Language in the films

Discussion in 'Tolkien's versus Jackson's 'LOTR'' started by rs691919, Feb 22, 2004.

  1. rs691919

    rs691919 Registered User

    This is being touched on in the Quendi/Eldar thread, but I wanted to ask those who have more knowledge of Tolkien's Elven tongues (I know very little) how authentic Jackson's Elvish is.

    More importantly, how consistent is the movie Elvish? Do Aragorn and Legolas converse in Sindarin or the Quenya? How about Aragorn and Arwen? Aragorn and Elrond? What is the language of the Galadhrim?
  2. joxy

    joxy Registered User

    A lot more authentic than their English; that's for sure!
    I believe they had REAL experts for this, and did it very well - though it seems completely pointless and a waste of effort, as we're always being told that these films have to be aimed at people who nothing about the books. Most people who DO know the books wouldn't know about the authenticity, and NONE of those non-readers would know - so, what's the point?
    Although it may be more authentic, I still can't make out much of it, due to bad diction and a strange sound balance, on the DVDs at least. There's a line that seems to start with "Yamaha", and at the broken bridge scene all I hear is "doo-wah".
  3. rs691919

    rs691919 Registered User

    That's not saying much.

    I think it would be interesting for someone to find out what the Galadhrim were would hope it's not Quenya. Legolas' common speech would be Silvan, but he would also know Sindarin I imagine. And then, would Aragorn and Elrond converse in Quenya or Sindarin?
  4. aragil

    aragil Just another loremaster

    Legolas speaks Sindarin, as does just about everyone else. Quenya had fallen out of style after the First Age.

    The Galadhrim as represented by Haldir speaks Sindarin to Aragorn, as does Elrond. There is a little Quenya in some of the songs, I believe, but not much.

    Tolkien didn't really invent much in the way of the Silvan language, so it is hardly a candidate.

    "Doo-wa" is Dwarvish, not Elvish.
  5. Confusticated

    Confusticated Registered User

    Haldir surely spoke Sindarin, not Quenya. His greeting to Aragorn has 'Dunadan', which is Sindarin, for one.

    Saruman spoke Quenya to bring down the storm upon the fellowship of Caradhras.

    Aragorn sings Quenya near the end of RotK... the word 'utulien' (heard clear as day) is Quenya.

    'Elenion Ancalime' as Frodo says holding the phial in RotK is Quenya. But that line is straight form the book.

    I used to know a good website for the movie elvish... I'll try to hunt it down.

    But as far as I recall no one conversed in Quenya... only Sindarin.

    The only time I would question the languages used is in the Elbereth Gilthoniel song... which was Sindarin the movie (FotR EE), though if one doesn't use Quenya for such a song to Varda... when would one!? On the other hand, had Gildor's company been singing in Quenya... why would English translation not go ahead and say Elentari or Tintalle? And even more: The Elbereth Gilthoniel song is sung in Sindarin in the Hall of Fire, so I think it's likely enough Tolkien did imagine Gildor's company were singing in Sindarin.

    Also... in the movie the Lothlorien elves sing of 'Olorin' and not 'Mithrandir'? This seems weird to me.

    I think Arwen says 'Ulairi' when she faces the Ringwraiths... which is Quenya... but, maybe its the same in Sindarin?

    But let's not forget the tons of Elvish words scattered throughout the movie in people and place names. Elendil - that is Quenya, for example. I hope someone who is an expert at pronouncing Sindarin will show up and give us a report on the movie!

    As for why so much effort was put into this, joxy, perhaps it was just in honour of Tolkien... not that the beautiful sounding languages was not reason enough. I found myself asking a similar question around the time TTT came out... but really, his languages were important to him and from the beginning tied in with his mythology... as early as 1915 even, the beginning of what would become known as Sindarin and Quenya existed, though they evolved through the years.
  6. aragil

    aragil Just another loremaster

    Haldir to Aragorn (Sindarin):
    A, Aragorn in Dúnedain istannen le ammen.
    (Oh, Aragorn of the Dúnedain, you are known to us.)

    Saruman to Caradhras (Quenya):
    Cuiva nwalca Carnirasse; nai yarvaxea rasselya!
    Cuiva nwalca Carnirasse; Nai yarvaxea rasselya; taltuva notto-carinnar! (Wake up cruel Redhorn! May your horn be bloodstained! Wake up cruel Redhorn! May your bloodstained horn fall upon enemy heads!)

    Gandalf to Caradhras (strangely enough, an answer in Sindarin. Must reflect the differing style between the two wizards):
    Losto Caradhras, sedho, hodo, nuitho i 'ruith!
    (Sleep, Caradhras, be still, lie still, hold your wrath!)

    Aragorn at the coronation (same as in the book, I'll agree with Nóm and say Quenya):
    Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta.
    (Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.)

    Frodo in Shelob's lair (Quenya if Nóm says so):
    Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!
    (Hail Eärendil brightest of the Stars!)

    FotR 'Elbereth' song (Sindarin, and I believe word-for-word out of the book Hall of Fire scene):
    a Galad ren i veniar
    hi' aladhremmin ennorath
    A Elbereth Gilthoniel
    ithil nâ thûl, ithil lîn hen
    (O Light to us that wander here
    Amid the world of woven trees!
    O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
    Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!)

    Lament for Gandalf (Quenya for Numen={Q} West and Romen={Q} East):
    A Olórin i yaresse
    Mentaner i Numeherui
    Tírien i Rómenóri
    Melme nóren sina
    núra ala
    Maiaron i Oiosaila,
    Manan elye etevanne
    Nórie i malanelye?
    Ilfirin nairelma
    ullume nucuvalme.
    Nauva i nauva
    i amar galen
    I reniad lín ne môr, nuithannen.
    (Olórin who once was
    Sent by the Lords of the West
    To guard the Lands of the East
    Our love for this land
    Is deeper than the deeps
    Of the sea
    Wisest of all Maiar,
    What drove you to leave
    That which you loved?
    Yet we will cast all away
    Rather than submit.
    What should be shall be
    No more will you wander
    The green fields of this earth
    Your journey has ended in darkness.)

    Arwen at the Fords (Ulair might be Quenya, but beth=word and Bruinen are Sindarin):
    Nin o Chithaeglir, lasto beth daer,
    Rimmo nin Bruinen, dan in Ulair!
    Nin o Chithaeglir, lasto beth daer,
    Rimmo nin Bruinen, dan in Ulair!
    (Waters of the Misty Mountains
    listen to the great word;
    flow waters of Loudwater
    against the Ringwraiths!)

    Galadriel's song at the Farewel to Lorien (Quenya for eleni={Q} stars)
    Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrien,
    Yéni úntimë ve rámar aldaron!
    yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
    mi oromardi lisse-miruvóreva
    Andúnë pella Vardo tellumar
    nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni…
    (Alas! Like gold fall the leaves in the wind,
    long years numberless as the wings of the trees!
    The long years have passed like swift draughts
    of the sweet mead in lofty halls beyond the West,
    beneath the vaults of Varda wherein the stars
    tremble in the song of her voice … )

    Gilraen's last words to Aragorn (Sindarin):
    Onen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim.
    (I gave Hope to the Dúnedain, I have kept no hope for myself.)

    The Lay of Lethian (Sindarin):
    Tinúviel elvanui,
    Elleth alfirin ethelhael
    O hon ring finnil fuinui
    A renc gelebrin thiliol.
    (Tinúviel the elven-fair,
    Immortal maiden elven-wise,
    About him cast her night-dark hair,
    And arms like silver glimmering.)
  7. Confusticated

    Confusticated Registered User

    Yeah that all looks Sindarin. (I know very little on Sindarin but a half-decent amount on Quenya)

    Strange they use Ulair (so far as I know... perhaps an excellent explaination exists?).

    Ulairi is the word we have to work from... it is 'Ringwraiths' (note plural... for which Quenya adds i or r... whereas Sindarin does this more complicated thingie.... adan - edain... golodh - gelydh) which makes the word Ulairilook like Quenya beyond a doubt. The single form of Ulairi (assuming it is Quenya!) would be Ulair or Ulaire (I don't know if Tolkien ever says)... seems the the moive folks either settled on passing of Ulair (or perhaps Tolkien made clear Ulair is correct Sindarin?) as Sindarin, having no Sindarin word for Ringwraith... otherwise why not (if using an admittedly Quenya word) go all out and use Ulairi since it is plural?

    Could be Ulair is thought to be the Sindarin form of Ulairi... but what then would be Sindarin's single fom for the word? Ular? Nay! I have no idea. :D
  8. Ireth Telrúnya

    Ireth Telrúnya Wanderer

    I know that "utulien" is past perfect tense in Quenya and means that "I have come" and the King is singing that he has returned to the throne.

    Enya is singing something like: "Morna utulie" which means that darkness has come.
  9. joxy

    joxy Registered User

    Aragil, as on so many previous occasions I am impressed both by the diligence, and the extent, of your postings. Did all the quotations in other languages come from one of those transcripts that you so helpfully found? Have you gone further than that, and traced which lines are "original" and which were devised by our diligent team of writers?
    I write the above without any intention of being patronising, as I am sure you did not intend to be when you complimented a contributor to another thread on his "improved tone".
    Thanks by the way for your comment on the heavenly choir's "doo-wah". Is that in the transcipts also? I had already assumed that, as you say, it was not Elvish, but I would be interested to hear why you think it was Dwarfish, a language from which Tolkien gives only three words: "baruk khazad aimenu" = "the-axes of the-dwarves (are) upon-you", and some place names.
    And how do YOU think the writers' obvious efforts on the languages compare with the quality of English they produced?
  10. aragil

    aragil Just another loremaster

    "improved tone" (to the author of this thread, actually) was indeed meant to be genuine and not patronizing, as was my "thank you" that preceded it.

    Yes, all those can be found on, though in most cases I re-arranged them into what I consider an easier manner to read. Mostly this was typing control-x and control-v. Unfortunately, the site rarely says what language the words come from, so I have had to guess, and more often rely on Nóm (who knows more of these things in spite of her relatively new Tolkien-exposure). Among active users here I believe jallan has the most linguistic credentials, but I don't know if he'll poke his head in here. As for myself, what I know is that David Salo (the language consultant for the movies) is VERY highly considered in all of Tolkien's languages, from Rohirric to Black Speech to Elven Dialects to Dwarvish (the latter is reduced to the line you quoted in the text of LotR, but I believe more is said of it elsewhere. He is a professional linguist, therefore where a language is 'incomplete' he can anticipate how it "should work" based on the rules it follows in other cases. It is a fascinating science, and one which I have only glimpsed through Tolkien's writings- I can't really offer much more than that.
    By comparison, these screenwriters are generally not considered the best in their field (though perhaps now they are considered among the best). I do, however, feel that they have a great love for the work and have done a marvelous job in expressing many of Tolkien's themes- some of which I believe were better expressed in the movies than in the books. I am not a linguist, and probably not even particularly good at English- most of the 'egregious' lines that people complain about here are lost on me. jallan, for instance complains about Theoden's lament that "no parent should have to bury their child". I don't agree with his criticism of this line, but maybe that is due to my own deaf ear. There are definitely lines in the movie I don't like ("Let us hunt some orc" springs immediately to mind), but they are so vastly in the minority that I hardly consider it worth the time to complain.
  11. joxy

    joxy Registered User

    Thanks again for the further information.
    As I said in my first posting here, I knew they had REAL experts at work on the languages, and that those experts did their work well.
    They also had experts on the inscription of runes on walls which were too dark for them ever to be decipherable, even by the one viewer in a million who could read runes anyway.
    From the beginning I have been baffled as to why PJ put so much effort into the languages and so little into English.
    I don't know whether PJ's comparatively tiny clique of writers of English are now considered among the best screen writers,
    but I can certainly disagree strongly with your opinion that they "have a great love for the work and have done a marvelous job in expressing many of Tolkien's themes". I have to say, in fact, that I find that one of the most extreme opinions I've seen on the forums. If they DO have that love, they certainly haven't shown it, and when we see and hear them talking about their work, their claims to that love of their material are contradicted by other expressions indicating disregard of it. Can we have an example of your opinion that they expressed some of Tolkien's themes better than Tolkien did?
    I know we have agreed before, on the infelicity of lines such as the closure of FOTR, and I accept that other lines will sound "wrong" only to people with a special interest in linguistics - which is, indeed, a fascinating study, and the origin of these works!
    The line you quote from Jallan, which I hadn't seen from him before, is wrong in a different way. It belongs to a class of lines which the writers seem to have taken from a variety of B-movies going back to the thirties. "No parent should have to bury their child" states a sad but banal fact as if it were a brilliant new idea, and it says it in words reminiscent of the sort of sentimental verse that is usually confined to greetings cards.
  12. Niniel

    Niniel Random Quoter

    The Elvish website you mean Nom is here:
    It has everything on movie Elvish (and also Dwarvish, Black Speech and Rohan languages), even the texts of the soundtrack that are not in the soundtrack booklet. I can't praise it enough, as far as I can check its accuracy it's very good.
  13. aragil

    aragil Just another loremaster

    Actually, in this case the line was restricted to something said in person to Bernard Hill by a woman who had just buried her own child. Banal to you, but quite important and moving to both the woman, and to Bernard Hill who then inisted that the line be included in the script.

    I have touched on theme on several threads on this board, and tried to get purists engaged in order to find out what they thought the books were saying and how they thought PJ had gotten it wrong. I found that by and large nobody was willing to discuss with me, and I am left as clueless as ever as to what the big deal is. I guess the best link to my 'Theme' discussions (and yes, you were there) can be found here:
    Usually my take is that the screenwriters in some case changed the character's actions to further exprees some of the themes found in the books.
  14. joxy

    joxy Registered User

    I can always rely on you for information, so my thanks to you for that.
    Is it on one of the DVDs, or is it from another source?
    And, what did you mean by "restricted" in that context?
    My point about it was that it was something that could, and most probably, would, be said by anyone in that sad situation,
    but that did not justify its inclusion by this particular character, in this particular situation, in this particular film. It just doesn't "fit" in with any of those aspects. B Hill obviously thought differently, so he obviously has a different idea of his role's character from mine, so it must remain a matter of taste. In Titanic, or in his famous UK TV role, it might have sounded more appropriate....
  15. aragil

    aragil Just another loremaster

    It's on the cast commentary of the EE. Bernard relates that he heard it and thought it would be lovely in the film He doesn't actually say he insisted on it, but it would be a pretty large stroke of coincidence if he thought it was a nice line and PB+FW had included it seperately.

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