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Early Numenoreans spoke Quenya as per learning it from Elves of Beleriand and then later on in the Second Age Numenoreans created their own language: Adunaic which differs from Elvish.

Is Adunaic supposed to be what is later known as Common tongue or was it a different dialect?

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I need to establish one thing first:

The Common Tongue is not English

The Common Tongue is another of Tolkien's constructed languages, more properly called Westron. From Appendix F:

The language represented in this history by English was the Westron or 'Common Speech' of the West-lands of Middle-earth in the Third Age

Return of the King Appendix F I "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age"

Adûnaic is an ancestor of Westron, but they are distinct languages

Again from Appendix F:

In the years of their power the Númenoreans had maintained many forts and havens upon the western coasts of Middle-earth for the help of their ships; and one of the chief of these was at Pelargir near the Mouths of Anduin. There Adûnaic was spoken, and mingled with many words of the languages of lesser men it became a Common Speech that spread thence along the coasts among all that had dealings with Westernesse.

Return of the King Appendix F I "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age"

  • I've been confused by these namings before though: Adun is Sindarin, IIRC, for sunset/west. Therefore Adunaic = language of the Westerners/"Westernesseans"/Numenoreans, i.e. Western tongue. And Westron is also "Western tongue". Looking at how Tolkien then represented the language of the Vale people->Rohan with Anglo-Saxon/Old-English, I'd mentally categorised Adunaic vs Westron as Middle-English vs modern English. (to repeat: not equal, but Tolkien "translated" and represented these tongues from the long gone past of Middle-Earth as varietals of English) – Marakai Jul 9 '16 at 12:35
  • @Marakai Make it Old English rather than Middle and you'll probably have the relationship a bit more accurate: the direct ancestor of the modern common language, but very much distinct. – Matt Gutting Jul 9 '16 at 13:06
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    @Marakai If you want to be really confused, the actual name of the Westron language is "Adûni." It's worth remembering that both languages originated with the Men of Númenor, hence the similarity in name – Jason Baker Jul 9 '16 at 14:46
  • @MattGutting except that Tolkien represented "Rohannic" with Old English, so that slot is/was taken. IIRC, Adunaic itself was derived from "old Mannish" languages, i.e. before Elvish influence. The languages of the Vale peoples was supposed to be closest to that. For that reason I sort of "injected" Adunaic represented as ME. Or a branch similar to what happened in the Northeast of England with the Danish invasions. One could write a whole article on that, but not sure it would be a proper Answer. – Marakai Jul 10 '16 at 0:27
  • @Marakai Tolkien wanted to make that connection to point out that Hobbitish was a "more evolved" form of the language of the Rohirrim. My point, if you like, is that the Common Tongue is related to Adunaic somewhat as Modern English is to Old English; and in particular not (as you seemed to be suggesting) as Modern English is related to Middle English. – Matt Gutting Jul 10 '16 at 2:53
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There is no English language in Tolkien's legendarium (if we don't count the Anglo-Saxon language of Aelfwine character in his earlier versions).

Adunaic became Westron (the Common Tongue), but it was a wholly different language from English.

The Appendices in LotR actually give an example of some Westron words.

  • Shouldn't this be a comment about Aelfwine to Jason's answer? I don't see anything else which is different than his answer. – Aegon Jul 12 '16 at 9:30

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