not Elendil and his people know Westron? Do
>>> not a number of them speak it fluently?
>>
>> Elendil knew Westron?
>
> Sorry, I meant Elrond.

Of the Third Age Elves we see, many seem to know it fluently. The
exceptions being the border-guard Elves (Haldir, Rumil and Orophin) we
see in Lorien. The impression I get is that the general (Silvan)
populace of Lorien (and probably also Mirkwood - though the interactions
in /The Hobbit/ seem to suggest otherwise) would use Westron
infrequently, while the ruling class (Sindarin Elves) such as Legolas
and Thranduil would be more conversant in Westron, as are, of course,
the rulers of Lorien: Celeborn and Galadriel.

>>> That Aragorn knew and spoke
>>> Sindarin I think a given, that it was his "birth" language simply
>>> because he was born in Rivendell goes against the evidence.
>>
> > And being raised in Rivendell from such an earlier age (possibly
> earlier
>> than normal for a son of the Cheiftains of the Dunedain) may have
>> made things different for Aragorn, and he may have been more fluent
>> in Sindarin?
>
> Being more fluent, particularly as an adult, isn't the point I'm
> contending. The point I'm contending is Emma's claim that Sindarin
> was Aragorn's BIRTH LANGUAGE, and was the birth language of ALL the
> Dunedain
> in the North.

I agree that is unlikely.

>> We do see Glorfindel cry out to Aragorn in Sindarin (the "Mae
>> govannen" bit in 'Flight to the Ford'), but we are not told what
>> language the subsequent conversation was in.
>>
>> There is Elvish singing in the Hall of Fire at Rivendell.
>>
>> In Lothlorien, we see Legolas and Haldir speak in another Elvish
>> tongue, that Frodo does not understand. I wonder if Aragorn would
>> have understood it?
>>
>> We also read about Aragorn murmuring as in a dream to Arwen, at Cerin
>> Amroth: "Arwen vanimelda, namarie". So we can now ask ourselves what
>> language Aragorn spoke to Arwen in? Would they have mixed Sindarin
>> and Westron, or spoken mostly Sindarin?
>
> None of which demonstrate that Aragorn's native, first, "birth"
> language was Sindarin, only that as an adult he was fluent, a point I
> would agree with.

Can we hazard a guess at how fluent Faramir would be? Seeing that Damrod
and Mablung speak at least a recognisable version of Sindarin, and that
the herbmaster knows Quenya words, how would they compare to Aragorn and
to real, actual, live Elves!

I would say that the Elves are obviously the most fluent, it being their
birth tongue. Then Aragorn. Then, a lot less fluent, we have Faramir,
and maybe Bilbo was (at some point in his long life) learned enough in
Sindarin (at least when reading it - a totally different thing to
speaking it) to interact with Elves and tell them what he wanted for
breakfast! Though I guess that as a rule, and out of courtesy, Elves
would speak in the Common Speech around Men and Hobbits (as we see the
Elves mostly doing in LotR - except that weird singing Elf Queen in
Lorien).

Can we speculate as to whether Damrod and Mablung knew more or less
Sindarin than, say Faramir, Denethor and Boromir, and also compare to
Frodo?

And how long does it take Gandalf to learn these pesky languages! :-)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 7:15:46 PM9/13/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

<snip>

> If I may quote from my summary:


>
> The people of Rohan, the Eorlingas, were like these: related to the 3
> houses, they spoke a language related to Adunaic. After coming south
> to occupy Rohan, they still spoke their native tongue among
> themselves, but the lords at least of the Rohirrim also spoke Westron
> and used the dialect of Gondor and her lords to do so. I've used
> "proto-mannish" to describe the root language.

I thought you must have mentioned it!
Sorry to repeat stuff. :-)

BTW, your language trees didn't really come through. Is there a way to
do them so that the links you draw can be seen. Maybe just list the
levels and use labels and say that A links to B and D to F and so on?


Emma Pease

unread,
Sep 13, 2005, 9:40:17 PM9/13/05