Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This brief guide on how to learn Quenya (pronounced KWEN-YA) and if you should. I imagine that many of you here already know what the language of Quenya is all about. For those of you not yet aware, I’ll give you a hint. This post is in the category [earth].
Still not sure? Quenya is an elvish language. The language spoken by the elves of Middle-earth. In actuality it is one of several elvish languages but the only one that has really been developed enough to an extend where fans can actually learn it to a large degree. The immortal elves are called Quendi and the origin of this language is actually from the 2 clans of Eldamar (Elvenhome) called the Noldor and Vanyar.
Tolkien of The Lord of the Rings fame from which this language comes, started developing it in around 1910. Although he never developed enough vocabulary to make it a conversational language.
However, fans of his work and of The Lord of the Rings trilogy have been writing prose and poetry in Quenya for many decades now and as such, the language continues to develop vocabulary based on conjecture and what fans have understood the underlying etymologies and grammar of the language to be about.
By the time Tolkien started working on Quenya he was already quite familiar with Spanish, Latin, Greek and several ancient Germanic languages.
But it was once he became acquainted with Finnish that Quenya really bloomed and so most scholars give Finnish the biggest credit in the development of Tolkien’s Quenya.
With the recent trilogy of The Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson, there has been renewed interest in learning Quenya amongst fans as the base of interest has grown exponentially thanks mainly to the success of the movies.
So how to learn Quenya?
Well, I think the first step is to visit this article from Wikipedia which is a very thorough overview of the development of Quenya as well as some of the grammatical rules of the language. This is important especially in a language that is not fully formed. Because if you are going to add to the Quenya vocabulary then you need to understand the underpinnings of the grammar and etymological formations of the language.
Then I would suggest that you head on over to this website were there is a pretty complete or to the best of my knowledge the best course on learning Quenya that I have found. Jam packed with 20 lessons it will take you from no knowledge to working knowledge of Quenya in a matter of months if you are diligent.
You might also find this Quenya-English dictionary to be helpful to in your journey to learning Quenya the language of the Tolkien elves.
Is learning Quenya worthwhile?
This is a hard question to answer because it is so personal. There are huge fans of The Lord of the Rings franchise and to suggest that learning Quenya is a waste of time would be sacrilegious. There are certainly worse hobbies out there and if your interest is such that you need to immerse yourself into the world of Middle-earth then go for it.
However, inline with the purpose of this blog which is to offer my thoughts and recommendations on living an authentic and abundant life I think there are many other languages more deserving of your attention. Living languages.
If you want to learn something “exotic” then why not go to the source or the germ of Quenya’s development which is Finnish. Learn Finnish instead.
Not only do you get a practical language but you will learn much about another culture. And in my opinion there is no better way to learn about and understand one another better than by learning other languages. Spanish would likely be a better bet if you are just looking for another language to learn. And of course if you are really adventurous then I’d recommend one of the Chinese dialects starting with Mandarin.