Westron - Fictional History

Fictional History

The Westron speech is derived from contact between the Adûnaic tongue of Númenor, and the languages of the western coastlands of the continent of Middle-earth, when the Númenóreans began to establish trade outposts and forts there.

When the Edain, forefathers of the Númenóreans (the Dunedain), first entered Beleriand in the First Age, they spoke two different languages, of which Taliska was the predecessor of Adûnaic. Of the Three Houses of the Edain, the House of Haleth spoke Haladin, while the House of Bëor and House of Hador both spoke Taliska. The Bëorian dialect of Taliska was slightly different from the Hadorian dialect (though not an outright separate language), but in any case, the House of Bëor was practically destroyed after the Dagor Bragollach, about a century and a half before the end of the First Age. The few surviving women and children of the House of Bëor subsequently merged into the other Houses and ceased to function as an independent entity. Taliska itself appears to have been a creole of several Avarin (Dark Elf) languages, with some influence from Dwarvish Khuzdul, due to trade contact with Dark Elves and Dwarves as the Edain migrated from the east to Beleriand. The Haladin language had a somewhat similar origin but had branched off so that it became mutually unintelligible with Taliska and ultimately a separate language. Following the end of the First Age, this division between the two major branches of "Northern Mannish" languages (descended from Taliska), and "Southern Mannish" languages (descended from Haladin) would persist throughout most of the Men living in the known regions of north-west Middle-earth (the languages of the Easterlings and Southrons are of entirely different origins). Due to contact with the Grey Elves while dwelling in Beleriand, Taliska was influenced by Elvish (Sindarin) and ultimately evolved into Adûnaic, which became the common language spoken on Númenór itself.

Several centuries after the end of the First Age, the Númenóreans began expanding their power back to the coasts of Middle-earth itself, establishing trading posts and forts from the Blue Mountains in the north to the Haven of Umbar in the south. There they came into contact with the languages of the local coastal peoples. It was soon realized that these languages were (mostly) closely related to the Taliska language which had stood at the basis of Adûnaic itself. As such the coastal peoples and Númenóreans themselves adopted each other's languages relatively quickly. Most of these peoples were indeed of related kin to the Edain and would later form most of the population of Gondor and Arnor.

From these early trade outposts and forts Westron spread throughout Eriador and neighbouring lands (where the action of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place), with the notable exception of Mordor. The peoples of Rhovanion did not come into contact with the Númenóreans at this time and kept their own languages, which were nonetheless closely related, being a separate branch of Northern Mannish (from Taliska) that had less contact with Elvish. Peoples that spoke unrelated languages, such as the Gwathuirim (forefathers of the Dunlendings), the Men of the White Mountains and the Drûg, who spoken Southern Mannish languages, were shunned by the Númenóreans and indeed often became enemies of Númenor.

After the Downfall of Númenór, the Faithful escaped to the outposts in Middle-earth and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. In reaction to how the Númenóreans had turned against the Elves in their downfall, the survivors in Middle-earth embraced the learning and speaking of Elvish, and as a result neglected the common speech. Within several centuries it had mutated wildly into a vulgate form, and merged with the Southern Mannish languages of the coastal peoples such as the ancestors of the Dunlendings. However, several centuries later the Dunedain kingdoms refocused their attention onto it, and enriched it with additions from Elvish. The resulting polyglot was then taken up as the language of trade and diplomacy throughout all of the regions that at one time or another were controlled by Arnor and Gondor, and even beyond that along trade lines at least as far east as Dale and the Lonely Mountain. Even Sauron's Orcs had to rely on using Common Speech (albeit in a much-debased form) for communication between themselves, because different Orc sub-dialects change so haphazardly that they are not mutually intelligible from one clan to the next.

Read more about this topic:  Westron

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