Elvish in the Movie – How could they be so careless?

by Apr 21, 2002Games

I absolutely loved “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” In fact, I have seen it five times. Yet I was severely disappointed at the poor pronounciations that were used. The most noticible one was EArendil. In the books, the “a” has two dots on it, meaning that it was to be a separate syllable from the “e.” Therefore the correct pronounciation would be somewhat like “ae-ah-raen-deel.” In the movie, however, it was pronounced just as it is spelled: “aer-en-dil.” Another one is the mountain Caradhras. According to the “Guide to Pronounciation” by Tolkien, that should sound like “kah-rah-dhras” with a rolling “r” but the Gandalf in the movie said instead “kayr-red-hras.”

There is a website, www.elvishtranslator.com that lets people listen to the Elvish parts of the movie, or at least the parts that are subtitled. There is a Quicktime video narrated by Peter Jackson telling the process that the actors had to go through to learn Elvish. It turns out that they had two language coaches, and Peter Jackson can’t even say “Quenya,” go see it to say what I mean. If you listen closely, the word spelled “renech” (meaning remember) is said “raen-neech.” The word for “I” is pronounced “hahn” but spelled both han and hon. Everyone knows that the word for “hobbit” or “halfing” is “perianath” or “perian,” but the website spelled it “berian.” It was also pronounced “berian” in the movie. The Ringwraiths are sometimes referred to as the “Nazgul” in Elvish. Nowhere have I ever seen the word “Ulaer,” which was the word used to represent the Ringwraiths in the movie.

On www.thelordoftherings.net, there used to be an old layout that flashed the phrase “One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them/One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them” in different languages in the background. It was written in Spanish, French, German, and more. There was also the phrase written in Cirth and another in the Feanorian (two dots on the “a”) Letters. I studied the Cirth first and found that it was using both the Cirth Tolkien created for “the Hobbit” and the other one that was made for “the Lord of the Rings,” combined together. Some characters from “the Hobbit” represent completely different letters in “the Lord of the Rings.” Therefore if I was only using one of the keys, the words would have resulted in gibberish. I did not have time to study the Elvish script, and the layout had been changed the next time that I visited.

Have you ever read the booklet inside the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack? In the song “May it Be,” the Elvish words are “Mornie utulie, mornie alantie” which means “Darkness has come, darkness has fallen.” The utulie part is correct, but the alantie is not. The word for “fallen” is “atalante.” It was changed to rhyme with “utulie,” the producers probably just thought no one would notice. Also, the word for “darkness” is “mor” not “mornie.”

Have you ever noticed that all the lines in the song rhyme? One can barely hear most of the words, and the ones that are clearly audible are so slow that it would not matter even if they did not rhyme. Again, I feel that they producers did not care enough to put in accurate Elvish words, and simply decided to make up a few of their own. You might be able to understand why Christopher Tolkien was angered at the release of the movie. The language that he and his father had worked so hard on to translate to eager fans and readers had been distorted and warped to the likes of the movie’s makers.

These are about all of the mistakes I have discovered thus far. I may have forgotten a few. If you would like to comment or add to anything, please contact me.


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