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Old English – Tolkien
Old English is the name given to the vernacular language of England from the settlement of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes until the 12the century, when it transitioned into the next linguistic stage, Middle English. It is a Western Germanic language, with Old Frisian and Old Saxon as nearest relatives. It had four great dialects: Northumbrian (North), Mercian (Midlands), Kentish (Kent) and West Saxon (South and South-West). The latter is the best attested, for it was the dialect of the kings of Wessex, that progressively gained political leadership and later became kings of England. Modern English however is not its direct descendent: it rather derives from the speech of London, which is dialectally mixed but mainly based upon Mercian.

Old English was Tolkien’s speciality; in this language he transposed – in fiction – the speech of the Rohirrim in the literary device of pseudo-translation set up in
The Lord of the Rings. Many Old English fragments can be found here and there in his literary work. Because Old English was so central to Tolkien, we included numerous examples and put apart mediæval texts from modern compositions.

Éomer’s greeting The Lord of the Rings, book III, chapter 6.
Éowyn’s toast The Lord of the Rings, book III, chapter 6.
Summons of the Rohirrim The Treason of Isengard, pp. 442, 443, 449.
Monað módes lust – Verse composed by J. R. R. Tolkien after the Old English poem The Seafarer, also available on this website. The Lost Road, p. 84.
Monath módaes lust – A slightly different version of the former text, in an archaic form of Old English. From The Notion Club Papers, in Sauron Defeated, p. 243.
The straight road (Old English) – A saying from The Notion Club Papers. Sauron Defeated, p. 243. A corresponding version in Qenya can also be found on this website.
Þus cwæð Ælfwine Wídlást – Verse from The Notion Club Papers, in Sauron Defeated, p. 244.
Seo Niþerhrorene – Fragments of a lament on the downfall of Númenor. Sauron Defeated, p. 317. Corresponding versions in Qenya and Adûnaic can also be found on this website.
The fall of Númenor – West Saxon – Texts from The Notion Club Papers, in Sauron Defeated pp. 313-314 and 316.
The fall of Númenor – Mercian – A text closely related to the preceding one but shorter and in another dialect. From The Notion Club Papers, in Sauron Defeated pp. 257-258.
Éadig béo þu Good luck to you, a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, from the collection Songs for the Philologists. Published in The Road to Middle-earth by T. A. Shippey.
Ides ælfscýne Elf-fair lady, a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, from the collection Songs for the Philologists. Published in The Road to Middle-earth by T. A. Shippey.
Ofer wídne gársecg Across the broad ocean, a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, from the collection Songs for the Philologists. Published in The Road to Middle-earth by T. A. Shippey.

The works of John Ronald Reuel and Christopher Tolkien are under the copyright of their authors and/or rights holders, including their publishers and the Tolkien Estate.
Quotations from other authors, editors and translators mentioned in the bibliography are under the copyright of their publishers, except for those whose copyright term has ended.
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