My mother was a westerne woman, And learned in gramarye.
– “King Estmere”, English and Scottish Popular Ballads,
compiled by Francis James Child
In Númenor of old, Men spoke a language derived from the tongues of the Houses of Bëor and Hador, two of the three tribes of the Fathers of Men from the ancient days of the First Age. Enriched by their contact with the Elves, this Adûnaic tongue was the everyday speech of most of the Men of Númenor, but the tongue of the Grey Elves, Sindarin, was known to the learned, to those of high blood, and to those families descended from the House of Bëor. The wisest and most learned also studied Quenya, the ancient tongue of the Eldar, and the kings of Númenor at first took Quenya regnal names, for they remembered well their friendship with the Eldar, and indeed their first king was Elros son of Eärendil. But in later days, the kings of Númenor succumbed to pride and envy of the gifts they perceived had been bestowed upon the Elves. Use of the Elvish tongues was banned, and the kings began to take Adûnaic regnal names. The Faithful of Númenor, who remained steadfast in their friendship to the Elves, continued to use Sindarin in secret, and this was the situation when Númenor was destroyed and its survivors came to the shores of Middle-earth. Númenórean sailors had previously colonised the shores of Middle-earth before the destruction of their island-realm, and Adûnaic had spread to the indigenous peoples they encountered there and who eventually came to live amongst them. This contact gave rise to a creole, Adûni or Westron. The Westron language came to be recognised throughout northwestern Middle-earth and was used as a common tongue of trade and diplomacy. The arriving survivors of Númenor, who were Elf-friends, brought with them the Sindarin tongue, which again became a prestige language in Gondor. By the Third Age, the cradle tongue of the Men of Gondor was Westron, but it was not formally taught and was acquired casually for daily use by the unlettered. But names for places and persons were made in Sindarin, and the learned and those of high and noble blood also knew and spoke Sindarin.
This woman of Gondor is a grammarian, a lore-master gained in the glamor of the ancient tongues. In a school of Minas Tirith she instructs children in the learning of the noble Sindarin language, according to the forms and structure of the ancient days. Though not unkind, she is a master who expects discipline from her pupils, and the children hold her slightly in awe, both for her austere habit in the black and silver of the realm and for her mastery of gramarye, which, the children whisper, allows her to see the unseen and into the hearts of Men (and boys and girls!).
This outfit is another retroactive “hers” outfit (of the His-and-Hers theme), made to offer a different take on the Savant of Gondor outfit. I love the strong graphic look of black and white Gondor-themed outfits, and some of the newer Isengard pieces, with their black and white colour schemes gave me a great opportunity to revisit this.
The theme of today’s outfit comes from a really interesting passage from Tolkien’s novella Farmer Giles of Ham, which describes the character of the Parson as a grammarian, who therefore “could doubtless see further into the future than others”. This is Tolkien having a little philological fun. The modern English word “grammar” meaning among other things “the system and structure of language” comes from Middle English gramarye, descended via French and Latin from Greek grammatike, “letters”. As gramarye, it had the sense of “learning, especially Latin or philological, grammar, (magic) incantation, spells”. Grimoire, “a book of (magic) instructions or formulas”, is also derived from gramarye, in the sense of “a book describing the grammar of a language”. A grammarian with his grimoire therefore was not only a linguist but a magician. It’s easy to see how the unlettered, for whom literacy would seem as magic, might come to this folk definition, which eventually further evolved into Scottish glamour, as in “to cast a glamour”, whence modern English “glamour”, originally meaning “beguilement, enchantment, magic”. (Tolkien probably did not care much for the further modern narrowing of the sense to “alluring feminine beauty”).
- Head: The Song-protector’s Hat (medallion barter reward — Minstrel’s Rise of Isengard set), washed
- Shoulders: Shoulder Pads of Thelin (medallion barter reward — Minstrel’s Tower of Orthanc set), default
- Back: Tarchol (Dark Delvings drop), black
- Chest: Robe of Viisaus (Volume 1 Book 13 epic quest reward or Store), black
- Hands: Memory of the West Gloves (medallion barter reward — Lore-master’s In Their Absence set), black
- Feet: Gardening Boots (Farmer’s Faire token barter reward), black
Tips: This outfit also looks very nice if you replace the shoulders with Noriel’s Folly (Great River quest reward) dyed black, or with the Assault Pauldrons of Éomer (crafted) also dyed black. Unfortunately the latter look a bit bulky on Women. Tarchol shares its appearance with the Warden’s Wrap (Wardens of Annúminas reputation vendor).
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