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The Sindarin dictionary project

Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. [N. Hawthorne]

Our On-line dictionaries section (May 2008)

Project overview

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lexicons (not to mention Quenya) are floating here and there around the net, but they are generally inaccurate and outdated, beside being usually unimpressive in appearance.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.

Mere wordlists?

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 website.
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.]

 Sindarin Lexikon

External links
 I lam Arth


Updated On-line dictionaries section. (May 2008)

Updated On-line dictionaries section. (Apr. 2007)

New On-line dictionaries section. (Jun. 2006)

Hesperides 1.2 for Mac OSX. (Dec. 2004)

Hesperides 1.1 for Mac OSX. (Sept. 2004)

Dragon Flame 2.0.1 for Linux. (July 2004)

Hesperides 1.0 for Mac OSX. (July 2004)

Dragon Flame 2.0 for Linux. (June 2004)

New web design for the Sindarin dictionary web site. (April 2004)

Dragon Flame 2.0 is available for download. (December 2003)

The Sindarin dictionary and Dragon Flame are brought to you by Hiswelókë and JRRVF, two companion web sites in French, devoted to JR.R. Tolkien's works. Visit our linguistic studies, geographical essays and mythological articles!