I have mentioned before how much the Inklings impacted my life. Their writings and the books and movies inspired by them, have had a profound impact on my world view, including my hobbies.

Tolkien and his Middle-earth have had the greatest impact, so I have a deep library of books devoted to J.R.R. himself and many to his world. One of my favorite of my reference books is The Languages of Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Ruth S. Noel. The back cover states the beauty of this book so well.

The same delight that led Tolkien to invent fourteen different languages and assorted alphabets for his Middle-earth dwellers now leads many of his fans to puzzle out translations for the Rohirrim’s battle cries and to write their love letters in Elvish.

Here is the perfect handbook for all such enthusiasts as well as for serious students of language. It includes a full account of Tolkien the linguist, as well as telling how to write all the languages, with guides to grammar and pronunciation, and a complete dictionary of the fourteen languages.

This book enhances my reading of the novels greatly, but also impacted my fantasy roleplaying over the years (even when not playing games set in Middle-earth). More times than I can count, I have used translations from this book for character names and magic item names. I have used the scripts and runes to create handouts for my players to give them that air of authenticity. My daughter, Emily, has fallen in love with the languages of Middle-earth and often takes notes in Elvish and occasionally uses the script in her sketches and on her sculptures.

The languages developed by Tolkien added historic depth and character to the novels, truly bringing the worlds to life. Using those same languages in my games has enhanced them for me as the storyteller and added ambiance for my players. Have you used languages from fictional worlds in your games?

On My Shelf: The Languages Of Tolkien’s Middle-earth

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