Ait-h Dom A Chon

Not long ago someone posted the following image (which I have shamelessly stolen) to one the Tengwar subreddits, asking for a translation.

I nicked it. When you let your guard down for that split second. And I’d do it again.

(For those not in the know the Tengwar is the writing system devised by J.R.R.Tolkien for his Elvish languages. It’s very pretty but horribly impractical – the Elves were probably plagued with dyslexia.)

Two facts were quickly established. That the squiggly bits above the eye are the logo of the Tolkien themed, Austrian, atmospheric-black-metal band Summoning, and the writing is complete gibberish, a repetition of something like ait-h dom a chon. Case closed.

Except something about the whole thing nagged me. The photo is obviously of a manufactured item, probably a promotional item for the band, and likely made of metal. It seemed unlikely that the band – either as professional musicians or Tolkien fans – would go to all the trouble of making such a thing and then just stick a bunch of random letters on it. Surely it’s meant to mean something?

Fool! Purple Wyrm writes as he pleases!

The first possibility was that it’s written in the Mode of Baloneyland. “Mode of Baloneyland” is a very funny pun, but you need to understand a few things about the Tengwar before you can understand it. Now, I could skip over this in the name of not boring the hell out of you, but this is my blog, and I write as I please!

Tolkien was a linguist (specifically a philologist), and he made his Elves linguists as well. As such the writing system he invented for them was not simply an alphabet, it was system that could be used to write any language. Each individual consonant (tengwa) is built out of components indicating the basic sound it represents, but it can be reassigned to another value depending on the needs of the language being written. The exact assignment of letters to sounds is called a mode, with examples in Tolkien’s works including the General Mode, the Classic or Quenya Mode, and the Mode of Beleriand.

This flexibility means that the Tengwar does not easily map to a computer keyboard. For a start you need to know what mode you’re writing in – the tengwa súle for instance represents “s” in Quenya Mode and “th” in General Mode. What key should that be mapped to? Also there’s two ways to represent vowels. In General and Quenya mode they’re indicated with marks (tehta) above the tengwa, but in the Mode of Beleriand they have their own dedicated tengwa – so should the ‘E’ key put a dot above a letter or print out the character yanta? It’s a nightmare!

As such, tengwar fonts don’t try to set up a correlation between the letters on the keys and the tengwar they print. They simply make all the tengwar available and rely on the person typing to know what they’re doing. Inevitably many people don’t know what they’re doing and try to write in “Elvish” by typing in a phrase in English and then switching it a tengwar font. Among tengwar enthusiasts the resulting gibberish is referred to as “The Mode of Baloneyland”. Get it? Like the Mode of Beleriand, but absolute baloney. See? I told you it was funny!

(Please laugh)

Now, if the text was written in the Mode of Baloneyland there would be no way to decipher it without knowing the mapping of the specific font it was written in. I decided to ignore this dead end and assume that whoever wrote it had some idea of what they were doing, but were just really bad at using the tengwar. So, I hopped over to Summoning’s Wikipedia page to look for any clues. I quickly discovered that in 2018 they released an album named “With Doom we Come”. Hmmm, not unsimilar to ait-h dom a chon

A closer look at the image shows that the Redditor who translated the inscription as ait-h dom a chon missed a few things. Firstly the questionable quality of the metal casting makes it a bit tricky to tell for sure, but the final númen (‘n’) could actually be malta (‘m’), rendering it ait-h dom a chom. Secondly there are marks above the space before chom and the divider between repeated spaces – ait-h dom a’chom‘. These are clearly orphaned ‘e’s – when a tehta cannot be written above a letter it’s supposed to have a carrier (like a lowercase “i” without the dot) placed beneath it. This makes the phrase ait-h dom ae chome.

We’re making progress! The “t-h” on the end of the first word is clearly a result of the writer not realising that there’s a single tengwa for the “th” combination, but what’s with the ‘a’s? A consultation of a tengwar chart gives us the answer. While the character resembles osse – used to represent ‘a’ in the Mode of Beleriand – it’s actually not a valid tengwa at all! It’s the character vala (‘w’) printed backwards! So we’ve now decoded our way to with dom we chome.

Consulting a chart also solves the problem with “ch”. Whoever wrote out the phrase forgot to add a line to the tengwa calma (‘ch’), which would have transformed it to quesse (‘k’). Fix this and we have with dom we kome.

There’s still the issue that the first ‘o’ should have been doubled, but we’ve successfully demonstrated that the inscription is a really incompetent attempt at writing With Doom We Come.

For purposes of comparison here are the inscription as written, and how it would be written properly in both the orthographic (based on spelling) and phonetic (based on sounds) English Modes – all generated via Tecendil which is the only Tengwar transcriber you should use!

Incompetent Mode – “?it-h dom ?e chome”
Orthographic mode – “Wið doom we come”
Phomenic Mode – “Wið duum wii kum”

So in conclusion, perhaps get someone to check over your tengwar before sending merchandise for production, Summoning!

The Lizard is Here and will Recognise You

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In 2050 a bored AI social media influencer stumbles over an episode of Homeboys in Outer Space. The rest is history.

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Seven aliens from a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star. They were sent here as ambassadors after detection of our radio signals and arrived in 1979, but it turns out the trace amounts of argon in our atmosphere make them high as fuck and they’ve spent the last 45 years lying around talking about birds (there are no birds on their planet so they think they’re wild) and eating pizza while the US government keeps trying to convince them to go home.

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It’s fun, but it does make my arms tired.

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Dancing? Oh! I see what you meant…

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In my experience Medela breastfeeding products are very popular!

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Because they’re iguana eggs, which are much cheaper to produce than chicken ones.

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It’s a secret message decoding to “We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire”

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All NFL games are fixed by the National 4-H Council and the Nawaubians!

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Neutral Moresnet. Zinc hoarding bastards!

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I’ve lived well beyond the point where evolution expects me to have reproduced, so pretty much everything.

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Male dolphins are quite keep on sexual assault, so probably Republican.

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Your girlfriend walks out on you

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You can’t go past Module B2 – The Keep on the Borderlands

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I kept Frodo locked up in my… oh, you mean habit!

If Aliens came to Earth and asked what special powers and abilities humans have, what would you tell them?

We have astonishing powers of self delusion!

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Hell no! My hard limit is 158!

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The Atlanteans gave them to them in 1879 in exchange for 32,000 short tonnes of bauxite

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Chopping down Lord Cornwallis’s cherry tree with naught but his wooden teeth!

What makes you feel confident & hot?


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I think John of Patmos should have cut down on the mushrooms.

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CHUD’s Original Slice. It’s on level 6 of the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn main sewer.

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Kanye West. Speed run to the insane monarch without generations of careful inbreeding.

You just got your 30 days sober token at an A.A. meeting and as you’re leaving some random guy tells you about a bar down the street that will give you a free drink in exchange for your sobriety coin. What do you do next?

That kind of shitty behaviour needs to be stamped out, so I’d go there and torch the place.

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I saw her face!

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Bennedict Cumberbatch actually is a 60ft long dragon!

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Donating to your local women’s shelter will help provide beds for many women.

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The standard Marine is incapable of balancing a ball on their nose.

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Many humans are afflicted with an addiction to social contact. If kept apart from others for more than two or three days they suffer increasing levels of mental and emotional distress. Research continues to help these unfortunates.

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A small town in northern Finland.

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Because if winter meant summer and summer meant winter you’d be asking exactly the same question.

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I would assume they’d mark the IT guy as some kind of foot fetishist and apply for a restraining order.

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To demonstrate human dominance over the vegetable kingdom!

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Well, first I’d need a car. And then I guess I’d have to live somewhere where it snows…

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When Seth Putnam told me I was

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Lindsey and Leon go to the Roller Disco

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The one at the back of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It only appears when the moon is above the horizon and waning gibbous. You can go in and have a look around, but make sure to leave before the moon sets, and DO NOT board any of the trains.

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All that exists exists. All that does not exist does not exist. Anything apart from that is your own problem.

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Like any other major religion it has done – and continues to do – good things and bad things, and there’s no evidence it has any more truth than any of them.

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I have no objection to doorknobs

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An abomination

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Eat them? How will you defend yourself against vampire pizza delivery workers?

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If I knew that then I wouldn’t be on antidepressants.

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That 99% of all humans lived and died prior to the musical career of Heavy D & the Boyz

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Ask them what the hell they’re thinking.

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Because good ol’ American child marriages are approved by the Lord Jayzus whereas all the others are in dirty, foreign countries where they don’t have no real religion!

What’s currently stopping you from watching all 6 seasons of the great show Riverdale?

I remain unconvinced that the solution to crime is softcore gay porn.

Describe the time when you feel the most attractive. Do you still look and feel the same? If not, what’s stopping you?

As if I’ve ever felt attractive!

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Your teeth will fall out and your eyes will fall in,
And you’ll be as happy as ever you’ve been!

What do Non-Americans think of the guns laws in America?


What is your opinion on Karl Marx?

Smart guy, lots of good ideas, lots of stupid ideas.

Such as?

A Good Idea: Society actually looking after people rather than crushing them underfoot in a mad rush for profit.

A Bad Idea: History inevitably and unstoppably moving towards Marx’s very particular ideas of how society should be run.

What is the creepiest thing you’ve seen in the woods, or in the mountains, or in deserts, or caves, or in small towns, or in big cities, or in hotels, or in remote or rural areas, or while asleep, or home alone, or while on large bodies of water, or while on an aircraft or a nautical vessel?

I saw something super creepy on a spacecraft once but I ain’t telling you anything about it!

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Not necessarily. There could be an alligator behind you, or she could have an inner ear infection.

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Such an experiment would be entirely redundant as Logan Paul already exists.

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They have not yet been socialised to suppress the unbearable horror of existence.

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The ticket is free but you need to pledge eternal loyalty to Elon Musk, God Emperor of Mars before he lets you get off.

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Depends what the guy does to her

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There are just over 20,000 Americans. Everyone thinks there are more but that’s just because so many of them are overweight.

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I was somehow able to determine that an easily replicable cartoon of a monkey was unlikely to retain much value long term.

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That’s the worm flavoured bit.

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Screaming until your neighbours call the police

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Call me when they build S.H.A.D.O Interceptors.

What cute cartoon character would be absolutely terrifying if it existed in the real world?

Pikachu. It’s bad enough having a rat in your house, let alone one that can incinerate you with lightning bolts.

What would another brand’s Mario Kart be called?

Sonic’s Irresponsible Road Experience

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Figure out how to transform into a bat

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Andrew Tate fans would say paint chips are a tasty snack.

What screams very loudly?

The pale, limbless torso that flops around my bedroom floor at night.

If you were to have three deodorants at once, how would you use them?

Three deodorants at once? Listen to Mr Fancy Pants here!

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Staring at churches upside down through my own legs

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I’d combine 50% vodka in a glass with 50% pickle juice, crush it with a rock, then present it to the judges while yelling “THAT’S ALL YOU DESERVE YOU PIGS!!”

What do you think happened in the years the Bible took place?

The earliest bits of the Bible go back about 5,000 years and the most recent about 1,800 years, so that’s about 3,200 years you’re talking about. So my answer would be “a lot”.

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To prove your superiority to the peasants!

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Depends if you’re Greek or Roman.

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The comforting wheeze of my CPAP machine.

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The fruit corner yogurt pack.

If you rated the Friends cast from best to worst, what would your list look like?


Who do you think will win in Bible 2?

You mean the Book of Mormon?

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I go out of my way to avoid interacting with them in any way whatsoever to avoid embarrassing incidents. They’ll get the hint eventually!

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Immediately upon taking office President Trump will declare war on Atlantis and nuke the world’s oceans.

Why do you think Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall?

He was taken out by a sniper

If you see someone drowning but you don’t know how to swim do you still have a legal or moral obligation to jump in and try to save that person?

Yes, unless you are Phil Collins.

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The Canis Helix is incompatible with insect genetics

Where do you guys buy pants?

Buy pants? I exclusively wear clothing I find abandoned on the street!

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It confuses the cows! Damn cows have had it too good for too long…

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A person who needs supernatural threats to make them behave in a moral fashion is not a moral person.

How can a person stop thinking about a girl?

Think about a lovely horse instead!

What is the little table that comes with the pizza REALLY used for?

It’s in case you want to share your pizza with a mouse

You are suddenly teleported to Brie in Middle Earth at the start of The Fellowship of The Ring. What’s your plan to survive?

I’m not sure that Professor Tolkien ever commented on the presence of runny cheese in Middle Earth.

What do you do to get ready for a first date?

Curl up in a fetal ball on the floor and hyperventilate.

What are everyone’s thoughts on the mattresses that you order online and shipped in a box?

The way they expand out of the box is straight up non-euclidian, suggesting that they’re not so much mattresses as quiescent shoggoths.

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As the number of members of a species decreases, more and more power is concentrated in the survivors. This means that if you kill one its ghost will be incredibly powerful and take terrible revenge upon you.

What is your best excuse to refuse liquor?

“Why, pray tell, do you seek to release the demons that dwell within my soul?”

What is the longest you could go without internet?

The rest of my life. I mean I wouldn’t be happy about it.

If you were a cozy anthropomorphic animal wearing Victorian clothing and living in a meadow having tea on toadstools what animal would you be?

A mole of course! I would wear wire-frame glasses and a colourful waistcoat!

What are the intentions of the Shadow People?

To have a good time!

What is the difference between erotica and pornography?

Erotica costs more

How do you help a friend who’s feeling down because of a rejection?

Does he like butter tarts?

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