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Elven Languageby Jonathan Nolan
ELHEIMARIN AR ELAS-CWENYARIN EDAR
Of the Elven Peoples and their Tongue
"Undu ar alpelinor
Surinen tumboras ilyen
Gayan arne hinatan-
Mearasilarin mealaste inumwe
O rilhelm an lairgetar an quessen silan olwe"
"Down the airy mountain
Through the rushy glen
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men-
Good folk bright folk trooping all together
With red cap, green coat and white owl feather"
Alfheim as it is called in the Common Tongue is a place at once ancient and separate from the other centres of government of the peoples of the realms of Mystara and yet at the same time still a living vibrant hub for administration and trade. So it is that first the gold seekers of Darokin and then more erudite and spiritual souls sought the wisdom of the Elves of Alfheim and their knowledge of the past.
When this attempt to learn the story of the past ages began, loremasters discovered many amazing things about the Elvish languages, not the least being the deep relationship between Elven tongues and the spoken syllables of magic. Only the Dragontongues, chief amongst them Old Wyrmish, have a longer history of use as incantations, and indeed the more romantic of the non-Elven students of the Elas-Cwenya see the whole of Elvish speech as more or less some form of magic.
It is clear from what the Elves have revealed to the non-Elf loremasters that at different times in their long lives and longer history the language spoken by different groups of Elven people has been used as a political weapon and a means of separating ideologies amongst their clans. To this day, the relatively tolerant and inclusive (by Elven standards) Alfheimers have adopted Common Speech syntax, whereas Callarii and Wendarian eschew anything that smacks of non-Elven culture.
The correct name in the Elves' own language for that speech is Sindariel-Cwenya, roughly translatable as "Jewel of the Tree of Life". Sindariel-Cwenya is often shortened to either Sinariel or Cwen, or in Common Speech dialects, Elven or Elfish. The speech of Alfheim is a form of true High Elven.
High Elf Language to Common Speech
Common phrases encountered in the Tome of Sinariel Records:
- - "Ironblack" - no doubt this began as a description of their stygian realm, before later simply meaning "home" for the Shadow Elves.
- - from Alcarivar or Alcarivalas, both meaning "Glorious, High" - clearly little more than a title, not a name. The name of the Second King of Alfheim will probably never be definitively known now.
- - a translation and transliteration from the Tengwar name for the Elf settlements within the Canolbarth forest. "Canolbarth" itself has several etymologies, the one favoured by the Alfheimers is "Protecting Hand" or "Hand Shield", either a reference to the acts of the founding heroes or a description of the powers and nature of the Trees of Life. As for Alfheim, it is clear enough that the ancient Nithian word Alwar, and its cognates Aelw and Alvo were used to describe the Elves of Alfheim. These words are not native to the languages they are found in and could well be nothing more than ancient Neathar attempts to pronounce the Elvish "Elas". "-Heim" in Common Speech is cognate to the -dor or -dar used by the Elf races and is itself originally of Elvish origin, as the title "heilmar" or "original home". The names used amongst Elves alone for the realm of 'Alfheim' are Elheimar, "Elfhome", Sindasienmar, "Sweet Realm of the Elves" or Andor, "Gateway Place". 'Andor' is taken to refer to Alfheim's position as a gateway for Elves and Men travelling the realms of the Known World (Erenthil's 'Leaves of the Tree: Alfenvolk' at p. 108).
- - The Red Arrow. This is an ancient title now forming the common name of an Elf Clan of Alfheim.
cel- away from, edryl - either a contraction of Eldarin, the ancestral Elven Immortals and Heroes, or from eledaryl - ele (elf) daryl (lands). The latter is more likely making the name "(He leads) Away from Elven Lands". Possibly a reference to the breaks under Celedryls reign between different Elven clans.
- - a mysterious word, referring to some form of Elven centaur-like being found in the Canolbarth and now beyond. Keilnot Erenthil suggests in his 'Leaves of the Tree: Alfenvolk' (at pp. 113-114) that the Elven love of dissembling in writings means that Chevall simply means "tall folk", a reference to the height of these beings. Orumdas Wayclearer wrote in her treatise on the Folk of the Canolbarth "Oeirnelas" that the Chevall is a protector of horses, firstborn of the race that gave the Elves their peerless war-steeds. She makes "Chevall" a cognate of the older "Cehir-Vealasir" or "Weaponless Hero-Warriors" - shapeshifters who fought in the Elven cause against both Moorkroft and the Darokin at different times.
Den-Ar-Goth, Denagoth, Denargoth, Drenagodor
- - realm of the Shadow Lord, literally "Darkness and Despair" or "dark land of despair". It seems the original form may well have been Drenagodor, which lost its descriptive final syllable marking it as a land or physical place and instead became called after its dominant feature - the dark misery perpetrated by its ruler the Shadow Lord.
from Dor (land) i.e. (belonging to) and ath (contraction of athar) - "Exalted One belonging to the Land" - a fitting name for the king.
- - a word used for elves, by elves and non-elves. It is formed in almost a cheeky way by contracting the root words for Elf with that for leaf or pointy-eared, -las.
from ere- lonely and (c)wan, a contraction of Cwenya - means simply "The Lonely Elves".
- - ancient Elvish name for Blackmoor. Ironically it is the "mor" or "moor" that means "black" or "dark" in Elvish speech. The name is said by the loremasters to refer to the scorched field that legend speaks of as the heart of Blackmoor's greatness. Such fragmentary entries in the lorebooks are confusing to say the least.
here for once we see Common Speech loan-words returning to their Elvish forebear tongue. Grun is a late word for green or leafy, alf as has been noted is the common designation for an elf or "alf". The original Sinariel-Cwenya designation of this clan is Laigrenelas.
from Ra/Re The Sun and Feal, Oath given, Lol, Oath broken. Hence - Oath to the Sun given then broken, a reference to the separate destiny of the darkness-dwellers. When the Shadow Elves occupied Alfheim, those who made a new compact were more able to stride in the sun and came to be known by friend and enemy alike as Rafelir, to distinguish them from the truly accursed and evil-minded Shadow Elves who made ready to destroy the forest, known as the Lolthir.
from Tar- ruler and the root Ag or Aeg meaning chilling, frosty or cold. Hence the Ruler of the Cold, a reference to an earlier era when Elves required two Clanmasters, one for the summer months of foraging and one for the harsher and more dangerous times of infertile winter. A famous Elf named Taragin was the pre-Rafielite Guardian of Alfheim, Taragin Oakbranch.
It is so typical of the graceful, canny and sophisticated Elf-races that their simplest and most common words and names can occupy so much effort and debate as to their provenance and meanings.
Some words in the glossary below are followed by a Common Speech translation and by a further word in a Cwenya tongue. This last word is a Low Elven or Common Elvish equivalent, used colloquially by people such as commonly encountered Elven adventurers or mercenaries. Words noted with a (root) entry are roots for verbal constructions or polysyllabic Elvish utterances. For instance the verb root alac, from alacir "rushing" can be used as 'dialacoras ealmornei ohtan' - 'the warrior rushes under the cover of the elm tree branches' or in set expressions such as 'quessenalcir' or 'quessenalque' - 'the rushing of wings'.
1 Er 2 Ut 3 Hi 4 La 5 In 6 Ma 7 Od 8 Ul 9 Lo 10 Ac 11 Te 12 Mi
The numeral system is base ten for common trade and base twelve for priesthoods and wizards usually.
All months when not described with their name are created by adding astan to the number: Erastan, Utastan, Histan ('a' dropped when a double vowel is caused), Lastan, Inastan, Mastan, Odastan, Ulastan, Lostan, Acastan, Testan, Mistan. Elves in contact with the other races often use the other races' names for the months.
Elven spellbooks frequently use poetical forms of all numeration, so that a simple entry in a human spellbook describing a third-level spell and its effects becomes a beautifully illuminated full-page song relating to the numerology and myths surrounding the spell. It is reasonably common for various cryptic usages to replace normal numbers - eplo 'after-9" for 10 for example. Additions are linked by 'cor' so for example 5 added to 6 is 'in-cor-ma-lin' or just 'incorma'.
aglos n. snowthorn
agnor n. frostfire
aha n. rage
ai inj. alas! ai
aina adjective holy
ainulinde n. Music of the Spheres
Ainudur collective noun, plural - The Immortals
aire adjective holy
aiya n. Priest
Al n. Air
alcar n. glory aglar
alcarin adjective glorious
alcarinque n. the glorious, a star
aldaron n. lord of trees
alac- - rushing (root) See also "alqua". "alag" in Oldest Sinariel.
Almar n. Home Tree
alqua n. swan alpha
alta n. bright light galad
ambar n. world
ampa n. hook
an con. for
anar n. sun anor
anca n. jaws carach
ancalima n. great light giver
andave adv. greatly
ando n. gate annon
andu- adjective western annu-
andune n. west annun
anduril n. flame of the west
anfauglir n. jaws of thirst
anga n. iron ang, aeng
Angmar n. the Ironwood Tree, grown extensively by the Forester Elves.
anna n. gift
anto n. mouth carach
ar connective. and , sometimes written or spoken as '-a-'
arandur n. "king's servant", champion or even knight
aratar n. the exalted one athar
arda n. region arth
are n. sunlight
arpe n. spearpoint
arpenya n. arrowhead, sometimes said "arpen" for arrow
art n. craftwork
artano n. high smith
ascar adjective impetuous, rushing
asta n. month plural astar
astaer n. magic eastra, lasatar
at- adjective double -ad
atalante n. the downfallen, used usually of the lost peoples and kingdoms of the dread archipelago
atan n. fathers of men plural atani dreadain
aure n. daylight calan
avari n. the unwilling, slave, bond-servant
avathar n. the shadows
Barmorunglir n. The Constrainer (Thanatos)
bathor n guard, guardian, shield
beleg adjective mighty meleg
belethil n. divine radiance
bril adj. glittering, sparkling
brilthor n. glittering torrent
cait- v. root to lie
cal(a)-, cali- n. light calan
calacirya n. cleft of light
calim n. light
calma n. lamp calar
cam n. hand
camlost adv. empty handed
carac n. fang carch
carne adjective red plural carni caran
cehirsente n. warhorse plural cehirsentir; cuhorse, coohorsir
cehth- gerund/n. helpless, without
cel- adv. away from
Cermie n. Planting Season Cerveth
certa n. letter or rune plural certar certh
-cil n. person
cil, khil v.root to follow
cirya n. cleft or ravine cirith
coimas n. Elven travelling rations Aladas
coire n. stirring echuir
colindo n. bearer
cor- n. round or circle cor
coranar n. solar year (sun round)
corma n. ring cor
corollaire n. green mound - a hill, usually grassy, on which are often found fairie rings and so on.
cul- adjective golden red
curumo n. man of skill curunir
-dacil n. victor
dar n. tongue (body part or meaning a language or physical sounds)
den n. shadow
Den n. The Shadow
Den-Hirion n. The Shadow Lord
denagulwath n. horror of night shadow ("night's dark terrors")
-dil n. friend or lover
-dore, -dor n. land or earth dor
duir n. oak drus, durus, daros, dyr
ear n. sea aear
earen n. great sea aearon
Eargul n. Sea of Dread
ehtele n. well, spring eithel
Eldar n. Immortal, one of the gods or Immortals sympathetic to the Elven races. plural Eldarin or Edhel
ele-, elen- n. elf
elen n. star plural eleni, elenion el
elerinan n. star crowned
elmiriel n. elf-stone
elye pronoun. even thou
emerlan n shepherd (of any beast or mobile plant)
emerwen n. shepherdess
en- adv. again, re-
-en adjective great -on
end(e)-, -ende n. middle-
endea n. middle
enderi n. plural middle days, a calendar month as opposed to a strict measure of days
Endore, Endor n. Mystara Ennor
Engwar n. "the Sickly", humans
enquie n. week plural enqueier
entulesse n. the return
envinyatar n. renewer
epesse n. aftername
erchamion adjective one handed
ere- lonely, separate, singular
eressea n. lonely isle
Eru n. Old One, God
Erusen n. children of the Gods - all life everywhere of whatever shape or power
esse n. name
et adv. out of
fal- n. foam fal-
falas- n. coast falas
falma n. foaming wave
fana root. veil
fana n. veiled plural fanar fan
fanya n. white cloud fan
feaen n. oath-giver
fean n. field
firimar n.plural mortals
for- right hand direction
formen n. north (right hand region) forod
gaya n. awe, dread
gaeraeth adjective dreaded, dreadful also written - gereth as in Gereth Minar, "Dread Tower"
goth n. despair
gul n. terror, undeath
gwath, wath, waith n. shadow
halla adjective tall hal-
hantalle n. thanksgiving
haranye n. last year of a century
harma n. treasure
heil n. the closest
helm n. hat, cap or helmet, also skull or cavity (archaic)
-her n. lord -hir
Herenastar n. A Guild or College of Wizards
heru n. lord hir
hilde n. heir plural hildi
hir- v.root to find
hirilonde n. haven finder, Ranger Duinharvar
hisie n. mist hith
hisilome n. land of mist
Hisime n. Misty Blotmath Hithuirhon
hrive n. winter, rhiw
huine n. gloom fuigne
hwesta n. breeze
hyar- adjective left hand direction
hyarmen n. south keharad
iart. the e(n)
-ie n. thing of, belonging to
iluve n. all of something, every-
ilya adjective each plural ilye, all
imbe pre. between
Imbeor n. Time Imbra
-ime adjective -able, -y -ui
-in adjective -ious, -en -en
-ir adjective, numerous, many
isil n. moon, lunar, moonlight ithil
Isilya n. Moon Orithil Matera
Iastaron asj. Sun Ixion
No naturally occurring J-words appear in pure High Elven. However, during the time of the Fall of Nithia, considerable mixing of Elves and others occurred, with the result that G and I cognates from other languages were introduced. J-words here are words truly written Gi, which is the homophone for the J- sound in Common Speech.
jon -n. child gion
Jor- n. leader of a warband, "awe-inspring" Gior
kar- raised up, as of a tumulus, fortress or person elevated in rank
kano n. commander
kemen n. earth
khelek n. ice, glass heledh
Khemroth n. Matter
kyerme n. prayer
laire n. summer, second season of The Solar Year laer
lairen n. green (colour) laigren
lait- v.root to praise eglerio
lalaith n. laughter
lambe n. tongue naith
lant v.root to fall
lanta n. fall
lanthir lamath n. waterfall of echoing voices
lasse n. leaf plural lassi las(s)
lasse-lanta n. leaf-fall, fourth season of The Solar Year
laure adjective golden color
laurea n. like gold plural laurie
lav- v.root to lick
leuca n. snake lyg
-li- adjective many
linaewen n. lake of birds same
lind(e)- n. song linn
linta adjective swift plural linte
lirinen adv. in song
lisse adjective sweet
-lo pre. from, out of
loa n. growth
loende n. midyear
lol n. wolfshead, oathbreaker
loloth n. the common bramble; flower of treachery, so simply "treachery"
lome n. shadow, gloom, night fuin
lomea adjective gloomy
lomelindi n. dusk-singer (as of twilight singing birds, by implication those who work in twilight)
lomion n. son of twilight
londe n. haven, place of safety or safekeeping
lore n. dream
losse n. fallen snow loss
lote n. flower loth
Lotesse n. Autumn Lothron
luine adjective blue luin lugnor
lumbule n. darkness duath
lumenne n. an hour
luva n. bow
-lva pronoun. our
-lye pronoun. thou
ma- n. hand
-ma adjective made object
macar n. swordsman vagor
maika adjective sharp maeg
mal root for gold mal-
malin adjective golden mallen
malta n. gold
man int.pronoun. who?
mar- v.root to abide
-mar n. dwelling -mar or bar
mar n. home
marde n. hall
mealas n. glossy (as of a leaf), good health
melda n. friend melidilrhon
meldarin pl.n. friends, company
melid- n. loyalty, adj. protective
men-, -men n. region of
menel n. heaven, sky menel
Menelmacar n. Ilsundal the Hero; Menelvagor the Wendarian hero
Menelurya n. The Heavens, abode of the Old Ones / Gods Ormenel
met pronoun. us two
metta n. ending
mettare n. last day of year
mi pre. in
min-,minar,... n. tower minasar (stornghold keep), baerud (prison tower)
mir n. jewel mir
miriel adj. jewel-like, adv. sparkling
miruvore n. ambrosia of the Immortals, also mead, miruvor
mor n. figurative and actual darkness
Morduin n. Entropy
mordunastar n. black magic
Morgul-Elas n. Shadow-Elf
morna adjective black mor-
mornie n. darkness
-n prn I -n
na- v. root to be
nainie n. lament
namarie intj. farewell
nan n. valley nan
nar root for red or hot like the sun naur
Narie n. Mid-Year Norui
Narquelie n. Halloween or Harvest Time Narbeleth
Narsil n. smithy (red, golden and white) flames
Narvinye n. After-Yule Narwain
-nde n. land or region -n(n)
Nenime n. Endwinter or Solmath Ninui
-nil n. friend or lover
nin pronoun. for me anim
-nna pre. to, upon, on na
noldo n. High Elf plural noldor
nole n. lore, knowledge gul
-nore, -nor n. land, country dor
norie n. country dor
nu pre. under di-
numor n. west hulan
nuquerna adjective reversed
nwalme n. torment
-nya pronoun. my
oi(o) adv. everlasting ui
oiale adv. everlasting
ohtar n. warrior same
olwe n. owl
oma n. voice
omentie n. hour of meeting
or(o)- adjective high, lofty
ore n. heart (soul, inner mind)
orne n. tree galadh
ornemalin n. a kind of tree mallorn
ortan- v.root to lift up, uplift
osto n. fortress os(t)
otso n. seven odo
palan- adv. abroad palan-
palantir n. far sighted, almost exclusively used as the name for Crystal Ball items.
parma n. book
pel- v. root to go around
pele n. fence , blockade or barrier pel
pella pre. beyond
pelleirlas n. hymen, and so also figurative maidenhead
Pelori n.plural Mountain wall (of Darokin/Karameikos usually)
NOTE: all qu- words are alternatively spelled with a cw- replacing the qu-. The exact fashion of how or when this substitution occurs is unclear, although Eastern Elves almost always use the qu- form and others use either to suit the style of their speech or writing.
quant- v. root to fill
quelie n. waning -beleth
quelle n. fading firith
quende n. speaker plural quendi
querna adjective turned
quesse n. feather
quiyendi-imlhas - "it can't be helped" - exclamation or "ah well" type statement.
rama n. wing plural ramar
ramba n. wall ran
rauko n. demon lit. "rager" or "burner" oraug
Raurond n. Energy Rarondir, Ra, Radir
re n. day, sunset to sunset aura
rembre n. mesh or net rem
-riel n. female -riel
-ril n. flame -ril (r)
Ringare n. Midwinter or Yule Giritanrhon
ro- adjective above-
romen n. east amrun
rond n. vaulted roof
-rya pronoun. her
sanga n. a throng of folk, a crowd thanga
-sen n.plural children
senta n. child, spawn, scion
sehelien n. wisdom in foreign ways shelin
serke n. blood sereg
Sesair n. Thought
si adv. now
sil root having to do with white, shining or the white ash of the hottest forge
sil v. root to shine
Silmar-Sinariel n. an elf crystal only Feadiel clan members could make long ago
silmarien n. "a jewel of Feadiel"
silme n. starlight
Sinariel-Cwenya n. High-Elven speech
Sinariel-Tengwar n. High-Elvish in its written form
Sinariel n. Alfheim Elf speech
Sinda n. an Alfheim Elf, plural sindar
sindarinwa adjective belonging to or relating to Alfheim Elven
singhron n. a gathering, a court thinga, thing
sinome adv. in this place
-sse suffix. in or inside
sule n. spirit or wind gwae
Sulime n. Thaw, Spring Rethe Gwaeron
surinen adv. in the wind, archaically used in poetic forms as 'floating softly'
-t adjective two -ad
tain n. white-coloured
taniquetil n. high white peak
tar- n. royalty ar
-tar n. the one who
tarcil n. royal one Danad
tari n. queen akai, baeraenthiel
tarienna adv. royally
Tarion n. love that causes strife; sometimes used poetically to describe the Radiance. see Valanya
tarma n. crown
tasare n. willow tathar
taure n. forest taur
taurea adjective forested
te pronoun. them
tehta n. mark plural tehtar taith
telco n. stem
telcontar n. strider, ranger
telluma n. dome plural tellumar
Telmehtar n. Ilsundal the Hero, see Menelmacar
tema n. series plural temar
tengwa n. letter, sigil, glyph plural tengwar tiw
tenna pre. until
tie n. road, path plural tier
-til n. peak -dil
tinco n. metal able to smithed (generic)
tindome n. twilight, morning uial
tintal- v.root to sparkle or glitter
tintalle n. "kindling-spark" gelthiniol
tinwe n. spark gil
tir root having to do with looking tir
tirhion n. a great watch tower or towering stronghold
tirhon n. searcher, lookout
Tuile n. first flowering season of hedge plants, similar to fifth month Ethuil
tuilere n. spring day
tumbale n. deep valley imlad
tumbo n. valley tum
tup- v. root to cover
tur n. lord tur
tyelle n. grade or ranking plural tyeller
u- adv. not u-
umbar n. fate
undome n. twilight, evening aduial
undomiel n. evenstar
und(u)- adv. down
ung n. slime
ungwe n. spider web
unotime adjective numberless, without number
unque n. hollow
ure n. heat
Urime n. Harvest-Time Urui
utmelien v. I am come, I am here, I have arrived "Ho! Laeaslas!"
utuvien v. I have found
-uva adv. will, indicates future
-va pre. of, made of
val(i), vala n. "angelic" power - the power of a hero on the path to Immortality balan
Valanya n. sexual and romantic love as a force Orbelain
Valarauko n. demon of might Fiend
vani- v.root to pass away
vanimar n. lost home
vanimelda n. lost friend
vanwa adjective lost
var root having to do with height
varda n. the exalted
Varga n. The Varga, a race of evil intelligent plants
ve pre. as
vealtar n. literally "measurer", more normally, oath warrior or hero. vealas
vilya n. air, sky
vinye adjective new, beginning wain
Viresse n. third month or Astron Gwirith
voron- n. steadfast
waer n. arrow war, wear, arwa
war n. wanderer
warg n. wolf
warluo n. the cry of the wolf; a howl
wen n. maiden
wil n. urge, inspiration, boundless
wilwarin n. butterfly
wynn n. friend, as in formal ally and companion; wine, win, wyn
-ya n. -like
yanta n. bridge
yassen adv. wherein
Yavannie n. seventh month or Halimath Ivanneth
yave n. fruit
yavie n. autumn, third season of The Solar Year iavas
yaviere n. autumn day
yen n. 144 solar years plural yeni
-yes pronoun. it han
yesta n. beginning
yestare n. first day of the year
yulda n. draught of liquid plural yuldar
yulma n. cup
Green Elf Language to Common Speech
Altan "moated fortress, mountain"
bae "fire, spark" (as in naked flame)
Danas "Green-Elves, Wendor"
den "high, upper"
Dun-Amiraclincorion "Blackmoor, Darkness at the Rising of the Sun"
edel "Elder, High Elf"
Elas-Cwenya "Leaves of the Tree" - the Elven Peoples
Essuria - bastardised form of Ossiria? Or a similarly named closer kingdom?
gemaet "stronghold, settlement, group of dwellings"
gneold "years without number"
gneoldarin "the ancient ones"
gnolda "one of the wise folk, Hutaakan", plural gnoldarin
lasa, laes "ear"
las "leaf", plural elas "leaves"
Lignaerin - Shadowelves, lit "Pales"
Lindon - region in eastern Alphatia formerly called Ossiria
Lindorandorin "Vale of the Land of the Singers"
Lorandorin "Valley of Gold (golden light)"
melidiel "forethinker, anticipator"
meord "fine rain"
mabdenlas "human" (literally "lacking the upper ear")
mari "rock, hard earth, clay"
miriel "stone, gemstone, jewel"
myathriel - elfsilver, "mithril"
mornel "diminished Elf, younger child, undead Elf"
naenarre "darkening, covered"
obhytlhon "Hin, halfling, peck"
scella, sciella "shade, screen" (prob. noun)
snaets "spear-head, point, gore, triangle"
spariel "white, wool"
swarn "perverse, obstructive, hard to deal with"
uruc (plural yruc) "Orc, Beastman"
Ulmornion Dun-Gastrhon "The Shadow-Lord"
Utum "The First, Ixion"