lament of akallabêth

Lament of Akallabêth

This text is the only substantial work in Adûnaic, appearing in Tolkien’s unfinished story “The Notion Club Papers” (SD/145-327). In the context of this story, a modern Englishmen named Lowdham retrieves the tale from visions of the ancient past, along with a Quenya translation of the same text. The text summarizes the tale of the fall of Númenor. Tolkien himself did not name the text, but it is sometimes referred to as the “Adûnaic Fragments” (SD/311, VT24/14). This entry uses the title “Lament of Akallabêth”, the Adûnaic equivalent of the common title of its Quenya version, the Lament of Atalante.

There are three known versions of the text:

  • A first draft (SD/311-12) written before the grammar of Adûnaic was fully developed, which uses the draft version of Adûnaic grammar.

  • A second draft (SD/312) using the final form of Adûnaic grammar, fairly close to the final version. The second draft has not been formally published, but it can be reconstructed from Christopher Tolkien’s notes on SD/312.

  • A final version which exists in nearly identical typescript (SD/247) and manuscript (VT24/12) forms, with somewhat different English translations. The full manuscript form originally appeared on the frontpiece of the British first edition of SD. It also appeared in the linguistic review of that book in VT24 (VT24/12).

Christopher Tolkien was uncertain which of the typescipt or manuscript was the true final revision of the text (SD/289). Andreas Moehn (LGtAG) and Aleš Bičan (AF) both suggested that the typescipt is the later of the two, but I believe it is the manuscript, based on its cleaner glosses and the development of îdô “now” in the sentences êphalak îdô Yôzâyan and êphal êphalak îdô hi-Akallabêth (see the entries for îdô and the draft predicate suffix -n for further details). Both texts are extremely close, however, and can be collectively called the “final version”.

The version given here is the final manuscript version, with spelling normalized to use the circumflex (â) for long vowels instead of the macron (ā). In the original version, English glosses appeared underneath words to indicate their literal meaning. The English translation given here is a combination of the manuscript and transcript translations, modified to use more natural English with some editorial additions in [brackets] where Tolkien omitted names and definite articles from his English translation. Original glosses and textual variations are discussed in the entries for individual phrases. The entire first draft is given its own entry below as a specimen of the draft version of the Adûnaic grammar.

Another analysis of this text can be found in “Lalaith’s Guide to Adûnaic Grammar” by Andreas Moehn (LGtAG). A less formal analysis can be found in the “VSH” article (VT24/14-38) by Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne, which analyzes much of text as part of their general discussion of Adûnaic grammar.

Adûnaic Group: Eldamo. Published by