Lord of the Rings – A Singer's Guide to the Languages of Middle Earth
Compiled by Alice Valantine Beckstrom ©2004
Rules for Vowels:
Hint: for unstressed vowels, use Roman-Latin pronunciation and no diphthongs
Unstressed or Unaccented Vowels:
•a (ah) as in blah or bought •e (eh) as in bed or pled •i (ih) pronounced as the English peat, but shorter; French lit; German vital. •o is roughly English (but not American!) pot; French comme; German Topf. •u is the sound of boot, but shorter; French ou; German Uran. •y in Sindarin only, this is a vowel, pronounced like the vowel i
The long vowels are pronounced thus:
•á, í, ú: just like the short vowels, but longer! (About twice as long, if you want a guide figure, but just do whatever your own language does.) •é is pronounced a little `closer' than e. The first part of the diphthong in English may; a long version of French é; or German Tee. •ó is similarly pronounced closer than o. English paw (but closer); French hôte; German Sohn. •ý, In Sindarin, as in i but hold longer.
(When a circumflex accent is used, pronounce it the same but hold it even longer)
Exceptions/ Diphthongs / Diaeresis:
There are 3 exceptions pertaining to vowels when preceded by the letter "r": er (like English air, German mehr), ir (like English ear, German bier), ur (like English tour, German fur).
Quenya has a set of six diphthongs (note that all other pairs of vowels should be pronounced separately). They are: ai, oi, ui, au, eu, iu. In each case, pronounce the first vowel strongly, and glide into the second (except for iu, where is it also acceptable to glide from a weak i to a strong u -- that is a Third Age pronunciation).
Sindarin also has a set of six diphthongs. They are: ai, ae, ei, oe, ui, au. The same pronunciation rules apply to these diphthongs.
Tolkien used the diaeresis sign in order to remind English speakers that the vowel should always be pronounced at the end of words (as in aurë), and, that combinations such as ea are two sounds (as in Aldëa, or hísië), not a diphthong. Since this is completely unnecessary, it's usual not used in articles on Tolkienian linguistics.
Rules For Consonants
Hint: think Roman-Latin for Elvish & Adûniac; German-Latin for Khuzdûl,
Rohirric & Black Speech, making BS very harsh, aspirated and dark.
*Sindarin consonants change when as the initial consonant,
it is preceded by the article i (the), preposition na (to, toward) or certain prefixes.
Quenya, Sindar (both Elvish) & Adûniac Khuzdûl (Dwarvish), Rohirric & Black Speech (Language of Mordor)
Bas in bat (*Sindarin: sometimes changes to V) Voiced and plosive Cas in car (*S: sometimes changes to G) Spelled with a K CH as in Bach Spelled with a KH Das in dog (*S: sometimes softens to TH) DH as in these (also like a Spanish D) Fwhen at the end of a word, change to V Unvoiced spirant (Rohirric – change to V when Gas in gate (*S: sometimes softens to H, except see NG) Usually silent Has in house HL, LHunvoiced L Rohirric: unvoiced L HT as in German acht, except when preceded by As the German, acht an E or I then as in German ich (S: N/A) HW N/A Rohirric: unvoiced W as in high HY unvoiced Y as in white K, KH N/A heavily aspirated Lsoft as in let lateral as in loathe Mas in man (*S: sometimes changes to V) add nasal NG as in finger, except at end of word: as in singer Pas in pat (*S: sometimes changes to B) PH f, but in middle of word: ff QU as in quote Rohirric: spelled CW instead of QU Ralways flipped or rolled Khuzdûl & BS: a heavily rolled back or uvular R RH unvoiced R (S: voice the R and add H) Ss as in geese (exception: SH as in sheep) unvoiced spirant (Rohirric: Z when in middle of word) SC N/A Rohirric: as in sheep Tas tan (*S: sometimes changes to D) Khuzdûl: aspirated TH cloth, think Khuzdûl: aspirated stop TY similar to the T in tune Yas in you (*S: it becomes a vowel) ZN/A Sound of the English Zed
* Double consonants such as LL, NN, SS, TT are held longer