The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Devised as part of the Tengwar during the Years of the Trees
Origins
Probably invented by Fëanor1
Race
Origins
Originated with the Noldor
Pronunciation
te'marr
Meaning
'Series' (in this context, though téma can also mean a line or row)
Note
témar is a plural term; a single series of this kind was known as a téma

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 30 December 2015
  • Updates planned: 1

Témar

The series of Fëanorian writing

The 'series' of the tengwar. In normal use, each of these contained a sequence of tyeller or grades, each giving different qualities to a basic sound.


The table below shows the progression of sounds in a typical téma, in this case the tincotéma relating to the sound 't' and its derivatives. Note that this table is a theoretical description; in actual use the values of the letters tended to vary from those shown here.

The Elvish character 'tinco' tinco
The voiceless stop 't' is the base sound of the series, named tinco after the Elvish word for 'metal', and giving its name to the entire series, the tincotéma. Each of the following characters in the series represents - at least theoretically - a variation on this basic sound.
The Elvish character 'ando' ando
The first variant of the core sound is a voiced version, in this case turning the voiceless t sound of tinco into the voiced d sound named ando (literally meaning 'gate', but chosen here because it contains a d sound).
The Elvish character 'thûle' thûle
The next two tyeller or grades represent spirants of the base sound (the equivalent in English of adding '-h' to a consonant, so in the tincotéma where the base sound is 't', the spirant is 'th'). There are two variants, and thûle (Elvish 'spirit') represents the unvoiced form as in English 'cloth' or 'path'.
The Elvish character 'anto' anto
The second of the two spirants is anto, representing a voiced spirant. In English this is usually represented by 'th' just as for the unvoiced version, but in fact the two sounds are distinct: this voiced spirant is the 'th' sound in words like 'father' or 'clothes'. When this sound appears in Elvish words, Tolkien conventionally represents it with 'dh' in names like Caradhras or Calenardhon.

Notes

1

The Tengwar were originally devised by Rúmil, but Fëanor later reinvented them almost entirely. We don't know whether Rúmil's original system featured témar or any equivalent, but we do know that little of it was retained in the new Tengwar of Fëanor. This later revision therefore probably saw the appearance of the témar among its other improvements.

See also...

Lúva, Parmatéma, Tyelpetéma

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