Frequently Asked Questions

Before contacting the Guild, read through this section and see if your questions are answered. Many answers to common questions about Tolkien's languages are also found in the Elfling FAQ. Many other questions are answered in The Elvish Linguistics Unofficial FAQ.

Can the Guild provide translations into Elvish or other languages upon request?

Translating into the languages of Tolkien is for many reasons a challenging and time-consuming task, and often it is impossible to arrive at one indesputable solution. Therefore, the members of Mellonath Daeron are usually not willing to act as translators for third parties. However, we welcome scholarly debate on translating issues. If you want the aid of Mellonath Daeron, first attempt your own translation using the numerous available sources (see the Links page for some good starting points on the Web), then present your attempt to the Guild and politely ask for comments. If you want to reach a larger, international group of scholars on Tolkien's languages, visit the mailing lists Elfling and TolkLang.

How to I write my name with tengwar (for a tattoo, wedding ring, etc)?

The things said above about translation also apply to transcription into tengwar. The Guild has published a few practical Tengwar Guides. Other tengwar resources can be found on our Links page.

(And don't blame us if your tattoo turns out to be wrong :-)

Can the Guild provide glossaries or tengwar fonts?

No, but there are books and publications available which contain glossaries. See below. There are also fonts available for downloading. A good starting point is our Links page.

Where can I find reliable information about Tolkien's languages?

To begin with, here are the obvious books:

There are also some lesser known books which are quite valuable:

Allan, Jim, ed: An Introduction to Elvish Published by Bran's Head Books, ISBN 0-905220-10-2.
The first book to be published on the subject (before The Silmarillion), it is now somewhat outdated, but still useful.
Derdzinski, Ryszard: Gobeth e-Lam Edhellen Published by GooldMaggot Editors 2000.
A Sindarin dictionary, with translations into Polish and English. Includes words from Tolkien's earlier versions of the language.
Gonzalez Baixauli, Luis: La lengua de los elfos. Una gramática par el quenya de J.R.R. Tolkien. Barcelona: Minotauro, 1999. 224 p. ISBN 84-450-7316-8
A fine book on Quenya, in Spanish. Contains grammar and wordlists. Can be purchased from Libreros Reunidos S.L., Apartado 3364, ES-28080 Madrid
Kloczko, Edouard: Le dictionnaire des langues elfiques. Published by les Editions Arda 125, rue de la Tour Billy F-95100 Argenteuil France.
A book on the elven languages in French. Also contains a trilingual dictionary (English, French, Quenya).
Martsch, Nancy: Basic Quenya
A good textbook, though slightly dated, with vocabularies. Available from the author, PO Box 55372, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413, USA.
Tolkien, J.R.R: The Gnomish Lexicon (I·Lam na·nGoldathon), published in Parma Eldalamberon 11.
Contains Tolkien's own dictionary of a very early (c. 1917) language which later became Noldorin and then Sindarin.
Tolkien, J.R.R: The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon (Qenyaqetsa), published in Parma Eldalamberon 12.
Contains Tolkien's own "Qenya Lexicon" written around 1915-1918.
Tolkien, J.R.R: The Alphabet of Rúmil and Early Noldorin Fragments, published in Parma Eldalamberon 13.
A compilation of all known samples of the Alphabet of Rúmil, followed by a number of documents relating to an early form of the Noldorin language.

A word of warning about The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth by Ruth S. Noel, and Tolkien: His Language - A Guide to Quenya by George Horton. We cannot recommend these books at all. They should be avoided.

Finally, there are also many useful Publications on the Net. See our Links page for a collection of these.

How can I learn that strange and beautiful Elvish script?

Begin with Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings. Then, analyze a couple of Tolkien's tengwar samples. See the DTS (the Mellonath Daeron Tengwar Specimina) for a list.

You will soon notice that tengwar is used quite differently in each language (Quenya, Sindarin, English). To further complicate matters, most of the languages can each be written in several different ways. And to make things completely confusing, each script sample has its own idiosyncrasies. But don't give up hope! It is possible to find distinct modes among the different script samples.

There are few comprehensive works available on the tengwar. We have a few concise writing guides for the beginner. See also our Links page.

If you want to write with tengwar in some other language (e.g. Swedish), you're on your own, since no authorial script samples exist. You have to design your own mode. That is somewhat easier if you know some of the existing tengwar modes.

What does the name 'Mellonath Daeron' mean?

The language is Sindarin, also known as Grey-elvish. Mellon means 'friend', and -ath is a collective plural, meaning 'all of the', 'the host of'. Mellonath is used in Forodrim parlance to denote the guilds, which are special interest groups within the society. Daeron was the loremaster and minstrel of king Thingol of Doriath and the inventor of the cirth. The Guild's name may thus be translated as 'friends of Daeron', or 'the Daeron Guild'.

Further questions? Read our Frequently Given Answers!