Languages hide a vast amount of information about a certain people, their history, traditions and culture. Words, phrases, names can be a huge treasury of lore and beliefs, values and viewpoints. When we speak of the Elves, it is also true. They were the Firstborn Children of Eru Ilúvatar — fair and gifted individuals who placed a great importance on the stars in their culture. I have already discussed in this essay how the role of the stars in Elvish tradition is emphasised in different tales of Middle-earth. In the present essay I am going to consider the usage of the word elen — “star” — in the Quenya language.Read more
The secret tongue.
Different peoples in the world of Arda have their own typical traits that make them special and different from other races. The Dwarves are known to be rather secretive about their own selves. They tend to keep to themselves and very little is known about them or their traditions to the peoples of Middle-earth. One of the aspects of the Dwarvish culture, in which their secrecy shows very vividly, is their language of Khuzdul.Read more
The Wind of Change.
The importance of weather phenomena is hard to overestimate in the world of Arda. Whether weather conditions are natural, or the result of some activity on behalf of good or evil powers, they sometimes play a defining role in certain events in Middle-earth. When it comes to wind, it is not always a mere breath of air blowing in a certain direction. Tolkien makes a clear distinction between a common type of wind and wind as a manifestation of some power.Read more
Want to learn a language? Ask J. R. R. Tolkien how.
J. R. R. Tolkien was a gifted philologist. His philological interests, according to the Professor himself, were largely scientific, and that shows clearly in his own literary work. Just a read through The History of Middle-earth with its linguistic bits, in-depth philological essays, carefully crafted and restored etymologies for his own invented languages demonstrates as much. These languages were first and foremost, the starting point of Tolkien’s tales.Read more
Driven by the oath.
When it comes to stories by J. R. R. Tolkien, you can always rely on him in providing his readers with the most many-dimensional characters. There are rather few who are either absolutely good or absolutely evil: most individuals in the tales of Arda are rather complex and have their own — not always easy — fates. Maedhros, the eldest son of Fëanor, is definitely one of such characters.Read more
Years the countless.
Whenever we meet Elves in Tolkien’s tales, their age is often very hard to discern. To mortal eyes they may appear as middle-aged individuals in full vigour, but in reality they can be thousands years old. Having a different life-span to that of Men, Elves grow older much more slowly, but grow older they do. Even though their ageing may not always be visible to mortal eyes, Elves feel it most acutely.Read more
How I met The Lord of the Rings
It is written in my life-blood, such as that is,
thick or thin; and I can no other. I fear it must
stand or fall as it substantially is.
(Tolkien on The Lord of the Rings, 1947)Read more
Are you friend or foe?
It was often the case that in his writings J. R. R. Tolkien used unusual words either in their older meanings changed today, or the ones no longer in active use. It is such words that create a very special old-fashioned atmosphere of most of the Professor’s tales, tone them down to the stories of the past and give lovers of words a chance to dig out a new lexical treasure. One of such interesting choices was the noun unfriend that does not appear in Tolkien’s works very often.Read more
In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien readers meet various kinds of ghostly characters. While they are all different, have various origins, backgrounds and specific traits, one aspect unites them: these wights instil great fear and are downright spooky. It is hard not to have one’s blood chilled by the Ringwraiths, not to be scared by the Barrow-wights or haunted by the Dead Men of Dunharrow.Read more