Elven Name Game

I’ve been using the name “Almeldiel” around cyberspace since 2002.  It is currently my username on Twitter and here on WordPress.

For those who have been wondering where it came from (or even if you’re not, I will force this story on you 😛 ):  One of the members of The Philippine Tolkien Society studies Quenya, or High-Elven, one of the languages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s elves.  Rashbold’s knowledge is truly impressive, and he is widely regarded as an expert in it.

Once, when we were talking about name translations in the message group, he offered to derive Elven names from our real names, and this is what he made of mine:

Your name, Maryann, is obviously a combination of Mary and Ann (or Anna, Anne). Now, the modern form Mary was descended from the Hebrew Mariam or Miriam. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories: “sea of bitterness”, “rebelliousness”, and “wished for child” (all from Hebrew). However, it is most likely an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry (“beloved”) or mr (“love”).

Ales Bican, the webmaster of ELM, used “bitterness” in his interpretation. As the Quenya word for “bitter” is sára, a good rendering would be Sárielle. “Beloved” in Quenya is melda, so Meldiel would be nice.

As for the Ann element, it is descended from the Hebrew Hannah (< Chaanach). Its meaning is unambiguous, “favour” or “grace”. Its Quenya equivalent is alamare or almie.

So, Maryann can be interpreted as either Almiesáriel or Almeldiel (by haplology). Take your pick.

I picked Almeldiel for two reasons. First, I didn’t like the “bitterness” element of the translation for Almiesáriel; “Beloved” was of course more favorable. Second, the “beloved” element was based on an Egyptian translation, and I am truly fascinated with ancient Egyptian culture, so the choice was clear.

Artwork from “The Broship of the Ring” by the awesome Noelle

For the record, if I could be a character in Middle Earth, I’d choose to be a human who lives in Rohan. I love Éowyn, yes, but I also don’t think the Elven or Hobbit life is for me–I do not smoke, I do not drink alcohol, I’ll probably get bored in Rivendell, and my hair just won’t pass Elrond’s strict standards.  So, yeah, a human it is.

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