En 2009, Berephon, un des spécialistes de l’univers de la Terre du milieu chez Turbine avait écrit un petit billet sur son blog my.lotro pour présenter les formes plurielles en sindarin, la langue des elfes. Bientôt my.lotro n’existera plus alors j’ai décidé de sauvegarder ce billet là au moins parce que je l’ai trouvé fort clair.

Pour faire court, le pluriel en sindarin n’est pas simple, il ne s’agit pas d’ajouter un -s à la fin d’un mot pour le mettre au pluriel. Ça marche plutôt comme certain pluriels irréguliers de l’anglais (foot > feet, man > men…). Les voyelles sont remplacées par d’autres, mais Tolkien pousse le vice en faisant remplacer toutes les voyelles du mot. Le tout selon le tableau de correspondance suivant:

Voyelle d’origine Dans un syllabe non finale Dans une syllabe finale
a, â e ai
e, ê e i,î
i,î i i,î
o, ô e y, ŷ
u y y
û ú, u ui
ŷ ŷ
ai ai
ae ae ae
au au, ó oe
ie i
io y
ui ui ui

Voila comment un balrog devient des belryg, un morroval devient des merreveil, un craban devient des crebain, un dúnadan des dúnedain, sans jamais qu’un -s vienne pointer le bout de son nez.

Ce tableau vaut pour la majorité des cas, mais il y à d’autres spécificités. Aussi, plutôt que de vous faire un court sur la grammaire sindarine, je vous renvoie vers les ressources habituelles en la matière, ce sera plus fiable. On peut commencer par la page wikipédia dédié a cette langue, puis passer en revue les articles publiés sur Tolkiendil, ou encore se pencher sur le tres complet Ambar-Eldalon et puisque c’est le sujet de ce billet la construction du pluriel.

On peut regretter que Turbine ne suivent pas ces règles là lors de la rédaction des textes de quêtes, sans doute dans un soucis de clarification ou pour ne pas perdre le joueur.

Tengwar_sindarin

Voici l’article original de Berephon, daté de mai 2009.

My Belryg Can Beat Up Your Balrog

At the heart of the mountains, in caverns so deep that the Sea might drown them should the stone give way, dwell monsters so terrible that even the Dark Lord Sauron would not dare to disturb them without the power of his Ring. Footsteps echoing like thunder, crumbling stone, the hiss of steam, and vile, sulphurous fumes precede the lord of all demons. The mighty Belryg dwarfs even its malignant offspring, the Balrog, in both evil and power. . . .

Well, no, not really.

We are not revealing another addition to the fauna of Middle-earth. In fact, if all goes well, the abomination above will never see the light of day. (Of course, it would probably turn to stone if it did.) In copyediting text, reviewing bug reports, and interacting with beta-testers, it became readily apparent that many people have difficulty – very understandably – recognizing word structure in Sindarin, the Elvish language to which Tolkien devoted a large amount of time and effort to create; a language for which he invented an entire world to bring it to life . . . Middle-earth.

Now I know we’ve already posted an article about our naming methods for creatures, places, and so forth, and how we use Tolkien’s own linguistic rules, so I’ll move on to the meat of this article: Plurals. When I say that my Belryg can beat up your Balrog, the answer is quite simple: I am a dishonorable cheat. I have more than one Balrog at my disposal, and I intend to use them all to beat up your Balrog. (No, you cannot have a Balrog for a pet.) Belryg is the actual Elvish plural of Balrog.

In most cases, Sindarin plurals are formed not by adding an “-s” to the end of the singular, but by changing the vowels in the root word. A common example that is seen frequently in both The Lord of the Rings novels and our game would be the change from “-a” to “-ai” in the last syllable of words. For instance, Dúnedain (“Men of the West”) is the plural of Dúnadan (“Man of the West”). You will note as well that the “-a” in the middle also changes to “-e”. Both of these vowel changes have to do with pluralizing Dúnadan.

Below are a few examples of Sindarin plurals you may find in The Lord of the Rings Online(TM). The singular form is listed first, plural after the equals sign:

craban = crebain

Dúnadan = Dúnedain

Eglan = Eglain

hendroval = hendrevail

morroval = merrevail

norbog = nerbyg (and even worse, norboglir = nerbeglir)

Below is a table which explains how the vowels change to form plurals in Sindarin:

Original Vowels Non-final Syllables Final Syllables
a, â e ai
e, ê e i,î
i,î i i,î
o, ô e y, ŷ
u y y
û ú, u ui
ŷ ŷ
ai ai
ae ae ae
au au, ó oe
ie i
io y
ui ui ui

Sometimes you may notice the singular form when you might think the plural is called for. For example, you might think that a nest full of hendrevail would be a “hendrevail-nest,” but this is not so. Normally, when using a creature name as an adjective, you will use the singular form. Thus a nest full of hendrevail is, in fact, a “hendroval-nest.” Other more common illustrations (in English) would be Elf-song, dwarf-lord, or Orc-sword.

So, when you are adventuring in Middle-earth, and the farmer down the road asks you to go kill “crebain”, you should look for multiple creatures called “craban” . . . and hope he doesn’t ask you to also hunt Belryg.

If you are interested in the full linguistics of Tolkien’s Sindarin, you might consider David Salo’s A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.


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