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(A more complete version is also available as this PDF: Pronunciation.pdf)

Pronunciation of the Written Languages of Ĭndrēl

i. A Brief Note on Pronunciation
ii. Pronunciation of Rünic Cirth
iii. Pronunciation of Ancient Tengwar
iv. Pronunciation of Middle Tengwar
v. Pronunciation of Modern Tengwar
vi. Pronunciation of Dwarvic Cirth


A Brief Note on Pronunciation

Although, of course, it would be impossible to correctly pronounce Low Dwarvan without actually hearing the gruff words directly from the thick lips of a stout old fellow of that illustrious race, or to correctly intone the lyrically-musical High Elvan without spending some many seasons in the Forest in duteous study and practice, I will, nevertheless, attempt here to give some direction for those curious enough to wish to pronounce as closely as possible the names and words recorded in The Hero Sagas.

For simplicity's sake, all of the songs, names, spells, and quotes found in Rüneglaive, Rüneguard and Rünehelm, are therefore spelled phonetically to make correct pronunciation as easy as possible. Follow the key below and note that in both High Elvan and Low Dwarvan, as recorded here, every letter is pronounced and there are never any silent vowels or consonants.

In general, it may help to think, for instance, of Low Dwarvan as something of a "Germanic tongue," with an emphasis on the consonants and guttural tones, voiced with a deep nasal resonance. (As for example with: "NHÔRIN-BHÜRR," the Low Dwarvan name for King Thêzêon the Vengeful’s great battle axe - Bone Cleaver, the "R's" roll heavily and there is a strong nasal emphasis on the first syllable, as indicated by the double consonants at the beginning of each word.)

High Elvan might likewise be thought of as something of a "Romance Language," more like French or Spanish, or even Japanese, with its rich lyric nature and smoother, softer consonants.


Pronunciation of the Rünic Cirth

In Rüneglaive, Rüneguard and Rünehelm, the original Rünic cirth characters used by Zōrwĭnd the Silver to record the events leading up to the end of the Fifth Age of Man in Indrîl were found to be quit similar in appearance to both the Futhark runes used from 100 BC–1300 AD by the Germanic tribes of Europe and the Angerthas Moria cirth recorded by J.R.R. Tolkien in his translations of Middle Earth texts. This acute similarity is probably due to a common origin, although now lost to us in the mists of time. The earliest extant examples from Indrîl, Middle Earth, and Europe were used by distinctly different and distant peoples, both phonetically and geographically. But because of this close similarity, and in order to prevent as much confusion as is possible for readers of both The Lord of the Rings and The True Heroes’ Bloodline, I have chosen to borrow the characters used by Tolkien and apply his pronunciation to them, (as few people still read Futhark runes). For example:

The Rünic cirth title used by Zōrwĭnd for The True Heroes’ Bloodline was:

While the Angerthas cirth inscription from the front of The Lord of the Rings is:

The two inscriptions, of course, are in modern English written with cirth characters, not High Elvan or Middle Earth dwarven, and are “The True Heroes’ Bloodline” and “The Lord of the Rings translated from the Red Book.” Rüneglaive was translated by Michael Reed McLaughlin from the original texts recorded by Zōrwĭnd the Silver, while The Red Book was written by Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam, and was Tolkien’s source for his books.

In both Rünic and Angerthas cirth, dots are used instead of spaces between words, however they are not kerned with the preceding character The True Heroes’ Bloodline, as they were in Middle Earth. In both forms of writing, upper and lower case were not used.

For those who are not familiar with Old English or Icelandic orthography, a few points may help to explain some of the characters. In Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon) the “th” sound in the word “thorn” was represented by the single letter , and was called “thorn.” The “th” sound in the word “the” was represented in Old English by the single letter (called “eth”). Therefore, instead of writing “thing,” they wrote in Old English and likewise spelled “that” as In the cirth, thorn is and eth is . Indeed, in both the Rünic and Angerthas cirth, there are many letters that combine the sounds of two or more English letters. For example, is the “ng” sound in the word “ring.”

A table of pronunciation follows:

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Pronunciation of the Acient Tengwarr or Tengwar of the Magi

There are three forms of Tengwar used in Rüneglaive and the other translations of Zōrwĭnd the Silver: Ancient Tengwar, Middle Tengwar, and Modern Tengwar. Again, the wizened wizard recorded parts of his history in characters similar to those found in works describing Middle Earth. The Languages of Magic, Dark & Light, which are an entirely phonetic form, used symbols so similar to the Tengwar used in Middle Earth that again I have chosen to use them to record the corresponding characters found in The True Heroes’ Bloodline for the sake of consistency and simplicity.

As its name implies, Ancient Tengwar is the oldest form of the character sets. Originally only used for recording spells and incantation, it is, like all other forms of the Tengwar, a purely phonetic alphabet system. Being the oldest form of writing known to any of the races, it is likewise the crudest, with only characters for simple consonants and long vowels. It has no short or soft vowels and lacks many of the sounds created in English by combining consonants, such as “sh”, “th”, “ch”, and others. It was the earliest of all the written forms, most likely developed by the Elder Elves, tough its first creator is unknown even to the most learned historians of Ĭndrēl. The earliest extant examples come from incantations written down on prehistoric parchment scrolls.

Ancient Tengwar is used in the works translated by Michael Reed McLaughlin to help retain and represent some of the flavor of the original texts, though it is used only for words which are already Modern English translations of the original manuscripts; that is to say, the characters are those which were used in the original tomes but the words are not written in their original languages. For example, on the foot of title page is an inscription which reads:

and is a direct translation of the subtitle found on the title page of original tome recorded by Zōrwĭnd. The characters are Ancient Tengwar, but if they are transcribed into the English Alphabet, character for character, they spell out:

Book One of The True Heroes’ Bloodline

and not:

TÔZÔ ANTÊ TÔ XIL VÂDÔ ZÔDÊRSÔ’ ÔVÊLÔ

which would have been a literal translation of the Tengwar characters written down in the Language of Magic by the ancient author on the foot of the title page, (phonetically represented by our alphabet, as the words would have sounded spoken aloud). The Ancient Tengwar is used this way in The True Heroes’ Bloodline because of its simplicity as a character set—there is a one-to-one correlation between the two alphabets with only one character for each consonant and vowel, (see below for slight variations in double vowels and double letters).

Here are a few simple rules for writing English with Ancient Tengwar characters:

1. Vowels are written above the letter that follows them. The word “Rüneglaive,” for example, is therefore written thus:

2. The “silent e”, as in “Rüneglaive,” is written below the previous consonant of the word, here the “v”.

3. Double letters, such as such as in the “Copper” Mountains, are written with a large flag attached to the letter’s stem, or above the letter if it has no ascending or descending stems (as in the letters “s”, “w”, “z”, etcetera).

Words ending in “s” are written with a small flag attached to the next-the-last letter, as seen above with “Heroes’”. Again there are no upper or lower cases.

A table of pronunciation follows:

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Pronunciation of the Middle Tengwar

Middle Tengwar is a wholly distinct form of writing from the earlier Tengwar as well as the Rünic cirth first used by the Elves. Developed by the High Elves, the characters are quite similar in appearance to, and indeed borrowed from, the Ancient Tengwar used by magic users and sorcerers of Ĭndrēl in their Languages of Magic, but have an almost entirely different phonetic assignment. The Middle Tengwar also have the addition of several new sounds, including a distinction between hard and soft vowels. It is still considered a fairly primitive form of the Tengwar, however, since there are still only two sounds assigned to each vowel. Additionally, long vowels required being written with a stem to distinguish them from their short forms when not already stemmed because of double vowel necessity. Sill, it marks a clear improvement, with the addition of characters for phonemes such as those represented by thorn and eth, as well as a few other consonant variations and combinations.

Numbers were added by the Elves, as well, where as before numbers and fractions had to be phonetically spelled out.

A table of pronunciation follows:

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Pronunciation of the Modern Tengwar

As the name implies, Modern Tengwar is the most advanced form. Building upon Middle Tengwar and the characters added to it, representations were appended for vowel variations in addition to merely the long and short pronunciations. Also, a non-stemmed distinction for long vowels was added, as well as a system for indicating non-standard vowel pronunciations without the need of a stem for vowels followed by a consonant.

A table of pronunciation follows:

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Pronunciation of the Dwarvic Cirth

The Dwarvic cirth recorded by Zōrwĭnd in The True Heroes’ Bloodline is again quite similar to a character set already developed for modern readers. In R. A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms, the Dethek cirth used by dwarves is almost identical in appearance, with a few alterations, to the Dwarvic cirth used by the Low Dwarves of Ĭndrēl as far back as the First Dwarvan Epoch. It is no coincidence, of course, that the characters first developed by Kägar Khazrôgan for the recording of his family’s history resemble those used by the dwarves described by Salvatore; the two peoples are certainly related by blood, a common culture, and language. The Dwarvic cirth, from which the Dethek was later derived, is a much older writing system and still retains the early forms developed by Low King Khazrôgan.

Long vowels are indicated by a heavy line under the common equivalent of the vowel, and guttural vowels have a heavy dashed line beneath them.

Again, as in Old English the two “th” sounds thorn, , and eth, , have single characters in the Dwarvic cirth.

A table of pronunciation follows:

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