Ly g and Leuca: he relationship of Tolkien's invented Elvish languages, most prominently Quenya and Sindarin, to various primary world tongues was a subject Tolkien himself brought up in various letters, notes, and at least one public lecture. This essay1 is an examination of one particular type of equation that Tolkien described in an oftquoted passage from a letter to the Houghton Mifflin Co. in 1955: The "Sindarin," a Grey-elven language, is in fact constructed deliberately to resemble Welsh phonologically and to have a relation to High-elven [=Quenya] similar to that existing between British (properly so-called, sc. the Celtic languages spoken in this island at the time of the Roman Invasion) and Latin. . . . (Letters 219n) This statement is quite revealing about how Tolkien conceived of Sindarin and Quenya, at least during one important period of his life, and sheds some interesting light on the specific ways Tolkien's professional philological background was closely bound up to his creative linguistics. Tolkien's assertion that the relationship between Latin and British somehow closely resembles that of Quenya and Sindarin catches the interest in part because it does not seem particularly true at first glance. To a philologist or linguist,
Tolkien Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: Nov 27, 2014
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