Quenya vs Sindarin?

Discussion in 'The Languages of Middle-earth' started by Lanri, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. Lanri

    Lanri New Member

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    Hi friends,
    I'm just starting to explore Tolkien's languages and I'd love some thoughts about Quenya and Sindarin. I know Quenya is supposed to be slightly more complete, but Sindarin seems more popular maybe?
    Wax lyrical if you'd like, I'm curious and dipping my toes! :)
     
  2. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Treacherous and Vile

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    Hi, Lanri,

    The languages are not my areas of interest, but since no one else has answered, I will say briefly that Quenya is the "high" tongue of the Elves that passed over the Sea. The Noldor brought it back with them when they returned to Middle Earth. There, it became modified by, and itself modified, the Sindarin of the Elves who had remained.

    By the Third Age, Sindarin was the common birth-tongue of all Elves in Middle Earth, and Quenya a "learned" language, in both the single- and two-syllable senses of the word, as it was the language of lore and history. Think of it as like Latin, in Western Europe up at least into the 19th century.

    In fact, Frodo calls it "the Elf-Latin" in an early draft. Tolkien dropped this, as he progressively eliminated references to the "real" world, but it shows the position it held in his conception.

    Others here have much greater knowledge of these matters, so I hope they will respond. In the meantime, Google is your friend; there are a number of articles on line.

    And welcome to the forum! I hope you will be happy here.
     

  3. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Yes, Quenya is referred to as the "Elven-latin" in Appendix F, but it makes more sense coming from Tolkien-as-translator...

    … compared to coming from the mouth of Frodo-as-Hobbit :D

    I prefer the sound of Sindarin myself.

    Sorry if I wane lyrical ;)
     
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  4. Rána

    Rána Wayward

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    If I'm going to wax and wane on the subject... it's that language and music are very similar to me in the way that I deeply admire the crafting of both despite my struggles to understand the manner in which they are built. If Tolkien were an Ainu, perhaps he would be one associated with spoken language and the formation of sounds for speech... at least that's how I perceive the way he took on the tasks. Probably because the languages of Tolkien are so phonetically pleasing.

    I would guess that Quenyan is more the "form" speech and Sindarin is more the "function." The Ancient Elven tongue seems like it would be more "flowery" and artistic; while all of the documents that we have today, in the later days, are derived from Sindarin- because that was spoken more generally in Middle-earth. All the names of the Eldar in The Silmarillion are the Sindar forms of their original names in the West.

    So I would think that Sindarin is more practically useful to navigating most of the accounts of Middle-earth... but again, that comes from someone who doesn't formally understand the languages of the Elves.
     
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  5. Lanri

    Lanri New Member

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    Thank you everyone for such a lovely introduction! I hope to do more reading myself and dive more into the wonderful languages of Tolkien, so this was a great start <3
     
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  6. Kinofnerdanel

    Kinofnerdanel Member

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    Also I could add that Thingol having heard of the Kinslaying in Alqualonde banned Quenya in his lands, which also led to Sindarin being the elven common-tongue. Moreover it is stated that the Calaquendi (the ones who have seen the light of the trees in Valinor) were way more beautiful, talented, and all over additionally gifted both physically and mentally, thus making it easy for them to learn Sindarin, whereas the Moriquendi ("dark-elves" who haven't seen the light of Aman) struggled with the higher ranking Quenya. :)