J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga The Lord of The Rings opens the door of your imagination to a fascinating realm of hobbits, elves, wizards, Balrogs, ents, wargs and many other creatures. The history of Middle Earth covers several ages as described in the pages of the LOTR trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and the Book of Lost Tales.
Tolkien was an expert in ancient languages and invented several for these tales, including Quenya and Sindarin spoken by the elves, Khuzdul spoken by the dwarves and Black Speech, spoken by Sauron and his Orcs. These elvish letters and runes are wonderful examples of a beautiful written script.
For each language Tolkien also invented a script that was used for writing the language. Examples of these different scripts appear in his books and are also seen in the wonderful Lord of the Rings movies. This elvish script makes excellent tattoos. In fact several members of the cast had the Quenya word ‘nine’ tattooed on themselves.
The Hobbits used Hobbit runes which Tolkien adapted from the old Anglo-Saxon runish alphabet call Futhark. Hobbit runes first appear on Thror’s Map in The Hobbit Main lotre showing the way to Lonely Mountain. These runes are also written on the jacket cover of The Hobbit, part of which can be translated as “The Hobbit or there and back again”.
The elvish script was called Tengwar. The inscription on the One Ring was written in a form of Tengwar called Black Script that was used by Sauron. Tengwar characters have curved strokes and were usually written with pen and ink. There are about 36 Tengwar characters, 24 of which have a similar construction with a stem and a bow. Each Tengwar letter has a name such as tinco, parma, unqwe, arda, and vilya to name a few.
Another script was Cirth (pronounced “kirth”), originally invented by the Sindar Elves. The elf Daeron developed the new script that was similar to Tengwar in the way the sounds of the language were mirrored by the shapes of the runes. Angerthas Daeron has a more angular shape and was adopted by the Dwarves for writing their Khuzdul language.
There is also another script called the Runes of Gondolin used by the Elves about which little is known.
Translation to Hobbit runes is quite simple as all that is needed is a mapping for Latin characters that we use into the equivalent Hobbit rune. Writing Tangwar is more complex as the two different modes: the Mode of Beleriand in which each vowel is assigned a Tengwar letter, and the Tehta Mode which does not have vowel characters but instead uses a special vowel markings called tehtar that are placed just above consonants. In addition the placement of the tehtar may be on the preceding consonant or the following consonant depending what language is being written.