Quenya Phonetics: Introduction

Quenya Phonetics: Introduction

I was originally planning on doing a bunch of research and organizing all of my notes before starting to write about Quenya phonetic developments. However, that’s turning into a real slog and I am finding the need to break up the basic research with some writing. I have therefore decided to write some draft posts once certain phonetic rules are properly organized.

This series of articles will be different from the Sindarin Phonetics series in two respects. First, I will mostly be reporting on Tolkien’s own descriptions of Quenya phonetic developments, which he wrote about at length, primarily in two documents: Outline of Phonetic Development from the 1930s (OP1, PE19/29-67) and Outline of Phonology from the 1950s (OP2, PE19/68-107). This makes it much simpler to trace the conceptual development of Tolkien’s ideas.

Second, it is much more difficult to put Quenya sound changes into a proper chronological order, since the various phonetic developments only rarely interact with each other, unlike Sindarin with its many complex interactions. For these early drafts I’m not going to do much more than divide things into two broad periods: Ancient Quenya and “Modern” Quenya (including Parmaquesta and Tarquesta). I will make no attempt to post things in chronological order, and when this information is incorporated into Eldamo it will definitely appear in a different order than what I present here. In many cases, though, the exact ordering barely matters.

Finally, I am finding it necessary to distinguish between two uses of “Noldorin” in these articles. In the 1950s and 60s, Tolkien used Noldorin to refer to a dialect of Quenya, but in the 1930s and 40s, Noldorin was a distinct language that was a precursor to Sindarin. In cases where it is relevant, I am referring to the Noldorin of the 1930s and 40s as “Pre-Sindarin” to better distinguish it from the Noldorin Quenya dialect of the 1950s and 60s. This is because the Noldor of the 1930s still spoke Quenya, but it was not their native language, and the sounds of their native Noldorin [Pre-Sindarin] language influenced their use of Quenya.