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Ikaros 04-08-2008 06:01 AM

Help in a translation
Hi all.
(please excuse me for my english. I hope you'll understand)

My girlfriend would like to have an elvish phrase as a tattoo,
so we must be as sure as possible of its correct translation.

This is the phrase: "the star of dreams will shine in to my eyes"

Among elvish languages, she chosed Quenya.

This is what we have done so far:

- "I" is the article

- "Elen" is the nominative substantive for star (poetic)

- "Lor" is the root for dream -> genitive plural should be "Lorion" (what about Kaimelea?)

- "Sžl" is the root for shining -> 3rd person future should be "Sžluva" (what about Kalluva?)

- "Eye": this is difficoult. I found both ElŽa (maybe Sindarin?) and Hen (Hendu is the dual form), but... what about "into my eyes?"

My eyes should be "ElŽanya", "ElŽnya" or "Hen-nya-?"

"Into" could be Mi + Ablative pl. (-lto), or Locative pl. (-ssen). I can't understand.

So far, the phrase should look like

- i elen lorion sŪluva mŪ hennyalto
- i elen lorion sŪluva hennyassen

Can you help us please? Thank you very much.

Galin 04-08-2008 10:42 PM


*i elen olorion 'the star of dreams' (plural olori is from text in Unfinished Tales, said to arise from older olozi 'dreams, visions')

*siluva (no long vowel) 'will shine' (attested in nai elen siluva lyenna on a card signed and inscribed in Quenya by Tolkien)

*hendunyanta 'into my (two) eyes' (this dual allative is a guess; though eyes are a natural pair of course, and I think the allative case is the way to go here).


My girlfriend would like to have an elvish phrase as a tattoo, so we must be as sure as possible of its correct translation.
That's good (especially since tattoos don't erase easily) and thus I'm going to say that you should actually disregard my attempt here at Neo-Quenya. To be 'as sure as possible' (which again is a good thing), and for actual Quenya, I say look for something in the books, Tolkien-written, and copy it... even better if it's already in Elvish characters (assuming you want something in Elvish writing).

I won't go into my usual annoying rant on Neo-elvish versus actual Elvish, but maybe you can go to...

... and read the FAQ.

I wouldn't put my own suggestion on my arm for a tattoo even if some of the top Tolkien linguists out there agreed with it (for reasons the FAQ explains well enough). I suggest you also read Elvish as She Is Spoke under the link 'Articles' if you have the time and interest. Again, despite that I took a shot at it here, I think one should only use Tolkien-made Elvish for tattoos. Also keep in mind I'm just some person on the web (though interested in the languages), and no expert.

OK, have I 'warned' you enough :)

It's up to you of course. I wouldn't be hasty in any case.

Ikaros 04-09-2008 12:11 AM

I thank you very much :)
Anyway, it is neither up to me. It's all up to my girlfriend. Obviusly, I'll let her make her decision, warning her with these precious advices of yours.

Galin 04-09-2008 07:00 AM

One thing you (she) could also do is alter the words so as to get around a problematic issue. For example, possible alter 'into my eyes' to:

'...upon my path'
'...upon my brow'
'...into my heart'

Basically, pick something else you like that steps away from having to deal with the dual hendu (although nice and poetic in itself). The rest is fairly attested (the words for 'star, dreams, shall shine') just not in the specific way you want it of course. We have Tolkien's own 'upon your path' to work with, for instance, with his tielyanna in Unfinished Tales.

Incidentally, Tolkien language scholar Carl Hostetter once noted (regarding the allative case)...


'For the use of the allative to mean 'into', cf. eari ullier ikilyanna 'seas should flow into chasm' (SD:247).'

Carl Hostetter, 1994, in notes for *Attolma by Patrick Wynne and Carl F. Hostetter

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