Languages in The Lord of the Rings movie: Introduction


Since 19 December 2001 we can see the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson in our local theaters. On the official website of the movie we can find an entry on the languages in the film. We can read there that the dialect and creative language coaches have had the unusual task in The Lord of the Rings of teaching the actors the Tolkien's Elvish languages. They trained the actors using phonetics and science of writing down speech of the Elves in tengwar - the Elvish letters.


The language coaches - Andrew Jack and  Róisín Carty - have also created various accents for all of the characters and began training and rehearsing with the actors three months before filming began. Both coaches were on set standing by listening for dialogue and dialect, and also supervise any looping or dialogue recording that takes place after scenes are already shot.


A person responsible for writing the dialogs in the languages of Middle-earth is David Salo, a graduate student in linguistics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, whose main interest in the primary world is Tocharian, an Indo-European language spoken in medieval China. When filmmakers adapting the fantasy epic wanted to translate parts of their script from English into the two Elvish languages, they turned to Salo. The result can be seen below. David Salo wrote also Elvish lyrics for the movie soundtrack.


I like words of David Salo from one of his messages on Elfling mailing list. David wrote: Why is there Elvish in the movie? Why did Peter Jackson care enough to strive for some accuracy in the way language is presented? (...) The Elvish in the movie is addressed to the minority of viewers who know something about the languages. And what are they going to want to do when they hear the Elvish sentences?  They're going to want to figure out what they mean, and *why* they mean what they mean. Part of *my* intention, my particular vision and contribution to this movie, was to create sentences which would be intelligible to the people who study the languages (...) I'm enormously happy to see some people saying based on their knowledge of Elvish, great or small, that they recognized and understood some of what they heard on the screen. That's great - that's *exactly* the kind of effect that I was looking for.


News archive


August 2003 - July 2002


- Seven for the Dwarf-lords...

- Orcs at the rugby stadium

- Corrections of the dialogs and lyrics

- "O Queen Beyond the Western Seas"

- Black Speech texts from FotR

- "The Revelation of the Ringwraiths"!

- "Breath of Life" and "Evenstar" lyrics

- The Two Towers: linguistic review


July 2002 - November 2002


- TTT soundtrack:  Sindarin and Old English lyrics

- Mysteries of movie Dwarvish revealed!

- Inane comments on the walls of Moria

- Elvish from extended DVD FOTR analyzed

- Easterling letters!

- Visiting the tomb of Aragorn's mother  

- FotR DVD Linguistic Review  

- FotR DVD Menu Inscriptions

- New details of the weapon inscriptions

- Black Speech and Rohirric in TTT!

- The Art of the FotR: a linguistic survey


October 2001 - June 2002


- David Salo's promise

- Elvish lyrics: mysteries revealed!  

- United Cutlery: more sword inscriptions  

- National Geographic: Arwen's sword

- Official movie website: More about Elvish!

- Sound clips with Elvish dialogs

- More Elvish on the DVD

- Elvish dialogs - a linguistic survey

- Elvish soundtrack analyzed

- More linguistic items from Casa Loma

- Saruman's Quenya  

- Fëanorian tattoo

- Her sword is Gwemegil

- What do you hear in "Aníron" by Enya? 

- New soundtrack: Aniron and Lothlórien 

- Linguistic items from Casa Loma exhibit

- 'May It Be' by Enya

- Dwarvish runes  

- More and more runes in Moria

- Book of Mazarbul and more runes

- Enya does sing in Sindarin!  

- Runes of Glamdring


May 2001 - October 2001


- Howard Shore and languages...  

- More runes in Mazarbul

- Dwarvish runes in Moria

- Will Enya sing in Sindarin?

- What is Arwen's sword inscription?

- Bill Welden: the language trainings  

- Elrond speaks Quenya and more

- Did Hobbits use Latin script?  

- New picture of Bilbo's Sting

- Gimli's phrase in Khuzdûl!  

- Tengwar from Bilbo's Sting

- Maori choir singing Dwarvish?

- What did Philippa Boyens said

- Bill Welden visits the set

- Philippa Boyens speaks Elvish

- New Sindarin phrases revealed 

- O'Brien's interview in full  

- Andrew Jack on fans

- Last word about the Arwen's lines

- A thousand different lines in Elvish  

- Arwen's phrase once more

- Tyler's Sindarin again

- Arwen's Sindarin lines

- Bruinen Spell

- Bruinen - another solution

- Hobbit accent

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