This website contains archives of the Tolkien Discussion Group from 2009 to early 2013.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Groups of Elves, Differences in Languages

AelKennyr Rhiano 
Lihan Taifun
Cristine Jennings (cristine.wildrose)

Do merfolk exist in the Tolkien universe? There is a rumor of a brief mention in some uncommon book. Apparently Fifi (who isn't here tonight) was the one who saw it.

Was it Eru's plan that the Elves leave MiddleEarth (around the end of the Third Age) and move to the Far West? There would be great cultural and language differences between the Elves who had lived in MiddleEarth for three ages, and those who stayed in the West. Was it Eru's plan that the Elves be evacuated to the Far West before the First Age?

We think that the Teleri who eventually arrived in the Blessed Lands were still speaking a dialect close enough to that of the Vanyar and the Noldor to be able to communicate.

What happened, as far a language, when Sindarin-speaking Noldor (such as Elrond) returned to the Blessed Lands? What about Elwing, one of the very first? We know Finrod had been released from Mandos, and perhaps others had. How well known was Sindarin, in the Blessed Lands?

AelKennyr Rhiano: favorite topic! lol
Lihan Taifun:            and you already know how the Teleri got split up
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes, Elwe...always had his head turned by a pretty face :P
Lihan Taifun:            Melian WAS a pretty face
AelKennyr Rhiano:  She was, indeed
Cristine Jennings:    Lúthien did too.
Lihan Taifun:            Luthien did indeed!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  oh yes! nod nod nod

AelKennyr Rhiano:  I have a question. Did Merfolk exist in Tolkien's world?
Cristine Jennings:    Dont remember any mermaids
Lihan Taifun:            I heard once that something very similar was mentioned in passing in one of his writings, but I never saw the reference myself
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I was wondering if all the elves were restricted to land-dwelling.
Cristine Jennings:    The closest I can think of is the monster in the water in Moria.
Lihan Taifun:            oh, I see, looking in the old archives, it was Fifi who mentioned the reference
Fifi, did you find any research on mer people?
There was almost nothing
"almost nothing" or exactly nothing?
I found a brief reference to a mermaid island, but no details and not in the regular books
oooh, tell us!
Fifi Wickentower: rummages through notes *:D
Well, a brief reference is enough to prove they do exist in Tolkien's universe!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  lol
Cristine Jennings:    interesting
Lihan Taifun:            My brother owns that book (said Fifi)
It sounds right that there was only one, obscure, reference
Lihan Taifun:            if there were merfolk, would they be related to elves?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  That would be my next question....heh heh
Lihan Taifun:            if they could breath underwater, they might not be

AelKennyr Rhiano:  Ok...I do have another question..
Lihan Taifun:            lol
Cristine Jennings:    ok
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Do you think that Eru intended all along for the elves to depart Middle Earth and join the Ainur in the West?
Lihan Taifun:            ohhh, deep philosophical question!
AelKennyr Rhiano:  heh heh Because, I have been thinking about that. The elves who lived in Middle Earth and then returned, they would be different from the Elves of Aman in many ways.
Lihan Taifun:            they would
AelKennyr Rhiano:  and so that begs a further question.. Did Eru ever intend for the Ainur to bring elves to the West at all?
Lihan Taifun:            is that the same question?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I think two sides of the same question. I think you have to address both to answer either one.
Lihan Taifun:            I'm not sure how the two questions are different
Tuatha Shippe is Online
Cristine Jennings:    they are very simular
AelKennyr Rhiano:  let me rephrase and be precise then.
Lihan Taifun:            ok
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Do you think that, all along, Eru intend for the elves who remained in Middle Earth to begin to depart it, circa the LOTR era and withdraw to the West? And in consideration of that question, another question is.. When the elves were first awakened, and the Ainur approached them and coax the three Eldar races to come to Aman and live with you think that was the intention of Eru, to create a separate group of Elves who came to Aman and never truly knew Middle Earth. Or was that solely the actions of the Ainur themselves.
Lihan Taifun:            ok, I understand the question (and I'm curious what Cristine keeps almost typing)
AelKennyr Rhiano:  oops...sorry to hog the conversation...blushes
Cristine Jennings:    its ok
Lihan Taifun:            I don't remember what you are familiar with, and don't want to lose you or anything. (it has happened that Ael and I get to discussing some geeky point, and bore everyone else to tears)
AelKennyr Rhiano:  we do? We have?...blinks
Lihan Taifun:            not often
Cristine Jennings:    If Im reading it right he made the elves to have free will so I think they chose for themselves.
Lihan Taifun:            they chose, certainly, but they were so young and impressionable at the time
Cristine Jennings:    I need to reread the books I havent read them in a while.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes, they were
Lihan Taifun:            that was early in the Silmarillion. the Ainur were worried that the elves weren't safe in Middle Earth, with Morgoth running around
Cristine Jennings:    wich he was right to be worried
Lihan Taifun:            true
AelKennyr Rhiano nods
Lihan Taifun:            so the elves were safer in the Far West, but also overprotected, and the young Humans didn't meet them as soon as they might have. I have seen arguments that the Valar shouldn't have brought the elves West, and arguments that it really was part of the plan
AelKennyr Rhiano:  well, to get to the topic of language and customs, this has a huge impact on the elves, don't you think?
Cristine Jennings:    indeed its the reason they have different languages
Lihan Taifun:            different languages, true
AelKennyr Rhiano:  when the Teleri came to Aman, were they still speaking Quenya?
Lihan Taifun:            I think so, a slightly different dialect than the Vanyar and the Noldor, but pretty similar. Sometimes you see references to the remants of "Teleri" language, which I THINK refers to the language of the Teleri left in MIddle Earth, before it changed to Sindarin
AelKennyr Rhiano:  So when they arrived, they would have still understood the Vanyar and the Noldor
Lihan Taifun:            I think so
Cristine Jennings:    yes
AelKennyr Rhiano:  but when Elrond's people arrive in the West, would they have understood the elves of Aman? language wise?
Cristine Jennings:    im guessing it was kinda like how english has different dialects
Lihan Taifun:            oh, most of them would speak Sindarin ... I wonder if they did understand each other?
Lihan Taifun:            but there would have been elves released from Mandos who spoke SIndarin
AelKennyr Rhiano:  would there?
Cristine Jennings:    Sindarin shared common roots with Quenya, and the two languages had many similar words.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  I would expect that, given they both had the same language source.
Lihan Taifun:            we know Finrod was released from Mandos, and lived in Tirion
AelKennyr Rhiano:  But he was not released so he could be a translator, was he?
Lihan Taifun:            no. but if he was, there could have been others, so people in the West might have learned Sindarin, and Elves are famously good at learning languages
AelKennyr Rhiano:  ooh. ok
Cristine Jennings:    its possible
Lihan Taifun:            so Elrond might not have been totally out of luck
AelKennyr Rhiano:  So perhaps the language would be a little "out of date" in Aman, but they possibly knew Sindarin.
Lihan Taifun:            at least his mom, Elwing, would be around, and SHE spoke Sindarin
AelKennyr Rhiano:  true
Lihan Taifun:            hmmm, maybe that is why she is a bit of a loner ... language differences
AelKennyr Rhiano:  With language differences often comes cultural differences, too
Lihan Taifun:            yes, very likely there were cultural differences. I'm not sure we know what they were, but you would expect some differences
AelKennyr Rhiano:  Would the Vanyar have bothered to learn Sindarin? ... that sounded rude.. but I mean, they remained so firmly in Aman.
Lihan Taifun:            is it any ruder than thinking they might not have?
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And they were attached to the Ainur?
Lihan Taifun:            they did seem pretty happy, living on the Mountain, and letting Middle Earth go by
AelKennyr Rhiano:  "By Golly, by Gumption, all these new fangled elves from Middle Earth. IF they come here to Aman, they need to learn to speak like a proper elf! Why, in my day, we walked 100 miles a day just to go to Quenya school."
Cristine Jennings:    well Thingol outlawed Quenya in his area.
AelKennyr Rhiano:  outlawed?
Lihan Taifun:            he did
AelKennyr Rhiano:  oh...yes, right, I forgot.
Lihan Taifun:            which speeded up the Noldor learning Sindarin
AelKennyr Rhiano:  and I blush to admit that atm I can't remember was...oops, you answered my question.
Lihan Taifun:            the reason was he was so mad at the Noldor for the Kinslaying
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes, as soon as you said Noldor, I remember...sorry. I went blank for a second.
Lihan Taifun:            :) sorta like my ancestors, who lived in the US, but quickly learned to stop speaking German about 1914
AelKennyr Rhiano:  yes, precisely.
Cristine Jennings:    mine did that too
Lihan Taifun:            yes, speaking German (or Quenya) didn't go over well. or Arabic now
AelKennyr Rhiano:  LAdies, I hate to leave you both, but I rushed home to make this meeting, and my stomach is protesting for supper. I am sorry to leave early. Thank you, Lihan. I hope we can continue the discussion next week.
Cristine Jennings:    Though the germans nowadays speak English
AelKennyr Rhiano:  And good to see you, Cristie. AelKennyr Rhiano waves and quickly slips out

Cristine Jennings:    Should we finish for the night?
Lihan Taifun:            maybe so. I hope you can make it next week :)
Cristine Jennings:    have a good night
Lihan Taifun:            you too