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The Common Tongue and Latin

CirdanLinweilin

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Oh great!

As a measure to alleviate my Internet paranoia, that was one thing, and one thing only:

an abysmal failure! :eek:

I might PM you about how you got your member name changed ...
wait, wasn't there some hitch to that, PMing you, too? 🤔
That you unfortunately, and hilariously For us...

You walked right in to.


CL
 

NicolausVI

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I am not a student of Latin, but is there any similarity to the "common tongue" used in LOTR and Latin in the medieval west?
I am extremely excited that you asked this question! The short answer; the common tongue in the Lord of the Rings, Westron, is English, which is why everyone spoke it. However, did Tolkien use and love Latin? Of course he did! Quenya, the original form of Sindarin, is an Elvish-Latin. It declines like Latin does and has gendered nouns. This is admitted by the man himself in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, number 144. In fact he talks about all his languages in this letter, and answers your very question! But he loved Latin. He was a devout Roman Catholic who went to daily Mass (a detail sorely missed in the new Tolkien movie; all Masses used to be celebrated in Latin only) and spoke Latin fluently. I wrote an essay about Latin and English, I will send it to you if you are interested in reading it (I can't attach it here). Studying Latin is totally worth it, and you know the alphabet and about half the words already! Also a master of Latin translated the Hobbit into Latin under the title Hobbitus Ille. You can find it on amazon.com. Don't forget to roll your R's if you do start studying! There is also a free download of The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien online; if you google the "pdf", it is under PoP Lakewood.
I have therefore pleased myself. The archaic language of lore is meant to be a kind of 'Elvenlatin', and by transcribing it into a spelling closely resembling that of Latin (except that y is only used as a consonant, as y in E. Yes) the similarity to Latin has been increased ocularly. Actually it might be said to be composed on a Latin basis with two other (main) ingredients that happen to give me 'phonaesthetic' pleasure: Finnish and Greek. It is however less consonantal than any of the three. This language is High-elven or in its own terms Quenya (Elvish). The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien #144.
 
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Erestor Arcamen

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I am extremely excited that you asked this question! The short answer; the common tongue in the Lord of the Rings, Westron, is English, which is why everyone spoke it. However, did Tolkien use and love Latin? Of course he did! Quenya, the original form of Sindarin, is an Elvish-Latin. It declines like Latin does and has gendered nouns. This is admitted by the man himself in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, number 144. In fact he talks about all his languages in this letter, and answers your very question! But he loved Latin, he was a devout Roman Catholic who went to daily Mass (a detail sorely missed in the new Tolkien movie; all Masses used to be celebrated in Latin only) and spoke Latin fluently. I wrote an essay about Latin and English, I will send it to you if you are interested in reading it (I can't attach it here). Studying Latin is totally worth it, and you know the alphabet and about half the words already! Also a master of Latin translated the Hobbit into Latin under the title Hobbitus Ille. You can find it on amazon.com. Don't forget to roll your R's if you do start studying! There is also a free download of The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien online; if you google the "pdf", it is under PoP Lakewood.
I have a copy of the PDF that I read a lot. Is this the part you're talking about (it's a long letter 😁 !)

The latter has given me much thought. It seems seldom regarded by other creators of imaginary
worlds, however gifted as narrators (such as Eddison). But then I am a philologist, and much though
I should like to be more precise on other cultural aspects and features, that is not within my
competence. Anyway 'language' is the most important, for the story has to be told, and the dialogue
conducted in a language; but English cannot have been the language of any people at that time.
What I have, in fact done, is to equate the Westron or wide-spread Common Speech of the Third
Age with English; and translate everything, including names such as The Shire, that was in the
Westron into English terms, with some differentiation of style to represent dialectal differences.
Languages quite alien to the C.S. have been left alone. Except for a few scraps in the Black Speech
of Mordor, and a few names and a battle-cry in Dwarvish, these are almost entirely Elvish
(Eldarin).
Languages, however, that were related to the Westron presented a special problem. I turned
them into forms of speech related to English. Since the Rohirrim are represented as recent comers
out of the North, and users of an archaic Mannish language relatively untouched by the influence of

Eldarin, I have turned their names into forms like (but not identical with) Old English. The
language of Dale and the Long Lake would, if it appeared, be represented as more or less
Scandinavian in character; but it is only represented by a few names, especially those of the
Dwarves that came from that region. These are all Old Norse Dwarf-names.
(Dwarves are represented as keeping their own native tongue more or less secret, and using for
all 'outer' purposes the language of the people they dwelt near; they never reveal their own 'true'
personal names in their own tongue.)
The Westron or C.S. is supposed to be derived from the Mannish Adunaic language of the
Númenóreans, spreading from the Númenórean Kingdoms in the days of the Kings, and especially
from Gondor, where it remains spoken in nobler and rather more antique style (a style also usually
adopted by the Elves when they use this language). But all the names in Gondor, except for a few of
supposedly prehistoric origin, are of Elvish form, since the Númenórean nobility still used an Elvish
language, or could. This was because they had been allies of the Elves in the First Age, and had for
that reason been granted the Atlantis isle of Númenor.
Two of the Elvish tongues appear in this book. They have some sort of existence, since I have
composed them in some completeness, as well as their history and account of their relationship.
They are intended (a) to be definitely of a European kind in style and structure (not in detail); and
(b) to be specially pleasant. The former is not difficult to achieve; but the latter is more difficult,
since individuals' personal predilections, especially in the phonetic structure of languages, varies
widely, even when modified by the imposed languages (including their so-called 'native' tongue).

I have therefore pleased myself. The archaic language of lore is meant to be a kind of 'Elven-
latin', and by transcribing it into a spelling closely resembling that of Latin (except that y is only
used as a consonant, as y in E. Yes) the similarity to Latin has been increased ocularly. Actually it
might be said to be composed on a Latin basis with two other (main) ingredients that happen to give
me 'phonaesthetic' pleasure: Finnish and Greek. It is however less consonantal than any of the three.
This language is High-elven or in its own terms Quenya (Elvish).
The living language of the Western Elves (Sindarin or Grey-elven) is the one usually met,
especially in names. This is derived from an origin common to it and Quenya; but the changes have
been deliberately devised to give it a linguistic character very like (though not identical with)
British-Welsh: because that character is one that I find, in some linguistic moods, very attractive;
and because it seems to fit the rather 'Celtic' type of legends and stories told of its speakers.
 

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