Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)


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Created by
J. R. R. Tolkien

ISO 639-3

c. 1910–1973


Setting and usage
The fictional world of Middle-earth

constructed languages artistic languages fictional languages Quenya

Writing system
Latin Tengwar Cirth Sarati

Quenya ([ˈkʷwɛnja]) is a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien and used by the Elves in his legendarium.


Tolkien began devising the language around 1910 and restructured the grammar several times until Quenya reached its final state. The vocabulary remained relatively stable throughout the creation process. Also, the name of the language was repeatedly changed by Tolkien from Elfin and Qenya to the eventual Quenya. The Finnish language had been a major source of inspiration, but Tolkien was also familiar with Latin, Greek, and ancient Germanic languages when he began constructing Quenya.

Another notable feature of Tolkien's Elvish languages was his development of a complex internal history of characters to speak those tongues in their own fictional universe. He felt that his languages changed and developed over time, as with the historical languages which he studied professionally—not in a vacuum, but as a result of the migrations and interactions of the peoples who spoke them.

Within Tolkien's legendarium, Quenya is one of the many Elvish languages spoken by the immortal Elves, called Quendi ('speakers') in Quenya. Quenya translates as simply "language" or, in contrast to other tongues that the Elves met later in their long history, "elf-language". After the Elves divided, Quenya originated as the speech of two clans of "High Elves" or Eldar, the Noldor and the Vanyar, who left Middle-earth to live in Eldamar ("Elvenhome"), in Valinor, the land of the immortal and God-like Valar. Of these two groups of Elves, the Noldor returned to Middle-earth where they met the Sindarin-speaking Grey-elves. The Noldor eventually adopted Sindarin and used Quenya primarily as a ritual or poetic language, whereas the Vanyar who stayed behind in Eldamar retained the use of Quenya.

In this way, the Quenya language was symbolic of the high status of the Elves, the firstborn of the races of Middle-earth, because of their close connection to Valinor, and its decreasing use also became symbolic of the slowly declining Elven culture in Middle-earth. In the Second Age of Middle-earth's chronology the Men of Númenor learnt the Quenya tongue. In the Third Age, the time of the setting of The Lord of the Rings, Quenya was learnt as a second language by all Elves of Noldorin origin, and it continued to be used in spoken and written form, but their mother-tongue was the Sindarin of the Grey-elves. As the Noldor remained in Middle-earth, their Noldorin dialect of Quenya also gradually diverged from the Vanyarin dialect spoken in Valinor, undergoing both sound changes and grammatical changes.

The language featured prominently in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as in his posthumously published history of Middle-earth The Silmarillion. The longest text in Quenya published by Tolkien during his lifetime is the poem "Namárië", and other published texts are generally no longer than a few sentences. At his death, Tolkien left behind a number of unpublished writings on Quenya, and later Tolkien scholars have prepared his notes and unpublished manuscripts for publication in the journals Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar Tengwar, also publishing scholarly and linguistic analyses of the language. Tolkien never created enough vocabulary to make it possible to converse in Quenya, although fans have been writing poetry and prose in Quenya since the 1970s. This has required conjecture and the need to devise new words, in effect developing a kind of neo-Quenya language.

Internal history of late Quenya

The Elvish languages are a language family of several related languages and dialects. The following is a brief overview of the fictional internal history of late Quenya as conceived by Tolkien. Tolkien imagined a diglossic Elven society with a vernacular language for every-day use, Tarquesta, and a more educated language for use in ceremonies and lore, Parmaquesta.

It has been observed that the "degree of proximity" to the light of the Valar affects the development of both languages in terms of phonology, morphology and semantics. The division between Light Elves and Dark Elves that took place during the Sundering of the Elves is reflected in their respective languages.

The Elves at first shared a common language, Primitive Quendian, called Quenderin in Quenya. Among the Eldar, i.e. those Elves who undertook the Great March to Valinor and Eldamar, Primitive Quendian developed into Common Eldarin. Some of the Eldar remained in Beleriand and became the Grey Elves; their language developed into Sindarin. Most of the other Eldar continued to Eldamar ('Elvenhome') and founded the great city of Tirion, where they developed Quenya.

Quenya's older form, first recorded in the sarati of Rúmil, is called Old or Ancient Quenya (Yára-Quenya in Quenya). In Eldamar, the Noldor and Vanyar spoke two slightly different though mutually intelligible dialects of Tarquesta: Noldorin Quenya and Vanyarin Quenya. Later Noldorin Quenya became Exilic Quenya, when most of the Noldor Elves followed their leader Fëanor into exile from Eldamar and back to Middle-earth, where the immortal Elves first awoke.

Quenya was also used by the gods or Valar. The Elves even derived some loanwords from the Valar's language, which was called Valarin in Quenya, although these were more numerous in the Vanyarin dialect than in Noldorin. This was probably because of the enduringly close relationship the Vanyarin Elves had with the Valar. The Quenya as used by the Vanyar also incorporated several words from Valarin that were not found in the Noldorin dialect, such as tulka ("yellow", from Valarin tulukha(n)), ulban ("blue", presumably from the same root as Valarin ul(l)u meaning "water"), and nasar ("red", original Valarin not given).

According to "Quendi and Eldar: Essekenta Eldarinwa", Quendya was the usual Vanyarin name given to the Quenya language, since in Vanyarin, the consonant groups ndy and ny remained quite distinct. In Noldorin, ndy eventually became ny. Tolkien explained that "the word Quenya itself has been cited as an exempla (e.g. by Ælfwine), but this is a mistake due to supposition that kwenya was properly kwendya and directly derived from the name Quendi 'Elves'. This appears not to be the case. The word is Quenya in Vanyarin, and always so in Parmaquesta."

The Elves of the Third Clan, or Teleri, who reached Eldamar later than the Noldor and the Vanyar, spoke a different but closely related tongue, usually called Telerin. It was seen by some Elves to be just another dialect of Quenya. This was not the case with the Teleri for whom their tongue was distinct from Quenya. After the Vanyar left the city of Túna, Telerin and Noldorin Quenya grew closer.

The rebellious Noldor, who followed their leader Fëanor to Middle-earth, spoke only Quenya. But Elu Thingol, King of the Sindar of Beleriand, forbade the use of Quenya in his realm when he learned of the slaying of Telerin Elves by the Noldor (The Silmarillion, chapter 15). By doing so, he both restricted the possibility of the Sindar to enhance and brighten their language with influences from Quenya and accelerated the "dimininuation and spiritual impoverishment" of the Noldorin culture. The Noldor at this time had fully mastered Sindarin, while the Sindar were slow to learn Quenya. Quenya in Middle-earth became known as Exilic Quenya when the Noldor eventually adopted the Sindarin language as their native speech after Thingol's ruling. It differed from Amanian Quenya mostly in vocabulary, having some loanwords from Sindarin. It differed also in pronunciation, representing the recognition of sound-changes which had begun among the Noldor before the exile and had caused Noldorin Quenya to diverge from Vanyarin Quenya. The change of z (< old intervocalic s) to r was the latest in Noldorin, belonging to early Exilic Quenya. The grammatical changes were only small though since the features of their "old language" were carefully taught.

From the Second Age on, Quenya was also used ceremonially by the Men of Númenór and their descendants in Gondor and Arnor for the official names of kings and queens; this practice was resumed by Aragorn when he took the crown as Elessar Telcontar. Quenya in the Third Age had almost the same status as the Latin language had in medieval Europe, and was called Elven-latin by Tolkien.


Quenya has a variety of language registers:

  • Parmaquesta ("book-language"): the literary style in which the Elven-scriptures, the "Ainulindalë", and other classical Elvish works were written.
  • Tarquesta ("high-language"): the vernacular speech with two dialects: Vanyarin Quenya and Noldorin Quenya.
  • Exilic Quenya or "Low Quenya": the spoken style of the Exiled Noldor in Middle-earth.
  • Phonology

    The pronunciation of the Elvish languages by Elves, Men and Hobbits has been described in a variety of sources by J.R.R. Tolkien. The documentation about late Quenya phonology is contained in the Appendix E of the Lord of the Rings and the "Outline of Phonology", a text written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in Parma Eldalemberon No. 19.

    Tolkien based Quenya pronunciation more on Latin than on Finnish. Thus, Quenya lacks the vowel harmony and consonant gradation present in Finnish, and accent is not always on the first syllable of a word. Typical Finnish elements like the front vowels ö, ä and y are lacking in Quenya, but phonological similarities include the absence of aspirated unvoiced stops or the development of the syllables ti > si in both languages. The combination of a Latin basis with Finnish phonological rules resulted in a product that resembles Italian in many respects, which was Tolkien's favorite modern Romance language.

    The tables below list the consonants (Q. ólamar) and vowels of late colloquial Noldorin Quenya, i.e. Quenya as spoken among the Exiled Noldor in Middle-earth. They are written using the International Phonetic Alphabet, unless otherwise noted.


    The Quenya consonant system has 6 major places of articulation: labial (involving the lips), dental (involving the tongue and the back of the teeth), alveolar (involving the tongue and the alveolar ridge of the jaw), palatal (involving the tongue and the middle part of the roof of the mouth), velar (involving the back of the tongue and the back part of the roof of the mouth), and glottal (involving the vocal folds). The dental fricative (/θ/) and the voiced alveolar fricative (/z/) occur in the Vanyarin varieties, but were gradually replaced with /s/ and /r/ respectively in Noldorin Quenya. Notably, voiced plosives only occur after nasals and liquids, i.e. there is no simple /b, d, ɡ/ but only the clusters /mb, (lb,) nd, ld, rd, ŋɡ/, and these occur only between vowels. (This may not be true in Vanyarin Quenya, given the word Aldudénië, the name of a lament for the death of the Two Trees of Valinor composed by Elemmírë of the Vanyar.) The following table presents the inventory of classic Noldorin consonants. Grouping of consonants occurs only in the central parts of a word, except for combinations with the semivowels /w/ and /j/.

    Quenya orthography (using the Latin script) follows the IPA, but uses ⟨c⟩ as an alternative to ⟨k⟩, writes [ŋ] not followed by another velar as ⟨ñ⟩ (in early Quenya when this still can occur; otherwise it is written ⟨n⟩), and represents the consonants [ç ʍ x] using the digraphs ⟨hy hw ch⟩. In addition, ⟨h⟩ in the cluster ⟨ht⟩ represents [ç] after ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩ and [x] after other vowels.

    Morphophonemics and allophony

    A number of consonants are realized differently when they occur in clusters with certain other consonants. This particularly concerns clusters that involve the approximants /w, j/ or the glottal fricative /h/. Clusters where the second consonant was /j/ are realized as palatalized consonants, and clusters where the second consonant was /w/ are realized as labialized. Consonants clusters where the initial consonant is /h/ are realized as preaspirated and devoiced.

    Palatal clusters The pronunciation of the consonant cluster ⟨hy⟩ is [ç] in Noldorin Quenya, which is a "strong voiceless y, similar to, but more frictional than the initial sound in English huge". In Vanyarin Quenya, ⟨hy⟩ is pronounced [ʃ].

    According to Tolkien, the cluster /cj/ ⟨ty⟩ is pronounced as "a 'front explosive' [c], as e.g. Hungarian ty, but it is followed by an appreciable partly unvoiced y-offglide".

    Tolkien stated that the cluster ⟨ny⟩ is pronounced as in English "new" (presumably British English [njuː], as opposed to American English [nuː]). In the Vanyarin dialect, ⟨ty⟩, ⟨dy⟩, and ⟨hy⟩ were realised as [tʃ], [dʒ], and [ʃ] respectively. Tolkien wrote about ⟨py⟩: "In Vanyarin Quenya and among some Ñoldor the cluster ⟨py⟩ was sounded with voiceless y, sc. as [pç], which later in Vanyarin became [pʃ]"; cf. Hungarian lopj [lopç] 'steal'. Labial clusters The cluster ⟨hw⟩ is realized as [ʍ], a "spirantal voiceless w. It has more tense with closer lip-aperture and more friction than the voiceless wh of English". According to Tolkien, the graphs ⟨q⟩ or ⟨qu⟩ is pronounced as "a lip-rounded 'k' followed by a partly unvoiced w-offglide", that is /kʷw/.

    Glottal clusters The clusters ⟨hl⟩ and ⟨hr⟩ are realized as ɬ and r̥, the same as ⟨lh⟩ and ⟨rh⟩ in Sindarin. These, like their Sindarin equivalents, derived from Primitive Elvish sl- and sr-. The primitive consonant clusters sm- and sn- came out in Quenya as ⟨m⟩ and ⟨n⟩; it has been suggested that there was an intermediate stage of ⟨hm⟩ and ⟨hn⟩, the voiceless versions [m̥] and [n̥], in Common Eldarin; these soon merged with the voiced ⟨m⟩ and ⟨n⟩. Voiceless hl and hr have a complex history which Tolkien describes thus: "Among the Noldor hr, hl became voiced to r, l before the Exile, and the use of r, l in these cases was normal in Tarquesta, as spoken, tho' the spelling was usually maintained. Since later the Exiles were familiar with voiceless hr, hl in their Sindarin speech many of them restored this sound in Tarquesta, according to the traditional spelling. The learned had, of course, at all times retained hr, hl in reading or reciting Parmaquesta."

    Simplification of clusters In the late Ancient Quenya period, when vowels were lost in long compound words, the clusters thus created, or the consonants that became final, were as a rule changed or reduced:

    -m > -n; all stops > -t; -d > -r; -th > -t; -nd > -n; -mb, -ng > -n; -ñ > -n; any combination with s (as -ts, -st, -ss) > -s; any combination with -ht > -t.


    Quenya has five vowels (Quenya ómar), and a distinction of length. The short vowels are /a, e, i, o, u/ and the long ones are written with an acute accent as /á, é, í, ó, ú/. The precise quality of the vowels is not known, but their pronunciation is likely closer to the "pure" vowels of Italian and Spanish than to the diphthongized English ones. According to Pesch, for the vowels /a, i, u/ the short and long forms have the same vowel quality, similar to the vowels of German. But for the vowels /e, o/, the short vowels are pronounced slightly lower and closer to [ɛ] and [ɔ], respectively, whereas the long ones are pronounced as high-mid vowels [eː] and [oː]. This interpretation is based on a statement by Tolkien, saying that é and ó, when correctly pronounced by Elves, were just a little "tenser and 'closer'" than their short counterparts: "neither very tense and close, nor very slack and open".

    This interpretation results in a vowel system with 7 different vowel qualities and a length distinction in the high and low vowels only; this system is depicted in table 3.


    Late Noldorin Quenya has 6 diphthongs (Quenya ohloni): /iu, eu, ai, au, oi, ui/. All of these are falling, except for /iu/ ([ju]) which is rising. In Old Quenya, all diphthongs were falling. Tolkien wrote: "It is probable that before the Exile Vanyarin and Noldorin [Quenya] in common shifted iu, ui to rising diphthongs, (...) but only /iu/ is reported as a rising diphthong [ju] similar to the beginning of English yule [juːɫ]. On the other hand, ui remained in Exilic Quenya a falling diphthong as reported".

    Syllables and stress

    In Quenya, the stressing of a syllable is predictable and non-phonemic (i.e. the meaning of a word never changes depending on the stress), but it is partly determined by syllable weight. Words of two syllables are stressed on the first syllable. In words of three or more syllables, the stress is on the penultimate syllable if this is heavy, otherwise on the antepenultimate syllable, i.e. the third-to-last syllable. In Quenya, heavy syllables are syllables that contain either a long vowel, a diphthong, or a cluster of two consonants (ll, ld, mm, ss, etc.). Certain combinations of consonants, e.g. ny, ry, are also regarded as heavy. Medially hy and hw are long consonants in Parmaquesta (not colloquially in Tarquesta) and a vowel before them is held to constitute a metrically long syllable. Quenya has also a secondary accent. The placement of stress and the distinction between heavy and light syllables is important in Quenya verse.


    Tolkien also devised phonotactical rules for late Quenya, governing the way in which the sounds could be combined to form words:

  • Only the following consonants have phonemically geminated forms, i.e. elongated consonants:
  • These occur only medially. The geminated occlusives pp, tt, cc/kk are aspirated.
  • Tolkien wrote that in Common Eldarin as final consonants only the "dentals t, s, d, th, n, r, l (all frequent except th) and the labial nasal m (frequent). In addition the combination -nt (though usually a coalescence of more than one inflexional element) seems also to have been permitted; possibly also st. No other consonant groups were tolerated. y, w are not included, since they naturally took the syllabic forms i, u as suffixed elements." These evolved from Common Eldarin to Quenya Tolkien explains on the same page thus: m > n ; t, n, r and s remained without change ; final C.E. th became Quenya t and final d > r, and so: "the list of 'permissible finals':
  • remained constant in Quenya speech-feeling".
  • Quenya tolerates only the following initial consonants:
  • Quenya tolerates only the following initial groups:
  • Quenya tolerates only the following medial biconsonantal groups (those especially common are bolded):
  • Quenya does not tolerate triconsonantal (or longer) combinations, except c (k), h, g followed by w, or h, t, þ, d followed by y. So, Quenya permits the following 12 triconsonantal groups only:
  • Differences in triconsonant pronunciation:
  • Quenya does not tolerate the combination of two different occlusives. "Where these anciently occurred, as in pt, kt, one of the two, or both, became opened and spirantal."
  • As in Sindarin, the combination ft is avoided.
  • Grammar

    The grammar of Quenya is agglutinative and mostly suffixing, i.e. different word particles are joined by appending them. It has basic word classes of verbs, nouns and pronouns/determiners, adjectives and prepositions. Nouns are inflected for case and number. Verbs are inflected for tense and aspect, and for agreement with subject and object. In early Quenya, adjectives agree with the noun they modify in case and number, but not in later Quenya, where this agreement disappears. The basic word order is Subject-Object-Verb. Unless otherwise noted, samples in this section refer to Late Quenya as conceived by Tolkien after 1951.


    Quenya nouns can have up to four numbers: singular, general plural ("plural 1"), particular/partitive plural ("plural 2"), and dual. However, not all Quenya nouns can have all four numbers since some of them are pluralia tantum (plural only) having no singular variant for referring to a single object, such as armar "goods (things for sale, or the things that you own)"; some other nouns, especially monosyllabic ones, use only one of the two plurals judged the most aesthetic by Elves (i. e. Tolkien).

    In late Quenya Tarquesta, the plural is formed by a suffix to the subjective form of the noun.

    For plural 1 the suffix is -i or -r (depending of the type of the noun). In Parmaquesta, the is (not always) long (the precise rules have not yet been published). For plural 2 the suffix is -li (-lí in Parmaquesta).

    Quenya nouns are declined for case. Parmaquesta Quenya has ten cases. These include the four primary cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, and instrumental; three adverbial cases: allative (of which the dative is a shortened form), locative (also with a shortened form), and ablative; and a possessive or adjectival case. The accusative was however only used for Parmaquesta and had been replaced by nominative in late colloquial Quenya.


    In late Quenya, the singular endings are -a, -e, -ëa, and a rare form -in that may be seen as a shortened form of -ina. The corresponding plural forms are -e, ,-i, ië, and possibly -inë. The latter version is however not attested. Quenya adjectives may be freely used as nouns, in which case they are also inflected like a noun: e.g. vinya, "new", may be used as vinyar, "news".

    Prepositions and adverbs

    In Quenya, there are many similarities in form between prepositions and adverbs since the grammatical case already determines the relation of verb and object. Many Quenya prepositions have adverb-like uses with no complement. In Common Eldarin, these prepositions were postpositions instead, and later became inflectional endings. Case markings combine primarily with nouns, whereas prepositions can combine with phrases of many different categories. This is why most prepositions in Quenya are used with a noun in the nominative case.

    an i falmali = i falmalinna(r) "upon the many waves"

    The preposition an is related to the -nna case ending.


    As with all parts of Quenya grammar, the pronominal system was subject to many revisions throughout Tolkien's life, and the available corpus was not systematic until a list of endings was published in Vinyar Tengwar No. 49 in 2007. In late Quenya, pronouns have both separate or independent forms, and suffix forms,

    The separate pronouns have both a short and long form that are used for emphatic and normal pronouns respectively. Examples of the emphatic form include: emmë, elyë, entë (1st to 3rd person plural). Such emphatic disjunctive pronouns, were already present in early Quenya but differed from the later versions (e.g. plural: tûto, sîse, atta).

    "I love him" (or "her") can be expressed in Quenya as Melinyes or Melin sé. "I love them" would be then Melinyet or Melin té (these two forms are reconstructed). If a pronoun is the subject of a sentence, it becomes tied to the verb either as separate word directly before the verb, or as a suffix after the inflected verb. In the suffixed form, an -s (singular) and a -t (plural and dual) may be added to the long subjective pronouns as objectives of the 3rd person:

    utúvie-nye-s, literally "have found-I-it", "I have found it" (cf. Aragorn's outcry when he finds the sapling of the White Tree.) utúvie-lye-s, "You have found it/him/her". utúvie-lye-t, "You have found them".

    It is debated whether certain attested special male and female pronouns that were exclusively used for the description of persons are still applicable to late Quenya as found in The Lord of the Rings.

    Possessive determiners

    The possessive determiners (analogous to English my, his, etc.) are used to indicate the possessor of the noun they determine. They mark the person and number of the possessor, and are inflected to agree with the noun they are attached in number and case. While the English language distinguishes between masculine and feminine singular possessors (his vs. her), late Quenya generally does not.

    "Since by Quenya idiom in describing the parts of body of several persons the number proper to each individual is used, the plural of parts existing in pairs (as hands, eyes, ears, feet) is seldom required. Thus mánta "their hand" would be used, (they raised) their hands (one each), mántat, (they raised) their hands (each both), and mánte could not occur".

    Ortanentë mánta. They raised their hands. Ortaner mánta. They raised their hands. Varda ortanë máryat. Varda has uplifted her (two) hands.

    The usual plural ending is -r, hildinyar, "my heirs".


    The demonstrative makes a three-way distinction between entities the speaker is referring to:

    sina, "this"; tana, "that (over there)"; enta, "that (over there, away from both of us)".

    A fourth demonstrative, yana, may possibly be used with reference to a past time period, as in "that [past] year". The word enta may be preferred with reference to a future year.

    Yet another word for "that" is sana, Tolkien in one poem expressing "that maiden" as sana wende. Possibly this means "that particular one" without any spatial reference.


    According to Tolkien, "the inflections of [Qenya] verbs are always pretty regular", and Quenya verbs are either in a personal form or an impersonal form. Usually in linguistics, an impersonal verb is a verb that cannot take a true subject, because it does not represent an action, occurrence, or state-of-being of any specific person, place, or thing. This is not how Tolkien intended the use of "impersonal." An impersonal verb form is a verb to which no pronoun has been attached, as carë (sg.) or carir (pl.); carin, "I do (habitually)", is a personal form (with -n, a short suffix for "I, me"). As explained by Tolkien, verbs in Quenya are negated by using a "negative verb" ua- in front of the proper verb in the impersonal tense form.

    Tolkien noted that "when the emphatic pronoun is used separately the verb has no inflexion (save for number)."

    Finwë cára. "Finwë is making (right now)". Quendi cárar. "The Elves are making". Cáranyë. "I am making". Cárammë. "We are making". Essë cára. "He/She is (really) making". Emmë cárar. "We are (really) making".

    Late Quenya verbs have also a dual agreement morpheme -t:

    Nai siluvat elen atta. "May two stars shine."

    In the imperative mood, plurality and duality are not expressed. There is no agreement. The verb stays singular. If a plural verb is used as in Á carir it means "let them do it" referring to persons not present or at any rate not addressed directly.

    The copula in late Quenya is the verb na-. Tolkien stated that it was used only in joining adjectives, nouns, and pronouns in statements (or wishes) asserting (or desiring) a thing to have certain quality, or to be same as another, and also that the copula was not used when the meaning was clear. Otherwise, the copula is left out, which may provide for ambiguous tenses when there is no further context:

    Eldar ataformaiti, can be translated in English either as "Elves are ambidexters", or "Elves were ambidexters". A mára. "A is good", or "A was good".


    Quenya allows for a very flexible word order because it is an inflectional language like Latin. Nevertheless, it has word order rules. The usual syntax structure is subject-verb-object. The adjective can be placed before or after the noun that it modifies.


    Because much of Tolkien's writings on the Elvish languages remain unpublished it is difficult to know how large a vocabulary he devised. As of 2008, about 25,000 Elvish words have been published.

    Proper nouns

    The lexicon of Quenya is rich in proper nouns.

    Estë "Rest"; Indis "Bride"; Melcor "He who Arises in Might"; Nessa "Youth"; Varda "Sublime"; Voronwë "Steadfast one." Aicanáro "Fell Fire"; Ancalimë "Most Bright Lady"; Curumo "Cunning Man"; Fëanáro "Spirit of Fire"; Olórin "(?)Dreamer"; Sauron "The Abhorred." Ainulindalë "Music of the Ainur"; Eldamar "Home of the Eldar"; Helcaraxë "Jaws of Ice"; Ilúvatar "Father of All"; Oron Oiolossë "Ever Snow-white Peak"; Ondolindë "Rock of Song"; Turambar "Master of Doom"; Valinor "land of the Vali", sc. Valar; Vingilot "Foam-flower"; Yavanna "Giver of fruits." Mar-nu-Falmar "Land under the Waves"; Mindon Eldaliéva "Lofty Tower of the Elvish-people"; Quenta Silmarillion "Tale of the Silmarils."

    Some prepositions and adverbs

  • ala: [place] beyond; [time] after.
  • ama: up(wards).
  • an: towards, upon.
  • et: forth, out of [with the complement noun in ablative case]
  • haila: [static] far beyond.
  • haiya: far, far off, far away.
  • han: [addition] beyond ; over and above, in addition to.
  • : [not touching] beneath, under.
  • no: 1. under. 2. upon. 3. after (of place), behind.
  • nu: under, beneath.
  • ono: 1. in front of, ahead, before [in all relation but time]. 2. after [of time only].
  • Greetings

    Elvish greetings can be expressed both by voice and by hand, and often involve a combination of the two. Elvish greetings are often, but not always, used just prior to a conversation. From the Lord of the Rings it appears that Elves do not have a very elaborate greeting ritual.

    The word used as a form of polite address to an Elf (male or female) is: Tar. Among the Númenóreans it became "King/Queen" and used as a form of address for a superior, especially a King or a Queen; cf. Tarinya, used by Prince Aldarion to address his father, King Tar-Meneldur.

  • Namárië [näˈmäːriɛ] is a reduced form of Quenya á na márië, literally "be well". It is a formula used in Tarquesta for greetings and also for farewell.
  • The most usual formula used by the Noldor for greeting each other is (Hara) máriessë! "(Stay) in happiness!".
  • The most usual formula used by the Noldor in farewells is Áva márië! "Go happily!", or Márienna! "To happiness!".
  • Numerals

    According to Christopher Tolkien: "the Eldar used two systems of numerals one of sixes (or twelves), and one of fives. (or tens)." That is a duodecimal counting (base 12), and a decimal system. J.R.R. Tolkien coined a word for the 'decimal system of counting' maquanotie.

    The known numbers for 1–20 are presented below ; those from early Quenya ("Early Qenya Grammar") are in bold.

    Other attested number words include esta and inga for 'first'. Tolkien was dissatisfied with esta, the definition is marked with a query in the "Etymologies", and inga means not just 'first' but also 'high', it appears in the compound Ingaran, a title bore by Ingwë, the King of all Elves. A word quainëa, meaning "a hand full", "ten fingers", was presented in Vinyar Tengwar.

    Known duodecimal numbers are: rasta "twelve (dozen)", nahta "eighteen (dozen and a half)" and yurasta "twenty-four (two-dozen)".

    Maqua means specifically a group of five objects, like the English word "pentad"; similarly maquat "pair of fives" refers to a group of ten objects. The word yunquenta for thirteen literally means "12 and one more". Numerals come after the noun, save for er "one, alone", however it can be placed after the noun for added emphasis. The plural noun form is only used for numbers 3 and higher:

    Elen min / Er elen - "one star, a single star" Elen atta - "two stars" Eleni neldë - "three stars" Eleni canta - "four stars"

    "Qenya" numerals above twenty show that the smaller units come first, min yukainen "21" being "one-twenty", and also reflects in how it's written in Tengwar. The Eldarissa form tuksa appears in the "Qenya Lexicon" meaning 144, in the "Early Qenya Grammar" it stands for 100. The word haranyë "century" may relate to a late Quenya word for 100. Some speculations with "*mencë" as the word for thousand, based on Sindarin Menegroth the "Thousand Caves", however no primitive or common Eldarin root word is known for thousand.

    Writing systems

    Most of the times, Tolkien wrote his invented languages using the Latin script, but he devised a number of original writing systems to match the internal histories of his languages.

    Elvish writing systems

    Tolkien imagined many writing systems for his Elves. The most well-known is the "Tengwar of Fëanor" but the first one he created c. 1919 was the "Tengwar of Rumil", also called the sarati. He decided that, prior to their Exile, the Noldorin Elves first used the sarati of Rúmil to record Ancient Quenya. In Middle-earth, Quenya appears to have been rarely written using the "Elvish runes" or cirth, named certar in Quenya.

    Latin script

    Tolkien's spelling in Latin letters of Quenya was largely phonemic, with each letter corresponding to a specific phoneme in the language, save for some exceptions. In particular, the vowels varied in pronunciation depending upon their vowel length. Specific rules for consonants were provided in Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings, e.g. the letter c is always pronounced k, qu stands for kw, Orqui is Orkwi. Tolkien's standard orthography for Quenya uses all the letters of the Latin script except j, k, and z, together with the acute and diaeresis marks on vowels; the letters ñ, þ and z only appear in early Quenya. Occasionally, Tolkien wrote Quenya with a "Finnish-style" orthography (rather than the standard Latin-Romance version), in which c is replaced by k, y with j, and long vowels written double. The acute accent marks long vowels, while the diaeresis indicates that a vowel is not part of a diphthong, for example in ëa or ëo, while final e is marked with a diaeresis to remind English-speakers that it is not silent. Since either use is superfluous, the diaeresis was frequently omitted by Tolkien.


    The poem "Namárië" is the longest piece of Quenya found in The Lord of the Rings, yet the first sentence in Quenya is uttered by a Hobbit; namely Frodo's greeting to the Elves: elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo. Other examples include Elendil's words spoken upon reaching Middle-earth, and repeated by Aragorn at his coronation: Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinomë maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta! "Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place I will abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world!" Treebeard's greeting to Celeborn and Galadriel is also spoken in Quenya: A vanimar, vanimálion nostari "O beautiful ones, parents of beautiful children". Another fragment is Sam's cry when he uses Galadriel's phial against Shelob: Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! "Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!" And in The Silmarillion, the phrase Utúlie'n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatári, utúlie'n aurë! "The day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the day has come!", is cried by Fingon before the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.

    Other Quenya poems spoken by Tolkien in public but never published in his lifetime are Oilima Markirya ("The Last Ark"), Nieninqe, and Earendel contained in his lecture A Secret Vice and published for the first time in 1983 in The Monsters and the Critics. A faulty fragment of the poem "Narqelion", written in early Quenya or Elfin between November 1915 and March 1916, was published by Humphrey Carpenter in his Biography. A facsimile of the entire poem was published only in April 1999 in Vinyar Tengwar No. 40.


    Quenya Wikipedia