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A definitive guide to Tolkien's Elvish writing systems including the Tengwar, Sarati & the Cirth, covering Quenya, Sindarin languages
A definitive guide to Tolkien's Elvish writing systems including the Tengwar, Sarati & the Cirth, covering Quenya, Sindarin languages
50 backers pledged £1,375 to help bring this project to life.

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The Elvish Writing Systems of JRR Tolkien has been a work in progress over the last 5 years, and contains a summation of previous work relating to Tolkien's Sarati, Tengwar and rune scripts covering some 250 pages. This is combined with my own personal studies and research, which have involved the detailed analysis of the current set of known samples (catalogued by The Tolkien Society Forodrim as the Daeron Index of Tengwar Specimina, or DTS). The volume is designed for fans of Tolkien's work to learn how to recreate scripts using Tolkien's orthographies, using a language of their choosing.

Following a preface, and contents, the first chapter, An Introduction to Elvish Writing, details the history of Tolkien's career and the origins of the writing systems with reference to his published works, with a periodic anecdote thrown in.

The second chapter, The Science behind the Sound, teaches the reader the basics of phonology and the means by which sounds are made via modes and points of articulation. The table used by Tolkien to categorise the writing systems is also introduced, detailing the formula used to replicate each phoneme by means of pen strokes. Each language represented in the book (Quenya, Sindarin, Black Speech) is then further detailed in their respective phonologies.

The third chapter, Sarati and the Starlight Systems focuses primarily on the Sarati and Cirth orthographies. Details of the consonants, vowels, diphthongs, special characters and punctuation markings are detailed for each system, with the chapter concluding with the rune orthographies written by Tolkien.

The fourth chapter, The Tengwar Systems follows the same course as the previous chapter detailing the characters used for consonants, vowels etc. The section is divided into languages concentrating on the systems used for Quenya, Sindarin, Westron, Arnor, Numenion and Gondorian.

The fifth and final chapter, Writing your own Elvish Orthography, details the work of Tolkien on English/Elvish orthographies before further detailing an example using two other languages. A resources section then follows which includes the bibliography and recommended reading. An alphabetised index, and an index of diagrams then concludes the work.

Throughout the book, names of Tolkien's characters (Bilbo, Arwen, Gandalf...) are used to illustrate the means by which the writing systems are used. Other diagrams use quotes from published and unpublished works, again to demonstrate how the scripts are used. Typical examples include the One Ring Inscription and the Namarie poem.

Collaborative works used for the book include those from the publishers of the Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon (Carl Hostetter, Arden Smith, Per Lindberg, Mans Bjorkman, Helge Fauskanger among others), Walking Tree Press (Ross Smith) and other notable academics such as David Salo, Jim Allan and Verlyn Flieger.

This book is, in every way, to be published with the express interest of promoting the aesthetics of JR Tolkien's linguistic works. The book is not to be published for financial gain, nor is it to air an opinion of any kind relating to the works. Much like Tolkien's passion for the written word, I would like nothing more than for the followers of his work to be able to further recognise the aesthetic beauty and lifetime of work that went into the languages he created.

Risks and challenges

Aside from the printing of the books themselves, the resources for all other parts of completing the book are in place - including the proofreading, artwork, ISBN number and eBook creation. Quotations have been received from all the relevant companies for the above. The solicitor for the Tolkien Estate has also been contacted with regards to permitting the use of the fonts and quotes from the publications.

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    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    • Receive a translation of a name or phrase of your choosing written in an Elvish writing system

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    • Receive a copy of the first printed edition of the book

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    • Receive a personally signed copy of the first printed edition of the book

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    • First printed edition of the book with a personal message (in English or Elvish!) from the author

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    • First printed edition of the book (inc. postage)with a personal message (in English or Elvish!) from the author
    • Your name in the acknowledgements of the book

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