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At the gates of Moria there is a riddle on the door. "Speak Friend and Enter".

Frodo then asks Gandalf "What is the elven word for 'Friend'?" who replies and the door opens.

Given Moria is a dwarven mine, why would the door require an elven password?

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That gate to Moria was created in the "Second Age" of Middle Earth, and was used to trade mithril with the Noldorian Elves of Hithlum. Relations between the Elves and the Dwarves were more cordial in the Second Age. The inscription and password on the gate created by Celebrimbor, the leader of the Elves of Noldor, hence is in elvish. Celebrimbor also forged the 3 Elvish rings of power.

[This is all in the Silmarillion]

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the inscription on the door reads:

Im Narvi hain echant. Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thiw hin

"I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Eregion drew these signs"

(taken from Wikipedia, I hope it is accurate). So Narvi the dwarf built the gate, and Celebrimbor drew the lettering and the cast the spell which only opens when the password is given.

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Makes sense - thanks! –  Liath Feb 28 '12 at 9:23
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You make "Noldor" sound like a place. It isn't. It's a tribe of Elves. (The place is Hithlum. The trade was with the Noldor of Hithlum, or the Noldorian Elves of Hithlum.) –  TRiG Dec 3 '12 at 12:41
    
@TRiG - thanks - updated. –  iandotkelly Dec 3 '12 at 17:32

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