In the Silmarillion, "Akallabêth" is the story of how Numenor fell. Its an Adunaic word, not an elvish word, and I haven't found any Adunaic pronunciation guides.

So, how is Akallabêth pronounced? I don't know the IPA, so examples using English would be very appreciated. For example:

Is the "ll" soft like "hall", or hard like "llama"?

How is the e-with-hat pronounced?


3 Answers 3


So far as I can tell, Tolkien didn't give a straight answer to this. But combining material from Appendix E of "The Return of the King" with some of his other writings gives a reasonable base for a guess.

Per Appendix E, the A vowels match the a in father. The double L is a long hard L, matching the sound of 'wholly' (as opposed to 'holy'). Th sounds as in 'cloth'.

This appendix, unfortunately, gives no guidance as to the E-circumflex; it remarks "(t)he use of of the circumflex in other languages such as Adunaic or Dwarvish has no special significance and is used merely to mark these out as alien tongues." But "Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language", published in "Sauron Defeated", states that the vowel in question derived from the diphthong EI, which Appendix E states has the vowel sound of 'grey'.

I didn't find any guidance as to stress in Adunaic. But a late note by the Professor stated that the root word is KALAB, apparently meaning "collapse, fall in ruin" (a comparison was drawn to the Eldarin TALAT, which has that meaning). Following the Appendix E rule for stress on the first syllable, then, I'd derive


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    That note about circumflexes seems to have caused quite a bit of confused to many people. What it really says is that the circumflex in Quenya and Sindarin is used in monosyllabic words to mark an overlong vowel; elsewhere, it just marks a long vowel. So here, in Adûnaic, it simply means that the e is long. The fact that /eː/ comes from an earlier /ei/ is not so surprising—that’s a common development that has happened, among other places, in Ancient Greek and French. (I don’t believe we know whether Adûnaic /e/ is [e] or [ε], but that’s a fairly minor detail.) Apr 20, 2016 at 8:12

I'm not sure the word is actually of "pure Adunaic descent". Though Akallabêth is said to literally mean 'the Downfallen', in the commentary for The Drowning of Anadûnê (in volume 9 of The History of Middle-earth) Christopher Tolkien suggests that the Akallabêth derived from a 'Mixed Dúnedanic Tradition, by which he seems to mean that it developed from a combination of Elvish and Númenórean accounts. The word does have similarities and possible roots in the Elven tongue.

For example, in Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth - translated as "converse of Finrod and Andreth", we find beth, a soft mutation of peth, "word(s)" may have been the root to mean "story, record".

In Quenya & Sindarin, the verb "to fall" is lant, and cala means light.

Finally, a - translated "Oh!".

So we have a-cala-lant-peth as a basis to mean "oh!, the fall from light told". With soft mutation and natural elimination of identical syllables in sequence, this renders a-cal(l)ant-beth, which in Aduanic may have evolved into Akallabêth - and it's common meaning "the downfallen", from which kalab meaning "fall in ruin" may have derived.

I don't have any hard evidence, but I do find the similarities fascinating. But even if the root of the word is indeed Elvish, the stress would be on the first syllables as MLP suggests.


A man calling himself "The Tolkien Professor" posted this podcast about the Akallabêth, including, obviously, several uses of the word.

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