How to Play an Elf in Middle-earth
(first posted: 09 Jun 2013)
(last updated: 25 March 2016)
By Doviel of Landroval
Summer Welcome Mat in Lotro
I was asked what this said. I took a wild guess and said maybe ‘gi nathlam’ you are welcome? But on closer examination, the first two letters did not spell gi. *sweatdrop*
My direct translation (which I think is correct) in Sindarin Tengwar: ‘May Gwovannen’
Which is Mae G’ovannen, commonly just written as Mae govannen – Well met or ‘You are well met’ as the g’ is for the informal you - gi, just as mae l’ovannen is the l from le for a formal you or you are.
It turns out, sometimes, when E is in a word, the symbol yanta for y is used. Otherwise vowel notations are used above and below the consonant symbol. Tricksy Tengwar!
[This page is a compendium of my knowledge of Elves and the knowledge of others.
It was written as a, hopefully, helpful guide for people who want to RP or write canon-lore based Elves from Tolkien’s Middle-earth[i].
When I refer to the work of others, I link to their sites.
When I quote Tolkien directly, I say where it came from.]
The Fine Print
Fair Warning – Before you continue – playing or writing a lore elf is not easy. You might not like this. You don’t have to be all in. You can glean what you want from this and leave the rest. Just don’t expect to be met with serious enthusiasm for your efforts. There’s a reason why most RPers are playing Men and Hobbits; they’re easier. Elves can be difficult but they’re worth the effort.
The first time I tried to seriously partner up with someone for storytelling, whom I had met months earlier, he said okay to storytelling together but a couple days later literally told me that it’s too complicated, forget it. Then he left the game for weeks.
Please remember the basics of any online RP whether it’s live play in game or posted fanfiction: the more careful you are with your language – typing basics, capitals, punctuation, spelling as best as you can -- the better you will be received. Elves would know how to speak well. I know I write a lot of goofy stuff about Elves, but it’s tongue-in-cheek. When I’m in a scene and storytelling with others, I write carefully and I make sure Doviel speaks elegantly or at least scene appropriately. Even a rustic wood-elf is a master of language, so keep that in mind.
Anyway, as you may know, learning the lore of Tolkien Elves is not playing D&D or the Darnassian mish-mash of World of Warcraft. It is way more sophisticated with two mostly complete Elvish languages (Quenya and Sindarin) and language fragments (from Silvan, Valarin, Black Speech, etc.), a numerical system, and a writing system--tengwar . Take it slowly if you’re new to this stuff. If you only know the movies, this could overwhelm you. The first few times I listened to The Silmarillion, while doing other stuff, I didn’t get it. The first time I read it in high school, it was boring and difficult. I used to call it the silmar-yawn-ion. ~_~ I got lost in the names and utterly confused again and again. Be patient with yourself. It will make sense, and there are really good stories in that book. Remember, with Tolkien, no matter which texts you’re tackling, the index is your friend.
Table of Contents (no sugar added):
Part 1 – Background – The Silmarillion and types of Elves
Part 2 – Eldar or Avari? & Did Orcs come from Elves?
Part 3 – “Just tell me how to play an Elf!”
Part 4 – Movies vs. Books – Differences to be aware of
Part 5 – Talking the Talk – How to Speak Elvish
If you like it, buy it or download the kindle version: The Silmarillion
For a humanized version of some major players from the The Silmarillion, I’d also recommend: The Children of Hurin
It is a sad, but beautiful story of humanity’s pride. It gives you an inside view of Doriath, noble’s traditions, lordly Sindar, shy wood-elves, march-wardens, the legendary King Thingol, and the maia, Melian. It gives some foundation for how Elves interacted with the Children of Men, and how ‘human’ Elves really are in Tolkien’s world.
The Unfinished Tales have some great information on Middle-earth Elves, especially the Silvan people and their integration with Sindarin people in the Index on p. 258 and p. 259. And, of course, there’s many other stories in there, but I thought I’d point that out for any other potential wood-elf players. The actual integration of Sindar with Silvan is very different from The Hobbit movies as explained in the end notes.
So, yeah, there are not a lot of short cuts. You really need to know that Silmarillion
stuff for a foundation on Elves; the other books, essays, and letters are
helpful but they are optional. Just a
note though, it's mainly about the high-end Elven peoples, primarily the
happenings of the Noldor and the Sindar.
Most Elves in Middle-earth in the Third Age would be the Silvan (wood-elves),
who are distant cousins (in a way) to the Sindar as
they are both of the Teleri.
You can play your elf as happy or sad. He or she could long for the sea and Aman (The Undying Lands / Blessed Realm). They could deeply mourn the hurts of the world and the corruptions of nature. Or they could love the world they live in and be very happy where they are. It's really up to you, but if you want to be a lore elf, you need to research who YOUR people are. Most elves you encounter in lotro will either not be RP or be what are affectionately termed on Landroval as "Bree Elves". There's nothing wrong with being a Bree Elf. Some of my best friends are Bree Elves. ;) And, there's no one who says you can't play any way you want to! But if you want to be a lore appropriate elf, you will need to do research.
This image is a clan tree to help you understand the origin of the elves you want to write your fanfic about, RP in game, LARP, or for Cosplay interactions:
Elves are often more than one type of elf and fall within more than one category. Doviel is a Silvan elf, which means she's also Umanyar, also Moriquendi, also Nandor, and also Teleri from the clan of Nelyar.
Note: Moriquendi or Dark Elves,
a snooty term coined by the Noldor (thanks, guys!),
are simply the Elves whose people never went to Aman
to see the light of the Two Trees – Telperion and Laurelin. They are not Drow
Elves from D&D. There are no
naturally evil Elves in Tolkien’s world.
So, that's the first step. Find out who the Elves are and pick the kind of Elf you want to be.
The Three Kindreds of Eldar:
If you are counted among the Eldar, you are immortal in Valinor and very long-lived in Middle-earth and if you perish before leaving the world of your own accord, you will dwell in the Halls of Mandos before you are re-embodied to dwell in Aman and participate in the remaking of the world.
If you are Avari, you will not (unless you are only part Avari as they intermingled with the Eldar people in later days), you are an very-long lived being but you may just eventually fade instead of retiring to Aman or if you perish of wounds be a disembodied fea. However, if an Avari heeded the call of Mandos upon their passing, their spirit would likely journey on to the Halls of Mandos and await re-embodiment after their time of peace and reflection. <-- This is not written absolutely, it's conjecture, all I know for sure is Avari were not counted among the Eldar.
Part 2: Okay, I know the history of the Elves and I know what
kind of Elf I want to play, now what?
Are you of the Eldar or the Avari?
What's the difference?
Okay in general, if you are of the Eldar, you are practically immortal, though eventually in Middle-earth you will grow weary and your spirit will overcome your body, and when you pass from the world by choice (you can release your spirit by choice if you get really sad or if bad things are going to happen to you), by ship, or by physical death, you will reside in Aman, the Undying Lands. Yay for you!
If you went there via death, you will reside and rest in the Halls of Mandos (the Vala in charge of Doom), until you are re-embodied. There you will either hang out with the other fair folk on the isle, or rarely, return to Middle-Earth for some very important reason (e.g., Glorfindel). Otherwise, you will not return to Middle-earth until it is going to be remade in an unblemished state.
If you are not of the Eldar, you are still very-long lived by years, but you will not necessarily go to Aman, even in death, you might just fade. I believe this really depends on whether or not the Avari spirit would recognize and follow Mandos’ calling to the Halls. Many of the Avari mixed with other Elven peoples though, so it's possible, if you joined with them, you'd share their fate of leaving the world and going to Aman. You would know who the Valar were and accept the fate awaiting you in the West. But if you stayed stubborn and refused the Valar, you'd probably fade or be a disembodied fëa in time.
What about the Orcs? Are Orcs from Elves?
In Middle-earth, Utumno (Quenya for “Underworld”), also known as Udûn (Sindarin for “Hell”), was the first fortress of Morgoth (known as Melkor at that time) in the far north of Middle-earth before he destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor and before even the First Age. Although not named such, as it was created as landscape art, one might imagine the artist rendering is the delving of Utumno because much of it, as you can imagine, was beneath the earth.
Utumno was delved very deep into the flesh of the Earth. Here Melkor built his first of many dungeons and deep halls of obsidian, fire, and ice. Utumno had many hundreds of caves, tunnels, corners, and rooms, which allowed many things to remain hidden and secret for a very long time. (The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Introduction")
I don’t care who you are playing. You have probably never been here although you might have knowledge of it from lore or your character’s extreme age. Anyway, you don’t want to go here. I’m glad it’s gone. Want to read about its fall? It’s about Elves! Of course you do! War for the Sake of the Elves
If you've seen the movies, you've been told that Orcs were Elves once. :\ Well . . . it's complicated. In later letters Tolkien wasn't thrilled with this idea, but it would have required a giant re-writing of Elven and Middle-earth history because there were Orcs in the world before Men awoke.
In The Silmarillion (page 47):
"But of those unhappy ones who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty. For who of the living has descended into the pits of Utumno, or has explored the darkness of the counsels of Melkor? Yet it is held true by the wise of Eressëa, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest of foes."
This text refers to the Quendi who ran and hid at the sight of Oromë when he came to lead them from Cuiviénen westward. The ones who fled from Oromë are the Avari.
The ones who were captured were corrupted. These "corrupted elves" were the first orcs. There are various races of orcs (though with later races of orcs came different physical and non-physical characteristics like increasing tolerance to sunlight) all identical in their hate for everything that Ilúvatar and the Valar had constructed (including themselves) to resemble the hate that lay within Melkor. He was the first hater.
Melkor wasn’t just sippin’ it. He invented it (or at least corrupted it from its original form, heh). He probably mainlined orcs with it.
Anyway, the First Age orcs were probably different from the
Third Age orcs we would encounter in game:
"Finally, there is a cogent point, though horrible to relate. It became clear in time that undoubted Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits; and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs producing new breeds, often larger and more cunning. There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men treacherous and vile." (Morgoth's Ring, "Myths Transformed" - Text X)
Tolkien saw the inner workings of orcs more as the worst of Men, who they later mingled with, and not really Elven in origin, but there it is. Orcs were created by Morgoth and he is incapable of making something on his own. He can only corrupt the works of others. So if Orcs are from Elves (and later mixed with Men), they would be from the East Elves -- the Avari who never took the Great Journey, but really, don't worry about it because you'd probably never talk about it if you're an Elf. Just as Men wouldn't claim Uruk-hai as their own. With any coerced mingling of Men and orcs, their humanity would have been lost in their corruption.
Orcs are not Elves; no matter what their origin might be. Only the powerful magic of a Vala would be able to force the life essence of an Elf to stay embodied as he corrupted them. As I already stated, elves can release their spirit at will. Any part of them that was Elven, bright and pure, would have left them long before they became orcs. It'd only be the shell of a body and a perversion of the sentient life left which became orc. It’d be like taking a golden charm and melting it down to use as a filling for a cavity. The beauty of the charm, the essence of what it was, has been lost to this world; it’s gone. All that is left is a physical remnant of the charm, some of its gold, in another form, used to contain decay.
In Morgoth’s Ring, “Myths Transformed” – Text VIII, Tolkien explains: “I think it must be assumed that 'talking' is not necessarily the sign of the possession of a 'rational soul' or fëa. The Orcs were beasts of humanized shape (to mock Men and Elves) deliberately perverted / converted into a more close resemblance to Men. Their 'talking' was really reeling off 'records' set in them by Melkor. Even their rebellious critical words - he knew about them. Melkor taught them speech and as they bred they inherited this; and they had just as much independence as have, say, dogs or horses of their human masters. This talking was largely echoic (cf. parrots). In The Lord of the Rings Sauron is said to have devised a language for them. [Black Speech]
The same sort of thing may be
said of Huan and the Eagles: they were taught
language by the Valar, and raised to a higher level -
but they still had no fëar.” Still later, he changed his mind that certain
beings, sacred to the Valar, may have fëar, which makes me think they may have been an embodiment
of lesser spirits (such as, lesser Maiar).
An Elf would not acknowledge the orcs’ origin as kin. They are not immortal. They will not be redeemed. They will not journey to Aman. They live and die in the world and when their life essence releases, it'd probably relinquish to the void and fade to nothing. Tolkien was careful not to call orcs or other creatures of shadow "irredeemably bad" in Letter 153, and instead called them “naturally bad”. In life, I would say they are unredeemable. Tolkien was not specific, but I think that broken or willing creatures of shadow would become nothing after death.
The Void is not hell. The Void is the Absence of Being. Hell, as we would understand it, is on and in Middle-earth itself. It is Udûn and Angband and Mordor. That is hell. Just as heaven, as we might think it, is in Aman. And yet, the final Doom of Men lies elsewhere and that is their Gift. It’s sort of Greek Mythology meets The Bible. Elves have the Greek Mythology part; the worst and best Elves can experience is within the scope of Arda.
If you have access to Tolkien’s letters which have been published, check out his letters regarding this matter. Keep in mind, Tolkien was a staunch Catholic, which means everything in Eru’s world (God’s world) had a purpose or would come to serve a purpose, even if it seemed horrible. Now, Melkor’s abuse of power, his torment of the Elves, is what led to the Valar’s War which got him cast into the Void. Now it’s awful, and Eru would not want to see his first born hurt in this way, but if it had to be so, it led to the purpose of destroying Utumno and casting out Melkor.
Even the silmarils and all the
terrible destruction they brought, would be turned to a good use in the second
prophecy of Mandos’ and the remaking of the
world. The silmarils
would be given to Yavanna and broken, which would
allow her to rekindle the Two Trees with their light. So, in the end, even though the second
prophecy was not published at the end of The
Silmarillion, the idea was that Fëanor could
eventually be redeemed. However, the
whole thing got too muddled because it included a redemption of Túrin, who also had a raw deal in Middle-earth, and in the
end it was scrapped. I still like the
idea that, with the breaking of them, the silmarils
would serve good purpose after all the strife their possession caused. I also would have liked to have seen Túrin and his sister officially forgiven. (To my mind, their sin was no worse than the
stories of Arthur with his half-sister Morgaine, and Arthur was brought to a
blessed realm despite his transgression.
And if you can forgive an Elf for releasing their spirit in sorrow, you
can certainly forgive Niënor for casting herself in
the river as she was in shock, shame, and despair.)
Also, I'd make it clear that none of this orc-origin stuff means Avari are bad Elves. They're not. Eöl was a special kind of jerk and should not to be used as the prime example of who the Avari are (and he was actually a Sinda). (I’d bet money that his black sword was the inspiration for Elric of Melniboné’s Stormbringer, anyway . . .) The Quendi who became the Avari were frightened, and they did not understand. They thought Oromë was the Dark Hunter and would hurt them if he found them. Scary monsters were already lurking in the world. And, Angelic beings can be big and scary after all. Those who survived and had children may still be redeemed if they intermingle into Eldar populations.
I’ll explain Elven culture later and talk about how nicely some of the Elven people get along such as the Nandor with the Sindar. But, I’d clarify that I really am talking about the post-Noldor golden years and after the years under Gil-galad. Noldor did sneer at and scorn what they viewed as ‘lesser’ Elves. Noldor do have a reputation for being stuck-up, big heads. They erred on the side of “science and technology” according to Letter 153 and were willing to learn dangerous things, like studying under Annatar (Sauron in disguise), just to gain more knowledge.
Avari were considered the lowest of the Elves by the Noldor, and the Avari resented them. As an insult, Sindar Elves were also referred to as Dark Elves, though they were not. Not all Noldor, of course, but many of them who were misled by corrupted ideals were unkind to their brethren. If you feel up to it, you should research the three Kinslayings sometime.
The Noldor were the proudest of the Elves; in the words of the Teleri, they came back to Middle-earth because they were Avari at heart and "they needed room to quarrel in". (- War of the Jewels)
Part 3: Blah blah blah! I know what kind of Elf
I want to be AND I know the difference between the Eldar and the Avari - can we move on please?
”Just tell me how to play an Elf!”
Right! Okay! Here we go!
Now you know what kind of Elf you are, you should know the culture of your people.
You'll commonly see this referenced on the Internet as LACE - Laws and Customs Among the Eldar
This excerpt is from Morgoth’s Ring the 10th book in
the HoME (History of Middle Earth) 12 volume
series. Book 10 – Morgoth’s
Ring and Book 11 – War of the Jewels have a lot of the Elf stuff in
them from The Silmarillion.
However, they can be a real pain in the neck to find. They are out of print and overpriced. I had to order mine from Canada via
amazon.ca. They’re not necessary, but
I’m all about the Elves, so, yeah.
LACE is primarily focused on high-end, ruling class Eldar - namely the Noldor and Sindar traditions. You can play it a little more fast and loose if you're rolling as a wood-elf, but that's some important stuff to know regardless.
The main thing to know about Silvan elves, whether you’re playing a green-elf from Beleriand or a wood-elf from either side of the Anduin (Lórien or Mirkwood), is this: you want to mind your own business. The ONLY thing that would drive a Silvan Elf out of the forest would be their Lord or Lady asking them to help turn the tide against the enemy or getting really upset that other people’s war nonsense is screwing up your home life and messing up the natural world that you love. (For Example: It is understood that there will be no safety for your home and people until Sauron is defeated. Lord Celeborn and King Thranduil would know that and prepare their people for it.) Other than that, you really do not care about the strife others make for themselves; their problems belong to them. I know that’s a little odd, but Silvan are all about keeping to themselves, having joy when they may, and fostering a deep appreciation for the natural world.
Parody Mantras – but you get the general idea. ;) It’s an ‘attitude’ description not a dialogue model.
Silvan Mantra: “You leave us alone; we’ll leave you alone, and we’ll try not to assume the worst of you—but we might shoot you with arrows.” ;) Also: OMG Treez! Yay \o/
Noldorin Mantra: “I’m better than you. Smarter than you. *tosses hair* Prettier than you. And you have no idea who you’re messing with!” *draws sword* *Stabs first, questions later* Noldor lisp their Quenya. :P thptptptpt! Actually, no th, so Ssptptptptpt! Unless you’re Team Fëanor, then “th” for life!
Sindarin Mantra: “The shadows of the world trouble us, and we shall do what must be done.” P.S. ‘Does this robe make my butt look big?’ *adjusts jewelry* ~Fabulous~
Vanyar Mantra: “Valinor is awesome. Eldamar is great. We shall not depart from these shores again until Arda is made anew!” <-- no pure blooded Vanyar would be in Middle-earth anymore, they all returned to Aman, only descendants mixed with other Elven peoples would be in Middle-earth by the Third Age. If you are playing the exception, have a really good reason in your back story. Also, you’d speak Quenya more than Sindarin.
Avari Mantra: *peeks around the side of a tree* “Uh, we have a mantra?” *sees a pretty elleth by a pond* “Hey baby, wanna get married?!” *Elleth spots the Avari male, giggles, and runs away.* The ellon chases, “I’m just trying to ~mingle~ with the Eldar, slow down!”
-- seriously, I don’t know a lot about the Avari, but most, not necessarily all, that would still exist by the Third Age would have intermingled with the existing cultures of wood-elves. I do not think bloodline mingling was as important as culture mingling for an immortal people.
Now, once you’re out in the world. Your attitudes towards others may
change. How racial relationships and
relationships with other peoples of Elves work for your Elf is, of course, up
Fundamentally though, LACE lets you know how Elves have relationships with each other, what their kids are like, and how they get married. Those are things you want to understand as you role-play with other Elves or write stories about them.
This is the quickie version, because you like pictures, and reading is boring.
Warning! It glosses over some important points. If you skip LACE because it’s hard on the eyes, at least make sure you read about Elves and Sex:
(I’m currently editing this article on Tolkien Gateway (as Elf-esteem), so it’s slightly under construction as I work on clarifying assumptive content and adding refs.
It will be less ‘glossed’ when I’m done with it but still not has heavy as the original essay by Tolkien.
The main source will be, of course, Morgoth’s Ring, no surprise there.)
A good idea too is to know WHEN in the world YOU came into being:
skim this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Arda
Remember, Elves have babies in times of peace because it's very important that both parents can be there. Elven babies are made by an act of will. There are no accidents. Think of Elves as 'unfallen Man' with cute leaf-shaped ears. The Elf women have no 'curses of Eve'. Elf partners are equals.
No curses of Eve? Does this mean Elves don’t have periods?! That’s fanon and, probably, wishful thinking.[ii]
Elf society is much the same as their gender equality. Peoples are different but not lesser than. Even though there are ruling classes of Elves and Kings are chosen, Elves are not serfs or peasants. Silvan are ruled by Sindar (and previously by Noldor), for example, but they're mainly working together for mutual benefit and protection or allies who live independently. The Sindar aren't charging them fat taxes for living in the nearby trees and what have you or getting rich off their labor. Everyone works, everyone helps, but some concern themselves with the Great Matters of the world, and some worry about the trees and rivers. And some don’t worry much at all because there is still music and wine in the world, huzzah! ;)
I know it’s easier to write characters with the ‘their parents are already dead’ scenario to avoid having to write parental dialogue / interactions / backstory. It’s a common trope in almost any fairy tale, at least one parent is usually dead before we meet our protagonist. But, Elves tried to plan their parenting so they would actually be alive with their child, for as long as possible. Fëanor’s mom was an exception, and her choice to die in childbed screwed up a lot of things even if she begged her husband to hold her blameless. It was a raw deal. She could have chosen to be re-embodied and lived again in Valinor, but she didn’t. The first major cop-out. Fëanor had beef about a mother who abandons her children and took that anger out on his wife, Nerdanel later, yeah, that didn’t go well.
Anyway, you do not have to let the fact that your
character’s parents, grandparents, or great-great-great grandparents might
still be living get in the way of your character. They could live in another part of Arda, and it may make your character backstory richer if
you could albeit briefly reference the extended, living, family tree an
immortal being, who has lived for hundreds if not thousands of years, would
Three simple things to remember if you want to play a lore elf:
1. Most Elves (except for Silvan and mixed-elves) left Middle-earth by the end of the Second Age. So if you are a 1st or 2nd age Elf (especially if you're Noldor or Vanyar), have a good reason for still being here.
2. Never call Melkor, Melkor, that was his name as a Vala. He has been cast out of that rank, and he has only an icky name now, Morgoth. Elves would only ever call him Morgoth. Just as no Elf would call Sauron, Mairon the Admirable (his Maia name), no one would call Morgoth by his Vala name anymore. It wouldn't be written. It wouldn't be said--even if you're playing a 1st age Elf.
3. Know who the Valar are! Seriously, know their roles. If you are playing someone of the Eldar, you believe in the Valar, and not just Varda/Elbereth. They are your defenders. They’ve gone to War for your sake! They are here to help you. (Silvan may know and therefore care less about the Valar and maiar than other Elven folk, because they like to avoid drama and the Powers that Be bring drama, but they are not without respect.) Also, be careful about saying Eru. You wouldn’t just throw his name around the way people say God today. Invoking Eru would only be for sacred ceremonies (like marriage), in respect for some great thing He has done, or perhaps during a very serious prayer or oath. You’d treat his name the same way a Jew would be respectful of the names of HaShem. Remember, cool as the Valar are, they’re only aspects of Eru’s thoughts, and are limited in their knowledge and influence of the world. Only Eru Illúvatar is omniscient and omnipotent. Yay, theology!
tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Valar <-- appropriate references to the Valar while in difficult situations make you look all savvy. Whether it’s a prayer or a mild oath, you get the idea.
Also, if you want to play sexy times as an Elf, but be a lore elf, choose carefully because intimacy = marriage.
(LACE p. 210)
That means your fanfic characters just got married if that bedroom door shuts and the next chapter starts with them getting dressed. I know this is inconvenient for shipping and slashing characters who might have illicit romps through the internetz, but if you want a lore based elf story, that’s how it works. They’re not, as written by Tolkien, hypersexual people and they would never have sex at all unless it was with someone they had committed to.
Whether you’re acting things out or writing stories, a private union between Elves is not an unheard of way to do things. Elves of age do not need family permission or witnesses to be wed. And sometimes, it’s easier to apologize than to ask for permission. ;) If you know what I mean! (Especially if your Elven dad would set an impossible or super hard challenge for your suitor.) Although I read about the rings in LACE (there’s also a silver ring of engagement option), I am not sure if they are even necessary. Noldor and Sindar may find it disrespectful to not honor the custom, but woodland folk may not mind as much. The same document explains that Elves can tell by the eyes and voice whether an Elf is married or not. Basically, as soon as you get laid, EVERYONE is going to be able to tell, ha! Elves are so silly. ;)
And Elves only marry once, UNLESS their first marriage was to someone who cannot, for whatever reason, join them after death in Aman. <-- This is the only exception.
As a role player, this can be a little scary. It means if you, as an Elf, end up married to an Elf that quits the game or ends your relationship, you’re not supposed to re-marry with that character. I suppose it may be one of the reasons why people RP on alts instead of mains. I RP on my main though. I’m all in! ^_^ Of course, it also means if my RP-partner leaves, Doviel will ‘live apart’ as Elven couples sometimes do. I’m certainly not going to delete my best character, but some players do just that. They literally re-roll.
And yes, that means marrying a Man would make it possible to marry an Elf later, technically, but the pain of being forever sundered from your spouse would deeply hurt an Elf. However, it can be endured, just as Melian and Thingol endured the loss of Luthien to Beren and Elrond and his family endured the loss of Arwen to Aragorn.
Elf and Man marriages have only happened four times in canon that I am aware of: Beren and Luthien, Idril and Tuor, Arwen and Aragorn, and a story you may not know--Mithrellas and Imrazôr:
Mithrellas was a Silvan Elf who, according the tradition of the House of Angelimir, accompanied Nimrodel on her journey to the southern havens. Mithrellas, it is said, became lost in the woods of Belfalas, where she was found by Imrazôr the Númenórean, who married her. She gave him a son, Galador, and a daughter, Gilmith. But later, she left her husband, presumably traveling on to the Havens and leaving the world for Aman.
Anyway, so yeah! Be careful if you are planning on mingling the blood-lines. It may have happened outside of these stories. It may have even happened with your character’s parents, but be ginger with this concept. It should not be overused, and Tolkien even wrote a parable about how it is highly discouraged because Elves and Men share such different fates.
And any of the Edain who would be accepted as an Elf's mate would have to be a very special person, indeed. But the sticky wicket is this: your Elf is not going to get the choice of Luthien and her line or Elrond’s parents and their descendants. That was granted by the Valar, directly to those two lineages only due to great things they had done in Arda and they were on Aman itself when the blessing was given. I know Tolkien wrote in letter 153 that the Half-elven would have the inevitable choice of having to choose the fate of Men or the fate of the Eldar, but I believe he was very specifically referring to these two lines. Eru did not hand out the blessings of the Eldar like candy and the Valar were only his servants.
If you choose to join with a non-elf, your character stays an Elf and that means, no matter what, you are going to outlive your spouse and children, and in the realm of Aman, they will not join you. Even in the Halls of Mandos, where Men’s spirits temporarily go before experiencing the Gift of Men and departing from Arda, are separate from where Elves would reside before they are re-embodied and live in Eldamar.
For the record, Hobbits share the fate of Men, but Hobbits though? Can you imagine? Hahahaha!
And if for whatever twisted reason, your Elf marries a Dwarf, (blargh!) oh, excuse me, I just threw up a little in my mouth, they would still dwell in separate Halls, and your Elf would not see their, (I can’t even . . . *sighs*), spouse (shudders) again, until they take part in the rebuilding of Arda.
I would also like to clarify that there are no Dwarves, as described in Tolkien’s world, who look as smokin’ hot as Richard Armitage. Nope! Just nope. He’s like 6’2” and definitely Elf material (sans beard although he does rock designer stubble!). But, if you want to describe Dwarves that look like Richard Armitage, I guess I can understand how your Elf character may have been rendered temporarily (insane) confused or beguiled and accidently got married or something.
Oh My God, YES!
(That face, those eyes!
He should be Ecthelion!)
What? Why? How?
I’m not drunk enough.)
His voice though . . .
(If you haven’t seen him in BBC’s North and South – do yourself a favor, yum!)
Sexy dwarves, in general, make me deeply uncomfortable; you are fairy tale treading dangerously close to dirty old man territory. And if you’ve read any fairy tales as a grown-up, the real stuff, not Disney, once again, that’ll be a big tall glass of Nope! “But Kili was young and handsome, for a Dwarf!” Yeah, nope, don’t care . . . there are no Middle-earth Dwarves that look like that velvet faced, barely a beard there, heartthrob, Aidan Turner.
If you read The Silmarillion, you will find that their creator Aulë didn’t even FINISH making them when Eru was like:
“So whatcha doing? Making people? Without permission?”
Aulë: “Umm, errr… yes.”
Eru: “Kill them.”
Aulë: “But I … *sighs* okay.” *mournfully swings his hammer down to smite the Dwarf-fathers when Eru suddenly stops him*
Eru: “Just kidding! I’ve adopted them. Now they’re real people, too.”
Aulë: “But they’re not finished!”
Eru: “Oh well! You should have thought of that before you created a race of people without permission.”
Eru: “What was that?”
Aulë: “Nothing, thanks dad.”
They are literally an unfinished, unlovely people. He didn’t even get around to making their women yet. (That’s why females are only 1/3 of their population, and they pretty much look like the dudes.)
Anyway, so you decided to have a non-elf partner for your character. It’s your story, so do what you want. But, according to the parameters set in Tolkien’s world, your Elven character’s bloodline would enrich the mortal line of their children and they may be very fair (or, at least, less hairy—Dwarves) to look upon and have longer lives, but the choice to be Elf or Mortal will not be theirs. So, please keep that in mind for your storytelling, especially if you are telling multi-generational character stories.
This means, according to lore, if YOU are playing a half-elven character, you are not immortal. You are mortal and will share the fate of Men (or whatever!), even if you look just like your Elven parent.
Noooo, it’s not fair![iii]
In the 1937 Quenta Silmarillion: “Manwë ruled that anyone who has any mortal blood is counted as a mortal - except for Earendil and Elwing and their descendants, to whom the choice was given.” This was omitted in the 1977 edition because Christopher Tolkien probably realized, well, heck, maybe I can’t write that because it started with Luthien’s line (to include Dior, the father of Elwing, who chose the Eldar’s fate), not Eärendil and Elwing. It also continued elsewhere with Idril and Tuor, who earned special Elven dispensation. So, he skipped it. But, that’s Tolkien’s basic idea. If you have mortal blood, you are mortal – unless you’re from Tuor and Luthien lines.
I’ve seen plenty of internet debate on whether Dior was Mortal or Eldar, but I would point to this: "Then Dior arose, and about his neck he clasped the Nauglamir; and now he appeared as the fairest of all the children of the world, of the threefold race: of the Edain, and of the Eldar, and of the Maiar of the Blessed Realm." (p. 236, The Silmarillion) He mourned that his parents were dead and had gone to the fate of Men beyond the world. But, Dior was not diminished by his mother’s choice of mortality. He was Man, Maia, and Eldar in one. I believe he would have had the choice as Luthien’s child, and he was described in the next paragraph as Thingol’s heir. In The Book of Lost Tales II, Dior is also called ‘Dior the Elf.’ The people of Menegroth probably would not have accepted a brief mortal for a King (although he was brief anyway). And his marriage to Celeborn’s kinswoman, Nimloth (White Flower), is not noted as one of the Eldar and mortal unions in canon. Surely, Nimloth would not have lightly joined into a union with a mortal husband and given him three children. I think it is clear that he had the fate of the Eldar by default or chose the fate of the Eldar and it passed through his line. With his full-elven wife, his children were only ¼ Edain..
Tuor is the ONLY mortal man who, raised by Sindar since birth and married to Idril of Gondolin, was permitted to be counted among the Eldar. This blessing may have passed to his half-elven son, Eärendil the Mariner (Elrond’s dad), who later earned his own choice as did his (3/4th Elven,1/8th Maia, & 1/8th Edain) wife Elwing, Dior’s daughter, who brought him the silmaril. Otherwise, in theory, his lineage would have shared the fate of Mithrellas’ son and daughter who shared a mortal fate with their father, although their coming into being strengthened and ennobled the bloodlines of the coastal Númenórean descendants, which was noticed by Prince Legolas.
Return of the King – The Last Debate: “At length they come to Prince Imrahil, and Legolas looked at him and bowed low; for he saw that here indeed was one who had elven-blood in his veins.” (p. 854) They are both princes, but Legolas saw him not only as the good person he was but as a descendant of Silvan people, whom his House was integrated with and loved, so he showed Imrahil extra respect.
Elves cannot be raped, by the way. I thought I should just throw that out there. They'd release their spirits to Mandos before the act took place. So, please do not make that part of your origin or a reason for your mixed heritage or your mixed heritage off-spring. It simply would not exist in Tolkien's Middle-earth.
"Among all these evils there is no record of any among the Elves that took another's spouse by force; for this was wholly against their nature, and one so forced would have rejected bodily life and passed to Mandos. Guile or trickery in this matter was scarcely possible…for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed." (LACE footnote 5)
Ship and slash fanfic writers know they’re not writing to canon, but this is still a valid point if you want a canon-like story. The BDSM stuff just wouldn’t fly. It’s not 50 Shades of Grey Elves (please, oh god, no one use that title, no one write that fanfic… I laugh and cringe at the thought that I even came up with that title).
This elf was such a badass that Morgoth trembled when he charged. Gwindor fought his way directly to the stairs of Angband, but his followers had been killed by then and he was captured before he could reach Morgoth. He was kept as a slave in Angband for 14 years. Somehow he managed to survive, but he was greatly diminished after this ordeal. (It’s still pretty cool that a single elf struck fear into the heart of a Vala. Angry elves are scary! But, face it, Morgoth was a coward who hid in his throne room and relied heavily on his minions for courage.)
So, unless you’re writing a Morgoth or Sauron story, you’re probably not going to have Elves in dungeons. The only dungeons the elves had were under the Elvenking’s hall and he treated his prisoners well.
Celebrían, the wife of Elrond, was captured by orcs in the Redhorn Pass. She did not release her spirit, as she had not given up hope. Her sons rescued her and her husband healed the poisoned wound she received. However, the experience was so frightening and terrible for her that she went to the Havens the following year and sailed west to find solace from her torment.
It’s really not lore appropriate to torture your Elf characters! Unless it’s a perilous servant of the Enemy situation and it’s part of the action adventure plot, no, just no. You’ll end up with a very sad or a very angry Elf on your hands, and nobody wants that. (If you do, I don’t wanna know!)
As to those who think Celebrían was raped by the orcs, and yes, the first time I read it, I wondered the same thing, I would point back to LACE. If an Elf would release their spirit to Mandos before being forced by a comely elf, there is no way they’d stay embodied for a stinking, filthy, slobbering orc to rut on them. Yuck! Horribad. Logic just says no. It would not happen.
Even if Tolkien writes something like an Elven woman was ‘taken to wife’, she was willing to join with her husband because she loved him; however, if a mortal woman is written as ‘taken to wife’, she may not have been willing and may have to endure a forced marriage.
Eöl and Aredhel
“And when Aredhel, weary with wandering, came at last to his doors, he revealed himself; and he welcomed her, and led her into his house. And there she remained; for Eöl took her to wife, and it was long ere any of her kin heard of her again.” ~The Silmarillion p. 133
He took her to wife, but she’s not unhappy with this arrangement.
(Until she got bored anyway . . .)
Aerin of Dor-lómin
“But the homestead of Húrin soon fell into decay, though Morwen labored hard she was poor, and would have gone hungry but for the help that was sent secretly by Aerin, Húrin’s kinswoman; for a certain Brodda, one of the Easterlings, had taken her by force to be his wife.” ~ The Children of Húrin p. 68
Aerin was an unwilling wife, but through her endurance and personal sacrifices, she helped others, like Morwen’s household, endure the occupation of the Easterlings.
I am not saying that ~other kinds~ of fanfic are wrong, far from it. And I am not saying that Elves do not enjoy their intimacy together, they do! So, until your characters start having children, happy fun times; even though traditionally, they’ll have their kids in the first few centuries after they’re married then that desire passes from that and they work on other stuff.
(LACE p. 213)
If you want the story based on how Elven folk were written by Tolkien, Elves would be monogamous couples, probably paired up fairly young (for Elves), and not purposely hurt each other for kicks.
As for slash, Tolkien has some very friendly male characters, as in friendly to each other, like Maedhros sending Fingon presents just because it’s Tuesday, heh, or ya know Sam and Frodo, like, all the time. And if Boromir blows the horn of Gondor, Aragorn c-, err, nevermind. So, while there are not any definitively homosexual couples, and I doubt his characters were intended to be anything but hetero, it wasn’t ruled out explicitly as a potential in the world.
It can be handled tastefully. I have seen a pair of Elf players on my server that RP a really well-done Elven male couple, spot on. They could have fallen out of the books they’re so good at it. So ship and slash all you want imo, but you may get more immersion in Middle-earth if your Elves are based on Tolkien’s concept of Elves.
Regardless of whether you write them as bi, straight, or gay,
Elves should be depicted as loving and monogamous with a joyful but relatively
short sex life (of a few centuries). The
only main difference I can imagine is if a couple did not have children, which
required an investment of both partners from the body and the spirit to
willfully create a child, the couple will not be diminished in this way and
perhaps would not lose their romantical
inclinations. But, that’s
debatable. Elves put something of
themselves in everything they do, which is why they are so attached to their
land and crafts. And in Arda marred, eventually their spirits will overcome them,
so in time, all Elves who remained in Arda would be
tired and lessened. Sex would not be a
priority though love would remain. In
the end, all Elves would need to go West over the sea or risk diminishing
wholly into nature spirits.
Elves and Sex:
Part 4: Movies vs. Books – Differences to be Aware of
Including: Sindarin and Silvan relations, Book vs Movie, and Timeline and Elven culture discrepancies
Did anyone else just hear a fangirl squee?! Oh wait, that was me . . . anyway:
Whoops, wrong kind of wood-elf party, ummm . . .
Seriously, no dwarves . . . *sleep spell*
Lee Pace’s Thranduil was breathtaking. I wanted to see the Elvenking more than anything else. He did not disappoint. His merest glance was haunting.
After the Elvenking, I mostly wanted to see more of the wood-elves. I must say that Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel really showed that elven females are truly on par with their males; Elves are pretty, but they are also fierce fighters. Although she’s not from canon, and the Elven culture clash was problematic (as was the dwarf / elf shipping), she gave elf lore a fair shake with that character.
Cate Blanchett, what can be said, her Galadriel will define that ageless character in the minds of humanity for generations.
Orlando Bloom’s Legolas was in the wrong movie, but fan girls love him, so there you are. ;) He did an excellent job showing a sad truth about Elven love, sometimes it is unrequited (even for the prettiest elf that ever was).
~ LACE p. 211
These are the kind of people future readers will see in their heads when they read this book. And although, not an Elf, as I heard mentioned elsewhere, Benedict Cumberbatch was the best thing to happen to dragons since fire. That voice, perfect. I loved, loved, the way he spoke doom and gloom to Bard as he approached him. Oh goodness, shivers! It made me think of just how terrible Glaurung’s voice must have been when he ensnared Túrin and ensorcelled Niënor.
I’ve never fangirl’d for a character I didn’t even like before, grats Smaug, grats.
I don’t know if flattery will save me, but if I run around going, “Squeeeee!” Will you keep talking?
Part 5: Talking the Talk
I want to give you a warning, before you flip through these sites or just google search for Elvish on the Internet. Just because you find an elf phrases site on the Internet does not mean it is Quenya or Sindarin! Be wary of any site that starts listing of phrases to you and all it says is “English and Elvish” and it doesn’t tell you what kind of Elvish.
For example, The Grey Company is not using Tolkien’s Elivsh – they use Tel’Mithrim – an Elvish dialect roleplayers from Ultima Online in the Grey Company made up, based on Tolkien’s language and it has been propagated through the Internet and is repeated by people who want to speak Elvish in RP.
A friend knew I was learning Sindarin and he started talking to me in the Tel’Mithrim dialect, and I had no clue what he was saying. I had to keep asking him to translate and I thought, ‘wow, I’m a dope, I don’t know any of these words!’ Then he linked me where he got the phrases from and I recently had the time to look into it. It’s extremely deceptive because some of the words will be familiar to you as Sindarin and others will be ‘huh?’
“Q. What's this
about an Elven Language?
A. When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the setting for the Lord of the Rings he crafted an entire world to go with it. Included in that world were the grammatical structure and a rudimentary dictionary for a number of Elven Tongues. Since we roleplay Elves online, we took that dictionary, simplified the grammatical structure and expanded the dictionary heavily. It is not cannon Elven as Tolkien wrote it, simply our own adaptation. Which we like better. Thank you very much.” [sic]
In any regards, Grey Company / Tel’Mithrim dialect is not a legitimate language source, do not use it. I’d caveat and say I do not mean this as an insult to the Grey Company, they did a great job creating a dialect, but they openly admit it’s not canon. The problem is, it comes up on google searches at the top or near the top when searching for Elvish phrases, and the page where it lists English/Elvish translations would not be clear, to a new player, that it’s not Tolkien’s Elvish.
Of Note: One clue is that Tel Quessir are Forgotten Realms elves. Totally different world, Tolkien based, sure, but wholly different. Fans of Tolkien might not know that though. So, there you go. :)
The second site you’ll probably run into on your google search is: http://www.arwen-undomiel.com/elvish/phrases.html which is a fancy (and incomplete!) rendition of: http://www.realelvish.net/ and their phrase book.
When you are researching Elves and Elvish on the Internet, try to follow things back to their source. I tried to pick sites that were clearly sourced in Sindarin and Quenya. There are many, many great sites out there for both languages. This is merely a sampling.
How to speak Elvish:
Oh boy! This can get complicated, so let's just keep it simple and you can delve as deeply into it as you want to later.
A nice place to start is to use Elvish names for you and
maybe your mounts and pets:
www.realelvish.net/sindarin_namespeople.php <-- my favorite (Yes, I know, the site has been updated and the links changed, but you can still find all this info there @ http://realelvish.net/names/old/sindarin/ )
http://www.realelvish.net/woodelven_names.php <-- There is now a link for wood-elf names, too! This would specifically benefit characters played or written from Greenwood the Great / Mirkwood.
(Currently moved to: http://realelvish.net/names/old/woodelven/ while the realelvish.net website is under construction)
Oh noes! The Great Elf Hair Color Debate: Black hair? Blonde hair? Red Hair? Oh my!
I would note that I strongly disagree with this statement from the above link: I also removed the names with references to the ocean, seeing as they don't live near it, and the names referring to dark or red hair, because these Elves are blond. Sindar people live among the Silvan folk and they would know of the ocean and their words may have migrated into the woodland tongue; however, for those who stayed on the east side of the mountains, they would not have developed Silvan words for it, so that’s kinda okay. However, the statement that all wood-elves are naturally blond is just wrong. Golden haired elves are specifically named, and it’s primarily a Vanyar trait. Teleri elves, of which Silvan are descendent, can have Silver hair (noble houses of Sindar folk) ranging to dark shades of hair. I would think various shades of brown, which range from quite dark to golden brown to reddish brown, would be much more likely for general populations of Elves.
For example, I have medium brown hair. When I’ve been outside a lot, it gets highlights of reddish-gold with the brown. Silvan elves would be outside a lot. Natural sun exposure hair variations may happen, unless an immortal elf’s hair resists sun-bleaching (or because they’re such night-owls). I can find no canon source of Tolkien that states all Silvan Mirkwood elves are blondes. Peter Jackson filled Lothlórien with blondes and the movie based literature cites them as having golden and russet hair shades and the 1977 Hobbit cartoon colored all the wood-elves as purple/green/blue skinned, blond-haired haggard creatures, but this is not canon. The former is just writing to support the changes Peter Jackson’s movie, character, and set choices made to the original text, and the latter is just eww. Thanks to the Hobbit cartoon, I grew up thinking wood-elves were mean, ugly monsters. \/ up yours Rankin/Bass!
True story: Most elves have some kind of brown hair.[iv]
www.elffetish.com/SindaFrame1.php <-- it ain't awful! It can help in a pinch, just be careful you
don't end up with a stupid name.
It warns you that Elf names should not sound stupid. They should sound elegant and flow when spoken. It’s not an exact Science. For example, the Sindarin word for dove is cugu, and I refuse to name my character cugu-anything because it sounds like baby talk. So I used an English base and an Elvish ending. I pretend it’s based on an old Silvan Elvish word or perhaps it’s just her ‘public name’ around people who speak the Westron tongue. :P
Next, learn some simple phrases so you know your hellos, goodbyes, and terms for friends or appropriate sayings:
www.realelvish.net/101_sindarin.html <-- A simple chart
http://realelvish.net/phrasebooks/ <-- Really my favorite!
Example: My wood-elf is from Lórien and my RP partner’s wood-elf is from Mirkwood – we can both speak Sindarin, but we might have some regional differences in how we say things. However, since we’re both wood-elves, I think both would lean towards the Silvan influenced Sindarin. Regardless, it’s an amazing reference for regional ‘flavor’ and really shows the background for your Elven characters.
Of course, in stories, be prepared to include endnotes explaining this stuff or your readers will be confused. When I write Elven stories, I have to make oodles of endnotes. When I speak or write Elvish (usually Sindarin) in front of people that I know don’t know Elvish or may not understand the phrase I’m using, I’ll do it Dora the Explorer style - Elvish followed by English. Unless there’s an RP reason to only say or write the Elvish. I expect the same courtesy. If this courtesy isn’t extended to others, you’ll come off as snotty and esoteric. Some people LOVE being snotty and esoteric! *coughs* Noldor *coughs* But, ya know, this is just my perspective here. It’s not a competition to out-rare-speak your fellow role players or alienate your readers. It’s more fun when everyone can understand what is said or written, and it lets us learn more from each other.
www.musicalmuses.com/ElvenFamily&Phrases.htm <-- the family part is what you need for familiar reference, the rest was a copy of Tara's phrases in case that site, which hadn't been updated since '04, ever went down.
www.okbanlon.com/amanda/images/ElvishPhrases.pdf <-- hard to read but it's a reference of Sindarin phrases side by side with Quenya -- some of the spellings I would deem questionable or as scanning errors
Notice that there will be differences! And that's okay, you have to accept that Sindarin is an unfinished language and what you're speaking is neo-Sindarin. Dreamingfifi from Realelvish.net will say "No vaer" or "Novaer", Taramiluiel will say "Navaer", and I will say "Novaer" and they all mean be good, farewell in Sindarin.
There are variants. It's not the end of the world. You will find, through research, the spellings that are the most common and can be traced back to Sindarin references quoted directly from the writings of Tolkien or conjecture based on the research of experts in Elvish. A lot of it though is just understanding the conjugation of base words and some simple syntax - possessives after nouns, adjectives after nouns, etc.
Just be careful and don't start flipping around the first phrases you find on the Internetz without some comparative research. A lot of what people think is Sindarin or any kind of Elvish is wrong in spelling and syntax. Use research based sources as linked above. Tolkien has some of what you’ll need easily accessible in the appendix and index sections of his books.
~ You Can Stop There! ~
For most players, that’s really all you need to know. Learn a few phrases and boogie on. If you want to know more, please continue,
but be warned, I am no expert in Elven languages. I can understand only some of what I hear in
Sindarin at conversational speed (unless it’s just commonly used phrases). If I see it written in English characters,
it’s easier for me to figure out. And if
someone spoke Quenya to me, I’d just nod and smile
and say, ‘that’s pretty!’ because I like the lilting intonation. However, I know enough now to know when
English translations of Sindarin in the movies are based on context and not
literal word meaning. So, yay for
that. Really though, I’m only a person
with a basic understanding who enjoys linguistics. I do not read tengwar
well, at all, and it takes me a long time to figure out what is written. So, yeah.
I still make mistakes. I’m still
Some basics: Valar (Angelic being in Arda) - more than one, Vala - just one, Maiar (lesser Ainur – not as strong as the Valar) – more than one, Maia – just one, mellyn - friends, mellon - friend, Noldor - more then one, Noldo - just one, Sindar - more than one, Sinda - just one, while Silvan seems to be both singular and plural, etc.
Just read the dictionary entries for singular and plurals spellings of 'whatever' noun you need. It's different than just adding an s or es.
I am not going to lie, this stuff can get confusing as the spelling of the word, not just the suffix, can change when a noun is made plural. If I am in doubt, I scour the dictionary to try to find the correct form of the word I need. I don’t even guess at it. Until you know the all the rules, which I don’t, look it up.
Making Plurals: http://beleriandvoices.livejournal.com/2744.html?nojs=1 Vowels get funky!
www.jrrvf.com/hisweloke/sindar/online/sindar/dict-sd-en.html <-- meet your new best friend. If I was to marry a dictionary, I would choose Hiswelókë's! Didier Willis, I don’t know who you are, but I have a big nerd girl crush on you. Squee!
www.jrrvf.com/cgi-bin/hisweloke/sindarin.cgi? <-- your lazy sibling
www.nevrast.net/l.html <-- and your cool cousin -- Be Careful! -- Q is for Quenya and S is for Sindarin!
http://www.ambar-eldaron.com/telechargements/quenya-engl-A4.pdf A nice Quenya dictionary pdf.
And just an F’ing rad, sourced directly to texts, couldn’t find this word anywhere else, all languages of Tolkien dictionary: https://www.elfdict.com/ Hell yeah. Have fun with that.
As I’m sure you know Quenya and Sindarin are quite different! And, I'm not going to get into Lenition right now which changes first consonants of nouns when you start with 'the' which is 'i' in Sindarin, except for nouns that begin with F, TH, N, R, and L. Oh sorry, I just said I wasn't going to get into Lenition. *sweatdrop*
Anyway! So, how do I say this sh-, um, stuff?!
Elf Numberz! Numbers are cool, right?
Funky fact! Elves have a base count of 12 – lol @ duodecimal
system: mîn , tâd
, nêl , canad , leben , eneg
, odog , tolodh
, neder , pae
, minig  and uiug
You think that’s funny. Their leap year rule is crazy! Because their seasonal calendar does not always add up to exactly 365, you can add 3 days every 12 years except the last year of a yén. (144 years is a yén.)
I want to say original phrases AND not sound retarded when I speak Elvish. Great! Here you go:
beleriandvoices.livejournal.com/2937.html?nojs=1 <-- A relatively simple lesson on conjugation and syntax.
“I want to write Elf Letterz!”
Seriously? You do? Okay! *backs away slowly*
The word "Tengwar" written using the Tengwar script in the Quenya mode
The nobles of Gondor speak what's called Gondorian Sindarin because apparently things like the 'y' pronunciation eludes their tongues. But, bless their hearts, they sure try! Awww! So yeah, even if you're of Men, you might want a working knowledge of Sindarin. If your RP’ing or writing a Gondorian noble, this is how the 'genteel' folk speak to each other on formal occasions and to show graceful manners. If you are a Dunadan, you would know or at least be familiar with some basic parts of Sindarin as well because you are an Elf-friend. Sindarin is the language of the polite folk. It is a ‘high’ language. Super important affairs, high honors, or ceremonies may employ Quenya though as it is the ‘highest’ language the Edain would know of.
Endnotes on Fanfic (controversy) and Elven nuances
OMG there are too many endnotes!
[i] So, a fancy term for my fanfic is: “canon-lore based Elves from Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” It’s about as valid as saying a realistic fiction is based on a true story.
Many authors hate fan fiction. They created a world. They created characters. They don’t want other people messing with their characters or misrepresenting their world. I get it.
They’ll really get mad if someone is reading someone else’s fantasy fanfic of their fiction story instead of reading the source material, and they’ll get especially mad if someone is ripping off characters, storylines, whatever, from their books for profit. That is not unreasonable! I’d be pissed, too.
However, I would argue what’s the point of reading fiction at all if it is not to indulge the imagination? People want to believe in the characters. People want to be part of the amazing world an author thought up. I’d want to teach at Hogwarts. I’d want to live in the Woodland Realm of Middle-earth. I’d love to visit Tir na Nog. I’d want to live under the sea (for a little while). What’s the difference between me having a fantasy about being an Elf in Middle-earth, because really, who wouldn’t want to be an Elf, and writing a story about what being an Elf in Middle-earth might be like? All I did is write down my fantasy. Isn’t that all fanfic is?
My S.O., who is both thoughtful and wise, discussed this with me and made this point: How would I feel if people read my stories about Doviel’s Middle-earth adventures (inspired by the lotro game I pay to play and the Tolkien books I buy and read) and then decided they liked the character Doviel and wrote stories about Doviel having sexy times with characters, I, as the author of Doviel, know she would never, ever, EVER have sexy times with because she’s a married Elf and wtf do they think they’re doing with MY character. OMG!
Not that anyone would actually do this, but if they did and I saw it, I’d feel pretty rotten. :\ Could I stop them? No. Do I own the name Doviel? Nope. Can I stop someone from using that name and describing whatever adventures they want with a character described just like my character? Nope. Well, crap. :\
How could I possibly justify writing fanfic at all if I, myself, wouldn’t want someone violating the nature of the characters I made up?
Well, some of the best books I have ever read are fan or should I say ‘re-written’ fictions. Sure they were published by professional authors, but they were essentially fan fiction. Fan fiction in the sense that someone characterized, added details to, or otherwise changed a previously written story to tell their own version of it.
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield – fiction about the Battle of Thermopylae will always be part of my mental vision of who the Spartans were. He didn’t make up a new world. He characterized a historical event. Is this okay because it happened a long, long time ago? He’s obviously a fan of interesting historical events and peoples.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – fiction about the Arthurian Legends from the females’ points of view. It’s the side of the oft told stories that we never see. She wrote about well known ‘canon’ characters and changed them (including slashing and shipping them!) to tell the story in a new way. Was it wrong to do so? Gosh, I hope not. I love that book. She admittedly loved King Arthur stories.
Shakespeare’s plays are fictionalizations of ancient histories and re-written old tales that he characterized to resonate with the English speaking world and all of humanity. He was telling tales that have already been told, but he told them his way. He admitted it, too.
Homer’s Iliad – Greek mythology slash and shipping at its finest hour.
(Although not books, Disney movies are pretty good at fan fictioning old fairy tales, after scrubbing them clean of the overt sex and bloody violence, with little care for the original intent or purpose of the tale.)
I cut my teeth on historical romances as a ‘tween. They were my first ‘grown-up’ books. New characters are added to a historical setting and a different story is told while history remains the same. The fiction characters often interacted with characterizations of historical figures, as well. Can they just say, ‘Oh, I studied this story for a number of years and I read dozens of books and historical accounts of such and such work before I wrote my novel’? If that’s enough to justify a professional author, I’ve been reading Tolkien’s books for decades and I even buy books of his that aren’t about Middle-earth. When I write fanfic, I add new characters to Middle-earth, taking pains to have my characters exist within the parameters Tolkien set for his Elven folk, but the ‘historical events’ of Middle-earth still unfold as they did in canon. It’d be just like a historical romance or a historical adventure story, except for one thing, Middle-earth isn’t real. More’s the pity.
I studied folklore in college, and I can say without a doubt in my mind, after collecting, reading, and studying tale types from all over the world, we, as a people, all tell the same stories.
There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), even if that sun was born of a fruit of Laurelin and carried by a Maia maiden across the sky.
When does something crossover from being lowly fanfic, the desire to tell more of a story or to add new characters to an old tale, to being legitimate fiction? It crosses over as soon as someone gets legally paid to do it. As soon as someone is ‘published’, the bastard child of the literary world is suddenly legitimized.
So, what’s to do? I empathize with the fact that authors wouldn’t want people taking the characters they made up and ship / slashing them or misrepresenting their imagined world, but as long as they’re not making money off it (thus impacting the original author’s livelihood), there’s no real harm done. And I guess that’s where I stand with Tolkien fanfic.
The Tolkien Estate official statement for fan fiction based on Tolkien’s works. http://www.tolkienestate.com/faq/p_2/
Can I / someone else write / complete / develop my / their own
version of one of these unfinished tales ? (or any others)
The simple answer is NO.
You are of course free to do whatever you like for your own private enjoyment, but there is no question of any commercial exploitation of this form of "fan-fiction".
As long as you’re doing it for fun and not for money, which would be plagiarizing, it’s no worse than having a fantasy that you write down, and there’s nothing wrong with having an imagination.
[ii] I really do not waste time describing characters having their periods unless I’m writing realism, and even then, it’s only in passing. Anyway, menstruation was never listed as a curse of Eve, painful childbirth yes, reliance (desire for) and subservience to her husband yes, but not the feminine cycle. Elven women are ‘unfallen’, so they would not have those challenges.
However, all women ‘clean house’ as part of their reproductive cycle. If you can make babies in utero, your body handles its uterine business. Does it mean they would have to deal with it every month? That would be really annoying for an essentially immortal person, who starts puberty in their 50s and might not have babies for hundreds of years.
Maybe it’s seasonal, which leads me to this thought: if the entire year is like a month to an Elf with each Season like a week, and most Elves are born in the Springtime, perhaps their short time of ‘shedding’ would occur sometime in the autumn? Deciduous Elves? Maybe. This would time them as more receptive to ovulation in the spring. It is sort of a pretty thought. It would also line up nicely with their way of counting years by 12s. I definitely do not think Elven females would suffer going into estrus (heat). Maybe they were the secret source of the ‘my body is ready’ meme. ;) But, probably not, so I’d probably go for some time in autumn. It’s as good a time as any! Anyway, Tolkien did not ever write specifically about Elf periods (as far I know).
Man: King Thranduil, why are all the nissi sharpening their knives and fletching new arrows?
Thranduil: It is nearly the time of falling leaves. I would, if I were you, avoid them until the snows come to the mountains.
Elven-women: *sharpen things and frown and glower with their terrible beauty*
Remember when Galadriel got her angry face on and cast out the Necromancer in BoFA? It was autumn.
Why weren’t there female elves mentioned in The Hobbit? It was autumn. They were busy stabbing things in the face! We only meet Tauriel in the films because stabbing things in the face is her job.
Why was Arwen, in the movie, able to out ride and drown all the ring-wraiths? October 20th – it was autumn. She was already mad, bro. Notice how she didn’t take any crap from Aragorn when he told her not to ride? Yep, no crap taken.
You can deal with this however you want in your writing. The autumn thing is just a silly theory I made up. I hope I didn’t just set back feminism. Anyway, I just wanted it clear that there was no canon statement that Elves do not menstruate. Elves can have children with Men, so they really cannot be that biologically different. The ‘curses of Eve’ are often misinterpreted to include menstruation as a curse, when they do not (Genesis 3:16). The curses aren’t real anyway. :P
[iii] Half-Elves, who are gifted like Elrond’s lineage, need to be rare for Tolkien’s world to work. Why is this an important point?
Simple: A human woman can have many children in a short span of years, whether she wills it or not. If her husband was Elven, who doted on his wife, and he consented every time she asked him for another child, even though it would diminish him somewhat with each child, she would be brooding a bunch of potentially immortal Elves during her approx. ~30 year fertility cycle. And would their children also have the choice? And their children’s children, even if they’re only ¼ Eldar? Where would the choice end? 1/4th? 1/8th? 1/16th? It’s too much of a mess. Therefore, it isn’t.
In Tolkien’s construct of Arda, which is NOT overrun with immortal beings, this scenario cannot be permitted to exist. Otherwise, when populations run low for the Elven kind, Elf males could just take one for the team and marry and breed with human women. I know some fangirls might be into that kind of thing, but that’d be a bad idea.™
If you’re okay with this idea for your fanfic, consider this: that Elven husband would be forever sundered from his wife, and after a few decades, would end up as a widower for eternity. What kind of selfish, nasty person would wish that on their beloved Elf-lord? Boo! Left alive to bury his wife and watch all his children wither with age and die? No wonder Mithrellas realized the sorrow that awaited her and went to Aman.
Elves give of their own, not sure how to describe it, but let’s say ‘spiritual energy’ or ‘inner light’ to produce their offspring. This is where the act of will comes into play. (It’s not just about letting go your eggo or deciding not to shoot blanks.) That is how Míriel died. She gave all of herself to the birth of Faënor and expired. Faënor, himself, had so much ‘light’ in him that he was able to father several children and produce the silmarils. That is why later generations of the Elven folk are diminished compared to say a 1st Age Elf who was born in Valinor. Each generation, through great, is a bit less than the one before. It’s why someone like Galadriel is a truly exceptional Elf in Middle-earth. She is an early generation Elf from Valinor and the greatest of the Eldar west of Aman during “The Great Years”.
Elves don’t have a lot of children during their millennia of life; it takes a lot out of them and the desire to reproduce passes from them.
This is also part of the reason why the loss of an Elven life was such a big deal, which makes Elven kinslaying a very serious crime in the Valar’s eyes, and losing half or two-thirds of your army (end of 2nd age) made the Elven people more reclusive than ever. They do not bounce back easily from population declines, and after the 2nd age, they never did bounce back.
[iv] Tolkien notes in one manuscript that "no Elf had absolute black hair" (J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 125). So, even black haired Elves just have really dark brown hair. Auburn is a kind of brown hair, and the difference between some shades of blonde and some shades of light brown is just, well, splitting hairs. Truly gold hair and shining silver hair are the exceptions and these radiant hair features are usually reserved for particular elves and noble houses.
So, there you go, unless you have some Vanyar blood or there’s a specifically named golden haired elf somewhere in your character’s house, they’re probably not blonde. But, that does not mean your Elf cannot have golden highlights from the sun (maybe!) or lighter brown hair. Red hair would probably be as rare among the Elves as it is among humans today, but the light and bright red hues of our beloved gingers? Probably not. Auburn hair seems to be as close as it gets. (If you want to play a redhead, roll Rohan.)
hair was noted as a trait of Nerdanel’s kin, and
passed on to the eldest and youngest (twins) sons of Fëanor. Nerdanel’s father, Mahtan, was the first noted specifically with this hair
color in “The Shibboleth of Fëanor” (Vol. 12 –
History of Middle-earth). In lotro, you cannot even
pick red as a hair color, no matter where you choose your elf origin from:
Lindon, Rivendell, Mirkwood, or Lórien. However, there are some russet browns
available. I describe Doviel as having autumn hair,
so some highlights/darklights may be implied there, a
glint of gold, a hint of copper, whatever.
It’s brown, but not just brown.
So, let the cards fall where they may.
Brown hair in writing does not have to be bland or boring; it can be
described beautifully. Brown as bark
isn’t always the answer. So, don’t feel
that your elf is not ‘the prettiest’ because it’s not blonde. Your protagonist does not need gold or silver
hair to be regal. All elves are regal,
that’s just how they roll. Hair does not
have to be as golden as sunlight or as dark as a raven’s wing to be fetching. Caramel and honey sound pretty, right? Those are two shades of brown hair, tah-dah!