The Pages of The Gray Wizard


ámman îar
Littlest Conlanger

an introduction to amman and its languages
cûenvar beminthil ammannon na îerron alîon
(qenva aminsil amanno na yarino alo)

the finding

Just before the fall of Numenor in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, Amandil, the last lord of Andunie seeing that doom was fast approaching counseled his followers to take to their ships. One such ship, captained by Voron of Romenna was lost in the storms following the destruction of Numenor. Voron's ship was swept southwestward and many months later was washed ashore in an unknown land.

Having been cast ashore in a strange land, Voron and his people encountered a quiet people living not far from the sea. Thinking he had been swept west-over-sea to the blessed realm, Voron asked of those that he had found, "Have I then come to the blessed land of Aman?" But, the people of this strange land spoke none of the tongues of the Dunedain and they mistook his query and repeated his words as best they could, "annaen?" Voron in his turn mistook the meaning of their response and took this to be the name of this land that he had found. And the land became known as annaen and later amman and the time of its naming became known as The Finding.

Voron and his shipmates settled among these people, commingling their blood and influencing their language and culture. A hundred years later, the port of lóndas vórnîon was built upon this meeting place and a thousand years later the comingled people had spread throughout the continent. Some occupied the coasts along the remote northwest and were a seafaring folk and they were called the æárhost. Some settled in the forests near the mountains and were hunters and woodsmen and they were called the áldrost. Some occupied the Great Plains of the southwest and they planted seed and were called the nárdhost. And some lived in the mountains and mined its riches and they were called the órdhost. A fifth group, the rándhin nomads wandered east of the eröid elórenath and into the enénsahar desert and appeared no longer in the annals of ámman. Thus began the story of the mythic land of ámman.

the languages of ámman

The linguistic adventures that led to the writing of this grammar began some years ago when I partook of an expedition through this mythic land. As an amateur linguist, I disembarked at the port of lóndas vórnîon on the northwestern shores of ámman with a sense of exhilaration. Lying ahead of me were the prospects of uncovering a rich lode of previously unknown linguistic treasures, for no linguist before me, either amateur or professional, had ever set foot on these virgin shores. The ancient texts that I had acquired many years before had led me to this land and had promised a linguistic adventure that my amateur studies could not have equaled in the armchair isolation of my study.


The languages of ámman all appear to have descended from a common protolanguage called vulánayal. This protolanguage has long been dead, but I was fortunate enough to have acquired copies of two ancient texts that shed significant light on its structure and form. These texts were to become invaluable to my diachronic analysis of the descendant languages. The texts included an extensive list of vulánayal roots compiled by a medieval grammarian called ægnor of cádor These lists contained thousands of roots that apparently formed the basis of all vulánayal words. They were written in an orthographic style known as cûénid ûar that was influenced by, while failing to fully mimic the tengwar used by the Dunedain. The second text contained the remnants of an ancient manuscript known as the sárnos codex. This text contains the only known surviving corpus of vulánayal lexemes and sentences and provided evidence that the protolanguage was a structurally fusional language with a more complex grammar than any of its descendants. The sárnos codex was written colinearly using versions of the tengwar called cûénid ûar and ánnæn ûar and became an invaluable source for the transcription of ánnæn ûar texts into romanized forms. The tongues spoken by the Dunedain heavily influenced the speakers of vulánayal as was to be seen in the number of borrowed roots and the orthographic style.

ámman îar

ámman îar and its dialects are the most widely spoken languages of the vulánayal descendants, being the native tongue of the dominant ámman narthost (literally the People of ámman). The name of the language, ámman îar translates literally as 'the language of ámman. The nárdhost inhabit most of the lands west of the eröid elórenath, a mountain range that divides the continent of ámman into eastern and western regions. Their language has become the lingua franca of the western region both politically and commercially. Because of this dominance, I devoted most of my expedition to the study of its structure and derivation while gathering only fragmentary data on the other minor tongues.

In the course of its development, ámman îar has incorporated significant typological deviations from the protolanguage. While still synthetic, it is agglutinative rather than fusional and shows reduced inflectionalization compensated by stricter SV/APV word order. The language also underwent a series of consonantal and vocalic sound shifts as it developed from the protolanguage vulánayal through old ámman îar (vulánænil) and middle ámman îar (varámmænir) before reaching its current form.


While ámman îar is the language of the nárdhost court and intelligentsia as well as the most widely used literary and commercial language of amman, a dialect of the language called nathya is commonly used in everyday conversation among the residents of the larger towns. However, I have not yet had the opportunity to study this dialect in detail. The grammar presented on these pages will concentrate on ámman îar, but I shall include unparsed examples of the common tongue, nathya as well.


One of the more significant sister languages of ámman îar is called foréndar and is spoken by the rándhin nomads who inhabit the remote enénsahar desert east of the eröid elórenath. This language appears to have remained closer to the protolanguage in morphological typology while undergoing a different series of sound shifts. My studies of this language, however, are much sketchier than that of ámman îar. foréndar remains a project for another day requiring a field trip across the mountains and into the desert. I may just be getting too old for such a trek so the glory of uncovering the details of this remote and exotic language may be left to some more agile linguistic adventurer.