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Blog > Essays > Dog Commands in Elvish

Dog Commands in Elvish

Over the years, I’ve translated dog commands for a few people, so I’ve decided to make it a short article for all you nerdy dog trainers.

Before I started translating, I looked up some research on what exactly dogs hear when we speak. Turns out that what they hear best is the pitch of our voices, followed by vowels, followed by voiced sounds. Voiceless stops rate the worst. This means that a G (a voiced stop) is easier to hear for a dog than a K (a voiceless stop), but an M (voiced nasal) is even better. Using these principles, I’ve translated a set of commands into Sindarin and Quenya that should be hearable to your dog.

I’ve changed up the way that I write the pronunciation a little bit to help you. I’m marking the stressed syllables with capital letters, and long vowels with repeated vowels. Stress is important because for us English speakers, we say stressed syllables by making them subtly louder and higher in pitch, both things that dogs are good at hearing. The length of time that a vowel is said is important in Elven languages, and you can use this to your advantage.

Quenya

For a basic overview of Quenya pronunciation, including recordings to practice with, visit the Quenya Pronunciation Guide.

Command Beginner – “Á!”

When issuing a command in Quenya, one thing that you may find helpful is the command word “Á!” If you skim the phrasebooks, you’ll find it beginning most commands. Thus, I suggest using “Á!” as a way to catch the dogs attention, meaning “after this is a command!”
Simple Pronunciation: AA
International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈaa]

“Bark!” – “*Hua!”

Simple Pronunciation: HU.a

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈhu.a]

Note: I used the ancient root √KHUG which is marked as meaning “bark, woof, bay,” but the only descending words Tolkien listed were words for “Dog.” So, I took the root, added the verb making suffix -ā, put it through Quenya’s phonetic history and tada! A new verb for dog vocalizations!

“No/Don’t!” – “Vá!”

Simple Pronunciation: VAA

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈvaa]

“Yes/Good” – “Mára”

Simple Pronunciation: MAA.ra

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈmaa.ra]

“Sit!” – “Hamu!”

Simple Pronunciation: HA.mu

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈha.mu]

Note: This is an outdated term which Tolkien replaced with Hare later on, which is the same word for “to stay.” Thus I used Hamu for “sit” and Hare for “stay.”

“Stay!” – “Hare!”

Simple Pronunciation: HA.re

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈha.rɛ]

“Come!” – “Tule!”

Simple Pronunciation: TU.le

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈtu.lɛ]

“Between legs” – “Imbe telcot”

Simple Pronunciation: IM.be TEL.kot

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈim.bɛ ˈtɛʎ.kɔt]

“Look!/Watch!” – “Cene!”

Simple Pronunciation: KE.ne

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɛ.nɛ]

“Stand!” – “Tare!”

Simple Pronunciation: TA.re

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈta.rɛ]

“Descend!” – “Unta!”

Simple Pronunciation: UN.ta

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈun.ta]

“Lie down!” – “Caita!”

Simple Pronunciation: KAI.ta

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkaj.ta]

“Kennel” – “Coa”

Simple Pronunciation: KO.a

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɔ.a]

Note: Coa means “house” or “building.” I thought of using Már which means “home” but that’s too close to Mára.

“Jump up!” – “Cape amba!”

Simple Pronunciation: KA.pe AM.ba

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈka.pɛ ˈam.ba]

“Jump down!” – “Cape undu!”

Simple Pronunciation: KA.pe UN.nu

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈka.pɛ ˈun.du]

“Guard!” – “Tire!”

Simple Pronunciation: TI.re

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈti.re]

“Tuck!/Make small!” – “Nícata!”

Simple Pronunciation: NII.ka.ta

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈnii.ka.ta]

“Drop it!/Release!” – “Lerya!”

Simple Pronunciation: LER.ya

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈlɛr.ja]

“Go free!” – “Lenda!”

Simple Pronunciation: LEN.da

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈlɛn.da]

“Left heel!/Follow at the left hand!” – “Hilya hyarmanna!”

Simple Pronunciation: HIL.ya shar.MAN.na

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈhiʎ.ja j̊arˈman.na]

“Right heel!/Follow at the right hand!” – “Hilya formanna!”

Simple Pronunciation: HIL.ya for.MAN.na

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈhiʎ.ja fɔrˈman.na]

“Gentle!/Make calm!” – “Quildata!”

Simple Pronunciation: QUIL.da.ta

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkʷiʎ.da.ta]

“Cuddle!/Comfort!” – “Asya!”

Simple Pronunciation: AS.ya

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈas.ja]

“Touch!” – “Appa!”

Simple Pronunciation: AP.pa

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈap.pa]

“High five!” – “Tára tál!”

Simple Pronunciation: TAA.ra TAAL

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈtaa.ra ˈtaal]

Note: It literally means “high foot.”

“Run!” – “Nore!”

Simple Pronunciation: NO.re

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈnɔ.rɛ]

“Potty!” – “Care soa!”

Simple Pronunciation: KA.re SO.a

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈka.rɛ ˈsɔ.a]

Note: As you can imagine, Tolkien didn’t give us any words along these lines. Instead, I translated it as “make filth.”

“Place!/Come to rest!” – “Seru!”

Simple Pronunciation: SE.ru

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈsɛ.ru]

“Spin!” – “Hwinya!”

Simple Pronunciation: WHIN.ja

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈʍin.ja]

“Leave it!” – “Hehta!”

Simple Pronunciation: HEH.ta

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈhɛχ.ta]

Note: Literally “Abandon!” or “Exclude!”

Sindarin

Sindarin’s doesn’t have a command particle like Quenya does – instead, the Á became a suffix on the verbs, which in time just became an -o. For Sindarin pronunciation, consult the Sindarin Pronunciation Guide first.

“Bark!” – “*Huo!”

Simple Pronunciation: HU.o

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈhu.ɔ]

Note: I used the ancient root √KHUG which is marked as meaning “bark, woof, bay,” but the only descending words Tolkien listed were words for “Dog.” So, I took the root, added the verb making suffix -ā, put it through Sindarin’s phonetic history and tada! A new verb for dog vocalizations!

“No/Don’t!” – “Baw!”

Simple Pronunciation: BAW

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈbɑw]

“Yes/Good” – “Ma”

Simple Pronunciation: MA

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈmɑ]

“Sit!” – “Hadho!”

Simple Pronunciation: HA.dho

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈhɑ.ðɔ]

“Stay!” – “Daro!”

Simple Pronunciation: DA.ro

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈdɑ.rɔ]

“Come!” – “Tolo!”

Simple Pronunciation: TO.lo

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈtɔ.lɔ]

“Between legs” – “Im dilch”

Simple Pronunciation: im DILCH

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [im ˈdiʎχ]

“Look!/Watch!” – “Ceno!”

Simple Pronunciation: KE.no

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɛ.nɔ]

“Stand!/Arise!” – “Erio!”

Simple Pronunciation: E.ri.o

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈɛ.ri.ɔ]

“Descend!” – “*Duio!”

Simple Pronunciation: DUI.o

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈduj.ɔ]

Note: This is a fanmade word based on √NDU “down” and the verb suffix -yā, then put through Sindarin phonetic development.

“Lie down!” – “Caedo!”

Simple Pronunciation: KAE.do

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɑɛ.dɔ]

“Kennel” – “Adab”

Simple Pronunciation: A.dab

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈɑ.dɑb]

Note: Adab means “building.” I thought of using Bâr which means “home” but that’s too close to Dâr.

“Jump up!” – “Cabo am!”

Simple Pronunciation: KA.bo AM

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɑ.bɔ ˈɑm]

“Jump down!” – “Cabo dhad!”

Simple Pronunciation: KA.bo DHAD

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɑ.bɔ ˈðɑd]

“Guard!” – “Tiro!”

Simple Pronunciation: TI.ro

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈti.rɔ]

“Tuck!/Small!” – “Pîn!”

Simple Pronunciation: PIIIN

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈpiiin]

“Drop it!/Release!” – “Leithio!”

Simple Pronunciation: LEI.thi.o

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈlei.θi.ɔ]

“Free!” – “Lain!”

Simple Pronunciation: LAIN

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈlɑjn]

“Left heel!/Follow at the left side!” – “Aphado na charvo!”

Simple Pronunciation: A.fa.do na CHAR.vo

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈɑ.fɑ.dɔ nɑ ˈχɑr.vɔ]

“Right heel!/Follow at the right side!” – “Aphado na forvo!”

Simple Pronunciation: A.fa.do na FOR.vo

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈɑ.fɑ.dɔ nɑ ˈfɔr.vɔ]

“Gentler!/Softer!” – “Rovae!”

Simple Pronunciation: RO.vae

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈrɔ.vɑɛ]

“Cuddle!/Comfort!” – “Athro!”

Simple Pronunciation: ATH.ro

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈɑθ.rɔ]

“Touch!” – “Lebo!”

Simple Pronunciation: LE.bo

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈlɛ.bɔ]

“High five!” – “Tâl daer!”

Simple Pronunciation: TAAAL DAER

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈtɑɑɑl ˈdɑɛr]

Note: It literally means “high foot.”

“Run!” – “Noro!”

Simple Pronunciation: NO.ro

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈnɔ.rɔ]

“Potty!” – “Caro haw!”

Simple Pronunciation: KA.ro HAW

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈkɑ.rɔ ˈhɑw]

Note: As you can imagine, Tolkien didn’t give us any words along these lines. Instead, I translated it as “make filth.”

“Place!/Rest!” – “*Sedho!”

Simple Pronunciation: SE.dho

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈsɛ.ðɔ]

Note: This is a fanmade word that means “to rest.”

“Spin!” – “Hwinio!”

Simple Pronunciation: WHI.ni.o

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ˈʍi.ni.ɔ]

“Leave it!” – “Awartho!”

Simple Pronunciation: a.WAR.tho

International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription: [ɑˈwɑr.θɔ]

Note: Literally “Abandon!”

Speak, Friend!