The Elvish language Quenya is the most developed of Tolkien’s languages. It is very heavily influenced by Finnish, which can be seen in the absence of the voiced stops b, d and g and the endings -inen, -ainen, and -oinen.

Though phonological rules are Finnish, actual pronunciation is closer to Latin. Unlike Finnish, Quenya lacks vowel harmony, and accent is not always on the first syllable of the word. When spoken, it sounds somewhat similar to Italian, as can be seen in the following video, which shows the first chapter of “Genesis,” spoken in Quenya.

Quenya is an agglutinative language. Through various affixes, one word in English can have the same function as an entire sentence in English. For instance, the word Ecénientes in Quenya means the same thing as the English sentence, “They have seen it.”

Nouns in Quenya are declined for ten grammatical cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, instrumental, possessive, locative, allative, ablative, and an unnamed mystery case.

Instrumental case shows that a noun is being used as a tool. Locative shows a location or position. Allative shows motion towards. Ablative shows motion away. The tenths case, which was never named in Tolkien’s writings, expresses a noun figuratively, such as “about wolves,” or “regarding wolves.”

Quenya, like Telerin and Sindarin, uses the Tengwar writing system.

As of 2008, 25000 words have been published in Quenya, based on Tolkien’s writings. A few examples of Quenyan words and phrases are:

avathar  the shadows

-cil  suffix that means “person”

esse  name

melda  friend

taure  forest

Elen sí la lú menn’ omentielvo.  A star shines upon the hour of
our meeting.

Ní rë tulë i lumessë autielyo.  A tear comes in the hour of your

Tolkien reciting the poem Namárië in Quenya in 1952.


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