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Minas Tirith Forums » Languages of Arda » Elbereth: Sindarin or Quenya?
Author Topic: Elbereth: Sindarin or Quenya?
Roll of Honor Anariel Aureva
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Rocco and I were talking about this earlier. In Three is a Company in Lotr, Frodo meets the High Elves. He identifies them by noting that they spoke the name of Elbereth. He then proceeds to speak to them in Quenya and the Elves marvel that a Hobbit can speak the ancient tongue. So I would assume that they were singing Quenya. However, in Many Meetings the Elves sing a song to Varda in Sindarin (They say “galadh” which means tree in Sindarin and “gil” in Gilthoniel which means star and is also in Sindarin.) but mention the name Elbereth. So is Elbereth a Sindarin or a Quenya form of Varda?

[ 01-13-2004, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: Anariel Took ]

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Roll of Honor Herendil
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Elbereth is a Sindarin name of Varda. According the Encyclopedia of Arda it means 'star-lady'. You can quite easily recognise that it is Sindarin by the 'th' at the end; That consonant group is not used in Quenya but is 's' instead.

Varda is Quenya and means 'sublime' (in the sense of 'high' or 'lofty').

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Roll of Honor Roccowen Eilonwyiel
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"A! Elbereth" is definitely in Sindarin and "Namarie", which is in Quenya, uses the name Varda, but why then does Frodo refer to them as high elves then?
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Earendilyon
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IIRC, the Exilic Noldor began to use Sindarin for every day use, because they more easily learned Sindarin than the other Elves Quenya. Moreover, Thingol forbade the use of Quenya in his country (waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the First Age).
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Thalion
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Roccowen Eilonwyiel only the high elves who went to valinor know of Varda so thats why he says that. and as Earendilyon said they spoke sindarin for every day use, so its natural they would use the sindarin form of varda

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Roll of Honor Herendil
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It may be that the High Elves revered Elbereth even more than the other kindreds of Elves, especially in the Third Age, the fading years, and that Frodo knew this.

The Road Goes Ever On:
quote:
The High-Elves (such as did not dwell in or near the Havens) journeyed to the Tower Hills at intervals to look afar at Eressëa (the Elvish isle) and the Shores of Valinor, close to which it lay. The hymn in Vol. I, p. 250, is one appropriate to Elves who have just returned from such a pilgrimage.
No doubt Gildor and his companions (Vol. I., Chap. 3), since they appear to have been going eastward, were Elves living in or near Rivendell returning from the palantír of the Tower Hills. On such visits they were sometimes rewarded by a vision, clear but remote, of Elbereth, as a majestic figure, shining white, standing upon the mountain Oiolosse (S. Uilos). It was then that she was also addressed by the title Fanuilos.

EDIT:

Thalion: Are you sure that only the High Elves knew of Varda?

The Published Silmarillion:
quote:
Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love. Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars.


[ 01-15-2004, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: Herendil ]

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Roll of Honor Roccowen Eilonwyiel
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I'm not that well versed in Tolkein, so you will have to forgive me asking...Were only high elves(of the elves) allowed to travel to the Undying Lands?

But still, Frodo knew they were high elves from their language, but they were using Sindarin. Did he know when he saw them that they were going to the sea and they were high elves?

[ 02-02-2004, 08:51 AM: Message edited by: Roccowen Eilonwyiel ]

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Dark Lord Andúril
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Okay.

First thing I would say is read the Silmarillion. But if you want a quick answer then here it is.

When the Valar first discovered the Elves, they invited them to Valinor. The Elves that came were three groups, the Noldor, the Teleri and the Vanyar.

Some of these Elves forsook the march and set up kingdoms in Middle-earth and Beleriand, these were the Sindar.

For various reasons, outlined in the Silmarillion, the Noldor returned to Middle-earth. In the third age, most Elves still have an open invitation to Valinor, and generally the Elves as a people are leaving at this time. Only a few major kindgoms remain, which are under Lord Elrond in Rivendell, Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel in Lorien, King Tharanduil in Greenwood the Great, and Cirdan in Mithlond.

Frodo could probably tell they were Noldorin Elves, due to either their inflexions in speech, because he was fairly well versed in Elvish speech, for a hobbit anyway, and could speak a few words, or possibly because only the Noldorin Elves used the name Elbareth, as he says this in the same breath as saying they were High Elves.

That name seems to be quiate a Noldorin thing to say.

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Halion
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Roccowen Eilonwyiel said:
quote:
Did he know when he saw them that they were going to the sea and they were high elves?
Please read Herendil's quote from The Road Goes Ever On in this thread.
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Roll of Honor Roccowen Eilonwyiel
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quote:
First thing I would say is read the Silmarillion.
Done. I may not be a Tokein genius, but I'm not a total idiot. []

The inflexions of speech makes sense, and that would mean that speaking the name of Elbereth would have nothing to do with whether or not they were high elves.

Thank you.

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Dark Lord Andúril
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Sorry, it wasn't apparent from your question that you had...
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Roll of Honor Roccowen Eilonwyiel
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I wan't offended, if I came across like I was.
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Galin
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quote:
In Three is a Company in Lotr, Frodo meets the High Elves. He identifies them by noting that they spoke the name of Elbereth.
I think the reason for this is external, as at the time Tolkien wrote this identification, it seems possible that Elbereth was the Noldorin name for Varda, and there might have been another form in Ilkorin. In any case, at the time Tolkien wrote this statement there was no Sindarin, and the High Elves of Middle-earth, or Noldor, spoke Noldorin. Christopher Tolkien notes (stem BARATH-)

quote:
The application of the name Elbereth to Varda seems to have arisen in the hymm of the Elves to the Goddess in the original second chapter (Three is Company) of The lord of the Rings, written in early 1938 (...). Concomitant with this the Ilkorin names Elbereth (of different meaning) and Elboron were removed from the original entries BER and BOR. These were the names of Dior's sons in...'
We had: Quenya Elentari, Varda -- Noldorin Elbereth -- Telerin Baradis (and Ilkorin Elbereth, where bereth meant 'valor', was struck out).


Of course, by the end of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien had changed the languages and their histories, so that Sindarin arises, and both the Exiles and the Sindar speak Grey-elven. To explain this question internally I looked closer at 'High Elves' because in another place in The Lord of the Rings it seems (at least) as if this term can have a wider significance and include the Sindar -- in essence, be close enough in meaning to West-elves or Eldar.

Thus Frodo could be informed by Elbereth because the Elves of Mirkwood (for example from Bilbo's tales) might not use 'Elbereth' specifically. According to The Lord of the Rings the Silvan Elves of Lórien and Mirkwood are East-elves and not considered Eldar. I was somewhat satisfied with this until I remembered Frodo's general reference here to the numbers of High Elves -- and this becomes problematic if he 'really' meant High Elves as in Eldar (before he was informed that they were Noldor in any event).

So, back to square one. Herendil's explanation is something to consider, but I could not find it (yet?) actually attested that the Noldor were so notable in their reverence for Varda that the use of this name (as Frodo heard it) would be a revelation of High Elven status. In note 21 to The Shibboleth of Feanor (thus relatively late), it's noted that the Sindar were instructed by Orome concerning the eminence of Manwe and Varda, and the Sindar called them Aran Einior and Elbereth, which names were adopted by the Noldor.


If my external explanation is correct (that's if), then it might be a bit surprising that Tolkien did not adjust this description just enough to account for the new linguistic ideas concerning Sindarin and so forth. That he did not maybe means I'm wrong, or that I've missed something so far. Or maybe Tolkien focused on the change to omentielmo (first edition) in the Quenya, and missed the implication of Frodo's words relative to the changed scenario.

In short: good question!

[ 06-05-2010, 11:45 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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