Quenya Pronunciation

Another website with information about Quenya Pronunciation: Elvish Pronunciation Guide

Voices in the recordings are Fiona Jallings and Bailey Sleijpen

Vowels

`C=~C(A/Á) Pronounce them /a/, like the A is in the word “father”. Make sure that the A is pronounced the same at the ends of words too. English speakers often change A’s at the ends of words into “Uh”s, so watch out for that.

Recording features the words: Nangwa, Halla, Yáve, Calpa, Sáva


`V(E/Ë) Pronounce them /ɛ/, like the E of “better”. The umlaut doesn’t affect the pronunciation of the E, and I often leave it out.

Recording features the words: Se, Tëa, Lië, Mente, Eldarin


~V(É) Pronounce it /e:/, like the A of “lake”.

Recording features the words: Éle, Ecénië, Hérince, Véne, Né


`B=~B(I/Í) Pronounce them /i/, as in the word “machine”.

Recording features the words: Minna, Imi, Cilme, Imíca, Píca


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

Recording features the words: Ñoldo, Ohta, Loa, Forma, Rosse


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

Recording features the words: Tó, Yón, Ñóla, Mól, Hón


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

Recording features the words: Húna, Uo, Cúma, Nuhta, Lusta


*Acute 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.

Umlauts remind one when a vowel has its own syllable and isn’t in a diphthong. It doesn’t affect the pronunciation of the vowel at all. It’s most commonly found on E’s at the ends of words to remind English speakers that these E’s aren’t silent.

Diphthongs

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

Recording features the words: Aiya, Laica, Quain, Raina, Caima


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

Recording features the words: Aule, Fauca, Laure, Nauthe, Sauron


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

Recording features the words: Siule, Tiuca, Miule, Piucca, Hiuta


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

Recording features the words: Leuca, Neuma, Peu, Ceule, Euva


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

Recording features the words: Hloita, Oia, Coima, Loica, Moia


lJ(UI) Pronounce this /uj/, as in the word “gooey“.

Recording features the words: Muina, Nuine, Ruimen, Cuiviénen, Uile

Consonants

a(C/K), 8=i(S) These each are pronounced only one way, but since they are all sounds that we have in English, there won’t be recording for these. Pronounce them always /k/ and /s/, as in the words “cat” and “sell”.

As a general rule, (Y), (W), (R), and (L) that follow a voiceless consonant (C/K), (F), (H), (P), (S), (T), (TH/Þ) become voiceless, meaning that you whisper the sound and it comes out all soft and airy.

(HY), (LY), (NY), (RY), (SY/THY), (TY) These are pronounced with a little /j/ after the consonant, like in English words like “music,” “few,” and “huge.”

Recording features the words: Hyarmen, Elye, Nyelle, Arya, Asya, Athya, Tyalie


(HY) Pronounce it /j̊/. It’s a whispered (voiceless) version of (Y).

Recording features the words: Hyarmen, Hyana, Hye, Ahya


½j(HL) Pronounce it /l̥/, a whispered (voiceless) version of L.

Recording features the words: Hlas, Hlón, Hlóce, Hloita, Hlusse


d1(HT) Pronounce it /xt/, as in the CH of “Bach” and the T in “street”. This sound only appears inside of words.

Recording features the words: Lehta, Luhta, Mahta, Melehta, Pahta


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

Recording features the words: Hwan, Hwarin, Hwerme, Hwesta, Hwinde


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

Recording features the words: Ñaule, Ñille, Ñoldo, Ñorta, Ñalme


s(NG) Pronounce it /ŋg/, as in the word “finger”.

Recording features the words: Angol, Tengwa, Aldinga, Anga, Quinga


7=6(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.

Recording features the words: Arda, Cirisse, Heru, Móre, Ruxa


½7(HR) Pronounce it /r̥/, 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.

Recording features the words: Hraia, Hríve, Hroa, Hrucare, Hrondo


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

Recording features the words: Quetta, Quanta, Qualme, Quiquie, Orqui


q1(PT) Pronounce it /φt/. The (P) is pronounced like an F, except with your lips shaped like a kiss, instead of your lower lip against your upper teeth.

Recording features the words: Lepta, Apta, Telepta, Opto, Tapta


3(TH/Þ) Pronounce them /θ/, like the TH in the word “nothing”.

Recording features the words: Þahta, Theler, Þinda, Thorno, Þúle


k=,(Z) Pronounce it /z/ as in “zoo”

Recording features the words: Áze, Ezella, Tyazie, Séze


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

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 HL, HR, and TH only count as one consonant.)

Dialects

We covered above the basic sounds of Quenya, now we’ll learn how the dialects differentiate from eachother in ways that won’t show up in the spellings of the words.

Vanyarin Dialect

This dialect is spoken by the Vanyarin elves in Aman.

(HY) Pronounce it /ʃ/ as in the word “shush.”

Recording features the words: Hyarmen, Hyana, Hye, Ahya


(TY) Pronounce it /tʃ/ as in the word “church.”

Recording features the words: Tatya, Tyelle, Tyelpe, Tye, Tyulma


(DY) Pronounce it /dʒ/ as in the word “joy.”

Recording features the words: Quendya, Indyel, Endya, Indyo


81Î(STY) and d1Î(HTY) Pronounce them /ʃtʃ/ with the S or H as in the word “shush” and the TY as in the word “church.”

Recording features the words: Istya, *Ustya, Ehtyar, Mahtya


(PY) Pronounce it /pʃ/ as in the expression “pshaw.”

We don’t actually have any words listed with this sound, but hypothetically it’s possible.

The for the rest of the sounds, you can refer to the list above.

Ñoldorin/Exilic Dialect

This dialect covers a lot of time – from when the Noldor split from the Vanyar to their Exile in Middle-earth. The Sindarin language had a profound impact on the ways the Exiles spoke, partially through the contact of their languages, and partially from Thingol’s ban on Quenya in the First Age.

½7(HR) and ½j(HL) had both merged with 7=6(R) and j(L) when the Exiles left for Middle-earth, though the difference was retained in spelling. They regained this sound after contact with the Sindarin speakers in Beleriand, since the Sindarin language never lost these sounds. I’ve retained the spelling as (HR) and (HL) because of this complex history.

3(TH/Þ) merged with 3(S), famously pissing off Fëanor because it changed the pronunciation of his dead mother’s name. This sound change wasn’t reflected in the spellings of words. It happened before the Noldor left for Middle-earth. In some cases, it was regained because of contact with the Sindar. If you wanted to show your opposition to Fëanor, why not embrace an accent that pissed him off?

(SY) Pronounce it /ʃj̊/, with the (S) as in the word “shush” and the (Y) voiceless. This (S) comes from (TH/Þ) as above, so this pronunciation only appears if the character is adopting the Anti-Feanorian S.

Recording features the words: Asya, Cesya

Númenórean/Gondorian Dialect

Gondorians, Hobbits, and Númenóreans speak the Exilic dialect with accents influenced by their native tongues: Westron and Adûnaic. Because their languages had palatal sounds (CH, SH) they changed the pronunciation of these two consonant clusters.

(HY) Pronounce it /ʃ/ as in the word “shush.”

Recording features the words: Hyarmen, Hyana, Hye, Ahya


(TY) Pronounce it /tʃ/ as in the word “church.”

Recording features the words: Tatya, Tyelle, Tyelpe, Tye, Tyulma


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.

Sources:

“Appendix E” The Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King)

“Outline of Phonology” Parma Eldalamberon 19 (Quenya Phonology)

“Qenya Spelling” Parma Eldalamberon 22 (The Feanorian Alphabet – Part 1; Quenya Verb Structure)

“The Shibboleth of Fëanor” The Peoples of Middle-earth

1 Comment

  1. Jorrit Kleiss | |

    Hi there,
    Sorry to be a pain but I haven’t found any sources where the “HL” consonant had a word to exemplify the pronunciation. Would you be so kind to explain this a bit more for me since I’m unsure whether or not I am using the right pronunciation.

    Hantanyel órenyallo/Guren glassui ((I thank you fromk my heart))

    Namárië/Novaer ((Farewell))

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