The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Emerged after the Nandor split from the Great Journey, very roughly 3,700 years before the first rising of the Moon and Sun; came under Sindarin influence and fell into decline during the Second Age; effectively extinct by the end of the Third Age
Associated with the Vales of Anduin, specifically Lórien and Greenwood the Great (later Mirkwood)
The language of the Nandor ('those who turn back')
Other names
Closely connected with (and in some senses synonymous with) Silvan Elvish


About this entry:

  • Updated 20 September 2016
  • This entry is complete


The tongue of the Nandor

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond

The language of the Nandor, an offshoot of the Teleri who abandoned the Great Journey and settled in the Vales of Anduin. From these people the Silvan Elves of Lórien and Mirkwood were descended, and their languages were in part evolved from Nandorin (though with strong influences of Sindarin). The original speakers of Nandorin had no system of writing, and so written records are almost entirely absent, and by the end of the Third Age Nandorin as an independent language was effectively extinct.

Among the very few surviving Nandorin place names are two ancient names for the land later called Lórien, which was at one time known as Lindórinand ('Vale of the Land of the Singers') and later Lórinand ('Valley of Gold'). The later form is interesting as we have both Quenya and Sindarin versions for comparison: Laurenandë and Glornan, respectively. The similarity of Lórinand to Quenya Laurenandë suggests that Nandorin changed relatively little over time, at least by comparison with Sindarin, which evolved rapidly beyond the Blue Mountains in Beleriand.

A few further words survive, notably caras ('moated fortress') in Caras Galadhon, and certain historic names also seem to preserve Nandorin elements (such as Amroth and Nimrodel). In addition, a handful of words are preserved in The Etymologies (in volume 5 of The History of Middle-earth) but with these exceptions the language remains almost entirely unknown.



The Wood-elves of Greenwood the Great were descended from the Nandor, and so presumably spoke Nandorin at some point in their history, though in fact all the direct evidence we have about the language comes from the Galadhrim of Lórien. This is perhaps to be expected, as the Elves of Mirkwood came under outside influence rather earlier than those of Lórien, and so presumably the language also fell out of use somewhat earlier there.

See also...

Elvish, Valley of Gold

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1998, 2001, 2013, 2016. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.