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Elvish Language Lesson #1

February 5, 2003 at 9:42 pm by Jincey  - 

This chat took place on February 5, 2003 in’s #thehalloffire channel. Our guest was Barliman’s regular, and self-taught language expert Elostrion. Here follows the transcript of the log:

*** Log file opened: 2/5/2003 6:55:58 PM

[Elostrion] Tonight we are covering Sindarin Syntax. Syntax simply refers to the structuring of sentences and such. First, we will look at the ways in which a sentence can be ordered. Sindarin sentences can have the forms:

1) Object-Verb-Subject
Note: The most common.
Number 1 is used when there is a complete Subject, Verb, and Object.

2) Verb-Object
Note: Used when only a complete Verb and Object is included. I know you are wondering how there can be no subject. Well, certain pronouns used as subjects are included in Verb Conjugation. We will cover that later.

3) Verb-Subject
Note: Used when there is an implied Object.

4) Subject-Verb-Object
Note: When a complete Subject, Verb, and Object is included, you may choose between numbers 1 and 4.

[Elostrion] Modifiers usually follow their “modify-ees”. That is, Adjectives follow their Nouns, etc. Adverbs follow their Verbs, etc. I will now give you a few examples.
[Elostrion] The sentence “The dog ran.” includes only a complete Subject and Verb…
[Elostrion] so, I would choose Number 3
[Elostrion] And the order would be “Ran the dog.”
[Elostrion] I know you are wondering why “the” is included before it’s noun. We will cover this next time.
[Elostrion] If I had a sentence such as “The brown dog jumped over the fence.”
[Elostrion] I would choose Number 3 again.
[Elostrion] The correct Sindarin order is… “Jumped over the fence the dog brown.”
[Elostrion] And now for a more complicated example…
[Elostrion] “The mighty man drank the juice from a tree.”
[Elostrion] Here I would choose either Numbers 1 or 4.
[Elostrion] The correct Sindarin order is… “The juice from tree drank the man mighty.”
[Elostrion] Sindarin is like German, in that you have to decide which is the most logical choice of subject.
[Elostrion] Obviously, the juice cannot drink the man.
[Elostrion] I will explain why I have omitted “a” in the next lesson.
[Elostrion] I believe that I am now ready to take questions.
[YalieGirl] Do modifiers always directly follow the word modified, both adjectivally and adverbially?
[Pio] What numbers are you talking about? You said as in here use 3, or here use 1 or 4
[mallorn] Pio: I think he means you have to make a choice?
[Night_Elf] when you say that the pronouns are in the verb conjugation what do you mean?
[Elostrion] Yes, RedSun?
[unigolyn] Pio: he gave numbered explanations of different word orders
[TheRedSunRises] the last example you used
[Elostrion] What about it?
[TheRedSunRises] “The juice from tree drank the man mighty.”
[TheRedSunRises] that’s #4?
[Stacy] in elvish, how do you say “I love you”?
[Pio] amin ella lle isn’t it?
[Oblyvia] mela
[shlokes] The brown dog jumped over the fence. Why is fence not an object?
[Shieldmaiden] Night_Elf — I assume that it means that there do not need to be subjects and verbs, that the conjugation of the verb indicates which subject or pronoun it has.
[TheRedSunRises] shlokes, its an indirect object
[Elostrion] That it does Shield.
[Night_Elf] ok.. you got an example?
[shlokes] alright
[Night_Elf] you said that pronouns go with the conjugated verbs.. can you give an example?
[Elostrion] You will learn about that later Night_Elf.
[shlokes] RedSun what makes it a indirect object?
[shlokes] How can we tell if something is an indirect object or not?
[Guest5] How do you say “You are my best friend” in elvish?
[Ondohon] Is the use of adjectives like French?
[Nimlad] Elo – would you mind reposting the word order numbered examples you gave earlier? (for those of us who can’t tell time)
[Elostrion] I do not know French.
[Ondohon] Ooh 🙂
[Pio] Yes Elo, please repeat the numbered examples
[Elostrion] I will in a little while Nimlad
[Ondohon] Aah I found it] You said it mainly follows the modifiyee 🙂
[unigolyn] Question: is the word order always strict; my impression was that Sindarin was like Finnish/Estonian and relies on word suffixes
[Elostrion] Yes
[jincey] folks lets slow down just a bit : )
[jincey] Elostrion is overwhelmed!!
[Elostrion] The word order can be modified somewhat, but do not stray too far.
[hama_elvishlessons] Elostrian: will you please tell us how to conjugate verbs?
[Elostrion] You will learn in the upcoming lessons.
[YalieGirl] Where are adverbs placed relative to verbs they modify and adjectives they modify?
[Elostrion] Modifiers usually follow their nouns, verbs, etc.
[Aurra] Question for Elo: Is there any type of website that shows the Elven language. Such as, if we were looking for one specific word?
[Elostrion] There is a downloadable Sindarin Dictionary. I will give you the URL at the end of the questions.
[unigolyn] Elostrion: Could you, as an example, deconstruct the elvish phrase ‘Elen sila lumenn omentielvo’ (unless it’s Quenya :))
[Elostrion] It is Quenya
[Altise] is this dictionary just for sindarin or can the words be used for other modes too, such as quenya?
[Elostrion] the dictionary i speak of is only Sindarin
[Jeremy] Q for Elo: will i need a special program to open the dictionary?
[Elostrion] No
[Shieldmaiden] Question for Elo: Are all the verbs in Sindarin irregular?
[Elostrion] Let us cross that bridge when we come to it.
[Ondohon] will you give Quenya-lessons as well?
[Elostrion] We will see how well these go.
[Jeremy] Q: is Sindarin the most commonly spoken in the movies?
[Elostrion] yes
[mallorn] Question: For those who know and speak Elvish, which is more common to know, Sindarin or Quenya?
[Elostrion] Sindarin is more useful, but Quenya can be more satisfying to learn. In my opinion.
[unigolyn] Elostrion: If at first you don’t succeed… ‘Onen i-Estel Edain, u-chebin estel anim’. Hoping this is Sindarin, can you deconstruct this?
[Elostrion] I will if you will give me your e-mail unigolyn, it will take some time.
[Shieldmaiden] Question: In Sindarin older and/or the more developped of the two?
[Elostrion] They are both almost equally developed, in different areas. Quenya is FAR older.
[Elennaur] my question for Elostrion is: why in the lyrics to the song “Aniron” is it phrased “Ai! Aniron Undomiel”? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
[Elostrion] If you have a question about any movie phrases please go here…
[niphredil] question: is Sindarin sentence construction more like Latin languages, or backwards, like English? :o)
[Elostrion] I am not very familiar with Latin. Sindarin Syntax is somewhat unique. It has elements from just about everywhere.
[Altise] what is the difference between the various modes of elvish? such as sindarin, quenya and black speech.
[jincey] please note, i’m pasting these q’s in pretty much as they come to me ; )
[Elostrion] Elvish is what we collectively call all of Tolkien’s Languages. Each “mode”as you call it, is in itself an entire language. There are about 21 different languages.
[Night_Elf] question: if sindarin is the common elvish and quenya is the elvish for the high elves then why does elrond and arwen speak sindarin?
[Elostrion] Quenya is not “for the high elves”. In the Third Age, Quenya was only spoken at formal events, and in poems. Quenya:Sindarin::Latin:English.
[YalieGirl] Q for Elo: Why would Quenya be more satisfying to learn?
[Elostrion] it is, in my opinion, more beautiful. Even though Sindarin prefers mroe lyrical sounds
[niphredil] ok, phrasing it differently: is Sindarin sentence construction similar to English?
[Elostrion] In a few ways, yes but not in others
[Menelmacar] are most of the poems in the book quenya or sindarin?
[Elostrion] Which book? If you are speaking of LotR, I don’t know. I will have to look. I will tell you next time if you come.
[Altise] is it possible to speak sindarin or quenya well enough to have conversations? or did Tolkien not complete them enough?
[Elostrion] Theoretically. You can substitute certain words for others, and such. However, we can never know how Tolkien really meant for it to be.
[Shieldmaiden] Question: How do you know how to pronounce the words? Is there a linguistic guide?
[Elostrion] On page 1087 of RotK
[Jeremy] in the prolouge for the first movie, is Elrond giving commands in Sindarin?
[Elostrion] No Sindarin
[Elostrion] Yes, Sindarin sry
[jincey] jeremy has a followup to the last…
[Jeremy] Q: is the Elvish index in the back of the Silmirillion Sindarin?
[Elostrion] It is both
[Night_Elf] question: does sindarin use the same puntuation as english?
[Elostrion] Elvish is not meant to be written with the English alphabet; however, Tolkien decided to use several symbols to represent the Elvish sounds. Similar to Latin.
[YalieGirl] Where are adverbs placed relative to verbs they modify and adjectives they modify?
[Elostrion] .Modifiers are placed in order or appearance… If I wanted to say the “black brown blue purple cat”…
[Elostrion] I woud say “cat black brown blue purple
[snuh] i’m wondering about pronunciation as well, but as in trilling R’s. how important is that, especially if you’re one who can’t trill? any advice on trilling?
[Elostrion] I understand, it is very hard for me as well. If you say an untrilled “r” followed by a short “d” is should help.
[yavetil] Which is the easiest “mode” of Elvish to learn?)
[Elostrion] Oh dear, I suppose Quenya was easier for me… Because there are so many problems with Sindarin…
[Elostrion] Tolkien kept changing his mind. There is quite a bit of debate about what the final version was.
[EllaHalfling] is there any irregularity with certain words in the syntax or placement of modifiers
[Elostrion] There are of course exceptions to the rule, aren’t there always.
[yavetil] When Aragorn speaks in Elvish in the movies, is it Sindarin?
[Elostrion] Mostly
[Elostrion] Again if you have any questions about the Movie go here…
[Aurra] Question for Elo: Is there any type of website that shows the Elven language. Such as, if we were looking for one specific word?
[Elostrion] I will give you the URL for the dictionary site now…
[Yoohoo_Baggins] Given that the created vocabularies of Quenya and Sindarin are relatively small, have people been constructing new elvish words and is there any consensus on using them? That is to say are there competing dialects out there?
[Elostrion] There is one dialect called “Neo-Sindarin”
[Elostrion] Here is the link…
[iLUVorlandoB] question: what would be the sentence structure for sindarin? for example: where does the subject go in a sentence?
[Elostrion] Oh dear, you weren’t here at the beginning. Please read the transcript.
[Elostrion] I will now re-list the sentence forms:
1) Object-verb-Subject
2) Verb-Object
4) Subject-Verb-Object
[Elostrion] Here are the links I have put up
[Elostrion] The Sindarin Dictionary:
[Elostrion] The Neo-Sindarin Dialect Page:
[Elostrion] Helpful sites about Elvish:
[Elostrion] All of those are very useful.
[niphredil] could you make a sample sentence, like: the boat is on the sea, (or whatever)?
[Elostrion] Absolutely!
[Elostrion] “The boat sat on the dock.”
[Elostrion] We would choose number 3…
[Elostrion] “Sat on the dock the boat.”
[Elostrion] “The red dog read the blue book”
[Elostrion] We could choose Numbers 1/4…
[Elostrion] Number 4: “The book blue read the dog red”
[JulieOh] Since two of the sentence forms (1 & 4) are opposite of each other, how do we know when to use which?
[Elostrion] You may choose.
[YalieGirl] How long did it take you to learn Sindarin to the proficiency you now have?
[Elostrion] How long have I been studying Elvish, or just Sindarin?
[YalieGirl] Both. Either.
[Elostrion] I started studying Elvish 3 or 4 years ago. It was slow going, there were not very many resources available. And I began Sindarin 2 or 3 years ago.
[Turco] is there a Quenya dictionary like the one just listed for Sindarin?
[Elostrion] There are several dictionaries online, but none so complete as the Sindarin.
[Night_Elf] asks: “question: what are some mnemoic aids for learning sindarin that are common if their are any”
[Elostrion] I haven’t needed any myself. But I suppose if you come to all of my lessons you could think of some yourself.
[jincey] back to the #1 & #4…
[Mo] Question: Does the difference between #1 and #4 imply a different context?
[Elostrion] No. Like German, the listener must determine which noun makes more sense as the subject.
[yavetil] We know now how verbs and subjects are placed, etc, what about numbers (digits)?
[Elostrion] The placement of numbers depends on their use in each individual sentence.
[Nimlad] Q: would you mind posting the word order examples again? thanks
[Elostrion] LoL, no
[Elostrion] 1) Object-Verb-Subject
[Elostrion] 2) Verb-Object
[Elostrion] 3) Verb-Subject
[Elostrion] 4) Subject-Verb-Object
[Anaralith] question for elo: are there any published books for learning sindarin or the tolkien languages?
[Elostrion] There is one book by Ruth S. Noel. In fact, it was one of the first resources I consulted, but I quickly learned that it was by no means reliable. There are several books you can purchase in Poland. (The information is on Other than that, most of your information should some from the internet
[mallorn] I tried to figure out the days of the week in Elvish, Sindarin I believe, and found that there are only six. Do you know which day is eliminated?
[Elostrion] There is none, apparently you were mis-informed.
[Elostrion] If you will e-mail me at, I will be glad to give you the days of the weel.
[Altise] The Sindarin dictionary you posted does not seem to have many, if any, basic verbs. How are you to construct a Sindarin sentence in Sindarin rather than English if this is the most complete dictionary as you said?
[Elostrion] There are many verbs, make sure you have deconstructed the verb as far as it can go. Into its root form.
[Tauriel] Question: You say that “like with German, the listener must decide which noun makes more sense as the subject”. But in German, you often don’t have to do that because the cases tell you which one is the subject. My question is then – does Sindarin have cases too or is it entirely up to the context which verb is the subject?
[Elostrion] No cases
[yavetil] How would you place in order, or even say, the time of day of the day? ex: 12:00pm o’clock
[Elostrion] E-mail me for that please.
[KylaGreenleaf1] Are there any audio tapes or something that one can listen to to learn?
[Elostrion] Oh no. Not that I have found.
[Jeremy] Q: can you give an example for number 2?
[Elostrion] In the sentence “I read the book” the “I” subject is included into Conugation.
[Elostrion] “[I read] the book”
[Elinwe] How did you learn how to speak elvish? did you find any of the dialects to be especially similar to any modern languages in terms of syntax or pronunciation?
[Elostrion] As many have said, several are very similar to Finnish and Welsh, as well as Latin. I taught myself from the Online resources I have listed.
[mmoB] question for elo – what site or book have you most referred to in learning sindarin?
[Elostrion] Definately
[Elostrion] The best Elvish resource on the web
[Night_Elf] question: as in spanish and italian… if you don’t put an accent on a word… would it have a totally different meaning
[Elostrion] No.
[KylaGreenleaf1] I have noticed alot of accents over certain letters that are identical to French. Are the Sindarin words similar in pronoucation?
[Elostrion] Let me explain the accents to you now. For future reference.
[Elostrion] An Acute Accent (an apostrophe like thing above the letter) shows a long vowel.
[Elostrion] Long vowels in stressed monosyllables are marked with the Circumflex (triangle thingy)
[Elostrion] Circumflexes in other Languages, e.g. Adunaic, Khuz-dul, are simply meant to define them from Sindarin and Quenya.
[SparkleDark] ques: so there is no form of iambics at all to be followed?
[Elostrion] None i have encountered
[Iris] Why are there 3 froms of elvish, but everyone only uses Sindarin and Quenya?
[Elostrion] There are approx. 21 different languages contained within Elvish. Sindarin was the tongue spoken by most Elves in the Third Age.
[Elinwe] I read that ‘dh’ is pronounced like the English ‘th’ such as in the word ‘then’. Is this always true?
[Elostrion] yes
[Elostrion] I am very sorry everyone.
[Elostrion] But it is time for me to go.
[Elostrion] If you have any further questions, email me at
[jincey] everyone, we WILL post the log of this chat
[Elostrion] Hannon le a tholel pân. Ist nadath uin lam edhellen echeditham, harthon.
[jincey] on barli’s page
[Elostrion] Navaer
[jincey] elostrion will be back next week : )
[jincey] thanks elostrion !!

Posted in Old Special Reports on February 5, 2003 by

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