The tongue of the Elves dates back to the very beginnings of their race, on Mount Oinläaryen. It favors smooth, clear, refined sounds, as the Elves favor smooth, clear, and refined things. Yet, in the millennia since, the language has diverged somewhat among the different sub-races, though only in pronunciation.
This is the original tongue of the Elves, still spoken by Hill Elves, who have taken to maintaining their ancestral speech in the face of constant contact with the younger races.
Every syllable in the Elvish language is formed from the Initial Consonants, Primary Vowels, Secondary Vowels, Terminal Consonants, and the special Vowel Extension. Every syllable is itself assigned a meaning, and Elvish words are formed by joining these word-stems together into longer words.
|(IC) + PV + (SV / VX) + TC|
|Initial Consonants||Primary Vowels||Secondary Vowels||Terminal Consonants|
|f||f all||a||m a lt||e||v e nt||b||b ind|
|h||h ead||e||g oo d||î||h ea l||d||d ing|
|l||l ist||o||b o de||û||r oo t||n||n ail|
|m||m ile||y||y ell||p||p ost|
|r||r ink||r||r ise|
|s||s ong||w||w ilt|
*For the English speaker, imagine “zh” as “sh” but with a “z” sound instead of the “s” sound at the beginning.
According to the ancient Elvish mythology, the Sky Elves were the first to separate themselves from the main body of the Elvish race. Soon after the entry of the Elves into the world in the (INSERT NAME) mountains, many of the Elves sought to explore the lands below. Those who are now called Sky Elves disagreed, finding that there was plenty for themselves in the mountains and deploring the “heaviness” of the lower airs.
The Sky Elves’ long and not always placid separation from the other Elves is thought to be the reason that their manner of speech diverges so much from High Elvish. It is a matter of long-standing dispute among the Elves whether the sky tongue is closer to the original Elvish language, or a significant divergence. Most non-Sky Elves are of the opinion that it has been corrupted over millenia of association with the harshness of the mountaintops and in particular with the tones of the dragons domesticated by the Sky Elves.
The tongue of the Sea Elves proceeds farther than any other among the Elvish peoples in smoothing its sounds. Some scholars even note that this comes at the cost of a slight reduction in clarity among speakers of Sea Elvish, but the difference is far less severe than that with Sky Elvish. In any case, this rarely poses a problem for the Sea Elves, who are rarely visited even by other Elves in their great underwater cities.
It is thought by many that the influences of the ocean and its creatures have contributed to the particular pronunciations among the Sea Elves, but the Sea Elves themselves maintain that it is merely the original dialect spoken by ancient Elves and that the other races have failed to maintain its purity due to their contact with the lesser races.
Forest Elves are the least distinctly separated from the Hill Elves who still speak High Elvish, and their dialect reflects this, changing very little in the appreciated pronunciation of words. Their tongue seems to clearly follow from exposure to the forests, taking on the sounds of the plants and animals in their environs.
Alone among the Elvish peoples, the Forest Elves do not claim that their tongue is representative of the original manner of spoken Elvish. Rather, they assert that all of the tongues have drifted and the original language is hopelessly lost to time. Their own similarity to so-called High Elvish is merely coincidental, they claim. And none of them would ever think to ask an ancient Drow for her opinion on the matter, though privately the Drow are of the same assessment of the Elvish language.
The Sand Elves are something of an enigma among the Elves. The mythology of the other races is at a loss to explain their origins, and indeed they seem to appear, fully formed as a society, nearly 5,000 years after the other major divergences of the Elvish sub-races. The most widely-accepted theory to their origins is that the Sand Elves were made up of a slowly growing collective of Elves who had become dissatisfied with the practices of the other Elves, but rather than publicly splitting of in another large group, they simply faded into the wild. The deserts of Ayen, being large and sparsely populated, provided an effective place of residence for these Elves, and their migratory nature kept them from being acknowledged for a long time.
Their dialect of Elvish, while still following the system of meaning and writing developed by the ancient Elves, is highly divergent from all other known dialects of Elvish, carrying with it harsh, rasping sounds but lacking the volume and presence of the Sky tongue. As the Sand Elves are notoriously reclusive and share little information with anyone, the origins of their particular flavor of speech remain unknown, perhaps lost to history entirely.
|Elf (lit. God-child)||yûnlod||yûnlod||ûmlod||yûnlot||yinfoth|
See also: List of Elvish Word Stems