Primitive Quendian

Primitive Quendian (Quenya: Quenderin) is a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is one of the many fictional languages set in his fictional universe, often called Middle-earth. It was the proto-language of the Elves, which they invented after the Awakening at Cuiviénen.

Primitive Quendian
Created byJ. R. R. Tolkien
Setting and usageThe fictional world of Middle-earth
Sourcesa priori language, but related to the other Elvish languages.
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

The most ancient structure of the tongue common to all the Qendelie [Elvish race] is ... not known to the Elves, through some things may be guessed or discovered by those who will compare one with another the written forms of Eldarin languages of Valinor, together with such records of the Avari as we here in Eressëa have set down in these later days.[1]


According to the Elvish tale, Cuivienyarna ("Legend of the Awakening"):

[The first three Elves] Imin, Tata and Enel awoke before their spouses, and the first thing that they saw was the stars, for they woke in the early twilight before dawn. And the next thing they saw was their destined spouses lying asleep on the green sward beside them. Then they were so enamoured of their beauty that their desire for speech was immediately quickened and they began to ‘think of words' to speak and sing in.[2]

The stars were the first thing seen by the three Elves as they awoke. The first spoken word was ele, according to Elvish legend and originally it was an exclamation "lo! behold!" in Quenderin.[3] It gave rise to the first Elvish root ever invented, EL-, from which the Common Eldarin word ēl "star" is derived.[citation needed]

In The Silmarillion, chapter 3, it is told that the Elves devised a language while living in Cuiviénen: "[The Elves] began to make speech and give names to all things that they perceived. Themselves they named the Quendi, signifying those that speak with voices; for as yet they had met no other living things that spoke or sang."[citation needed]

An important Primitive Quendian word was *kwende. It was made from PQ *kwene "person" by primitive fortification of the medial n to nd. It was used in PQ only in the plural, *kwendī, with the sense "the people as a whole", sc. embracing all the three Elven clans.[citation needed]

Over time, the Elves modified their language, adding words and grammatical rules to their liking. Later still, the Vala Oromë came to them and invited them to come with him to Valinor, his marvelous land in the West.[citation needed]

The first divisionEdit

The first division of the Elvish tongues befell when a large group of Elves left their first abode and followed Oromë westward. Thus Primitive Quendian split into Common Eldarin and the many Avari languages of the Elves who refused to follow Oromë.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, "Tengwesta Qenderinwa", Parma Eldalamberon 18, p. 72.
  2. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, p. 421.
  3. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, p. 360.