SINDARIN DREAMS: PURSUING ELVISH by Elizabeth “Bellamira” Wahba
As some of you may know I am involved in lessons of Sindarin Elvish with dreamingfifi. Every week I learn a new chapter in Sindarin grammar and syntax, and have done so off and on for a couple of years. Recently I have started approaching the ‘a-ha!’ point of learning Sindarin, and those of you who study or have studied a language in the past will know exactly what I mean: little by little, I can feel that instinct developing that tells me what sounds or looks correct in my translations in and out of Sindarin. It’s an absolutely incredible thing to be able to understand this dialect of Elvish even in the smallest way, and most excitingly it provides an understanding of Tolkien on a level that is otherwise unattainable. I am getting so in to my studies that I couldn’t hold back telling you all about it, so I hoped you may entertain my acclamation!
Most of you out there know that I am a prolific dreamer, especially in regards to Tolkien: this blog’s first installments featured plan after plan for the construction of my hobbit-hole. So I’m sure you’re not surprised when I tell you that I am aiming through my involvement in these courses to actually use Sindarin practically. That’s right, I want to speak Elvish.
The downfalls? Firstly, it’s an incomplete language, and secondly, no one speaks it – for now. It is however complete to the extent that the pre-existing conventions and vocabulary could be used as models for the words we’re missing. Of course to truly learn a language fluently, you need people to converse with, and this is where the true problem arises, and the demand for Elvish lessons is overwhelmingly meek in the grand scheme of the population. Nevertheless, speaking from genuine satisfaction from my experiences with Fifi, her classes, and the language itself, it is well worth becoming a student of Sindarin, to obtain a knowledge so many people not only lack, but are unaware of. It’s like being part of a secret-yet-welcoming underground association; a real family spirit has begun to grow from this, and I want as many people as possible to be a part of it and help this to happen.
I don’t mean to advertise, or worse manipulate my readers by presenting you with this information; rather I’d like to raise awareness amongst those who I think will most value the kind of opportunity this is. If you’ve found this blog on this site, you have an interest in Tolkien. And if you’ve read this far, you must have an interest in Elvish. So take that last step and visit dreamingfifi’s site! Her site realelvish.net is a place where anybody can learn Elvish, for free, no matter their previous knowledge of languages, their age, or their level of schooling. For those of you familiar with Mythgard Institute, it is not nearly as rigorous, and is not by any means a college level course. In fact classes only persist through about 3-4 months out of the year, throughout Christmas and resuming for the summer months. It is done primarily through email, between the student and Fifi (as the students call her) and no interaction between other students is required. There is a group on Skype though for any interested, including some class members as well as Fifi herself. Additionally Fifi is posting some lectures, so far only for the basics of Elvish (fortunately for beginners!) and these are immensely helpful, too; she won’t let you flounder in lessons, you WILL learn with minimal frustrations and maximum help from your teacher and peers. I would be delighted to answer any questions about my experiences participating in the classes, and dreamingfifi herself is a member of the same username here on Middle-earth Network, and a fellow student of mine is Elvishmouse, a local celebrity here on the site. We all have a lot of fun on Skype discussing lore and language, and we’d love some more people to join our discussions, the more the merrier!
I am thinking to post some Elvish translations, poetry, or just my progress with Elvish every now and then, to give a bit of a taste of what it’s like but mostly to illustrate what drew me to it from the start. For a long time I saw myself inclined towards Elven lore and culture more than that of hobbits, but as I grew up and into myself while simultaneously learning more about Tolkien, I realized my love of food, farming, family and fellowship classed me as none other than a hobbit. Nonetheless I could never suppress that Baggins-like fascination for Elven language and custom, and so I started up with Elvish lessons and I’ve been utterly thrilled by it ever since.
I hope to see some of you signed up for classes, maybe a few comments or inboxes with inquiries; don’t be a stranger! In traditional Elven farewell, galu, mellyn nîn (Good luck, my friends) and may Elbereth light your paths!
Thanks for reading, may your feet always be furry!
About author Elizabeth “Bellamira” Wahba
A hippie and a Tudor wench, I’m a nerd for pop culture, literature, fantasy, sci-fi, the paranormal, history and music of most genres. I’m currently studying to become a high school English and History teacher, but in my free time I enjoy an abundance of television shows — old and new — and I also mentor teens from the inner city and tutor high school and college students. You can usually find me at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire or the nearest museum.
I’ve taken up the study of Sindarin myself, and while I am by no means as versed as you I’d love an opportunity to speak and learn it with other enthusiasts.
I am so merry to find a fellow soul whose interest in Tolkien is as huge as mine. Seemingly. I haven’t started to learn either Quenya or Sindarin, but I have started to learn and understand the Tengwar. For some time now I’m seraching for a penpal with whom I could write in phonetic/orthographic Tengwar. As I don’t speak Elvish, yet, but am willing to take lessons, you might be interested. We could start in English and slowly move forward to Sindarin when I have improved my knowledge of the language of the fair people.
If you feel interested, my eMail adress is email@example.com
Just to avoid misunderstanding, by penpal I mean letters written on paper not eMail. 😉