Parma Eldalamberon ‘The Book of Elven-tongues’ is a journal of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, a special interest group of the Mythopoeic Society. The current issue is a collection of writings by J.R.R. Tolkien from the mid to late 1920s concerning his invented languages and scripts. These writings have been edited and annotated by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, Carl F. Hostetter and Bill Welden, under the guidance of Christopher Tolkien and with the permission of the Tolkien Estate.
“Early Elvish Poetry” is our general title for a number of drafts of Tolkien’s Qenya poems, Oilima Markirya, Nieninqe and Earendel. These poems were eventually included by Tolkien in his 1931 essay called “A Secret Vice” as examples of the fruition of his private efforts at inventing languages. Accompanying the drafts of these poems are Tolkien’s glossarial commentaries and his translations, from which also emerged the English poems, “The Last Ark” and “Earendel at the Helm.” A version of the poem Nieninque from 1955 is also included. The documents for each poem have been edited and arranged to show their development, with commentaries on their relation to each other and to the contemporary and earlier writings on the lexicon and grammar of Qenya.
In his essay Tolkien mentions the need for a language inventor to abide by his own rules if he wishes to write poetry in it; and around this time he prepared charts of the “Qenya Declensions” and “Qenya Conjugations.” These show the contemporary state of Tolkien’s conception of the rules for inflecting nouns and verbs in the language of the poems. We have included these paradigms in this issue, along with analyses of their structure and development from the previous conceptions in “The Qenya Verb Forms” and the “Early Qenya Grammar.” Also contemporary with the poems are a series of “Qenya Word-lists” and these have been included to show how Tolkien’s ideas about the vocabulary of Qenya at this period had changed in many ways but also retained much that in retrospect can be viewed as central to the “Qenya Lexicon.”
The “Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets” is an edition of Tolkien’s charts and notes from about 1924 to 1929 dealing with the scripts that conceptually precede the Fëanorian Tengwar that would eventually be included in The Lord of the Rings. This issue of Parma Eldalamberon contains “Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets, Part I,” with the alphabets called Qenyatic, Falassin, Noriac, Banyaric and Sinyatic. Tolkien’s examples of the scripts are reproduced in fascimile. These include charts of the sounds represented by the letters, and various Qenya, Latin, and English words and texts written in the scripts. Transcriptions of the examples, and commentary on the dating and historical background are provided.