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Write Your Name in Elvish in Ten Minutes

You want to write your name in Elvish, but every place you go seems to make
it harder than it ought to be. Elvish writing looks beautiful and mysterious, but
does it really have to be impossible to understand? Why doesn't somebody just
spell out the alphabet so you can simply substitute the letters and get straight
to the result? That's exactly what I've done here. Learn to write your name in
Elvish in ten minutes. It's not very hard.
Here's the alphabet.

That's it. (If you want details about where this all comes from, look at the
bottom of this page.) You only need to know a few more things and you're
ready to go. The most important thing is that vowels go above (or below) the
consonants. That's what the gray arrows signify in the alphabet shown above.
You can put the vowels above the letter they follow (Quenya style) or above
the letter they precede (Sindarin style). Take your pick. I do the Quenya style.
Look at this example.

1. Write the name: ROBERT.


2. Shift the vowels up and to the
left, so they are above the letters
they follow.
3. Substitute the letters using the
alphabet provided above. Notice
there are two forms for the letter
R. One is for the R sound as in
RED. The other is for the R sound
as in CAR. The name ROBERT
starts with the R-as-in-RED sound
and near its end it has the R-as-inCAR sound.
4. Here's the text notation. I find it
useful to use a plain text
representation of the characters
when I'm explaining things via
email. The underscores at the
beginning and end show where the
baseline is.
O E
_ R B R T _

5. All the examples on this page


are use the Quenya style, but here's
the text notation for Sindarin (not
shown in calligraphy) so you can
see how the vowel positions shift
to the right.
O E
_ R B R T _

Generally the vowels go above the consonants, but sometimes, in the case of
Y and silent E, they go below. Here's another example. This one includes a
special symbol, a straight line underneath the consonant, that indicates a
doubled consonant. Use this "doubling symbol" with any consonant.

1. Write the name: LYNNE.


2. Shift the vowels down and to
the left, so they are below the
letters they follow.
3. Make letter combinations.
Doubled consonants can be
combined into one space.
4. Substitute the letters using the
alphabet provided above. Use the
bar underneath the N to signify it is
doubled.
5. Here's the text notation. Most
of the action occurs below the
baseline. I'm using square brackets
to indicate letter combinations that
result in a single letterform.
_ L [NN] _
Y E

The straight line underneath is just one way to make one character do the
work of two. There are a number of Elvish letters that stand for two letters of
our alphabet. Think of this as a supplementary alphabet.

The line above a consonant means that a nasal N or M precedes the consonant
in question. In the next example, we use the nasal modifier and we see what to
do with vowels when there's no consonant in the right place to put it above.

1. Write the name: ANDY.


2. Shift the vowels. The Y goes
down and to the left. Since the
letter A has no consonant to slide
above, it goes on a carrier, which is
just a straight line that fills in for
the job a consonant would
normally do. Note that the carrier
is just a graphical convention and
has no bearing on pronunciation.
3. Make letter
combinations using the
supplementary letters: N + D =
ND.
4. Substitute the letters. The
vowel placeholder is a short
straight line. The nasal N
preceding D is denoted by a
straight line above the D.
5. Here's the text notation. I'm
using the colon symbol : for the
vowel carrier symbol.
A
_ : [ND] _
Y

Here's one last example with two different letter combinations.

1. Write the name:


SHELDON.
2. Shift the vowels.
3. Make letter
combinations using the
supplementary letters: S + H =
SH. L + D = LD.
4. Substitute the letters.
5. Here's the text notation.
E
0
_ [SH] [LD] N _

I am often asked how to handle double vowel situations. Remember to use the
carrier as shown above in the ANDY example. Here are some examples that
illustrate some of the situations that come up.

Name: ADRIAN
Text notation:

A
I A
_ : D R : N _

Name: EILEEN
Text notation:

E I [EE]
_ : : L N _

Comment: This is a dramatic


example of doubled up vowels.
The name starts with two vowels,
leaving us no choice but to use two
carriers in a row. We use a little
artistic freedom with the double E
at the end, since they fit nicely
over the L. It would have been,
however, perfectly reasonable to
spell it like this.
Text notation:
E I E E
_ : : L : N _

Name: DIETRICH
Text notation:

I E
I
_ D : T R [CH] _

Name: AMELIE
Text notation:
A E I
_ : M L _
E

Comment: Here again we're using


a little expressive freedom for
compactness. The silent E at the
end is placed under the L and
assumed to follow the voiced I
above the L. You can always spell

it like this if you want to be


absolutely clear.
Text notation:
A E I E
_ : M L : _

That's all you need to get started. If you take a real interest in Elvish and want
to learn more, there's a lot of good information out there for you.
Please be aware that there are many ways to write English words in Elvish.
This is just the one that I use. I have tried to keep it very simple here. There
are dozens of sites that can lead you through the nitty-gritty details. The best
one I have come across yet is Chris McKay's Tengwar Textbook (PDF). You
can learn about all details that I glossed over here.
Good luck!