Michael, your name is so cool! It’s a rhetorical question, “Who is like El Elyon?”
When it comes to translating this name, we have a huge problem. This name isn’t translatable. Not directly, anyways. Elven names aren’t made from sentences. They’re made by combining nouns, adjectives, and name suffixes. Worse yet, this is a sentence, and we have no precedent for pronouns appearing in personal names. When it comes to translating this, I’ll make names that drop the “who is” part entirely. This is a poor solution, but there are no good solutions for this translation. I’ve seen a few different people try to mush together the words of the sentence to make the name, but Elven names just aren’t made that way, and I find the resulting names incomprehensible. I think that in this case, stepping away from the original meaning slightly is our only option for useable names.
This has a name within a name, so we’ll need to consider how to translate Ēl as well. I wrote an essay about this very problem: “Challenges in Translating Names from Our World,” but I’ll summarize the three approaches here.
- Cultural equivalent: replace El Elyon with Eru Ilúvatar.
- Translate the name-within-the-name: El means “a god.”
- Leave untranslated. In Elven languages it’ll sound like a word for “star.”
The three approaches for translating El in Quenya are Eru, Aino/Vala, and Él. To these, we can add the adjective suffix –vea meaning “like,” making: Eruvea, Ainuvea, Valavea, and Elvea.
Adding a masculine name suffix we get: Eruveo, Ainuveo, Valaveo, and Elveo.
And since there are many feminine versions of Michael, here they are with a feminine name suffix instead: Eruvie, Ainuvie, Valavie, and Elvie.
As names of characters in an Arda context, none of these work, except the names based on Elvea because it sounds like the word “star-like.” This is too close to impersonating the divine. So instead, I suggest names based on the character’s relationship with the divine. The name is the name of an Angel, so I’m translating it as “servant of Eru/the Valar/the Ainur.”
In Quenya, the name suffix meaning “servant of” is –ndur. This makes the genderless names: Erundur, Ainundur, and Valandur.
The three approaches for translating El are Eru, Balan, and Êl. To these we’ll add the adjective suffix –ui meaning “like,” making: Erui, Balanui, and Elui.
Adding the word “Dîr – man” we get: Eruinir, Balanuinir, and Eluinir.
Adding the word “Dîs – woman” we get: Eruinis, Balanuinis, and Eluinis.
As with Quenya, only the names that sound like they mean “star-like” work as names for your RP and fanfic characters. We can add the word “Bŷr – vassal, trustworthy follower” to Eru and Balan to make: Eruvyr and Balamyr.
Michael, I hope you for this article informative and interesting!
If you’d like your name translated in this series, comment below and I’ll consider it for a future article!
Hanks, Patrick & Hodges, Flavia. A Dictionary of First Names Oxford University Press. 1990. pg 236.
Anna and Magdalena