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Travels on the OloreMalle – Mythgard Academy – Talk on Tolkien’s Languages

Mae Govannen

I was very excited earlier this week to take part in the last Mythgard Academy’s The Book of Lost Tales I class taught by Professor Corey Olsen.  Corey and I have been talking for some time now about doing a recorded session on the role of Tolkien’s languages in his legendarium. Tolkien’s early invented languages, especially Qenya and Gnomish/Goldogrin, are a major focus of my current postgraduate research study for my thesis ‘The Genesis of Tolkien’s Mythology’ so I was very honoured to take part in the excellent Mythgard Academy course, voted on by supporters of the Mythgard Academy.

I started by giving a short presentation on the background to Tolkien’s language invention and then took listeners through the basic structure of Qenya and Goldogrin and how Tolkien’s early nexus of languages work in the the consistent and coherent structuring of names for people, place and things  in The Book of Lost Tales.  

I was also very surprised, and rather daunted, to hear that both Dr Dimitra Fimi (renowned Tolkien and Fantasy Literature author and scholar and my guiding force Phd advisor) and Carl F Hostetter (a member of The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship – the group who continue to do incredible and very helpful work in editing and publishing Tolkien’s linguistic papers) were both listening. Even more exciting, as you will hear, later on in the broadcast Carl himself joined in the discussion and read the poem Tolkien composed in 1915-16 Narqelion in Qenya (a must hear!). The questions from listeners were brilliant and got a good conversation going about Qenya poetry, what languages Tolkien spoke and why the name Feanor originally meant ‘goblet smith’ (a Tolkienian crux if there ever was one!).

Here is the link to the Mythgard Academy The Book of Lost Tales I course with all the classes which are brilliant.  The language talk is the last class and there is an audio and video option.

Mythgard Academy classes are free and are open for anyone to attend thanks to a fund-raising campaign last year. The classes can be attended live and are also available afterwards through the Mythgard podcast feed and iTunes U -next up is Frank Herbert’s Dune!

The Mythgard Institute also offers a range of online courses, often Tolkien-based or related, which can be taken purely for pleasure, to develop your understanding and knowledge of language and literature, and can even contribute towards a Master’s level degree.  We will be announcing the Fall 2014 semester in the next couple of days so stay tuned for some exciting news here! .

Spending the summer (when not working) on re-drafts of the thesis with a target to submit by the end of the year.  Looking forward to giving a paper at Oxonmoot 2014 this September on a related area of research which I introduced at the Tolkien Session at Kalamazoo this May and got really good reception and feedback on.

My journey on the Oloremalle continues…..

Namarie x


About the Author: Andrew Higgins
Andrew Higgins is a part-time PhD student at the School of Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Andrew’s research focuses on the genesis of Tolkien’s mythology (1906-1920) with specific emphasis on Tolkien’s linguistic invention and his creative reuse of medieval and contemporary sources. He has presented in international conferences on Tolkien studies and has conducted archival research for his thesis. He is currently the Director of Development at Glyndebourne where he leads a team responsible for funding the Glyndebourne opera festival and related tour and educational activities. His recent paper on Tolkien and Wagner bridge his research interests and professional career. Andrew lives in London with his husband David and their children Charlie the Wonder Corgi and Shadow/Lumina the Cat. Andrew has been a member of the UK Tolkien Society since 2007.