Quenya Pronunciation

Another website with information about Quenya Pronunciation: Elvish Pronunciation Guide

Vowels

(A/Á) Pronounce them /a/, in the back of your throat, like the A is in the word “father”.

(E) Pronounce it /ɛ/, in the middle of your mouth. It sounds like the E of “better”.

(É) Pronounce it /ej/, in the middle of your mouth. It sounds like the AY of “ray“.

(I/Í) Pronounce them /i/, in the front of your mouth, as in the word “machine”.

(O) Pronounce it /ɔ/ as in the word “thought”, in the middle of your mouth. Make an O with your lips.

(Ó) Pronounce it /o/ as in the word “oat”, in the middle of your mouth. Make an O with your lips.

(U/Ú) Pronounce them /u/ as in “brute”, in the front of your mouth. Make your lips in the shape of a kiss.

*Accents on vowels denote extra length on the vowels. Hold the vowels longer. In music this is shown with a tenuto (-) over the note. In IPA, the long vowel is shown with a (:) directly following it.

Diphthongs

(AI) Pronounce this /aj/, as in the word “twine”.

(AU) Pronounce this /au/, as in the word “loud”.

(IU) Pronounce this /iu/, as in “music”.

(EU) Pronounce this /ɛu/, like IU above, except with an E instead of a I.

(OI) Pronounce this /ɔj/, as in the word “boy“.

(UI) Pronounce this /uj/, as in the word “ruin”.

Consonants

(Most of these only account for one Tengwa each, I’ll mark the ones that don’t.)

(C) Pronounce it always as a /k/, as in the word “kill”.

(G) Pronounce it always as a /g/, as in the word “give”.

(H) Pronounce it /h/, as in “behold”.

(HL) Pronounce it /ɬ/, a voiceless L. That means, you shape your mouth the same way that you would when making the L sound, but only air will come out, and it will sound a little like an H.

(HR) Pronounce it /r̊/, a voiceless R. That means, you shape your mouth the same way that you would when making the rolled R sound, but only air will come out, like a trilled H.

(HT) Pronounce it /xt/, as in the CH of “Bach” and the T in “street”. This sound only appears inside of words. It takes two Tengwar.

(HW) Pronounce it /ʍ/, as in the word “white”. It’s a really airy W.

(Ñ) Pronounce it /ŋ/, as in the word “sing“.

(NG) Pronounce it /ŋg/, as in the word “finger”. It takes two Tengwar.

(R) Pronounce it as an /r/; roll it as we sometimes do in the word “growl” If you can’t roll an R, like me, make an H sound with your throat closed a little. It should make a rolled A sound. It’ll be a little like gargling water.

(PH) Pronounce it /f/, as in the word “phone”.

(QU) Pronounce it /kw/, as in the word “queen”.

(TH) Pronounce it /θ/, like the TH in the word “nothing”.

(TY) Pronounce it /tj/ as in “at you”. The human speakers would pronounce this /ʧ/ as in the word “church“. It takes two Tengwar.

The rest of the letters are pronounced as we pronounce them in English.

Vowel-Consonant Combinations

The only reason these are listed are because Tolkien wanted to make sure we didn’t English-ize the vowel+R. Remember that the R is still rolled.

(ER) Pronounce it /ɛr/, as in the word “fair“.

(IR) Pronounce it /ir/, as in the word “ear“.

(UR) Pronounce it /ur/, as in the word “tour“.

Where the stress falls

Stress is when a syllable is said louder and higher pitched than other syllables in a word. Primary stress (the loudest, highest syllable) is notated by having a (ˈ) before the syllable, and secondary stress (not as high and loud as the primary stress, but higher and louder than the rest of the syllables) is marked with a (ˌ) before the syllable.

Syllables are determined by vowel-sounds. There is one vowel or diphthong per a syllable. When looking for where to place stress, look only at the last three syllables.

  • If the word is 1, 2, or 3 syllables long then the first syllable gets the stress.
  • If it is longer than 3 syllables, the 3rd syllable from the end gets the stress.
  • If the 2nd to last syllable in a word has one of these special markers, it gets the stress instead of the 3rd syllable from the end.
    1. Accents
    2. Diphthongs (AI, AU, IU, EU, OI, and UI)
    3. Multiple Consonants (This only counts if they come at the end of the syllable. They can be two of the same letter side by side. They could also be several different consonants next to each other. Remember that HW, HL, HR, PH, and TH only count as one consonant.)

Note: I am using Northwestern American English, which anyone can tell you, is a little different from the rest of the world’s English. I tried to compromise by using IPA, but if some of the English examples still don’t make sense, let me know, and I’ll try to find a better word.

Source: Appendix E, The Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King)

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