303 Languages & Handwriting*

  • Introduction to Linguistics of Middle-earth
  • Writing Scripts and Fonts of Middle-earth
  • Trivia on Tolkien and Elvish
  • Key Middle-earth Names with Diacritical Marks

This page explores the languages, writing systems, and fonts of Middle-earth.

Introduction to Linguistics of Middle-earth

The Lord of the Rings Appendices

For Tolkien’s own description of linguistics of Middle-earth, see:

  • The Return of the King, Appendix E – Writing and Spelling. I – Pronunciation of Words and Names. II – Writing [includes various writing scripts
  • The Return of the King, Appendix F. I – The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age. II – On Translation.

Resource Books and Organizations

The Languages of Tolkien’s Middle-earth: A complete guide to all fourteen of the languages Tolkien invented by Ruth S. Noel.

The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship (E.L.F.) is a special interest group of the Mythopoeic Society. According to their website, E.L.F. is an international organization devoted to the scholarly study of the invented languages of J.R.R. Tolkien.” Their Resources for Tolkienian Linguistics: An Annotated Guide offers links to several Middle-earth language resource books, courses, and journals.

The Ardalambion site offers an extensive set of links to linguistic matters of Middle-earth, many of them scholarly documents and sites. Included is a link to a linguistic analysis of The Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary in Quenya, written by H.K. Fauskanger. (These two translations into Quenya were the longest pieces J.R.R. Tolkien ever produced.) Translations for a number of the articles are available in various modern languages.

The Council-of-Elrond site has a series of language pages on Sindarin, compiled and donated to them by Felicity Cullen Davison.

Writing Scripts and Fonts of Middle-earth

The Council-of-Elrond Middle-earth Fonts page gives downloads for nearly 30 fonts, most of them the same as The Lord of the Rings Fonts site below. Several fonts are for Mac. There is also a One Ring file with images and fonts.

Daniel Reeve – the artist who created the calligraphy styles for the scrolls, maps, signs, and other documents for props in The Lord of the Rings trilogy – has made of his fonts available for sale. This includes two fonts related to LOTR: Shire Regular (as written by Frodo Baggins) and Shire Font, Spidery (as written by Bilbo Baggins). Reeve notes, “I am not permitted to create replicas of movie props, maps of Middle-earth, or anything else which would breach copyright with Tolkien Estate or New Line Cinema.  Nor can I release any of the fonts which I created for The Lord of the Rings – but very similar fonts are available for purchase on the Fonts page.” On his fonts page, he states:

Welcome to the Fonts page!   The fonts shown here are all original creations of Daniel Reeve.

All Daniel Reeve fonts include Basic and Extended Latin, enabling use for all European countries, as well as the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets, plus custom accents, ligatures and flourishes.   All fonts are OpenType/TrueType, and work on both PC and Mac computers.

Purchased fonts are delivered by email, and in the case of Shire fonts, include my notes on the use of accent marks in the Shire writing system – why some vowels have accent marks while others don’t.

Deniart Systems Tolkien Scripts bundles together four scripts, two forms of runes and two forms of Tengwar. The sets are available for Macintosh and for Windows, and sell for $35 per set (2010).

The Lord of the Rings Fonts site has about 30 fonts available for download. This includes versions of Tengwar, runes, and other scripts similar to those used in the LOTR trilogy on signs, banners, books, maps, etc.

Trivia on Tolkien and Elvish

The longest literary pieces J.R.R. Tolkien translated into Elvish – outside of what appears in The Lord of the Rings – were the Ave Maria and The Lord’s Prayer.

Key Middle-earth Names with Diacritical Markings

One of the most difficult things to do quickly is type Middle-earth character and place names with all the specialized markings (diacritics) intact. Here is a starter list of some of the key names with the appropriate accents and other diacritical markings (if they have any – some are just hard to remember how to spell!). Copy and paste away …!

  • Andúril
  • Barad-dûr
  • Caradhras
  • Dúnedain
  • Eärendil
  • Elessar
  • Éomir
  • Éowyn
  • Gríma
  • Khazad-dûm
  • Lothlórien
  • Meduseld
  • Mûmakil
  • Nazgûl
  • Númenórean
  • Rhûn
  • Sméagol
  • Théoden
  • Uglúk
  • Ulairë