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Did You Know?
In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.

Sindarin, a language used by the elves in J.R.R. Tolkien's popular trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, was inspired by a Celtic language–Welsh. Tolkien noted in 1954 that Sindarin "seems to fit the rather 'Celtic' type of legends and stories told of its speakers." A Welsh or Celtic-sounding language was part of Tolkien's writing long before the elves of Middle Earth started speaking it. Tolkien published a dictionary of Gnomish in 1917 that included thousands of words; aspects of this "primitive and unorganized" language later evolved into Sindarin. For Tolkien, Welsh held a special place: "It is the native language," he once said, "to which in unexplored desire we would still go home."

–Kathy B. Maher