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The Tengwar are an artificial script which was invented by J. R. R. Tolkien. In his works, the Tengwar script, supposedly invented by Fanor, was used to write a number of the languages of Middle-earth, including Quenya and Sindarin. However, it can also be used to write other languages, such as English (most of Tolkien's tengwar samples we know of are actually in English).

The word tengwar is Quenya for "letters". The corresponding singular is tengwa, "letter". The Tengwar were based on the older Sarati alphabet by Rmil of Valinor.


Spelling and pronunciation


Just as with any alphabetic writing system, every specific language written in tengwar requires a specific orthography, depending on the phonology of that language. These tengwar orthographies are usually called modes.

Some modes, called matehtar (or vowel tehtar) modes, represent vowels with diacritics called tehtar ("signs"; corresponding singular: tehta, "sign"), while other modes, called full writing modes, represent vowels by normal letters. Some modes map the basic consonants to /t/, /p/, /k/ and /kʷ/, while others use them to represent /t/, /p/, /tʃ/ and /k/. Some modes follow pronunciation, while others rather follow traditional orthography. The "full writing" modes are sometimes called Beleriandic modes because a well-known "full writing" mode is called the "mode of Beleriand".

Since the publication of the first official description of the Tengwar at the end of The Lord of the Rings, others have created modes for other languages such as English, Spanish, German, Esperanto and Lojban.

Tengwar letters

The most notable characteristic of the tengwar script is that the shapes of the letters correspond to the features of the sounds they represent.

The letters are constructed by a combination of two basic shapes: a vertical stem (either long or short) and either one or two rounded bows (which may or may not be underlined, and may be on the left or right of the stem).

The principal letters are divided into four series ("tmar") that correspond to the main places of articulation and into six rows ("tyeller") that correspond to the main manners of articulation. Both vary among modes.

Each series is headed by the basic signs composed of a vertical stem descending below the line, and a single bow. These basic signs represent the voiceless stop consonants for that series. For the classical Quenya mode, they are /t/, /p/, /c/ and /qu/, and the series are named tincotma, parmatma, calmatma, and quessetma, respectively; tma means "series" in Quenya.

In rows of the general use, there are the following correspondences between letter shapes and manners of articulation:

  • Doubling the bow turns the voiceless consonant into a voiced one.
  • Raising the stem above the line turns it into the corresponding fricative.
  • Shortening it (so it is only the height of the bow) creates the corresponding nasal. It must be noted though that in most modes, the signs with shortened stem and single bow don't correspond to the voiceless nasals, but to the approximants.

Here is an example from the parmatma (the signs with a closed bow on the right side) in the general use:

Missing image

  • The basic sign (with descending stem) represents /p/ (it happens to look much like the letter p).
  • With the bow doubled, it represents /b/.
  • With a raised stem, it represents /f/.
  • With a raised stem and a doubled bow, it represents /v/.
  • With a short stem and double bow, it represents /m/.
  • With short stem and single bow, it represents /w/.

In the classical Quenya mode, the rows are used differently:

  • With descending stem and double bow, we have /mb/.
  • With raised stem and double bow, we have /mp/.

There are additional letters that don't have regular shapes. They may represent e.g. /r/, /l/, /s/ and /h/. Their use varies considerably from mode to mode. Some aficionados have added more letters not found in Tolkien's writings for use in their modes.

Tolkienists have created several Tengwar fonts for various computer systems. A proposal has been made to include the Tengwar in the Unicode standard.

Tengwar in the Lord of the Rings films

Peter Jackson's movie trilogy commencing with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring features numerous books and artifacts with Tengwar inscriptions. Even though they were scrupulously researched for accuracy, they still show a couple of peculiarities and inconsistencies not found in Tolkien's own tengwar samples.

Another idiosyncrasy of the films is that the Hobbits are shown writing the sign for Bilbo's Birthday banner in the Latin alphabet, while the books state that the Hobbits used the Tengwar. However, the Latin calligraphy is written in such a way that it bears resemblance to the Tengwar, including tehtar above their corresponding vowels, and was likely for the audience's benefit to immediately recognise it.


The following sample will only produce a meaningful text if a tengwar typeface is installed, for instance Tengwar Annatar (http://home.student.uu.se/j/jowi4905/fonts/annatar.html), Tengwar Quenya (http://www.gis.net/~dansmith/fonts/font_tengwar/), Tengwar Sindarin (http://www.gis.net/~dansmith/fonts/font_tengwar/), Tengwar Formal (http://www.limes.com.pl/~miszka/) or Tengwar Parmaite (http://web.comhem.se/~u86023928/at/parmaite.htm).

The text shows the first two articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written in English, according to the traditional English orthography.

6E1zTjL 5^( j# 9t&5# w`Vb%_ 6EO w6Y5 e7~V 2{( zVj# 5% 2x%51T` 2{( 7v%1+ 4hR 7EO 2{$yYO2 y4% 7]F85^ 2{( z5^8i`B5$i( 2{( dyYj2 zE1 1`N ]Fa 4^(6 5% `C 8q7T1T W w74^(69~N2 6E1zTjL 1`N r$(7`5^( 8% 1[R1TjL2 1`N j# @ 7v%1+ 2{( e7~V2t^_ 81R e6Y3 5% 48% 2zRj7E1E`B5^ y4%yY1 28%1z[T1`B5^ W 5#` z2{% 8aU 8# 7iE( zj^yY6 8zR| jx{#`Mx#( 7j$x%`B5^ qj^1TzTj# 7Y 4^(6 qY5%`B5^ 51E`B5^j# 6Y 8iY`Bj# 7Yx%5% q7qY6R1`۹ w6T3 7Y 4^(6 811E8& e6U4(6t6YO 5`N 28%1z[T1`B5^ dj# w`V t2#( 5^ @ w8#8% W" qj^1TzTj# s7U8%2zT1`B5^j# 7Y 1[T6R51E`B5^j# 811E8& W" zyY1[7` 6Y 17R'1T7Y` 1`N oaT `C q6R85^ wj$b^_ o4$(6 1T w`V 2{%qR2{$1[R 178&1 55^8j$exr^6R5b% 7Y 2{&(67 5#` 4^(6 jt%1T1E`B5^ W 8r^7RhRx51`ۺ

The following Unicode sample is meaningful when viewed under a typeface supporting Tengwar glyphs in the area defined in the Tengwar proposal for the ConScript Unicode Registry (U+E000–U+E006F; see #External links). Examples of such fonts include James Kass (http://home.att.net/~jameskass)'s Code2000 and Code2001 fonts. The text is the same as in the above example.

                             

See also

External links


cs:Tengwar de:Tengwar es:Tengwarfr:Tengwar ko:탱과르 ja:テングワール pl:Tengwar ru:Тенгвар sl:Tengvar sr:Тенгвар


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