Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Tengwar Mode: Hebrew

From:Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>
Date:Thursday, December 26, 2002, 18:28
I'm sure many of the people here know about Tolkien's Tengwar alphabet,
but just in case some people don't i'll start with a basic introduction
to the system.

According to the internal history of Tolkien's World, the Tengwar
alphabet was the second writing system devised by the Elves in Valinor
(the first was called Sarati, and was a vertical script).  The main
letters of the Tengwar system are based on two basic shapes: the 'stem'
of the letter, and the 'bow(s)' of the letter.  A good description of the
system can be found at:

But, one of the things about Tengwar is that its main letters are
arranged into columns and rows based on phonetics, and the definition of
each row or column can be changed depending on the phonological needs of
the language being written.  So for instance, in the original Quenya mode
of Tengwar, column III represented velar sounds /k Ng x.../, and column
IV represented labio-velar sounds /kw Ngw xw.../, while in the mode of
Tengwar used to write Sindarin, column IV is mostly unused (since
Sindarin lacked labio-velar phonemes), and in the mode of Tengwar Tolkien
devised to write English, column III is used for alveo-palatal sounds
like /tS dZ S Z j/ and column IV is used for velar sounds like /k g

So, i decided to come up with a Tengwar mode for writing Hebrew.  (my
main conlang, Rokbeigalmki, will come later; actually, Tengwar would
probably be perfect for writing my goblin language Gabwe...).

I based my Hebrew mode mostly off of the classical Quenya mode:

like in Quenya, columns I, II, and III are used for dental, labial, and
velar consonants respectively.  Since Hebrew doesn't have labiovelars,
i'm using IV for pharyngeals.
The rows are more different, however:
row 1: voiceless stops (same as Quenya, Sindarin, English, probably all
Tengwar modes)
row 2: voiced stops (same as Sindarin and English)
row 3: voiceless fricatives (but not all of them)
row 4: emphatic stops
row 5: nasals (common to most Tengwar modes)
row 6: voiced fricatives (based on the use in Quenya of one of these for

This system is phonemic, so the letter written doesn't change based on
"beged-kefet" allophones - the /b/ [b] in |bayit| and the /b/ [v]/[B] in
|bevayit| are written with the same "voiced stop" letter.

So far, the primary series of Hebrew-mode Tengwar look like:
/t p k -/
/d b g -/
/s - - H/     ([H] = voiceless pharyngeal fricative, hhet)
/t. - k. -/     ([.] = emphatic marker)
/n m - -/
/z - - 3/     ([3] = voiced pharyngeal fricative/approximant, `ayin)

But, this doesn't take care of all of the consonants, so some of the
'additional' letters are used:
The Quenya |trilled R| is used for /r/, and |l| is used for /l/.
Since /s/ is taken care of above, |s| is used for /S/, and |ss| is used
for /s./.
To distinguish |Sh| /S/ (shin) from |Sh| /s/ < /K/ (sin), an "S-curl" can
be added to |s|.
The different versions of /S/ and /s./ are used depending on where you're
putting diacritics on the letter.
/h/ is represented by |H-hyarmen|, not by |H-halla|.
/j/ and /v/ (</w/) are represented by the letters used for /-j/ and /-w/
diphthongs in most Tengwar modes.
And /?/ is reprented by the "short carrier" letter.

Vowels are a bit more complicated, though, since Hebrew has a lot more
vowels than Quenya does.
I decided to use:
|superscript A with subscript Y| for /O:/ (qomatz)
|A| for /a/ (patahh)
|doubled E| for /e:/ (tzeireh)
|E| for /E/ (segol)
|I with following Y-letter| for /i:/ (hhiriq-malei)
|I| for /i/ (hhiriq-hhaseir)
|O with following W/V-letter| for /o:/ (hholam-malei)
|O| for /o/ (hholam-hhaseir)
|superscript A with subscript Y| for /O/ (qomatz-qatan)
(if you want to distinguish |qomatz| from |qomatz-qatan|, a distinction
made sometimes (but rarely) in Hebrew writing, you can replace the
subscript Y with a subscript O)
|U with following W/V-letter| for /u:/ (shuruq)
|U| for /u/ (qubutz)
|vowelless marker| for /@/ and vowellessness (shva)
|v.m. with A| for ultrashort-/a/ (hhataf-patahh)
|v.m. with E| for ultrashort-/E/ (hhataf-segol)
|v.m. with O| for ultrashort-/O/ (hhataf-qomatz)

The |dagesh| marking gemination and stop allophones of /bgdkpt/ is
represented by the Tengwar gemination tilde.

Pretty much what i tried to do is make a Tengwar mode that would be as
parallel as possible to how Hebrew is written in its own alphabet.

I made a chart at:

I tried to come up with a mode for writing Arabic, but it has too many
emphatics and they were making trouble ;-) .

-Stephen (Steg)
"Beornings speak with a Lithuanian accent?!"


Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...>
Mike Adams <abrigon@...>