Phonetics Project

Mallacai hits the books in Elrond's library.

First of all, a disclaimer: Appendix F from The Lord of the Rings (or Return of the King if you're one of those heathens who bought the volumes separately) has a perfectly good guide written by the master himself. I'm using the information provided there and either replicating it or applying it to names found within the LOTRO universe.

Right off the bat it's important to note Tolkien intended all hobbit names to be highly Anglicized, so some of the rules which apply to other languages (such as Sindarin) do not apply everywhere. Tolkien's own example was g which, in non-hobbity speak, is always pronounced as in give or get, never bulge. However, the hobbit surname Bolger is pronounced with the hard g just as you would expect it to be. In a lot of instances, if your pronunciation sounds wrong in your own ears it probably is.

That being said, everyone knows the Elves came first: we've all seen the CELEBORN WUZ HERE carvings on trees from Lindon to the Greyflood (There was also that one by Anduin which read CELEBRON + THRANDUIL, but that must have been a forgery). Therefore the majority of names you'll see are Elvish names. But is it SEL-eb-orn or KEL-eb-orn? Or Sel-EB-orn? Let us determine once and for all.

In Elvish (Sindarin or Quenya), c always sounds like k, even before e or i. So Galadriel's hubby's name is pronounced KEL-eb-orn. The syllabic emphasis, in this case, does not follow the oft-not-followed rule of placing the stress on the penultimate syllable because, in Tolkien's instructions, "where the last syllable but one contains (as often) a short vowel followed by only one (or no) consonant, the stress falls on the syllable before it, the third from the end." Words which follow this form, Tolkien notes, are favored by the Eldarin languages. Using this rule, we can also finally put to rest the long debate: the correct pronunciation is EST-el-deen (Esteldin -- Valley of Hope).

I'm not going to reproduce Tolkien's Appendix F instructions here -- you can go read them for yourself. Using the guidelines found there, however, here is a list of pronunciations of people, places, and things you will encounter in LOTRO so you can say them properly for those snooty purists lurking out there (you know who you are!). One last note: in general, the Elvish languages have pronunciations similar to what you would find in Latin or Italian, with trilled r's, i pronunced 'ee,' diphthongs only present when spelled out, and so on. This is going to be a work in progress, so I may alphabetize, re-organize, and/or expand this as time goes by. Also, if you'd like to contribute (constructively) to the cause, feel free to leave a comment or send an email. Or ask a question! If there's a particular name you'd like to see pronounced, please leave a comment for that also! :)

Michel Delving : MIK-el DEL-ving (that's a short i, as in his. The ng is always like in finger.)
Celondim : KEL-on-deem
Thranduil : THRAHN-dweel (or THRAHN-doo-eel; the key is to pronounce both the u and the i.)
Duillond : DWEE-lond
Nenuial : nen-WEE-al
Nen Hithoel : nen-HEETH-o-el
Ered Luin : EH-red-LOO-een
Ered Lithui : EH-red-LEE-thoo-ee
Esteldin : EST-el-deen
Imladris : eem-LAH-drees (s is never pronounced z, always as in silent.)
Evendim : EH-vehn-deem
Annuminas : ah-NOO-mee-nahs
Tinnudir : TEE-noo-deer
Ioreth : YOH-reth (Where you see io, especially at the beginnings of words, the correct pronunciation is eeoh as in yore and absolutely not eye-oh. Don't forget to trill those r's! Also, I use an h in my pronunciations to remind you to not pronounce the American diphthong unless it's actually spelled in the name. In many cases, an American would pronounce the o as oh-oo as in stow, rather than an open oh.)
Iarwain : YAHR-wine (again, the diphthong rule, but this one is spelled out. Essentially, you want to pronounce both vowels clearly -- the a and the i -- so you get ahee.)
Dunedain : DOON-eh-dine (see above regarding the last syllable -- it's not dane.)
Eregion : eh-REH-gee-ohn (Remember: g as in get!)
Pelargir : pel-AHR-geer (Remember: g as in get!)
Pelennor : pel-ENN-or (Tolkien intended for double vowels to be stressed extra, like in Italian)
Periannath : peh-ree-ANN-ath
Caradhras : cah-RAH-thras (Together, dh is pronounced as a voiced th, as in this. Also, a is pronounced as in father, not hat, and again my h is in the phonic to remind you of this.)
Caras Galadhon : CAH-rahs GAHL-ah-thon
Gandalf : GAHN-dahlv (Not Gan-dolf. The final f is pronounced v. Also, some scholars would argue it really ought to be Gun-dahlv, but that's a more subtle distinction.)
Barandalf : BAHR-ahn-dahlv
Nindalf : NEEN-dahlv 
Emyn Uial : EH-meen-WEE-ahl (or OO-ee-ahl, but not yoo.)
Emyn Muil : EH-meen-MOO-eel (Again, there is no "glide," or yuh sound in there.)
Arwen Undomiel : AHR-wen-oon-DOH-mee-el
Umbar : OOM-bahr
Fanduilos : fahn-DWEE-lohs (the emphasis is on the penultimate syllable because of the long vowel.)
Isildur : ee-SEEL-door (ditto)
Voronwe : VOR-on-weh (emphasis on the first syllable due to the penultimate short vowel.)
Enedwaith : EH-ned-waheeth (the last syllable is weird again, unless you think of pronouncing both the a (ah) and the i (ee). The sound is like the English wife.)
Imlad Lalaith : EEM-lahd-LAH-laheeth (see above)
Ecthelion : ek-THEH-lee-ohn
Dor-en-Ernil : DOHR-en-AIR-neel (I use air to illustrate the phonetic as opposed to the American tendency to pronounce it err, as in stir.)
Tol Brandir : tohl-BRAHN-deer
Earendil : eh-AH-rehn-deel
Earnur : EH-ahr-noor
Minas Tirith : MEE-nahs-TEE-reeth
Minas Morgul : MEE-nahs-MOR-gool
Ithilien : ee-THEE-lee-en (the th is the voiceless sound as in the English thin.)
Nanduhirion : nahn-doo-HEE-ree-ohn
Haldir : KHAHL-deer (Yes, there is a slight k sound at the front of his name because, while in all normal instances the lone h sounds as in house, this character's name is actually spelled Chaldir in Sindarin. You can see this in the game when Haldir's brother tells you to go talk to him after besting some Orcs on the borders of Lothlorien. You can also hear it in Aragorn's cry in the Two Towers movie as Craig Parker is slain.)
Forochel : FOR-roh-khel (not shell or even kell, although kell is closer... same as above.)
Haudh Iarchith : HOWTH YAHR-kheeth (see above for detailed explanation of the kh sound)
Khazad-dum : KHAH-zahd-DOOM (The kh -- or ch in Elvish -- is a bit tricky for Westerners since the pronunciation of many Khuzdul words follows, by Tolkien's design, a Hebraic inclination. The sound is basically the glottal hack you make when clearing your throat, or the way Mel Brooks pronounced "Monsieur CHambo" in The History of the World, Part I, albeit somewhat less emphatic. The International Phonetic Alphabet marking is [x]. For a better reference, Christopher Lee's pronunciation of Khazad-dum in FOTR is, like everything else Christopher Lee did, flawless. Now for some real "jaw-crackers," as Sam would say...)
Kheled-zaram : KHEL-ed-ZAH-ram
Salab Nurjundul : SAH-lahb-noor-JOON-dool
Barazinbar : bah-RAH-zeen-bar
Zirak-Zigil : ZEE-rahk-ZEE-geel
Bundushathur : boon-DOO-shah-thoor (or possibly toor)
Azanulbizar : ah-zahn-OOL-bee-zar
Anazarmekhem : ahn-ah-ZAR-meh-khem (Now go impress your friends!)

Don't forget to check back in now and then! I plan to add more over time.

Padhric
Master of Toons

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