David Salo

Tolkien Language Translator


Full Name: Davd I. Salo

Birthplace: Indiana, United States of America

Birth Date: February, 1969

Marital status: He is married Dorothea






  • His main language interest is Tocharin an extinct Indo-European dialect from the Middle Ages, spoken in the Tarim Basin and Turfan Depression

  • Published in 2004 an analysis of Sindarin, The Gateway to Sindarin

  • In 1998 founded Elfling, a mailing list for Tolkien language enthusiasts

  • As well as writing all the material for The Lord of the Rings that required the use of the Elvish, Dwarven languages etc. he also wrote the Elvish lyrics used on the soundtracks

  • Graduate student of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he received his MA in 2002

  • Grew up in New York and New Jersey

  • Son of archaeologists

  • Created many missing words for the Elvish languages, Sindarin and Quenya, based on existing words and grammatically fitted them in alongside known material. He also created new languages for Khuzdul and Black Speech, which again matched the few known words. These languages are known as “neo-Khuzdul” and “neo-Black Speech” to set them apart from Tolkien

  • Lives in Madison, Wisconsin

  • Studied Greek and Latin at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota

  • While an undergraduate at Wisconsin University, he contacted Peter Jackson upon hearing that The Lord of the Rings was to be filmed, and stated that it would be very important to make sure good Elvish was used. He also provided his resume of his previous work which included acting as a linguistic consultant for a Middle-earth RP game. He was then hired to work on the trilogy

  • Married his wife on 23rd May 1998. Dorothea, is a Digital Repository Librarian at the University of Wisconsin

    Current Projects:

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
  • The Hobbit: There and Back Again (2014)


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