J R R Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) is best remembered for his fantasy work, the children’s novel The Hobbit (1937), The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) and The Silmarillion (1977).

Tolkien and Linguistics

Like his friend C. S. Lewis, he was also a linguist of considerable note and his work inspired much of his fiction.

Tolkien specialized in English philology at university, graduating with Old Norse as special subject in 1915.

Tolkien created several notable constructed languages including

Tolkien believed that languages were tied to the mythology of the cultures they belonged to

The Lord of the Rings trilogy was, in fact, created as a background in which to explore his artlangs; the various Elvish languages include Quenya and Sindarin, the proto-language Primitive Quendian, Common Eldarin, , Goldogrin, TelerinIlkorin, Nandorin and Avarin.

For the races of Men and by Hobbits he created Taliska (spoken by Men of the houses of Bëor and Hador, and based on the  the Gothic language), Adûnaic (spoken by the Men of Númenor during the Second Age), and Westron (the Soval Pharë, or ‘Common Speech’, derived from Adûnaic).

Less developed languages of Men referenced by Tolkien include Dalish (spoken by Men of the Dale), Rohirric (the language of the Rohirrim of Rohan, represented by Anglo-Saxon), Rhovanion (spoken by the Men of Rhovanion, or Wilderland, and represented by Gothic), Haladin (spoken by the Men of the House of Haleth), Dunlendish (of the Dunlendish, naturally), Drûg (of the Drúedain), Haradrim (of the Men of Herad), and Easterling (spoken by the Men of the East).

For Dwarves he created Khuzdul and the sign language Iglishmêk; for the Ents, Entish; for the gods (or Valar), Valarin; and for the Orcs  the Black Speech, created by Sauron.

Tolkien and Politics

”My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so to refer to people”

– J R R Tolkien


  • Tolkien, J R R (1937) The Hobbit
  • Tolkien, J R R (1954) The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Tolkien, J R R (1954) The Two Towers
  • Tolkien, J R R (1955) The Return ofthe King
  • Tolkien, J R R (1977) The Silmarillion

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