26

I've been seeing around the internet this version of the gates of moria:

enter image description here

Would anyone know what is the inscription saying? It doesn't match the official image from Tolkien. Every resource that I look up talking about the original inscription this version:

How do you write "Speak friend and enter" in Elvish characters?

So I'm wondering if this modified version has the same message as the original but is an alternative spelling, or maybe a translation to some other Tolkien language or using some other mode that not the "mode of Beleriand"; or if it's another quote from the book misplaced here; or if it's just plain gibberish. I'm mostly just curious to know if it's the original message in another form or if it's something else; if it's something else, I don't need to know what it is (although that would be good to know too).

I don't know Tolkien languages well enough to read it, I know only a few characters of tengwar on a mode I don't even know the name (whatever is the most common mode maybe?). I love learning languages... but not enough time to learn all the ones I want. lol

7
  • 1
    Just a thought and it may be tough to comply, but this violates accessibility rules. Images with text should contain a transcription of that text for those members using text-to-speech software to browse the site. But don't panic, hopefully that'll be cleared-up in an answer. Jan 7 at 6:22
  • 1
    I think both this image and the one in the linked answer are wrong.
    – ibid
    Jan 7 at 6:24
  • 9
    @Jiminy I understand your point, but I'm not sure this would be feasible since the text in the image uses an alphabet that AFAIK doesn't have an official computer equivalent... and I wouldn't be able to transliterate it either, since part of my question is saying that I can't read that language/alphabet. :$ Sorry though.
    – msb
    Jan 7 at 21:53
  • 2
    Just as a comment, I got to this wrong image not just by browsing the internet, but because I bought a door mat with this gibberish writing, and only went to check that it was wrong after I had already bought it. So this is to say that this gibberish text leaked into the real world and is circulating around in LOTR products. Buyer Beware!
    – msb
    Jan 7 at 21:55
  • 1
    I wonder who had a need to re-render the Tolkien's image in a less aesthetically-pleasing way (i.e. it's missing the L's, that are such beautiful glyphs).
    – Edheldil
    Jan 9 at 10:12

1 Answer 1

58

It says complete gibberish

What you are looking at is someone who tried using a Tengwar computer font to type, but without knowing anything about how to use Tengwar and so operating under the false assumption that there was a meaningful one-to-one mapping between the English letters they typed and the Tengwar letter that was mapped to that key.

This "mode" of using Tengwar is often dubbed the "Mode of Baloneyland" (as a play on words on Tolkien's "Mode of Beleriand").

The Tengwar key mappings used in fonts are done to preserve the layout of Tolkien's Tengwar charts when positioned on a qwerty keyboard, with the whole chart rotated, so that the first row of the keyboard equals the first column of the chart, etc. They're mapped to the position on the keyboard, not to the letters of the keyboard. So if you just try to type in English with it, you'll get complete gibberish.

The person who made that image was trying to write:

the doors of durin lord of moria speak friend and enter

i narvi made them celebrimbor of hollin drew these signs

But what they actually wrote is something more like this:

myf shwhwhvj whʒ sh□vs- ywhvsh whʒ llwhvsch njfchz ʒvsf-sh ch-sh f-mfv

s -chvghs llchshf myfll chfyfngvsllngwhv whʒ ywhyys- shvfb myfjf js□-j

I'm not sure though what the original source of this misleading fan created image is. I can see that it must have already been in existence in 2013, though my guess is that it probably dates back another decade before that, to when the Peter Jackson films were coming out.

It should also be noted that the image in the question you linked to is also not the correct image, though it at least has the correct Tengwar. If you're looking for the real image, see the one in this question.

6
  • 4
    This is a great answer, but could you illustrate the problem with the key mappings in picture format?
    – Valorum
    Jan 7 at 8:49
  • 7
    @Valorum - I played around a bit with having some charts in the answer, but I felt they were taking up too much focus on the general problem and not on this specific problem. This is the keyboard layout, and this is the classical tengwar chart with values entered in for Tolkien's English mode (taken from tecendil.com). As you can see, it's just rotated and mapped to qwerty positions, not to the matching sounds.
    – ibid
    Jan 7 at 13:51
  • 2
    That was an awesome answer! Many thanks. <3 Even though having the chart would be nice as Valorum suggested, I know it would be too much work for little gain. Being aware of the phonetic table for tengwar, I already know what you're talking about and that's enough for me. Definitely this answer exceeded my expectations, explaining even the logic for the gibberish, which I wasn't expecting. lol. Lovely!
    – msb
    Jan 7 at 21:47
  • Regarding the comment that the question you linked to is also not the correct image, the message in both images is the same, right? Just a different tengwar font, it seems? Just clarifying, I understand that only one is the original from the book, which is the one you linked. Thanks for that small correction!
    – msb
    Jan 7 at 21:50
  • 1
    @msb - Yeah, the tengwar inscription in both of those are the same, but one is Tolkien's actual drawing, and one seems to be someone trying to trace over it in a vector program or something. The one in the question you linked to has all the lines too smooth. So it also seems to be a fan-creation, not a scan of the original.
    – ibid
    Jan 7 at 21:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.