Universal meta-mode for Tengwar script


”The [T]engwar are an artificial script created by J. R. R. Tolkien.”1

The Tengwar is said to be a logical script because of its regularly formed letters.


Whenever the word ’tengwar’ is capitalised it means the whole script, otherwise it describes some subset of the characters.


Rules describing the way of mapping sounds (or letters) to tengwar are called modes. Modes can be orthographic—i.e. mapping letters to tengwar—or phonemic—i.e. mapping sounds to tengwar. Orthographic modes are usually easier to use because users needn’t know the proper pronunciation of words—which can vary among speakers—and nuances of phonology.

Usually modes are created separately for each language and are not compatible with each other. It’s often the case, when the same tengwa is mapped to different sounds.


Kaurselyle’u2 [kaursɛləlˈehu] (jbo, universal alphabet) is a phonemic meta-mode for Tengwar. It’s self-consistent which means that knowing it allows to read all covered languages (even without knowing the language) with marginal adjustments needed. That also means that no two dissimilar sounds are mapped to the same tengwa.

It’s a meta-mode which means it describes how sounds, punctuation, and numbers are mapped to tengwar in all covered languages but to convert specific language orthography a specific sub-mode is needed. In other words, spoken words in covered languages can be written in Tengwar using the core, common rules of Kaurselyle’u, but specific rules describe how to write words written in Latin alphabet.


Tengwar is written using Unicode codepoints as defined in ConScript Unicode Registry and implemented by Free Tengwar Font Project. The following table shows the assignment:




[t] [p] [t͡ʃ] [ʈ͡ʂ] [k]
[d] [b] [β] [d͡ʒ] [d͡ʐ] [g] [ɢ]
[θ] [f] [ʃ] [x]
[ð] [v] [ʒ] [ʐ] [ɣ]
[n] [ɴ] [m] [ɲ] [ŋ]
[ɹ] [w] [j] -

Note: Geminated consonants are marked with below (or inside in the cases of  and ) a tengwa.

Note: When a consonant is nasalised, it’s marked with above unless the nasalised consonant is [g], then is used instead.

Note: In the cases of geminated [s] and [z], respectively and should be used unless tehta placed above it is illegible. Otherwise, the choice between or and or is left to the writer.

Note cannot have tehta either above or below.


Short vowels must be placed on tengwar if there is place—one tehta on tengwa. Long vowels must be placed on .

When the direction is upwards initial tehta can be placed beneath tengwa if there is the same or none tehta on the tengwa. Analogously, when the direction is downwards final tehta can be placed beneath tengwa if there is the same or none tehta on the tengwa. e.g. adam , adrian , but ani 


Note: —when used as a comma or a colon—must not be preceded by a space but must be followed by one. When used as a stop, behaves like a tengwa and is an integral part of a word. :, , , , , , , must be both preceded and followed by a space. Spaces around and are left for the writer to decide but must be preceded and followed by the same (either space or no space).

Note: Unary minus must be preceded by a space but not followed by one; binary minus behaves like hyphen (i.e. the decision is up to the writer).


Depending on the direction of writing, base vowel is defined as:

base vowels:

Note: u- diphthongs might also be written with , e.g.  [twa]

Note: When two vowels doesn’t make up a diphthong, they must not be written as such. Consider the example: choinka (pl. Christmas tree) [xɔˈin.ka]  but poi (it. then, later) [pɔi] .


Numbers are written left to right.

Numbers might be written in base ten (decimal) or base twelve (dozenal). In decimal mode, the separator is written between the one and tenth positions; in dozenal mode, the separator is written below the one position.

Note: The decimal separator must be neither preceded nor followed by a space.

Note: When numbers are integers, the separator must be omitted in decimal mode, but must always be present in dozenal mode.

writing direction

Due to differences in languages, different placements of tehtar might be preferred. Tehta might be preferred to be placed above either preceding or following tengwa. The direction of writing is then called upward and downward, respectively. First paragraph must be started with a direction marker (either or ); a paragraph after a division might be started with a direction marker.

Each paragraph must be finished with a direction marker which denotes the direction of the following paragraph.

If a quotation is written in a different direction than the text in the paragraph, a direction markers must be placed directly after and directly before (obeying the rules of placing spaces).

Covered languages

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tengwar

  2. The name—taken from Lojban—may be also written in Tengwar as 