Glossopoeia through letter writing: The role of early reader and author responses in the development of the Elvish languages
— Andrew Higgins, independent scholar
Paper given 4 July 2022 at IMC 2022 Session 141
Almost immediately after the first volume of The Lord of the Rings was published in July 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien started to receive letters from readers asking a myriad of questions about his world-building of Middle-earth. In this paper I will explore how Tolkien’s ‘author response’ to early readers actually resulted in the invention and shaping of new elements of his Elvish languages which would go on to appear in Tolkien’s planned index for The Lord of the Rings which was published in 2007 as Words, Phrases and Passages in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ in Parma Eldalamberon 17. This paper will explore several examples of how questions from early readers actually resulted in the invention of new words, phrases, and grammatical structures in Tolkien’s invented languages inextricably linked to his myth-making and world-building.