Author Topic: Writing Na'vi with Tengwar  (Read 156 times)

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Offline Mech

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Writing Na'vi with Tengwar
« on: February 08, 2020, 03:56:34 am »
The Tengwar is a featural alphabet invented by J.R.R. Tolkien. Within his mythology it was invented by Feanor to write Quenya and other Elven languages, but in reality Tolkien constructed the alphabet since his younger age, and obviously he was experimentic with his perceptions about phonology; he wrote mainly by writing English texts with it.

The word "tengwar" in Quenya is translated as "letters" (plural), so the word refers either to the writing system/alphabet or to the individual letters themselves (eg. "three tengwar"). One letter is a "tengwa" without the -r (plural marker in Quenya).

Featural means that the shapes of the letters have some features that reflect sytemically the sounds they represent, much like the Korean Hangul, another featural alphabet. Therefore each tengwa can be set on a logical "grid" according to its shape, reflecting a theoretical sound value; that means that even if you know half of the alphabet, you can "guess" the other half. And with some adaptations and conventions it can be a very practical and productive system that can be applied to many other languages, and Tolkien calls these adaptations "modes". So a "mode" can be made for Na'vi and in fact I have discovered this proposal.

One downside of the tengwar is that they reflect Tolkien's love for calligraphy and don't reflect much the Pandoran visual esthetics. Another is that the letters are too similar to each other, making a bit hard to distinguish and read, much like the medieval illuminations.

The "core" of the tengwar are some basic letters (note: not all are needed). These letters are composed of two features.

  • The "stem" (Quenya: telco) which shows where in the mouth the sound is formed, and it can be low, short, high or (sometimes) extended. Cf. the latin letters b, d, n, m, p, q who all feature some sort of "Stem" above or below the line.
  • The "bow" (Quenya: lúva) is the curve which reflects the voicing of the letter, and can be open/closed, single/doubled and straight/reversed.

All the above combinations can form 24 different (theoretically 28) basic letters for consonants, but not all are always needed for each language. Na'vi would need much fewer. And other than that there are about 12 extra letters.

As for the vowels: Tolkien showed two main systems:
  • The "classical" one has tengwar being an abjad, like the semitic alphabets. That is, the letters represent consonants, while the vowels are shown as signs above them. For example the syllable "ta" is written with the t-tengwa and 3 dots above it (representing "a"). My humble opinion is that this system results in especially beautiful and ornamented scripts.
  • The "full mode" represents the vowels as full letters, mainly borrowed from the 12 "extra" letters.

In the next post I might develop a proposal of how to adapt this system to Na'vi phonology :D
« Last Edit: February 08, 2020, 10:36:46 am by Mech »

Online Toliman

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Re: Writing Na'vi with Tengwar
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2020, 09:24:52 am »
I would say that it's a good idea!

So a "mode" can be made for Na'vi and in fact I have discovered this proposal.
Hmm, that link doesn't work for me :-\

In the next post I might develop a proposal of how to adapt this system to Na'vi phonology :D
Txantsan!

Offline Mech

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Re: Writing Na'vi with Tengwar
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2020, 10:37:21 am »
Fixed!

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Re: Writing Na'vi with Tengwar
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2020, 12:03:56 pm »
Yeah, now it's working. Irayo!

I would say that this proposal looks quite good.

Offline Mech

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Re: Writing Na'vi with Tengwar
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2020, 02:46:49 am »
I have some disagreements :D but anyway, every convention is as good as any.

My biggest problem is how to type tengwar here :/

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Re: Writing Na'vi with Tengwar
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2020, 09:06:23 am »
but anyway, every convention is as good as any.
Yeah, it is :)

My biggest problem is how to type tengwar here :/
heh, that is true.

In the next post I might develop a proposal of how to adapt this system to Na'vi phonology :D
Sounds good, good luck with it :)

 

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