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I just watched some YouTube video discussing the new Beren & Luthien book. And to my surprise/chagrin, the people on the video were putting the emphasis on the syllable before the last, i.e. Beren and Luthien. Aaagh! How is that possible? Surely it must be Beren and Luthien... isn't it?

Well, this got me thinking that I have no idea how I developed my assumptions regarding the pronunciation of names in Tolkien's work in general. Is it up to the reader? Is it layout out officially somewhere?

  • 2
    One of the appendixes was devoted specifically to pronunciation. – ibid Apr 28 '17 at 8:41
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    What YouTube video? Were they just random people with no special authority on the pronunciation? And what makes you think it "surely" must be the way you believe? – tobiasvl Apr 28 '17 at 8:41
  • @tobiasvl: It's not that they were authoritative, I was just assuming there was "one true way" - and they weren't following it. – einpoklum Apr 28 '17 at 8:43
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The best primary source is Appendix E of the Lord of the Rings, which covers pronunciation of both vowels, consonants and stress:

In words of two syllables it falls in practically all cases on the first syllable. In longer words it falls on the last syllable but one, where that contains a long vowel, a diphthong, or a vowel followed by two (or more) consonants. Where the last syllable but one contains (as often) a short vowel followed by only one (or no) consonant, the stress falls on the syllable before it, the third from the end. Words of the last form are favoured in the Eldarin languages, especially Quenya.

So it would probably be Beren and Luthien if you view the name as a three-syllable name with a long middle sound (loo-THEE-en), or Luthien if you read it as LOO-theen or (as Tolkien probably intended it) LOO-thi-en.

  • 'th' is not a syllable, and a consonant can't carry the stress AFAIK. But +1 otherwise. – einpoklum Apr 28 '17 at 8:45
  • I've bolded the i, not just the th. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Apr 28 '17 at 8:49
  • Ah, sorry, I missed that. But isn't that a case of a "short vowel", in which the stress moves another syllable back? – einpoklum Apr 28 '17 at 9:01
  • As a non-native English speaker, my interpretation of vowel sounds doesn't always match a British or American speaker. loo-THEE-en is a relatively natural pronunciation for me. Might not have been for Tolkien. :) – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Apr 28 '17 at 9:23
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    ie is not in the list of diphthongs Tolkien provides. And th is a single consonant (a consonantal sound, spelled in Modern English - but not Old English - with two letters). Thus the syllables in Luthien are "Lu", "thi", "en". "thi" is a "short syllable" (my terminology), since it does not contain a diphthong or a long vowel, and is not followed by a consonant cluster. This the accent is on the first syllable: Luthien. – Matt Gutting Apr 28 '17 at 10:28
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Yes, there are. Part I of Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings covers pronunciation of words and names.

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    Could you also provide information on how exactly they are pronounced? – Gallifreyan Apr 28 '17 at 9:40
  • @Gallifreyan I'm not sure, actually, if I could. Obviously I can't copy the chapter verbatim. Or even summarize it to list all the rules - that's not within the scope of "are there rules", nor am I sure what copyright has to say about it. I could however provide an example of how that description looks, which is what Avner did. Or maybe summarize the kind and scope of the rules given there? – TheNickOfTime Apr 28 '17 at 11:22

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