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A minority of Lojbanists think using the Tolkien script Tengwar (la tengvar) for Lojban is at the least cute, and at the most instructive. The kind of person interested in Lojban intersects with the kind of person interested in Tolkienian linguistics. Nonetheless, the majority of Lojbanists, it is fair to say, regard the enterprise as folly. This includes Ivan Derzhanski, who is a Tolkienist of long standing.

  • Jay:
    • I doubt anyone is planning on switching the list over to Tengwar en masse once the Tengwar section of Unicode is established.... [Here is the proposal: http://std.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n1641/n1641.htm]. However, as la nitcion pointed out, it would be nice to use it on the covers of things like the lessons. I could see Tengwar being used in the way calligraphic English is used (or maybe hyper-intricate gothic fonts). Sort of the thing that classy Lojbanists would use on their wedding invitations.
  • An example of a lojbanic text written in Tengwar is The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight.
  • xwaver:
    • Actually, I already have converted the cmavo, gismu and lujvo lists to use Tengwar.
See also: Why Tengwar?

There are two published mappings:

  • BTW, in order to achieving a good-looking script one ought to have at least two kinds of different widths tehtar!
    • The single-byte fonts tend to; the Unicode fonts won't, because this is properly an issue for Smart Fonts. Thankfully, Smart Fonts are now on the market, though it'll be a year or two (as of 2001) before they come into general use.

The characteristics of Elrond's Mode 1 are:

    • separate vowel carriers for each vowel
    • CVV: tengwa+tehta, (short) carrier+ tehta
    • VV: (short) carrier+ tehta for both vowels
    • special case {uu}: long carrier as abbreviature
    • special case {.i}: colon as abbreviature
    • 'doubling' (underlining') the first tengwa for stress (Sindarin and Gandalf)
    • various final-s (joined to different tengwar)

The main technical issue with Tengwar seems to be what to do with VV and V'V.


Elrond in his published proposal advocates a mode in which VV are handled with separate vowel carriers (a la Quenya), and a mode in which VV are handled with tehtar over full vowel letters (a la Sindarin; preferred).

xwaver uses Beleriand full vowel tengwa for the primary vowel, tethar for the trailing

  • nitcion:
    • I currently vote Quenya.
  • He has since come to believe that double tehtar are preferrable - though this will prove typographically unwieldy. cmeclax concurs. However, if 'typographically unwieldy' refers to font design, xuinkrbin disagrees since any font designed for such use could employee a ligature. When typing ".ia.", a ligature could be used to display a combined 'i+a' tehta above the first full-stop.
    • If diphthongs are written with both tehta over the same letter, y'y could be implied whenever there's a separate carrier, so there would be no need for another character. That's the main reason I like this suggestion.4D enthusiast (talk) 05:06, 22 February 2016 (PST)
  • nitcion:
    • But since the VV are not just double vowels, I doubt it's very Tolkienesque


Established usage (Raymond, Elrond, cmeclax, xwaver) is to use the halla. nitcion would prefer to use the long vowel carrier, in order to deemphasise the distinction between VV and V'V.

cmeclax makes the vowel following ' a tehta to the right of the halla. There is no Tolkien precedent for this, presumably because the halla is taken in the Tolkien universe to be an archaic variant of the hyarmen, so it wouldn't have been used much in extant Tengwar.

xwaver eliminates the carrier altogether, using Beleriand mode for the first vowel (ie. the explicit vowel carriers), tetha for the second.

aulun uses a shortened vowel carrier to render the aposrtrophe, and a normal short vowel carrier for the vowel after it.

  • Originally misunderstood as: aulun shortens the second carrier to the size of an apostrophe.
    • nitcion:
      • Do I read you correctly? Could you point me to a sample? --- the samples on your page seem to be straight Elrond mode 1.
        • What I did was designing a better looking apostrophe by shortening the (short) carrier - using Fontographer - i.e. I use the apostrophe like in romanized Lojban for /h/. In the Gandalf font the modified carrier is almost the size of a normal apostrophe: will post a sample soon!
          • OK, but be aware that Unicode won't be including non-Tolkien glyphs, and this will mean problems down the road. (Or am I still confused, and this is indeed a Tolkienian variant attributed to Gandalf in the mythos?) Still, the fact that aulun, cmeclax and nitcion independently arrive at a different 'carrier' for the vowel after an apostrophe than the short vowel carrier is surely significant. [wrong, as it turns out]

Here's a sample for .aulun's modified apostrophe in Gandalf (being aware of the problems pointed out above, it's just for personal use within graphic format):



  • Raymond prescribes ore (untrilled r) rather than romen (trilled r)
  • Elrond makes this an optional choice
  • nitcion would prefer romen, but ore looks less disruptive
  • aulun uses romen

Full vowels

  • Raymond picks hyarmen for full e
  • Elrond picks yanta, which looks about the same but is less disruptive

Double vowels

  • Elrond treats uu and ii as double vowels (tehta over long vowel carrier)
  • nitcion thinks this bogus.
  • Elrond starts to think about using yet different tehta for diphtongs


  • Raymond and xwaver double (underbar) the consonant/carrier of any capitalised letter
  • Elrond wants only the first such consonant/carrier to be doubled. This is far saner, but existing oftware won't deal with it well, so this requires a separate script to be written.


  • Raymond and aulun incorporate the comma into Tengwar
  • Elrond and xwaver advocate a circumflex underneath, as a reused rare Tengwar
  • nitcion can't find such a thing in the standard repertoire, and awaits further instruction. There are various other tehta floating around.

Final S

  • xwaver uses the final s curls after consonants, considering that while they would be handy in CVS. and CVVS. circumstances, they are slightly more confusing.


Noone seems to think introducing the prenasalisation tehta into Lojban Tengwar would be a good thing.

Non-Lojban letters

To cope with cited non-Lojban text, nitcion proposes mappings for the non-Lojban letters:

  • q: nwalme
  • w: hwesta
  • h: hyarmen
  • nitcion:
    • If anything in Lojban tengwar is sacred by now, it's that k = quesse. It's inefficient, but we are keeping coronals (palatoalveolars & palatals) distinct from velars. Even if we allowed series IV stops to be (also) written as series III, I'd still rather q keep out of the way; in nwalme, it's safe. Besides, it's not canonical Lojban; why should be anywhere near the usual tengwar in a Lojban mode?
      • Right, but still, nwalme has a strong nasal connotation. Why not using the additional tengwar 34 (arda ?) instead ?
  • If we pick a totally arbitrary tengwar, arda's as good as any ('course, arda kinda looks like q). But it'd be nice if the glyph for q was associated with either velar or labial. How about (16) unque?
    • Elrond:
      • Seems nice indeed, and easy to write :-) I vote.


  • q: unque
  • w: hwesta
  • h: hyarmen

To illustrate all the foregoing, here's one construal of all this:


xwaver: tlcursive.GIF

a little bit more about the Tengwar, bau la lojban, here.