Tolkien gesture: Russian on-line translator adds Elfin to language list for writer’s birthday

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On January 3, Tolkien would have turned 124 years old. To celebrate, Russia’s largest search engine, Yandex, has launched on-line translations into Sindarin - a language the writer created and used in his fantasy works, including The Lord of the Rings.

Although Tolkien – a philologist and university professor - invented several languages, Yandex chose the so called ‘Grey-elvish’ Sindarin for its on-line translator service. It currently translates text into 66 languages, including English. 

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The Yandex team say they are reaching out to Sindarin specialists and Tolkien fans to enrich their data.

Sindarin is the language usually referred to as the ‘elf-tongue’ or ‘elven-tongue’ in The Lord of the Rings. Fans started attempts at writing in Sindarin back in the 1970s. Back then the corpus of published Elvish was just a few hundred words.

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Tolkien had a profound love for languages and started inventing his own while still a teenager, but he never intended to make his creations complete enough for full-blown conversations. Some of the dialogues in the film adaptations by Peter Jackson, for example, had to be enriched by new words, which were composed by David Salo, a language expert.