Looking for a professional Elvish translation? You’re in the right place!
Here are guides for how to request a translation that captures as much of the intended meaning as possible. If you want to learn more about your translator and her process, keep reading!
Need to name your characters, but want a custom name? Go here!
Want to know how to say your name in Elvish? (Or write it in Tengwar?) Go here!
Need custom Elvish dialogue for your characters to speak? Go here!
Need a Tengwar or Cirth text for a tattoo or any other sort of inscription? Go here!
Your Translator and Her Abilities
Hi there! I’m Fiona Jallings, the head translator of RealElvish.net! I’ve been studying Tolkien’s languages since I was 15 years old. In the process I ended up with a degree in linguistics, and a goal in my scholarship emerged. I want to make Tolkien’s languages accessible to non-linguists.
When I started out, one’s choices in sources to study from were either scholarly linguistic-type texts or the efforts of well-meaning amateurs who didn’t have the background to understand the material. I started out as one of those amateurs. But now, I’m at the other end, trying my best to give people access to this scholarship without having to learn linguistics first.
Over the years I’ve done thousands of translations, making me one of the most fluent translators out there. Because I started working with fanfictions, I developed a unique approach – focusing on the dialects for different groups of characters, while before, the focus was on communicating with fellow fans. That’s why, when it’s time to select a language, you will find a whole bunch of dialects to choose from as well.
Most of my work is available for free on RealElvish.net, but I’m charging for custom translations to help support the free material.
TL,DR: I’m an experienced, professional translator, and you’ll get high quality translations from me.
These are the languages that I can translate into.
- Quenya Archaic, Exilic, and Gondorian dialects – Plenty of vocabulary and a mostly complete grammar.
- Sindarin Archaic, Exilic, Doriathren, Woodelven, and Gondorian dialects- Plenty of vocabulary and a fairly complete grammar.
- Adûnaic – Limited vocabulary and a limited grammar.
These are the scripts that I can write with.
Tengwar, Classical Mode (Also called Tehtar-Tengwar) Available for: Quenya, Sindarin, and English
Tengwar, Mode of Beleriand. Available for Sindarin only.
Cirth, available for Sindarin only.
All translation requests are free for $20 monthly donators. Otherwise, I charge thusly:
- Reading Fee: $5
You’ll pay this fee when you submit your request. It lets me know that you’re serious about this translation request, and you’ve thought it through.
- A Character’s Names: $10 per character
For all of the names for one character in Sindarin, Quenya, or Adûnaic.
- Cirth/Tengwar: $5 per word.
Lines of poetry, random phrases, names, words written with Tengwar or Cirth. Transliterations will be sent in the form of PDFs unless requested otherwise.
- Line Translation: $20 per sentence.
Translations of lines of poetry, sentences, random phrases into Sindarin, Quenya, or Adûnaic. 1 line of poetry/a song = 1 sentence, because poetry is insanely difficult to translate well and will require multiple drafts to get it right.
- Word Translation: $1 per word.
A word translated into Sindarin, Quenya, or Adûnaic.
- Your Name Translated: $5 per name.
Our-World names translated into Sindarin, Quenya, or Adûnaic. Price is by the name, so for a first name and surname, each would count as a separate name.
- Consultation: $100 an hour, charged by the quarter hour.
This is the miscellaneous section, for anything that doesn’t fall easily into the above categories. I may also switch to this to save you money if it looks like the translations will take hundreds of dollars.
How the Translations are Handled
First Step: Once you pay the reading fee, I’ll receive your request.
I’ll go over the request and see if there are any details that I will need clarified. For example, Tolkien’s Elven languages have three words for “you,” and their usage depends on context. Another common thing I will need clarified is personal names – often they’re derived from place names, or their meaning has been lost to time, so I will need your input on how you’d like me to handle them.
This is also where I estimate how much the translation will cost in total, and you can make changes to your request.
Second Step: I do the translation!
The translation won’t just be the translated text, but any notes that go with the translation. I’ll point out fan-made vocabulary and explain how it was made. I’ll point out words with slightly different meanings than their English counterparts. I’ll also include a very close, literal translation back into English. People use translations better if they understand them better, so with complex requests, there may be pages of notes to go along with them.
Third Step: You pay for the translation, and receive it!
I’ll send you an invoice after I complete the translation. Once you pay it, I’ll send you the translation as soon as I can. At that point, I’ll have the files saved to a cloud service and will be able to send them to you even if all I have with me is my phone.
A translation labeled “Neo-Elvish” just means that Tolkien didn’t do the translation, someone else did. That means that ANYTHING not directly attested by Tolkien is Neo-Elvish.
For example, let’s take the Sindarin word “linnon – I sing.” Now, through analysis of other forms of the verb like “linnathon – I will sing” and through analysis of other verbs like “nallon – I cry out” we can deduce that “linnon” is made of two morphemes, “linna– to sing” and “-on – I”. These two separate morphemes are Neo-Elvish because they aren’t attested on their own. When we have a verb like “minna- to enter” we can put it together with “-on” to make “minnon – I enter.” Being able to break down and analyze the grammar means that we can generate more phrases that follow the attested examples.
What Neo-Elvish is NOT, is randomly making up our own grammar and vocabulary and calling it Elvish. Everything in Neo-Elvish must be derived from other Elvish languages that Tolkien made, or it is rejected by the community at large. This isn’t something that we take lightly, and we argue over fan-made words extensively.
Fan-made vocabulary is marked with an asterisk to differentiate between it and a word made by Tolkien. We make new vocabulary in several ways:
- Compound words: just putting two words together to make a new one. For example, we made a Neo-Sindarin word for “Hatter” by echoing the form of “mírdan – jewel smith” putting together the words for “carab – hat” and “tân – maker” to make “*carabdan – hatter.”
- Reconstruction: making new words the way that Tolkien did. This means taking the ancient roots that Tolkien listed (there are hundreds of these), making an ancient compound word, then putting the compound through the phonetic history of the target language. For example, we’ll make a Neo-Quenya word for “to blush” by modeling it after a similar word, “niquita– to whiten.” We take the ancient word “karanĭ – red” and add the causative suffix “-tā“, then put the new word through Quenya sound changes to make “*carnita- to redden, blush, make red.”
Both of these methods require extensive knowledge of Tolkien’s languages, their histories, and how Tolkien himself made words. We’re doing our best to imitate Tolkien’s process so we can make vocabulary that fits into his languages, that he could possibly have made himself.
Of course, this means that there are some things that we can’t translate. We accept these limitations because we want to be authentic and true to Tolkien’s versions of the languages as we can.