Daniel S. Smith / dsmith@mc.com

Tengwar / English Language

Tengwar Chart for consonants:

Primary Letters:

Additional Letters:


1) The long and short carriers are silent letters. They are used in conjunction with vowel symbols.

Tehtar Chart for English vowels:



1) In the English title page inscriptions, three dots are consistently uses to represent the a sound. But in Appendix E of "The Lord of the Rings", Tolkien states that the circumflex symbol can also be used to represent the a sound.

2) In the English title page inscription of "The Lord of the Rings", J. R. R. Tolkien used the acute accent mark for the e sound and the single dot for the i sound. But his son, C. J. R. Tolkien, consistently used the reverse (acute accent mark for the i sound and the single dot for the e sound) in his English title page inscriptions. The Tehtar values in this chart correspond to the "The Lord of the Rings" title page inscription.

3) Long vowels, as Tolkien described them, do not exist in the English language. Instead, English uses diphthongs, or blend of two vowel or semi-vowel sounds. Due to English orthography, short and long vowel sounds often do not share the same base vowel. An example: the short-a sound is a as in father, while the long-a sound is ei as in eight, rather than ai as in bite.

Writing English with Tengwar:

In Appendix E of the "Lord of the Rings" Tolkien explains that there is no official mode for using Tengwar with the English language. But on the title page of the same book Tolkien gives an example of an English phrase written with Tengwar "in the Westron mode as a man from Gondor might write it". This is the mode that will be discussed here.

It appears that Tolkien adapted the Westron Mode to create a version of Tengwar for use with English. The phonetic values assigned to each Tengwar letter and Tehtar symbol is similar to the Sindarin Standard mode. Also the rules for writing are the same for English as they are in Sindarin, with the Tehtar placed above the next consecutive Tengwar letter. To read English/Tengwar script you would read each Tehtar vowel symbol, then the Tengwar letter below it (in a downward motion), before going on to the next Tehtar/Tengwar letter combination. The primary innovation that Tolkien demonstrates is the use of additional letters to be used as shorthand for commonly used words.

In the "Lord of the Rings" title page inscription the following additional letters are used:


These commonly used words are used several times in the "Lord of the Rings" title page inscription:

first line:

second line:

This is transcribed by J.R.R. Tolkien as:

first line:

second line:

The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, Appendix E
Arden Smith / arden@uclink2.berkeley.edu

Back to the Tengwar document index

Back to the Tolkien Encyclopedia document index

Last Modified: 16 August 1995