- Note: The tengwar used in this article may not display properly unless tengwar fonts are installed.
Tengwar is the script used to write Quenya. Though the chapters of this wikibook use a Latin transliteration for the sake of simplicity, Quenya is properly written using the Tengwar. For more information on Tengwar itself, see History of Elven Writing Systems and the Wikipedia article on the topic.
Tengwar is said to have different "modes", each of which determines what sound is assigned to each symbol. This article only covers the Quenya mode, which cannot be used to write non-elven words (your name, for example) as it lacks necessary sounds. English modes for Tengwar exist, though they are not standardised.
Words are written from left to right, as in English.
|3||3||/θ, s/||e||/f/||d||/x, h/||c||/ɣʷ/|
|5||5||/n/||t||/m/||g||/ŋ, n/||b||/ŋʷ, nʷ/|
/h & ç/
- 3 is an archaic consonant and need not be used unless one wishes to refer to 8-i "s" sounds that originate from 3 e.g: 3.D7Y5→8.D7Y5 Sauron, originally Thauron.
- This also applies to g, where 5 can be used instead e.g: g^m^→5^m^ Noldo, originally Ñoldo.
- b is only used initially and never medially, which is written as 5n instead. e.g: b#jt$ - Nwalme, yE5nE - vanwa.
- 8 and i represent the same sound, though i is preferred when a vowel follows it, and is to be written over the top (see below). The same is true for "ss" k and ,.
- 9 is used for initial "h" sounds and "hy" sounds. 9 for "h" sounds and 9Í for "hy", e.g. 9C - ha, 9ÍC - hya
- ½ is only used before j and 7 to make hl and hr e.g: ½j#6 - hlar, ½7~B81Y - hrísto.
- l "i" and . "u" are used only in diphthongs, and preceeding vowels are placed above it, being read from top to bottom instead.
In order for a writing system to be considered a true alphabet, vowels and consonants must be treated equally. As this is not true of Tengwar, the system is technically an abugida. Vowels are, therefore, written above or below the consonant that comes before it.
The five short vowels are written above the consonant.
- a = 1E `C
- e = 1R `V
- i = 1T `B
- o = 1Y `N
- u = 1U `M
1 is being used as an arbitrary example to show that the vowels are written above the consonant. The second example, `, is a vowel carrier. This serves as a place holder for vowels when there is no consonant to write them over, such as at the beginning of a word. e.g: `C7E5 - aran.
The five long vowels are written above a long vowel carrier, not a consonant.
- á = ~C
- é = ~V
- í = ~B
- ó = ~N
- ú = ~M
The carrier descends below the line (like the letters h, p, and q do in English), as to distinguish it from a short carrier.
There is an alternate method of having long vowels written above a consonant, with the placement of a line tehta below the consonant, as seen in Tolkien's own Tengwar transcription of his poem Namárië, e.g:
t~C - tü# - Má, e~V - eýF - Fé, 1~B - 1þT - Tí ,q~N - qþY - Pó ,7~M - 7ÿU - Rú
Note that "L" is exempted from this possibility, as no known tehta fits within it.
These are written differently than the other two types, mainly because the vowel is written above the consonant that comes after the vowel (which is the opposite of the usual). In the case of diphthongs, however, the consonant is actually the second vowel in the diphthong.
If you find this confusing, just ignore the above paragraph and memorise the forms without questioning why they break the typical vowel rules.
- ai = lE
- oi = lY
- ui = lU
- au = .E
- eu = .F
- iu = .G
A number of strokes can be added to the tengwar to change their sound.
- Long consonants
- The long consonants are denoted by adding a curved stroke or a straight line below the "baseline" of the symbol. For example:
- cc = a; or a'
- ll = j° or j¸
- mm = t: or t"
- nn = 5: or 5"
- pp = q; or q'
- rr = 7; or 7'
- tt = 1; or 1'
- Palatalised consonants
- These are simply consonants followed by the letter Y. This is written with two dots below the symbol (or inside, for the letter j. For example:
- ly = j´
- my = tÌ
- ny = 5Ì
- ry = 7Î
- ty = 1Î
- Following S
- A consonant followed by the letter S, such as ts, ps, and ks (x), can be denoted by a downward hook to the "bow" (curved part) of the symbol. For example:
- ts = 1+ 1Å 1£ 1Ç
- ps = q¡
- ks / x = z|.
- Period, Semicolon = -
- Comma = =
- Exclamation Point = Á + following pause after = Á=
- Question Mark = À + following pause after = À=
- Parentheses = ›
- End of paragraph = --
- End of Document = -Â or Â-=
There is no separate parenthesis for the beginning or end of the enclosure.