The main part of this article relates to the version of Middle-earth's history that is considered canon by most Tolkien fans who accept such labels (see: Middle-earth canon). This subject's portrayal in earlier or alternative versions is discussed in the other versions of the legendarium section.
In the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Teleri (meaning Those who come last, singular Teler) were the third of the Elf clans who came to Aman. They were the ancestors of the Valinorean Teleri, and the Sindar, Laiquendi, and Nandor of Middle-earth.
The third clan was the largest of the three houses of the Elves, and most of the Avari originally belonged to this clan.
In ancient times they named themselves Lindar, or "Singers", because they were known for their fair voices. They were also called Nelyar ("The Third").
The Sindar of Beleriand called themselves simply Edhil, which means Elves, and is related to the Quenya word Eldar of the same meaning.
According to legend, the Teleri were descended from Enel, the third Elf to awake in Cuivienen, his spouse Enelyë and their 72 companions, but it was Elwë, the first of the Teleri to come to Valinor, who became their king.
The Teleri were sundered from the first two clans, the Vanyar and the Ñoldor, because they tarried behind searching for their lost king Elwë (later known as Thingol), and the first two clans were ferried across to Valinor on a huge island before the Teleri arrived in Beleriand. The Maia Ossë kept them company while they waited, and became their friend. Later when Ulmo returned with the island ferry, the Teleri had grown to love the sea, and Ossë convinced Ulmo to anchor the island in the bay of Eldamar, off the shores of Aman. The Teleri long remained on this Lonely Isle, and their language changed in different ways from that of the Vanyar and Ñoldor. Much later the Teleri learned to build ships, and finally made it to Aman.
The Teleri refused to join the Ñoldor in leaving Valinor, and many of them were cruelly slain in the Kinslaying at their chief city of Alqualondë, or Swan Harbour. For this reason few or none of the Teleri joined the host of the Valar which set out to capture Morgoth for good. It is recounted that the Teleri eventually forgave the Ñoldor for the Kinslaying, and the two kindreds were at peace again.
Their tongue, known as Telerin or Lindalambë (tongue of the Lindar), was considered by some to be a dialect of Quenya, but the Teleri themselves considered it to be an independent language. It was much more conservative than Quenya, and was the closest to Common Telerin (from which Sindarin and Nandorin were also derived), and even to Common Eldarin of the later Elvish languages.
Other versions of the legendarium
In the early versions of Tolkien's mythology (see: The History of Middle-earth), they were known as Solosimpi ("Pipers of the Shores"), while the name Teleri was given to the clan of Elves known in the published version of The Silmarillion as Vanyar.
- Ardalambion article on Telerin (http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/telerin.htm)