It is not uncommon for fans of fantasy novels written by authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien to seek out translations of English into Elvish. There are some more enthusiastic fans who might wonder whether they are talking about a real language. Although Elvish is purely fictional, it has a very long history and is composed of a variety of dialects.
The Evolution of the Elvish Language
You can’t use an online Elvish translator unless you understand the language’s foundation.
In addition to being an author, J.R.R. Tolkien was a poet, professor of English language and literature, and philologist. The study of history, language, and works of literature is one of the greatest passions of philologists.
As a code breaker during World War II, Tolkien used influences from Celtic, Welsh, Latin, German, Greek, Finnish, and even some Asian languages to create the languages in his fantasy novels.
There are several websites that can help you learn and translate Elvish. Words can be found in some, but other phrases, locations, or insults can also be found in others. At first glance, Elvish speech can appear intimidating on other sites, which explain how to pronounce it.
- You can type in any English word and it will return the Elvish translation. Although the site appears to offer the option of translating both single words and phrases, the phrase translator does not work. However, this site is useful for looking up individual Elvish words.
- Arwen Undomiel is a site dedicated to fans of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books and movies. There is also an Elvish section of the site that contains a history of the language, a pronunciation guide, useful phrases, Elvish names, and a collection of links to websites in Elvish. The pronunciation guide is definitely useful for the novice Elvish translator, even though this site does not have a translator option.
- Realelvish.net is probably the most recent of all the sites listed and contains a lot of information on Elvish, including a random name generator, phrase book, pronunciation guides, recorded scripts, and word lists. Additionally, you can request free custom translations from the site owner. In addition to Sindarin and Quenya translations, the site provides several other languages.
- The Ardalambion website is dedicated to all the languages Tolkien created, including Dwarvish and Orkish. A comprehensive section is dedicated to the grammar, words, pronunciation, and history of several Elvish dialects, including Sindarin, Telerin (Sea Elves), and Nandorin (Green Elves).
- There is also a Quenya course you can download as RTF files on the Ardalambion site above. This is an introduction to the Elvish language for absolute beginners. Learn everything you need to know about Quenya grammar, pronunciation, pronouns, and vocabulary.
- The Dreamstime website is owned by Marios Tziortzis
Sindarin and Quenya language texts, poetry, songs, and vocabulary and grammar guides can be found in Parma Tyelpelassiva. To reach the English information, you’ll have to scroll down a bit from the top of the page, which is written in Elvish. On both Sindarin and Quenya, you can order and download some courses.
- Quenya 101 is another option for learning Elvish. The site focuses solely on the Quenya language. It is necessary to donate to the site owner in order to access the course. In this course, grammar, vocabulary, syntax, and full sentences are covered with the aim of becoming fluent in spoken Quenya. Several quick guides on verbs, conjugations, and the Tengwar alphabet are also available on the website.
- You can view lessons on everything Sindarin on Sindarin Lessons, and there is a helpful forum if you need translation assistance. When reviewing the lessons, the learner can do everything from creating English names to translating English into Sindarin.
- Quenya (another major Elvish language in Tolkien’s books) and Sindarin vocabulary terms are included in A Taste of Elvish. The words are categorized by types of people, family names, animals, plants, foods, and geographical terms.
- The One Wiki to Rule Them All contains information about Tolkien’s works. A vowel pronunciation guide is included with an extensive Elven word list.
- With Fun Translations, you can translate Sindarin and Quenya using a translator. It is similar to Google Translate in terms of functionality. Just type in your words or phrases and the site will provide an Elvish translation. You can also translate your English words into Elves’ beautiful script with a Tengwar translator. Since these fonts can’t be processed by your everyday software, the translations can be saved as images. The translator does not work with every word, including some common ones, so you will need other sources to complete the translation.
- With Dan Smith’s Fantasy Fonts for Windows, you can translate in Tengwar font on your computer. In addition to the actual font files, you can also download Celtic lettering and knotwork fonts from this site.
- You can also listen to the Quenya and Sindarin languages on YouTube. The following are helpful if you have trouble understanding the written pronunciations. Also available are tutorials on how to write in Tengwar Elvish. Here are a few good options:
- Learn Sindarin in VEDA 208: Learn to Speak Elvish
- The basics of Sindarin pronunciation is provided in Learn to Speak Elvish: Sindarin Pronunciation
- This playlist contains seven videos covering topics such as weather, love, and family in Sindarin Elvish
- Sindarin Textbook Lecture Series – An explanation of pronunciation and syllable division
- A YouTube channel dedicated to learning how to write in Elvish
- Here’s a lesson on Tengwar lettering and rules
- There is a multi-part series on Elvish writing in Tengwar Teacher
Smartphone and Tablet Apps
There are several mobile apps available that translate words and phrases into Elvish.
- You can share Tengwar script images with others using the Elvish Translator & Share app (Android).
- With Elfic Elvish Translator (Android), you can translate English phrases into Elvish Tengwar script and share them on social media.
- It allows you to convert names or phrases into Elvish and Dwarven script using Runes – Elvish Translator (iOS).
- The Elvish Translator (iOS) lets you translate words and phrases into Tengwar script, and save them as image files for use as device wallpapers or as computer downloads.
Getting Started with Elvish Translations
Review the sites above to find the translator or course that is right for you. When learning grammar rules, you should focus on either the Quenya or Sindarin language. It won’t take you long to translate Elvish with some study and persistence!