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A Gateway To Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings [Hardcover]

David Salo
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)


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Book Description

November 8, 2004 0874808006 978-0874808001

From the 1910s to the 1970s, author and linguist J. R. R. Tolkien worked at creating plausibly realistic languages to be used by the creatures and characters in his novels. Like his other languages, Sindarin was a new invention, not based on any existing or artificial language. By the time of his death, he had established fairly complete descriptions of two languages, the "elvish" tongues Quenya and Sindarin. He was able to compose poetic and prose texts in both, and he also constructed a lengthy sequence of changes for both from an ancestral "proto-language," comparable to the development of historical languages and capable of analysis with the techniques of historical linguistics.

In A Gateway to Sindarin, David Salo has created a volume that is a serious look at an entertaining topic. Salo covers the grammar, morphology, and history of the language. Supplemental material includes a vocabulary, Sindarin names, a glossary of terms, and an annotated list of works relevant to Sindarin. What emerges is an homage to Tolkien's scholarly philological efforts.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Puts to shame not a few published works on real-world languages."—Mark Newbrook, Monash University


"Certainly, Gateway is likely to appeal to the truly serious fan of Tolkien's languages."—The Bulletin of The New York C.S. Lewis Society



"An ambitious and helpful book. Entertaining and highly informative. Its potential audience is broad, and variably knowledgeable."—Tolkien Studies


"David Salo … wrote A Gateway to Sindarin after his work on the films—it's the single best print resource for the language."—Voya Voice of Youth Advocate
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Salo is a doctoral candidate in linguistics at the University of Wisconsin. He was the primary linguistic consultant to film director Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings movie series.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 550 pages
  • Publisher: University of Utah Press (November 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874808006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874808001
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,924,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Na vedui! At last! January 20, 2005
Format:Hardcover
I was so excited to hear that David Salo, one of the linguists who worked on the Elvish for the Lord of the Rings films, was publishing a book on Sindarin grammar. Since Tolkein never wrote such a thing, it had to be reconstructed, and many attempts to do so exist on the web, with varying degrees of accuracy.

I will not say that this is definitive, because no such thing can exist. But it is useful to have so much information in one place, well organised. My favorite part is the Appendices. These include glossaries of English and Sindarin, a list of Sindarin roots (very nifty!), a glossary of names and what they mean (if you insist on giving your child a Tolkein name, please read it first!) and, best of all, a compilation of extant texts in Sindarin, always the first place you should look for grammar and ideas. I also enjoyed the section on sentence construction. There is no index, though, which is a bit of a bummer, but the table of contents is fairly well organised.

While Mr. Salo does appreciate that people write their own texts in Sindarin, this book is not for beginners, because it is a reference grammar. There are no lessons or exercises, so it should not be the first place you go to teach yourself unless you are really dedicated or have some familiarity with dead and/or fictional languages, the kind most likely to be learned from a book. For others, especially those interested in the languages as heard in the movies, I recommend a stop by Gwaith-i-Phethdain, over at [...]

For anyone who knows something about this Elvish tongue and wishes to see a comprehensive grammar, this is it. It isn't perfect, and there is plenty to squabble over, but it is a very important start.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars parf ammaer 'ni lam edhellen July 6, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Like Dr Johnson's dictionary, David Salo's book is a magnificent but curious and occasionally idiosyncratic achievement. It has the delicious feel of a slightly old-fashioned grammar, and it is most beautifully bound and presented.

Salo takes an interesting approach: he decides in the main body of the text to enter into the fictional world completely, so explanations for puzzling phenomena or inconsistencies in the texts and etymologies must be given in terms bounded by Tolkien's fictional forms. So for example the superseded 'Noldorin' which Tolkien renamed 'Sindarin' after certain regular sound changes is explained as a Noldor-influence *dialect* perhaps spoken in Gondolin. He reaches into Tolkien's world to find a suitable explanation for what was just an authorial change of mind. Well - er, maybe! Another equally interesting approach would have been to have looked at the development of the language in real-world terms, from the point of view of Tolkien's linguistic aesthetics. *Why* is 'aew' more lovely that 'oew'?!

Much of the book is very good simply by virtue of collecting a lot of information in one place in an elegant format. The sections on names and compounds are especially good, as it the dictionary - a great boon to anyone trying to compose texts in a language which is missing a significant number of ordinary words.

Salo's reconstructions are (usually) marked as such, but in the effort to present an overall description of the language, he (in my opinion) does not flag up where alternative explanations are available quite enough. The verb section and the bit on pronouns are probably in the long run going to prove the least reliable, through little fault of Salo's, except perhaps too great a desire for coherence.
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86 of 104 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Title, Unscholarly Contents May 30, 2008
Format:Paperback
Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to give this item zero stars.

Sadly, this book lives up to neither its title nor its promise. For anyone who knows anything about J.R.R. Tolkien's invented languages, this book is not a reliable 'Gateway to Sindarin'. Rather, it is an unacknowledged mishmash of Noldorin of the 1930s (fr. 'The Etymologies'), Sindarin of the 1950s (fr. 'The Lord of the Rings'), and numerous inventions of David Salo himself. It is therefore misleading to call this book 'A Gateway to Sindarin'. It would have been more accurate to call it 'An Introduction to David Salo's Synthetic Reinterpretation of Tolkien's Gnomish-Noldorin-Sindarin language'.

(One might charitably suppose that this was in fact Salo's preferred title, but that there simply wasn't room on the stylized Moria Gate on the cover of his book to accommodate such a lengthy phrase. Perhaps the switch from a Beleriandic mode of vowel-representation to one accommodating vowel-pointing tehtar might have saved some room?)

In all seriousness: the unacknowledged, uncredited, and therefore (one presumes) copyright-violating use of Tolkien's 'Moria Gate' drawing on the cover of 'Gateway to Sindarin' is just the tip of the iceberg. While the book does have an "Annotated Bibliography" (pp.416-435), this is no substitute for a proper citation and referencing strategy. One searches in vain for any accreditation of earlier scholars of Tolkien's languages, not least the editors of Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon, whose publications and analyses of much original Tolkien linguistic material this book silently mines for forms without acknowledging any of their theoretical or methodological contributions. If this book isn't already tied up in court proceedings then it certainly should be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Amazing! Now I can start learning proper Sindarin. With the background knowledge of elvish language. Been considering whether to buy or not for months.
Published 1 month ago by Thanchanok Kaewta
4.0 out of 5 stars Jen's Reviews
For the very hardcore Tolkien. Most pages are very hard to decipher unless you are a Tolkien professor. Good keepsake.
Published 2 months ago by J. Kensington
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gateway to Sindarin
I enjoy this book. Tolkien never completed the elvish language and David Salo tries to fill the major gaps left by Tolkien, using the same techniques he used to comprise the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Zabora
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say
What can I say, but, I'm enjoying the book. It seems well researched, and written. I would recommend this book.
Published 4 months ago by t
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
I've searched all over: books, websites, etc., to find something this dedicated to Tolkien's creation. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! Marvelous! 10 Stars!!!
As a lifelong fan of Tolkien's works, studying the languages has been an important part of comprehending the fantastic world he created. Read more
Published 7 months ago by ''
5.0 out of 5 stars a sound introduction to Sindarin
Movies about the hobbit and middle earth are becoming popular, but most may not realize that J.R.R. Tolkien developed actual languages to use with this literature. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Joel Bjorling
5.0 out of 5 stars thumbs up
I bought this for my fiancee so we can start to learn Elven so at our wedding some of our vows can be in Elvish. She def approves!
Published 10 months ago by Krys
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Guide
As a student of multiple languages, I can say that this is one of the best grammar books I have come across. The set up is easy to follow and intuitive. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Nokken
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than its reputation indicates
I am rather surprised that this books gets such a bad rap in the Tolkienic linguistics community.

Mr. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Paul F. Strack
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