The Tengwar — Latin Mode

Signî - Modus Rômânus

One Ring
Gabe Bloomfield
Reading NoteAnalytical Articles: These articles provide a detailed overview of the theme they cover. However, they require some prior knowledge of the main works of J.R.R. Tolkien.


The use of tengwar (Sindarin tîw) can be adapted into the usage of many languages, both inside and outside Tolkien’s mythos. We have enough information to accurately reconstruct a mode for Quenya, and two modes (the tehta-mode and the mode of Beleriand) for Sindarin. Other modes have been reconstructed for languages like Telerin and Vanyarin (a dialect of Quenya). Outside of the Arda, Tolkien’s world, modes have been created for various real-life languages, including English, which Tolkien wrote himself, and Dutch, which was reconstructed from what we know of the way the Tengwar work.

A language for which no attempt to reconstruct the Tengwar has been made, as far as I know, is Latin. One could easily call a Tengwar reconstruction for Latin pointless, but one who says that is saying that all studies of Tolkien’s languages are pointless, which is certainly not the case (Helge K. Fauskanger has much to say on this matter, see his Quenya Course at Ardalambion).

The Reasoning

I am by no means an expert in Tengwar nor in Latin; I am a student and lover of both, and I thought there should be no reason why I should not attempt to combine my loves. As I am no expert in either, scholars with more experience than I are likely to find mistakes in this suggested mode, or instances in which a simpler or different theory would be more likely, and I urge them to inform me of these mistakes, as I would like to perfect my “Latin Tengwar Mode” as much as I can (my e-mail address is for those who wish to contact me).

In order to construct this Tengwar mode, I have looked at both the phonology and workings of Latin, as well as the way in which Quenya and Sindarin are written in tengwar, and constructed what I believe to be the most logical way for Latin to be written using the signs that exist in Tengwar. Latin is not phonologically very similar to either Quenya or Sindarin, but it differs more from Sindarin than it does from Quenya, so many of the principle ideas in my reconstruction are similar to those in Quenya, though several key rules are those present in one or both of the Sindarin modes of the Tengwar.

The Rules

To begin, the monopthongal vowels of Latin are written in exactly the same way as those in Quenya: the tehtar or vowel-signs, come over the preceding consonant. Examples: vir “man” , signus “sign” . From these two examples one can learn two rules about my reconstructed Latin mode. One, the tehta arda () is used at the end of words and before consonants instead of the traditional rómen () for the letter r. Though this is also seen in the Quenya mode and the Sindarin tehta-mode (though in those modes, órë () is used instead), it is not just an adaptation of this attribute (rather, one might argue, the other way around; it could be said that Tolkien borrowed this system from Latin). The way that Latin liquids r and l react at the end of words and before consonants is unique, so they have their own tengwar to describe them: arda (), and alda (). Another rule that can be glimpsed in my latter example of tehta-placement is the usage of silmë () and silmë nuquerna () (and likewise essë () and essë nuquerna ()) when dealing with tehtar above them. When a tehta is present over the tengwa, the nuquerna (inverted) form of the letter is used.

The formation of diphthongs in my Latin mode is akin to the said formation in the Sindarin mode of Beleriand. The tehta for the second vowel is placed above the tengwa for the first. Examples: puellae optimae sunt “they are very good girls / the girls are very good” . This example, along with displaying the use of diphthongs, tells us many things about my mode of Latin. The first and foremost is the ll of puellae being represented by alda lambë. While most double consonants in my mode are represented by a wavy line underneath the base line of the tengwa, double l and double r are represented by alda lambë and arda rómen, respectively. The final rule in this example gives us insight into is the nasalization of consonants. Any stop (the stops being p, t, c, qu, b, d, g, gw) preceded by its own respective nasal is given a short bar above it. Like the idea behind the arda and alda, one could say that this is an idea stolen from the Sindarin tehta-mode, but it is not. Many times, the nasalization of a consonant is purely grammatical (i.e. amat “he, she, it loves” > amant “they love” - thus and , respectively), so that rule makes sense.

The last example will involve more use of vowels - namely tehtar - in the positions where they are initial and where they are long. Long vowels are extremely common in Latin; in fact, there can be words where every single vowel is long: Iûlius et Pugnax puerî Rômânî sunt “Julius and Pugnax are Roman boys”. Long vowels are placed above long carriers: . Initial vowels - those occurring at the beginning of a word where there can be no tengwa to place the tehta upon - are placed over a short carrier: irâtus sum “I am angry” . An initial i that is consonantal - e.g. in Iûlius - is represented as . Finally, the x sound is represented as calma silmë () - ks.


Hopefully within this short essay, I have successfully outlined the general rules and reasoning behind my suggested Tengwar mode for Latin. If you have any suggestion, if you feel I have not done a good job, or if you wish to contribute your opinion, I ask you once again to email me. To conclude, here are a couple short transcriptions using the rules I have set forth above:

Senâtor sum. Nômen meum Virdeus est. Senâtor clarus et bonus sum. Cum auxiliîs meîs contrâ vira mala pugnô.
Cogitô ergo sum

See also

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langues/english/i-lam_arth/tengwar_latin_mode.txt · Dernière modification: 28/04/2021 19:19 par Elendil
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