Tengwar Karuta - Tincotyelle Picture

Ok. Loooong story.

The idea for this was born when I had to play yet another round of Iroha Karuta with my host brother. My host brother, Taisei (the name means "great sage", which goes to show how inappropriate names can be), was a typical Japanese only child, which among other things meant that he was a reaaaally sore loser. And even I, whose Japanese is, shall we say, not stellar, was better at Karuta than he - and always had to pretend I wasn't, so the kidlet didn't throw a tantrum.

This is not really relevant, but it serves to illustrate a few points: a) Iroha Karuta is a game (the name is a combination of the first three "letters" of the Japanese syllable alphabet in the traditional listing, and the Japanese rendering of Portuguese carta, which means, surprise, "card"); b) more specifically, a Japanese game; and c) a game that has to do with language. Reading, more precisely.

In the original, you have 45 (or, occasionally, 50) image cards, and 45 (or, again, 50) text cards. Each image card depicts one hiragana (one letter, if you will), and a scene from the Japanese legendarium and mythology so you get to learn reading and mythology at once (although these days of course there's also Pokémon Karuta sets and the like). Each text card holds a sentence that describes one of these scenes. Sounds complicated? It isn't! It's just hard to explain.

In order to play the game you need three people or more: one reader, and at least two players. The sentence cards are placed on the floor (or table, or wherever you're playing), face up, and the players sit around them. The reader takes the text cards, and reads them out one after the other. After a text card has been read, the players have to try and find the corresponding image card. First one to snatch it gets to keep it. The winner is, in the end, the one who managed to get most cards.

Anyway, when I had to play yet another round of that game with Taisei - normally it's a real fun game, but it isn't when you get to play with Taisei - I thought that hey, this would totally work with tengwar. And for those word-obsessed Noldor, or later on for anyone struggling to learn their bloody language, wouldn't this be an awesome way to learn (or just play with) Quenya? Perhaps Elladan and Elrohir, struggling with the language of their distant forbears and also with history, might have used Karuta to have more fun with their studies?

And that, of course, gave birth to this project.

As the tengwar all have names that actually have a meaning (as in, the "T" tengwa is called "tinco", which means "metal" - unlike the "T" in the Roman alphabet we use, or the five T-Hiragana in Japanese), I figured the sentences would not only have to begin with the sound value of the tengwa, but - include the whole word. Fortunately Quenya (the names of the tengwar are in Quenya, so using Sindarin would've made little sense - besides, my Quenya is lousy, but my Sindarin is even worse!) allows for fairly free word order...

So I, um, made a list of the Tengwar, and wrote up stupid little sentences, and, with the help of Ardalambion's word list and grammar sheet, translated them. They're probably all wrong, but I have not found any Quenya-savvy people willing to check them so far, so they'll have to do until someone volunteers.

In case anyone here happens to be Quenya-savvy and wonder: Yes, I used the archaic accusative case. I grew up with Latin, so I find a separate accusative case useful. Besides, if I use an archaic language, I may as well use the archaic-archaic form
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