Sindarin is the language of the Grey Elves, invented by J.R.R. Tolkien and
exemplified in his masterful epic story The Lord of the Rings.
This work aims at being a complete Sindarin dictionary, addressing not only
Tolkienís fans wishing to understand the elvish sentences from The Lord of the Rings
or to build simple sentences in Sindarin, but also scholars wanting to study Sindarin
for what it is: the complex linguistic invention of a philology professor, and also a
beautiful piece of art.
Sindarin on the Internet
A few Sindarin lexicons (not to mention Quenya) are floating here and there around
the net, but they are generally inaccurate and outdated, beside being usually
unimpressive in appearance. They often consist in mere compilations of the material
available in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion,
without taking into account the The History of Middle-earth series.
Most of these lexicons do not deserve to be called dictionaries.
Words are listed without any annotation, indication of use and textual
reference. Generally the compiler had neither real scolarship in
Elvish linguistics, nor the will to build a real dictionary worthy
of the name. Henceforth, there is often no attempt to mention and to
correct the evident errors ¹
from The Silmarillion index and The Etymologies (in The
Lost Road). And when the latter source is used, the so-called "Noldorin"
vocabulary is not clearly identified and distinguished from later Sindarin.
J.R.R. Tolkien constantly revised his languages, and although the language
known as "Noldorin" in The Etymologies evolved into Sindarin when
The Lord of The Rings was written, it underwent several fundamental
changes. Ignoring the "Noldorin" words leaves us with very few words, but
on the other hand using this vocabulary requires some care ².
¹ For instance, the term for "word" is given as beth in
The Silmarillion (following Gandalf's "lasto beth lammen"
in LotR/I:IV), but it should actually read peth. The initial
/b/ in the inflected form is caused by a characteristic consonant mutation
in Sindarin, called a lenition. The problems with The Etymologies
are somewhat different: the manuscript text was in parts extremely difficult
to decipher, and it seems that Christopher Tolkien made a few errors or
misinterpretations. For instance, hamnia "to clothe" is conceivably
a misreading for *hamma, cf. the cognate word hammad "clothing".
Most of these probable errors are listed on Helge Fauskanger's Ardalambion
² The Etymologies
list the plural of adar "father" as eder, edeir.
But we know from later sources, notably Morgoth's Ring, that
the attested plural is edair in later Sindarin. Similarly, the
plural of habad "shore" is given as hebeid, but we would
conceivably have to update it into *hebaid in order to use it
in a Sindarin text. This is a simple example, but there are some complex
issues involved when dealing with the "Noldorin" material. Some of these
problematics are presented by Helge Fauskanger in his articles "AE or OE,
Tolkien's hard choice" and "LH and RH (not to mention HL and HL)".
Building a true dictionary
Therefore, it appears that serious students of J.R.R. Tolkien's invented languages
are in great need of a true dictionary, that would try to be complete, accurate
and consistent in its presentation. On a minimal basis, the Sindarin words shall
be presented with their definition
(either a translation or an explanation), their grammatical role (part
of speech), and the textual references (books and pages where the word
is mentioned). For a pertinent use, cognate entries and inflected forms
shall be related to each other. Probable misreadings should be corrrected,
but mentioned to the reader. Additionally, information not indicated
by Tolkien himself but derived from his own presentation of the language
and the rules he edicted would make an highly valuable contribution to
the study of the Sindarin language. Among these improvements, phonetics,
hyphothetical forms and deduced ³ words
can be listed. Etymological indications would also be a plus.
³ For instance the word *gwathren "shadowy", (plural
*gwethrin) is not attested in the sources, but can be deduced
from gwath "shadow" and Ered Wethrin "Shadowy
Mountains" (where the loss of the initial /g/ is due to the lenition
phenomenon mentioned in note 1 above). [update: this is no more true
now, gwathren has been attested in a recent publication. But the process
remains valid for other words.]