Which race(s) originally spoke the Westron language in Middle-Earth and what are the reasons for it being adopted as the common tongue in Middle-Earth. When was this done?

  • 2
    Because Gondor Won Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:56
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    Westron: "The Westron speech is derived from contact between the Adûnaic tongue of Númenor, and the languages of the western coastlands of the continent of Middle-earth, when the Númenóreans began to establish trade outposts and forts there." So, more accurately, because Gondor traded.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


Westron evolved from the Númenorean language Adûnaic, which in turn evolved from the ancient language of the Atani in the First Age. "Adûnaic" is clearly, in fact, Adûnaic for "Westron" (!!!)

The clearest statement of this is given in Lord of the Rings 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.

After the Downfall of Númenor ..... They used therefore the Common Speech in their dealing with other folk and in the government of their wide realms; but they enlarged the language and enriched it with many words drawn from Elven-tongues.

In the days of the Númenorean kings this ennobled Westron speech spread far and wide, even among their enemies; and it became used more and more by the Dúnedain themselves, so that at the time of the War of the Ring the Elven-tongue was known to only a small part of the peoples of Gondor...

Regarding it's even earlier origins, Appendix F again provides the proof:

It was in origin the language of those whom the Eldar called the Atani or Edain, 'Fathers of Men', being especially the people of the Three Houses of the Elf-friends who came west into Beleriand in the First Age...

So the language that became Westron was therefore originally spoken by the Men of the Houses of Beor, Hador and Haleth, was taken to Númenor where it became Adûnaic, and eventually brought back to Middle-earth during the years of Númenorean power where it further evolved into the Westron of the time of Lord of the Rings.

  • Why do the men of Rohan not speak it?In the books the people of Rohan have an Old English like language.
    – Valandil
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 21:16
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    @Default_User - they do, but they also speak their own language which evolved separately. Appendix F: "They still spoke their ancestral tongue ... but the lords of that people used the Common Speech freely". Important also to realise that the Rohirrim are comparatively recent arrivals; prior to TA 2510 their homeland was in the northern Vales of Anduin, not in Calenardhon (which became Rohan). Since they didn't live near the coasts they would have had limited contact with the Númenoreans.
    – user8719
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 21:20
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    @Default_User - Also, the ancestors of the Rohirrim split off from the House of Hador early in the First Age, and never passed over the mountains to Beleriand. Languages evolve and change, and Westron and Rohirric both have almost 7000 years of evolution behind them.
    – user8719
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 21:23
  • @Default_User: Why do (many of) the Irish speak both English and Gaelic, or the Welsh both English and Cymraeg?
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 22:10

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