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Dwarvish tattoo translation/transliteration

Registered User

Mar 13 2018, 3:52am

Post #1 of 21 (2941 views)
Dwarvish tattoo translation/transliteration Can't Post

Hi all! First time posting, but LOTR has been my favorite films since they released andI’ve been planning a many different tattoos from Tolkiens works. However, I have hit a snag trying to get the first part of “Thorin Prophecy Poem” written into the dwarven runes, like the writing on Balins Tomb.

I know the Dwarvish language was never truly finished by Tolkien, but, to my knowledge the runes are just a lettering system. I also hear that there are two different sets of runes alphabets, one from LOTR, and one from the Hobbit films. And I am not comfortable using an online translation generator, and wanted to ask true fans.

So my question is, what would be the most accurate way of writing The King of Carven Stone poem, in Dwarvish rules?

And for reference, here is the the part of the poem I plan to use for the tattoo.
The king beneath the mountain, the king of carven stone, the lord of silver fountains, shall come into his own.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

In Reply To


Mar 13 2018, 6:41pm

Post #2 of 21 (2871 views)
Just a niggle about the quote [In reply to] Can't Post

The first line ends with "...mountains", plural. It thus rhymes with fountains.

As for the tattoo, are you hoping to translate the poem into 'Dwarvish'? I don't believe that's possible; nor is it appropriate since in the text this song is one sung by the Men of Dale, thus in Westron i.e. English as written.

I don't know the full story of Tolkien's various Runic alphabets, but I should think it would be in keeping with the spirit of The Hobbit if you followed that book's system, using the maps inside the covers as a guide to which rune stands for which modern English letter.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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Registered User

Mar 13 2018, 7:11pm

Post #3 of 21 (2860 views)
Revise of question [In reply to] Can't Post

I did not think about the origin of the poem. So thank you for that!
So perhaps a better question is “what is the most accurate rune alphabet?”


Mar 13 2018, 7:41pm

Post #4 of 21 (2858 views)
Appendix E of the Lord of the Rings [In reply to] Can't Post

...is well worth reading, because it will give you a better idea of some of Tolkien's thoughts about the different alphabets, and what sounds he envisioned for the various letters. You can then compare those sounds with those used for the endpapers of the Hobbit, around the map. See what works for you. I bet if you draw your attempt and post an image of it here, you will get lots of good advice.

And welcome! Nice to have you here!


Mar 13 2018, 8:13pm

Post #5 of 21 (2850 views)
Welcome to TORn!!! :D [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm afraid I am useless when it comes to info on Dwarven runes, but I love your idea for your tattoo! I'm sure you will get some great guidance, but I just couldn't resist popping in to say HI! I hope you stick around and join in as often as you like.




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(This post was edited by grammaboodawg on Mar 13 2018, 8:14pm)

Registered User

Mar 13 2018, 8:48pm

Post #6 of 21 (2845 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you! I’m glad to be here! I’m super surprised it took me this long to actually join this group..

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 14 2018, 12:44am

Post #7 of 21 (2808 views)
Download the fonts [In reply to] Can't Post

 Here's a website for downloading the fonts used in the movies: http://www.thehutt.de/tolkien/fonts.html

It has the Angerthas, Angerthas Moria, and "Moon Runes" (which I'm assuming would be the ones used in The Hobbit) - as well as others! You might want to download a couple of these, then see what your tattoo would look like in them.

And welcome to TORn, glad you de-lurked! Cool


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Grey Havens

Mar 14 2018, 1:58am

Post #8 of 21 (2803 views)
accuracy [In reply to] Can't Post

The runic systems in The Lord of the Rings were not meant to write English of course (as English didn't exist yet). The Elves invented the runes, and Dwarves adopted them...

... and Tolkien wrote English with them in any case: on the title page to The Lord of the Rings for example (this example is essentially consistent with the "usage of Erebor" used by JRRT in his facsimiles of the Book of Mazarbul).

The runes in The Hobbit (book) however, are Tolkien's adaptation of runes used by the Anglo-Saxons; an adaptaton of "real world" runes, so to speak. This system did not exist in Tolkien's tales -- again, as the English language did not yet exist during the imagined period of the tales.

That said, since Tolkien himself employed his altered version of AS runes, as "representing runic writing" in The Hobbit, I wouldn't call choosing them inaccurate (not that you did), and using them would still be in the spirit of The Hobbit in my opinion.

I would suggest reading the Cirth section in Appendix E (it's actually not that long), Writing and Spelling, and checking out the Angerthas table with values (the table's probably on the web somewhere too).

The Table of Values in Appendix E also gives the values of the Dwarvish Angerthas Moria.

I don't know what they did in the films Smile

(This post was edited by Elthir on Mar 14 2018, 2:10am)


Mar 15 2018, 8:00pm

Post #9 of 21 (2668 views)
A few random thoughts re: runes [In reply to] Can't Post

The writing on Balin's tomb that you mentioned in your first post was (probably!) written in Angerthas Moria. Although, when it comes to Thorin, I would rather use Angerthas Erebor (but then again, as pointed out by squire, the poem itself was not of dwarvish origin as far as that matters for your purposes).

And you are correct, the runes used in the LotR films were different from those of the Hobbit films. While the text on the tomb we see in FOTR seems like genuine Angerthas to me, the Hobbit films did not use authentic Tolkien runes but the Elder Futhark that different Angerthas were mostly based on. In addition to Anglo-Saxons it was also used by many other Germanic tribes. So what you want to use depends on whether you prefer the alphabets created by Tolkien, or the Germanic runic alphabet that was actually used in this world. I'm guessing that if you used the Elder Futhark many rune enthusiasts would be able to read the finished tattoo, but if you used the Angerthas runes only the most devoted Tolkien linguists/fans would be able to do so. Tongue

I took a quick glance at the font page linked by dernwyn (an interesting find - thank you dernwyn! Smile) and it looks like both Angerthas fonts are dwarf runes as created by Tolkien (I think - I cannot read them!), but "Moon Runes", "Anglo-Saxon Runes", "Dwarf runes" and "Germanic Runes" are all basically the Elder Futhark, as you can see that they have almost identical ABCDEFG letters written as an example. (And the one called "Runic" is of course all made up - nothing to do with the original runes corresponding with certain phonemes, but just English written in those letters that mostly resemble the Roman alphabet, as well as some improvised "looks like they were runes". What looks like "Gandalf" actually reads something like "-yhthyla", if even that, if we read it as Elder Futhark.)

A quick search brought up a rune alphabet table titled "Runes used by the dwarves of Erebor" which is captioned as a screen grab from the bonus features of FotR; that is not Angerthas but the Elder Futhark, as that WAS the rune set used in the movies (maybe LotR also in part, not only the Hobbit?). It's a bit complicated. But if you want authentic dwarf runes then Angerthas it is, and that page has a simplified table for Angerthas Moria as well. Smile

(This post was edited by Ilmatar on Mar 15 2018, 8:08pm)

Registered User

Mar 16 2018, 6:47am

Post #10 of 21 (2609 views)
Great feedback! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for the feedback! I think I’ve decided on using the Angerthas Moria, and possibly changing the quote to something more related to Moria. I think I’ve also figured out how to properly translate it. However once I’ve decided on a final design, I will most likely post here to see if there are any issues with my translation Wink

Grey Havens

Mar 16 2018, 3:35pm

Post #11 of 21 (2578 views)
orc and ark [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
The writing on Balin's tomb that you mentioned in your first post was (probably!) written in Angerthas Moria.

Appears to be confirmed in Appendix E: "This Angerthas Moria is represented in the tomb-inscription. The Dwarves of Erebor used a further modification of this system, known as the mode of Erebor, and exemplified in the Boor of Mazarbul."

And in general, again I don't know what they did in the Hobbit films, but for the books, the runes concerned:

"The runic alphabet employed by Tolkien in The Hobbit, however, is essentially that of Anglo-Saxon England: a modification of the Germanic rune-row with a number of additional characters." Arden Smith, Certhas, Skirditaila, Futhark, A feigned History of Runic Origins,Tolkien's Legendarium

I take this to mean "essentially" the Futhorc, a variation of the Elder Futhark. And according to The Hobbit, third edition: the Dwaves' runes "are in this book represented by English runes."


Mar 17 2018, 8:28pm

Post #12 of 21 (2521 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Looking forward to seeing your finished design, if you decide to post it. Smile


Mar 17 2018, 8:34pm

Post #13 of 21 (2521 views)
Moria orcs and story arcs ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

...That's just what came to mind from your post title. Tongue Thank you for mentioning the Futhorc/Futhark distinction, and for the quotes - I had all but forgotten about the Futhorc.

And apologies for having been vague re: inscription on Balin's tomb. I specifically meant the runes we see in the movie, not the book, as I suppose that in Tolkien's original tale all texts written by dwarves in Moria would most likely have the Angerthas Moria runes in any case.

(Now I wonder why the movies would have chosen to use Angerthas Moria in the LotR films but Elder Futhark in the Hobbit films, instead of Angerthas Erebor. Maybe the choice of runes has been explained in some chapter of the WETA Chronicles or some appendix of the films that I have either forgotten the details or, or have yet to see (!). Oops. Must educate myself further... Smile)

Grey Havens

Mar 17 2018, 9:55pm

Post #14 of 21 (2512 views)
to keep in tune with the books maybe? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm guessing that given the essentially Anglo-Saxon runes in the book (Hobbit), the film went with same? Again I have to rely on others as to what's in the films, but that's my guess, if the Hobbit films used real world runes only.

And then for LOTR, the modes as according to this tale, the runes descending from the Elves and so on.

(This post was edited by Elthir on Mar 17 2018, 10:01pm)

Registered User

Mar 17 2018, 10:40pm

Post #15 of 21 (2501 views)
The Tomb inscription [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe the inscription on the tomb is both Moria mode and Erebor mode. The top lines are Khuzdul, put into Moria mode, then the bottom line is the same text but in the Erebor mode.

I have yet to look into Furthorc at all, but so far, I plan on using Erebor mode for “the king of carven stone”, as that mode would be used more in the area of laketown. Then I would use Moria mode for a quote that was used for Moria itself, perhaps even use Khuzdul. However Khuzdul is an entirely new toy to chew on, so for now I am concentrating on the design using the mode of Erebor.

And yes I plan to show progress, and ask opinions, as I get farther along.

Grey Havens

Mar 18 2018, 2:09pm

Post #16 of 21 (2458 views)
two modes [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, you're correct about both modes being on the tomb, so Tolkien's description (that I quoted in Appendix E) refers to the Angerthas Moria being "represented" there, but doesn't mean the whole inscription.

I knew it was perilous to go by memory! Thanks. I usually always recall that there "seems to be" names of translation on the tomb [the Dwarf-names, emphasize "seems"], but here I even forgot there was Westron on it (the Erebor part).

So sometimes it doesn't pay to be lazy? Drat Smile

Registered User

Mar 30 2018, 1:46am

Post #17 of 21 (2155 views)
Update [In reply to] Can't Post

Alright! So after a long time researching and testing, I finally came up with a translation. I believe it is correct, however if anyone wants to give feedback on it, that would be appreciated!

Here is a photo of the quote, phonetic version, and translation into Cirth! https://ibb.co/eBTM9n

So I am using Angerthas Erebor because the poem is from the area of Erebor itself. The rest is pretty straight forward. I am using the base phonetic sound to translate, which is why there is no "E" on the end of "Stone". Although, if someone has a comment/correction on the phonetic translation, I am open to any feedback!


I might be getting another tattoo after this one, using a quote or line by characters in, or closer to Moria, as to be able to use the Angerthas Moria mode. That way I can have both!

(This post was edited by Nmercier on Mar 30 2018, 1:47am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 30 2018, 4:21pm

Post #18 of 21 (2116 views)
Doing it phonetically makes a lot of sense [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially with the way English spelling is! Laugh

This looks good. I checked up on the "ng", since I'm used to seeing a vertical bar through the "X" for that sound, but the simple "X" is just a variant (and would probably be clearer in the tattoo). What does surprise me is the lack of a right-side vertical bar on the short "e" sound, I can't confirm that in my lists. Do you have a link to the script you used?


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Registered User

Mar 31 2018, 2:05am

Post #19 of 21 (2107 views)
The short “e” [In reply to] Can't Post

The short E symbol is used on the title page of the lord of the rings. It is basicaly just an e symbol, that is cut in half. There are a few wierd little “modified symbols” like that, that are used for different combinations of letters.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 31 2018, 2:25am

Post #20 of 21 (2107 views)
Oh good grief! [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course! I hadn't taken a good look at that page in ages. Tolkien did do "shortcuts" that are not recorded elsewhere.

When will you be getting the tattoo?


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Registered User

Mar 31 2018, 4:10am

Post #21 of 21 (2097 views)
Tattoo date [In reply to] Can't Post

I plan to get it within the next month. I still need to design the font, get estimates on the cost and choose artists.


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