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on December 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
The incomplete stories written by JRRT and later published by his son use Elvish words that do not appear to match the definitions Christopher Tolkien used for the glossaries, at least in terms of the words/terms an expert in Northern European mythology and philology would be expected to use in specific contexts. This isn't an implausible theory, as JRRT did not intend Elvish as a usable language (although in Letters, IIRC, Elvish was used in romantic correspondence) and we have evidence of changed meanings for some words. I am inclined, therefore, to think the language evolved fast enough that words were used with senses not recorded on any paper that survives from the professor's work.

This means that although this book is not "useful" in the sense of later meanings or "proven versions" of the languages of JRRT, it is nonetheless extremely useful as to possible thought processes and derivation methods for words, as this was produced almost exclusively through reconstruction. Thus, for words in early writings where given meanings are troublesome, I often use this book to get a broader sense of intent.

As a guide to "modern Elvish", it's not so hot and you're not going to be able to write much poetry with it. It is not a linguistic tool any more in that sense.

Now, there is a third use. Understanding constructed languages and the protocols required. For that, strict accuracy isn't nearly as important as methodology and a clear understanding of what you need in a language. Those haven't changed at all and a working example of notable quality is a good thing to have. As a ConLang guide, I haven't found better.
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on April 15, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I must admit, When i first bought this title i was expecting the author to explain elvish and lightly go over the other tongues of middle earth. But once I opened it I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of depth and thought that was put into it! This book has everything that one needs to speak elvish and many other languages of the 3rd age fluently. In closing I must add that I am greatly impressed and glad that I bought this! Thank you Jim Allan for writing it!!
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on January 30, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I think this is a technical book in great detail of the various languages Tolkien developed. It's a good book, but be prepared.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a super cool book for your collection. I am a big Tolkien fan and got this to see his genius. I love his design of the elvish language and have used it for writing a few little things around the house. Good to add to your bookshelf.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Good scholarship is not "obsoleted" by the passage of time, Mr. Fauskanger...

Although Jim Allen et al's 'An Introduction to Elvish' was written before the publication of 'The Silmarillion' and the important 'History of Middle Earth' series it nevertheless remains the most reliable book yet published on Tolkien's invented languages. Further -- unlike Fauskanger's 'Ardalambion' website and Salo's 'A Gateway to Sindarin' -- Jim Allen and his coauthors carefully cite their sources, distinguishing at all times between Tolkien's work and their own necessarily speculative reconstructions. This continues to distinguish it from much else that is written about Tolkien's languages online.

Still a must-have for anyone interested in Tolkien's linguistic creations.
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256 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
I don't really know how many stars to give this book. When it was originally published, it would have deserved four or five stars. Now, to be frank, it only deserves one star if you are interested in Tolkien's languages as such. Well, let's make it two stars, shall we?
When this book appeared in the late seventies, it was about as good as it could be. The authors were competent and tried to analyze the entire available corpus. However, TONS of new material about Tolkien's languages would be published in the eighties and the nineties. Why, this book even predates the Silmarillion!
The real revolution in Tolkienian linguistics occurred in 1987, about a decade after _Introduction_ was published. Then Christopher Tolkien published the all-important source document "The Etymologies", his late father's main listing of Elvish vocabulary, in the History of Middle-earth book _The Lost Road_. Almost every analysis of Tolkien's languages predating this publication was rendered instantly obsolete.However good and plausible the theories set out in _Introduction_ were when this book first appeared, almost everything has now been obsoleted. Even in the cases where the theories actually turned out to be correct, a present-day student would want to know that this info is indeed "Tolkien fact" and not post-Tolkien speculation. At least 80 % of what we now know about Tolkien's invented languages was quite unknown when _Introduction_ was written and published. I maintain a Tolkien-linguistic web-site, Ardalambion, attempting to present more up-to-date analyses. But even now, very much of Tolkien's linguistic material remains unpublished, and it will probably be decades before all the sources are available and any "definite" presentation of Tolkien's languages can be attempted. I, for one, would be very hesitant to publish anything on paper in the meantime.
Just about the only part of _Introduction_ that has not been hopelessly outdated is the discussion of the two main writing systems, the Tengwar and the Cirth. Yet the info in this section is merely a rather more readable presentation of the very dense descriptions provided by Tolkien in Appendix E of the _Lord of the Rings_ itself. Even this section of _Introduction_ is no longer a "complete" discussion, since much material about yet another Elvish writing system -- the Sarati of Rúmil -- was published only this year (2002).
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
this text is very interesting. it covers the linguistics of the languages of tolkien very well, and is trade-paper published. i like it a lot. however, as the other reviewer pointed out, it predates silmarillion and needs to be updated drastically.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Not for the general reader, this is a collection of essays written by American linguists on the languages of Middle-earth and their history, as can be deuced from TLOTR. It's often degree-level stuff and will go right over the head of anyone without a keen interest in philology. Although it's truly astounding how much detail is uncovered and the standard of scholarship is always rigorous (even despite the odd nutter insisting that TLOTR is actual, literal history), it predates the Silmarillion and all the subsequent books so an update or a new work is desperately needed. Anyone?
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