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The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,841 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The same delight that led Tolkien to invent fourteen different languages and assorted alphabets for his Middle-earth dwellers now leads many of his fans to puzzle out translations for the Rohirrim's battle cries and to write their love letters in Elvish.

Here is the perfect handbook for all such enthusiasts as well as for serious students of language. It includes a full acc
Paperback, 207 pages
Published May 28th 1980 by Houghton Mifflin Company (first published 1974)
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The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Silmarillion by J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollGulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Geofiction: World building for the love of it
40th out of 141 books — 38 voters
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by J.R.R. TolkienThe Road to Middle-Earth by Tom ShippeyJ.R.R. Tolkien by Tom ShippeyThe Monsters and the Critics and other essays by J.R.R. TolkienJ.R.R. Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter
17th out of 62 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cait • A Page With A View
Apr 06, 2016 Cait • A Page With A View rated it it was amazing
GUYS, IT'S ELVISH! Geek out. I bought this 13 years ago and it's still the best resource I've ever seen. (Yes, there are other languages in there too... but seriously, who cares about Dwarvish or Khuzdul or whatever the heck it was when there's Sindarin & Quenya).
[Name Redacted]
Nov 09, 2014 [Name Redacted] rated it it was amazing
I saw a guy in my math class reading this in 1996; I commented on how cool it looked, so for Christmas that guy gave me my own copy. He said he had an extra copy lying around.

Earlier this year he killed himself. I will always remember him for this gift, a simple act of unnecessary kindness.
Daniel Ionson
Aug 30, 2015 Daniel Ionson rated it liked it
This only has a little of the data that's not in the appendix of Silmarillion.
Feb 28, 2013 Crumb rated it really liked it
This is a great read if you're interested in Tolkien's languages. If you're purely in love with his stories this will not interest you. Also, you will probably need some knowledge of linguistic terminology to fully understand it.
The reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because of its inaccuracy. The book is important because it was one of the first major books to be published on Tolkien's languages, but it has since become quite outdated. Take into account that the first edition of this boo
Apr 23, 2013 Toralinda rated it liked it
A relatively good book for those who want to learn a little bit about Tolkien's constructed languages. It is now outdated, however, as more information (directly from Tolkien) about the Elvish languages in particular has been published since this book. As such, some of the explanations of grammar and of the writing systems are wrong. Good book for those who want a brief glimpse at what the languages are like, but no good for serious learners of the languages/writing systems - for that I highly r ...more
Heidi Nemo
Aug 22, 2008 Heidi Nemo rated it it was amazing
This book enabled me, at 9, to start envisioning, designing, imagining other languages, other ways of communicating, to go with my imaginary worlds.
I learned to write in elvish and a couple of runic languages Tolkien devised, then shared this with a friend, allowing us to completely bypass the limitations of school and authority. With language. Holy shit, it opened a door I'd never thought to see.
I named my first horse after this book; it had that large an effect on my conciousness.
Jul 16, 2011 Kirsten rated it liked it
A very useful guide to Tolkien's invented languages, but is mostly a tool or study-guide rather than a work that can be enjoyably read from cover to cover. It's a good one to have on the shelf for reference if you are a Tolkien fan, but I think it is aimed at the people who are interested in the "private lang" aspect of Tolkien's work more than his stories.
Nikhil Krishnaswamy
Oct 21, 2013 Nikhil Krishnaswamy rated it liked it
I'm no Tolkien scholar, but reading the appendices to the Return of the King kick-started my interest in language creation and linguistics. Now I have a Master's degree in that (linguistics, not language creation). So I owe a lot to Tolkien and his languages and had already done a lot of reading on the topic before I stumbled across this book completely by accident.

This is a quick read; I finished it in just one night. The latter half is a dictionary of the various words found in Tolkien's Middl
Jan 06, 2015 Erynien rated it did not like it
I see some folks calling this an "informative" read, but it isn't one for a seasoned Tolkienite. This book is terribly out of date, and is often incorrect, even when consulting sources that existed at the time of its publication. The only thing that saves it are its references for the Tengwar and Cirth. Save your money and look into David Salo's work instead. Accurate, up-to-date dictionaries like Hisweloke's Sindarin Dictionary are available online.
Aaron White
Jan 11, 2016 Aaron White rated it liked it
Regarding the rune and letters, regarding pronunciation and the guide to the languages, this was a great book. I know most of this information can be found elsewhere, but it is handy to have all together.

Regarding the history of the languages and other info given, I did not care for it as much. I am fairly familiar with the Tolkien world, but the author spouts off places and names that are uncommon unless you have read all History of Middle Earth books with no back info given. I am okay with ref
Nov 21, 2015 Maria rated it it was amazing
This book was a fascinating reference source that I discovered during my middle school years. I became an instant languages-geek (even before I had studied any foreign languages). My friends and I used the writing systems in this book to pass notes to each other in class! So much fun.
May 16, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This amazing book dedicated to languages of Middle-Earth is perfect for Rune-learning. There, you can find the complete tengwar alphabet and a english to elvish dictionnary. It's worth reading, honestly.
Apr 13, 2015 Nmarie rated it really liked it
A nice supplement to the trilogy.

keep it next to the dictionary and thesaurus.
Dec 29, 2015 Bucko rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, tolkien
An illuminating companion piece for Tolkien fanatics.
May 01, 2015 Iriisje rated it liked it
Alot of information, nice for my collection
Um Nerds lol (bigshlalatalker)
Sep 21, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it
Finally finished this important, although apparently somewhat inaccurate/outdated, book. It was just reading through the dictionary portion that took forever. A lot was repeated from the appendices of LOTR, and a lot was explained nicely. Some other reviewers commented on the inaccuracies and that more recent analyses now exist. I'll have to check them out. If you enjoy language and are eager to understand all facets of Middle-earth then this is a must-read. Or if you just enjoy the way beautifu ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Paul added it
#33 1987
Miss Clark
Oct 25, 2011 Miss Clark rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt Young
Aug 20, 2012 Matt Young rated it liked it
What purpose is a book of languages that didn't actually exist? Well, it's not really about that. I mean, it is..but reading between the lines you see the genius of Tolkien. A man that invent numerous languages in complete form should be studied, and this book is a study independent of his Fiction. As Tolkien was a linguist by profession this book is what one would assume with any language text. And that is the genius of it.
Feb 12, 2013 Christa rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This book may not thrill you, but it will provide the Tolkienite with a lot of additional detail and information about the many languages that Tolkien invented as the underpinnings of his epic story.

This is basically an in-depth extension of the language section of the appendix to "Lord of the Rings" (usually found after "Return of the King" in mutli-volume sets).
Jul 25, 2011 Harle rated it it was amazing
I found it very informative, especially on the subject of Westron- if you're a Hobbit lover this is a definite must-read. However, I hear that the elvish is extremely spotty and outdated. It's a really good read if you're interested in Westron and the like, but I'm not going to recommend it for the Quenyan and Sindarin.
Dirk Elzinga
Oct 13, 2013 Dirk Elzinga rated it it was ok
This was the first book I read that treated Tolkien's invented languages seriously. Only later did I realize how sloppy and superficial it was. It has since been superceded by other, more rigorous work. I still keep it on my shelf as a reminder of my high school days, when Middle Earth was still exciting and fresh to me.
Oct 27, 2009 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: language
It was very interesting to read a little about how J.R.R. Tolkien made the languages of middle earth, and how to say things in Elvish, Dwarvish, and the races of men. I just wish it were longer and included more words. Good for linguists geeks (or LOTR geeks).
Jul 08, 2009 Tams rated it it was amazing
I ordered this book and bought it from barnes and noble a long time ago. I remember enjoying it and that I did learn a lot more about the languages of Middle-Earth. I thought of it again the other day and tried to find it but could not. I would like to read it again.
Feb 25, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tolkien
This book was really good. It wasn't really a book that you would just want to quickly read over, or just borrow from the library. More of a book that you would want to read. I would recommend it to anyone who really enjoys Tolkien's writing.
Jul 18, 2009 Dawson rated it it was ok
Exactly like it sounds...and dry and dull unless you have an interest in learning a make-believe language. An interesting study in the creation of a language out of one man's head, but...well, how often does that really happen?
Linda Hoover
Oct 14, 2012 Linda Hoover rated it really liked it
A lovely introduction to Tolkien's many made-up languages. Though not in-depth on any one of the languages, it is nonetheless an excellent starting place for anyone wanting to learn more about the languages of Middle Earth!
Sonya Herring
Mar 10, 2010 Sonya Herring rated it it was amazing
Ruth seems to know quite a bit about Tolkiens Middle earth. However, you can pull most of this info from the Appendices of the Trilogy. The languages and things like that can't be found in the books are in the back.
Jun 02, 2015 Anie rated it liked it
An nice little book. If you don't know much about Tolkien's languages, it will explain a tantalizing amount. The dictionary is really nice if you're into the languages, and just kind of an amusing curiosity otherwise.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Tolkien's T.C.B.S: The Black Speech 4 9 May 31, 2013 09:40PM  
Tolkien's T.C.B.S: Other constructed languages 1 2 May 08, 2013 11:18AM  
Tolkien's T.C.B.S: Westron (Common Speech) 1 3 May 08, 2013 11:13AM  
Tolkien's T.C.B.S: Sindarin (Grey Elven) 1 7 May 08, 2013 11:10AM  
Tolkien's T.C.B.S: Quenya (High Elven) 1 2 May 08, 2013 11:08AM  
  • An Introduction to Elvish, Other Tongues, Proper Names and Writing Systems of the Third Age of the Western Lands of Middle-Earth as Set Forth in the Published Writings of Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
  • The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-Earth for Dummies
  • A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • The Tolkien Companion
  • The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-earth, #4)
  • Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia
  • The Road to Middle-Earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created A New Mythology
  • The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth
  • Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator
  • The Atlas of Middle-Earth

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