1. Phonetics

 

This text is based on Sindarin - the Noble Tongue by Helge K. Fauskanger and Sindarin Dictionary by Didier Willis.

 

1.1 Pronunciation

1.2 Stress

1.3 Consonant mutations

 

 

1.1 Pronunciation

 

It is virtually impossible to provide in an essay an accurate description of how a foreign language is pronounced. The following table is based on IPA with certain modifications and attempts to give an approximate idea of the Sindarin sound system as compared with the British English one.

 

Letter

Phonetic symbol

Approximate British English equivalent

Vowels:

 

 

/a/

father

/e/

were

/i/

machine

/o/

for

/u/

brute

/y/

as in French lune

 

Diphthongs:

 

 

/ai/

rye

/ae/

-

/ei/

grey

/oe/

-

/ui/

ruin

/au/

loud, how

 

Consonants:

 

/p/

/hw/

/b/

/m/

/t/

/n/

/d/

/ng/

/c/

/s/

/g/

/h/

/i-/       

/w/

/f/ or /ph/

/l/

/v/ or /-f/

/lh/

/th/

/r/

/dh/

/rh/

/ch/

 

 

1.2 Stress

 

In words of two syllables it falls on the first syllable: ie. aran, galadh

 

In longer words it falls on the last syllable but one, where that contains a long vowel, a diphthong, or a vowel followed by two (or more) consonants: i.e. Elentri, Isildur

  

Where the last syllable but one contains a short vowel followed by only one (or no) consonant, the stress falls on the syllable before it, the third from the end': i.e. Orome, Fanor (cf. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E).

 

 

1.3 Consonant mutations

 

1.3.1 Soft, hard and nasal mutations

 

Sindarin is a language with complicated rules of the consonant mutations; it shares this feature with Celtic languages like Welsh. As Helge K. Fauskanger writes in his Sindarin - the Noble Tongue the initial consonant of words often undergoes certain changes, so that the same word may appear in different shapes. Sindarin parf 'a book' (LR 380) may have many shapes: i barf 'the book', i phairf 'of the books' [pl.], a pharf 'to a book', e-barf 'of the book', e pharf 'out of a book'. Words beginning in a vowel are unaffected. According to the most famous Sindarinist, David Salo, consonant mutations can be divided into five categories: soft mutation, nasal mutation, mixed mutation, stop mutation and liquid mutation.

In my description I don't include the so called liquid mutation, because in my opinion there was not such a phonological phenomenon according to the descriptions of Noldorin by J.R.R. Tolkien (see Parma Eldalamberon XIII). In Sindarin words we find only liquid assimilation due to the evolution of this language. I have also excluded the so called mixed mutatation, because in my opinion it is not characteristic to the mature Sindarin. Such phenomenon occurs only in one isolated document which comes from the period of Tolkien's experiments with his Noldorin becoming Sindarin (see Sauron Defeated, King's Letter, pp. 128-129) 

I have also made some changes in the nomenclature: I call Salo's stop mutation the hard mutation - according to J.R.R. Tolkien's descriptions of Noldorin's phonology. As the result I present three Sindarin consonant mutations: soft mutation, hard mutation and nasal mutation.

 

Detailed description of this mutations can be found in Helge K. Fauskanger's essay, here I only want to present a table of the consonant mutations with a short commentary. Note that the table is partly reproduced from the Fauskanger's website and the author of this conception is David Salo. 

 

Soft mutation

 

Known also as lenition (= 'softening'). It occurs:

Hard mutation

 

It occurs in nouns following the prepositions ed 'out of', ned 'in' and o (od) 'from': e thaur 'out of a forest' (cf. taur 'forest'), o Minas Tirith 'from Minas Tirith' (cf. minas 'tower').

 

Nasal mutation

 

It occurs in nouns following the article in 'the' (pl.), the preposition and prefix an 'for, to' and the preposition dan 'against': peth 'a word': i phith 'the words' (i is here a reduced in); gr 'heart': a ngr 'to the heart' (a is here a reduced an); Balan 'a Vala': dam Malan 'against the Vala'.

 

Special cases: In a subcategory of words in b-, d-, g- which come from primitive words in mb-, nd- and ng- the mutation occurs in different way. See here.

 

 

Below there is a table which illustrates all the mutations presented above.

 

Basic c.

Soft m.

Hard m.

Nasal m.

b...

i v...

e b...

i m... am m...

bl...

i vl...

e bl...

i ml... a ml...

br...

i vr...

e br...

i mr... a mr...

c...

i g...

e ch...

i ch... a ch...

cl...

i gl...

e chl...

i chl... a chl...

cr...

i gr...

e chr...

i chr... a chr...

d...

i dh...

e d...

i n... an n...

dr...

i dhr...

e dr...

in dr... an dr...

f...

i f...

ef f...

i f... af f...

g...

i '...

e g...

i ng... an ng...

gl...

i 'l...

e gl...

in gl... an gl...

gr...

i 'r...

e gr...

in gr... an gr...

gw...

i 'w...

e gw...

in gw... an gw...

h...

i ch...

e ch...

i ch... a ch...

hw...

i chw...

e w...

i 'w... a 'w...

l...

i l...

ed l...

i l... al l...

lh...

i thl...

e thl...

i 'l... al 'l...

m...

i v...

e m...

i m... am m...

n...

i n... 

e n...

i n... an n...

p...

i b...

e ph...

i ph... a ph...

pr...

i br...

e phr...

i phr... a phr...

r...

i r...

ed r...

idh r... adh r...

rh...

i thr...

e thr...

idh 'r... adh 'r...

s...

i h...

es s...

i s... as s...

t...

i d...

e th...

i th... a th...

th...

i th...

eth th...

i th... ath th...

tr

i dr...

e thr...

i thr... a thr...

 

Special cases b, d, g derived from primitive nasalized stops mb, nd, ng:

 

b...

i m...

e mb...

i mb... am mb...

d...

i n...

e nd...

i nd... an nd...

g

i ng...

en g...

in g... an g...

 

1.3.2 Hypothetic mixed and liquid mutations of David Salo

 

The following consonant mutations are hypotheses of David Salo and they occur in many descriptions of the Sindarin phonological system. I have excluded them from my description but the readers should know them, because they will meet them on the other websites (eg. Ardalambion, Mellyn in Edhil etc.).

 

"Mixed mutation"

 

According to David Salo it occurs in nouns following the article en 'of the' (sg.) and prepositions ben 'according to the; like the' (sg.), erin 'on the' (sg.), nan 'to the' (sg.), uin 'from the, of the' (sg.), 'nin 'to/for the' (sg.): for example erin dolothen Ethuil 'on the eighth [day] of Spring' (cf. toloth 'eight').

 

"Liquid mutation"

 

According to David Salo it occurs in nouns following the preposition or 'above' and other prepositions ending with liquids -l and -r: or vr 'above a jewel' (cf. mr 'a jewel'). 

 

Mixed m.

Liquid m.

e-b...

or v...

e-ml...

or vl...

e-mr...

or vr...

e-g...

or ch...

e-gl...

or chl...

e-gr...

or chr...

e-d...

or dh...

en-dr...

or dhr...

e-f...

or f...

e-g...

or '...

en-gl...

or 'l...

en-gr...

or 'r...

en-gw...

or 'w...

 e-h...

or ch...

e-'w...

or chw...

e-l...

or l...

e-'l...

or 'l...

e-m...

 or v...

en-n...

or n...

e-b...

or ph...

e-mr...

or phr...

edh-r...

or r...

e-'r...

or 'r...

e-h...

or s...

e-d...

or th...

e-th...

or th...

en-dr...

or thr...

 

Special cases b, d, g derived from primitive nasalized stops mb, nd, ng:

 

e-mb...

or b...

e-nd...

or d...

en-g...

or g...

 

Version 1.2 (October 2003)

 

Summary of Sindarin grammar

 Scrypty - Centrum Programowania