** On this list, there was an interesting exchange between Carl F.
Hostetter and Oliver Schnee some time ago. I deliberately refrained from
commenting on it then, partly because I wanted to look up quite a few
references, partly because prompt responses from me tend to result in
Hostetterian accusations about my alleged "knee-jerk reaction" whenever I
see his name. Oh well.
** Oliver Schnee wrote:
> First of all, a good morning and a nice day to everyone.
** This intro is peaceful enough, but potential controversies are coming up
> Somewhere on his site Helge Fauskanger seems to imply that Carl Hostetter
is sitting on photocopies of original Tolkien manuscript material, that's
how far I know the story.
** Well, this is common knowledge by now. The classical "outsider's report"
on these documents is still that of David Salo, though his first (and
almost certainly last) visit to Carl F. Hostetter's home took place as
early as 1996:
** CFH claims that David sometimes misrepresents and misquotes him, but
David's general description of the manuscripts themselves is relatively
uncontroversial, I believe. CFH may claim that the manuscripts are more
difficult than David thought they were; maybe David saw some particularly
legible papers, maybe not. Since CFH and his group insist that facsimile
publication is out of the question, we shall never really know the answer.
(By the way, you are already wondering why this post is called "Cabbage",
right? We'll get to that, eventually.) Oliver wrote:
> So, please, Mr. Hostetter, publish! Or if you don't have the time give
the material to someone else or avail yourself of help and still publish
in VT. I can see no reason why you shouldn't do one or the other. We would
all be happy to order any new issues of VT (and I will place an order
probably next month for some back issues). You have valuable material in
your possession. Please, let us have it.
** Of course, what Oliver Schnee writes here is almost exactly what some of
us have been saying for years and years. Now he is saying it as well, quite
** The response of CFH is (was!) entirely predictable. I think I understand
his full range of possible responses now. Suggest that his group should
publish faster, and he will claim that you have no idea what you are
talking about. Point out, however gently, that you can't be very impressed
when four or five people have supposedly been working for more than ten
years and still haven't managed to get more than a few hundred pages in
print -- and he will lecture you about how happy and satisfied the Tolkien
Estate is with the progress of the project. Ask him why his journal _Vinyar
Tengwar_ doesn't appear more often, and in a few days he will produce an
amount of text that could have filled several VTs -- all about how unjust
it is to imply that he should produce more VTs! Go on expressing any
misgivings about the (non-)activity of his group, and he will either accuse
you of being "duped" (as he did), or he will start wondering aloud if you
are not really ME posting under another name (as he recently did on another
list). Very soon we will even have exclamations like "shame on you!" or
"you should be deeply ashamed of yourself" (no, I'm not making this up,
just check the Elfling archives). Here goes:
> You, sir, have been duped; and why you feel compelled to give advice to
me when you recognize your own ignorance in this matter, is completely
** Oliver, you may think that CFH sounds aggressive here. But believe it or
not, this response is actually quite civil compared to what David Kiltz had
to hear on Elfling a year ago. When he expressed some views that were not
entirely incompatible with those of David Salo, myself and others, CFH
referred to "the same infantile and narcissistic people whose uniformed
rhetoric you are aping".
** CFH continues:
> I have made the effort and shown the trust and ability that put me in the
position of being able to work with and publish Tolkien's linguistic
manuscript legacy. No one did this work for me. So I say to you and Helge:
instead of complaining that others aren't doing enough for you, why don't
you do for yourselves? Why don't _you_ publish? You will say, "but I don't
have access to the material!" To which I say: why is that? _I_ didn't have
access to the material 10 years ago, but I do now. Could it be that there
is some essential difference between my approach to the material and the
Estate and the archives, and Helge's approach, that makes mine successful
and Helge's not? Hm. Hm.
** Dear reader, if you follow the link I provided above, you will see that
at least as David Salo recalls his conversation with CFH, the latter made
it quite clear already back in '96 that _nobody else_ were to be added to
the team, except possibly Bill Welden. The fact that Welden alone has later
been accepted into the group seems to suggest that David's recollection is
substantially accurate in this regard.
** Whenever CFH uses the kind of rhetoric we see above, the unwary must be
left with the impression that in the early nineties, the Tolkien Estate
sifted through veritable hordes of Tolkien-linguists and finally came up
with the four names of Hostetter, Gilson, Wynne and Smith: These rare
individuals, pure of heart and linguistically competent, were the only ones
who had demonstrated the immense personal integrity and undying loyalty
that must be demanded from people who are to be granted access to the
Sacred Manuscripts. Is not the truth rather that CFH and his colleagues
were simply in the right place at the right time? At the time they were
pretty much the _only_ people publishing any journals of importance in this
field. As CFH himself is fond of pointing out, people like David Salo and
myself started publishing Tolkien-linguistic analyses only later -- and by
1996 CFH told David that the doors were already closed. This was _before_
all the events that CFH now interprets as betrayals.
** No, I am not necessarily saying that if David and I had showed up about
five years earlier, then the Estate would have chosen _us_ instead, or even
us as well. We would certainly have driven a harder bargain with the Estate
than CFH's group seems to have done. We would have reserved the right to
publicly discuss linguistic technicalities drawing on the total mass of
material, whether published or unpublished: The naked _information_
contained in the manuscripts is in no way copyrighted; only Tolkien's
actual text is. It is entirely possible that the Estate would have found
our terms unacceptable, if they really must control the flow of information
regarding even the smallest technicalities touching on the languages and
** Oliver wrote that he found my "linguistical proficiency _and_
philological technique" adequate (thanks!), and CFH responded:
> Were those qualities sufficient, things might be different. They are not.
And in the other requisite qualities, Helge is _spectacularly_ deficient.
** I have already indicated where I am "spectacularly deficient": I would
never accept any manuscripts on the condition that I could not publicly
discuss even the naked, technical information contained in them. Trivial
details about the structure of a couple of invented languages (and the
associated scripts!) are not to be confused with private, sensitive
information about Tolkien himself. For instance: If someone was going to
write an essay called "Vegetables in Middle-earth" and publicly wondered
what the Elvish word for cabbage is, and I had access to some manuscript
containing this all-important piece of information, then I would _answer_
the guy. Instantly. With no hesitation. I would not even dream of
contacting the Tolkien Estate to ask their permission to reveal to the
world what the Eldar called cabbage, and the Estate would have no reason to
feel betrayed, for I would have made it quite clear to them that this would
be my policy before they ever sent me any manuscripts. And if this is
unacceptable to them -- well, then they must simply find other transcribers
to do the work for them. I would never surround the content of these
manuscripts with a level of secrecy that (given the utterly harmless and
technical nature of the subject matter) would be quite ridiculous.
** The funny thing is that sometimes, members of the present transcription
team seem to behave as if they have _exactly the same freedom that I would
require_. As we know, CFH has occasionally invited others into his home to
"ogle" (his word) the manuscripts and has even allowed them to take notes
(for their "private use", of course...), but this is not what I am
primarily referring to. A few weeks ago, on this very list, Arden Smith
rather surprisingly started to provide technical information about the
scripts, answering questions from people. (I had go back and look up the
relevant postings; this is one reason why I it took me some time to comment
on this exchange between Oliver and CFH.) Regarding the question of whether
_úr_ or _úre_ is the correct name of a certain Tengwa, Smith told us:
"..._úr_ is the form that is most frequently found in the manuscripts.
However, I am aware of a manuscript page, apparently of late date, that
does give the name as _úre_, and this form appears on the page three times.
So the introduction of _úre_ in the second edition was presumably at
Tolkien's request and not a typographical error." The "manuscript page" in
question is of course unpublished.
** Answering the question "Did the meaning 'heat' always applied to the
tengwa úr >> úre? Never 'large' or 'fire'?", Smith wrote: "The gloss 'fire'
appears in the [unpublished] 1930s material. I can find no evidence [in
the unpublished writings!] that the tengwa name ever had the meaning 'wide,
** Regarding the function of the Tengwa _yanta_, Smith wrote: "I've never
seen an actual example of the word _yanta_ in tengwar written by Tolkien.
I have seen the tengwa _yanta_ used to represent word-initial /y/ in
Q(u)enya, but only in other words, e.g. _Yavanna_. " No such word appears
in published Tengwar samples.
** Smith also wrote: "To the best of my knowledge, there is no example of
the word _anna_ actually written by Tolkien with the letter _anna_. There
are, however, examples using _wilya_ (in a mode in which that letter had
the function of _anna_, representing nil < ) and also an example using
the short carrier." These are unpublished examples.
** Smith even answered a question _I_ asked, regarding the root of the word
_anna_: "The etymological forms given [in a certain unpublished manuscript]
have _3_, with no explicit indication of what stage of the language is
indicated. No root is provided, but I agree with you that it would have to
be *GAN-." Obviously Smith had no time to write to the Tolkien Estate and
ask their permission to tell the public that there is, indeed, a manuscript
that cites etymological forms in _3-_ for the word _anna_. Nor can I
imagine why Tolkien's heirs would possibly feel the need to control the
flow of such ultra-technical information.
** CFH was here at the time. He did not comment on this string of small
revelations, and I almost wondered if the whole group was going to adopt
this sudden _glasnost_ policy. Had they re-negotiated their deal with the
Estate, or what? Or maybe the kind of openness Smith displayed would not
have violated any agreements in the first place? Indeed that is what
Christopher Gilson appeared to be telling me when I exchanged some letters
with him back in '99. I asked him, "Are you saying that if even a[n Elvish]
preposition gets out without written permission from the Estate, you will
have broken your agreement with them?" He responded, no. I also asked,
"Have you ever tried asking CJRT whether such small-scale dissimination of
info would be OK with him?" Gilson responded that he hadn't asked this
specific question of Christopher Tolkien, but he would do so if I thought
it was worthwhile. This was three years ago. No further news. I wonder if
he ever asked him "this specific question".
** Is there such a great leap from "I have seen a manuscript where the word
Yavanna is written with an initial yanta" to "I have seen a Sindarin
sentence confirming that a verb immediately following its subject is
lenited"? (When I asked CFH about the latter grammatical problem on Elfling
some time ago, he implied that it was quite improver of me to ask for such
information.) As CFH would say, "Hm. Hm."
** Imagine what would happen if the manuscripts Smith referred to had
somehow "leaked" to me and _I_ had answered people's questions just like
Smith did. For weeks, this list would primarily be devoted to CFH's
analyses of my low morality and my total lack of respect for the law, for
copyright, for the Estate, for Christopher Tolkien, for the late JRRT
himself, for the requirements of the material itself, and so on and so
** Well, CFH's group is supposed to publish this material in the _proper_
way, or so he insisted:
>> My colleagues and I _have_ been publishing, for many years, in the pages
of _VT_ and _Parma Eldalamberon_.
** Oliver responded (with gentle irony):
> But obviously at an astonishing speed.
** CFH then went into the normal you-have-no-idea-what-you're-talking-about
rhetoric: "First, how would you know, since you don't take [read 'make'?]
_VT_ or _Parma_? Second, how can _anyone_ know what is or is not an
"astoninshing" [sic] speed for publishing this material? By what metric do
** At the very least we must be excused for measuring by the "metric" of
CFH's _own public assurances_. For instance (I could quote many of CFH's
statements here) he wrote in TolkLang message 20.44 of September 16th,
1996: "Let me...pass along my profuse apologies for the long delay since
the last issue of V[inyar] T[engwar], and my deep gratitude for the
patience and indulgence of the membership. I will get at least one more
issue out this year, and then should be able to settle into at least a
quarterly pattern next year." Well, he did not get _any_ issues out in all
of '96, and the "quarterly pattern" he predicted for 1997 failed to
materialize not only that year but also in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. There
is a tiny chance that he could actually make it this year, since we have
already had two issues in the first half of this year (a truly sensational
publication rate, by the standards we have gotten used to...CFH has
publicly credited _me_ with the fact that publishing the Quenya Pater
Noster suddenly became very urgent indeed). Well, I wish him luck.
> And third, we are clearly publishing at a faster rate than Helge can keep
up with, to judge by the out-of-datedness of his Web pages, and by his own
admission that he hasn't been able to keep up with _VT_ [erh?]. Since your
understanding of Tolkienian linguistics is obviously filtered through
Helge, perhaps you should pester _him_ to keep you up-to-date, if you can't
be bothered to follow the literature yourself.
** Ah, so we are going to discuss the "out-of-datedness" of Ardalambion
now? On another list, when CFH made a similar argument, I asked why in
every issue of VT he hails as "indispensable" the hoary book _An
Introduction to Elvish_, out of date by a quarter of a century. Of course,
some of CFH's present colleagues contributed to it. I won't even speculate
whether they still receive any royalties for every copy sold; presumably
the book simply reminds them of their lost youth or whatever, and as long
as it is still in print...well, you get the idea... Not that everything is
wrong with this book; people on this list may be interested to know that
the chapter about the writing systems still reads well. But as for the
languages...we can do better now.
** It is true that I would like to rewrite and revise some of my own
linguistic analyses to take into account material that has appeared in the
last two or three years. Often you can't just jam in new pieces of
information just like that; the whole picture may subtly change when new
information is made available. But I still think my presentation of the
entire system and grammar of the languages (not just isolated linguistic
features) is still the most up-to-date material available in any medium.
** CFH never reacts well if anyone suggests that he should feel some kind
> I have a responsibility to _myself_, and to _no one else_. I do not
_have_ to publish anything. I _choose_ to do so, because I love Tolkien's
languages and want to share my interest in the subject, despite the insane
arrogance of my critics (_not_, mind you, critics of my _work_, but of
** People have normally criticized neither CFH nor his works. You won't see
me screaming "shame on you!" to CFH. What some of us have been criticizing
is CFH's _lack_ of work, or at least the general lack of published results.
David, in the posting I referred to above, reports that back in '96 CFH was
transcribing some kind of Quenya grammar. Well, it's been seven years and
all...may we have an update? Will a Quenya grammar the size of the
Encyclopædia Britannica go into print one of these days?
** Oliver wrote:
> [Helge] makes intelligent conclusions from sparse material.
(Thanks!) CFH responded:
> That is a matter of debate.
** Especially in debates where CFH participates. Yet he also publicly
declares that he and I "are probably in closer agreement on _most_ things
concerning Tolkien's languages than most any other two people on this
** Finally, I should comment on this, ahem, compliment:
> Let me say, Helge, that I appreciate that, by comparison with your
previous posts, in this you've managed to noticeably improve your level of
discourse, and decrease your indulgence in empty rhetoric, especially as
measured in innuendo, insults, putting words in my mouth, and making snide
remarks and strawman arguments. It's quite refreshing.
** Ah. Very good. Funny, some of the things CFH wrote on Elfling some time
ago come back to me now...I remember thinking at the time that my side of
the relevant debates was best served by keeping the _other_ side talking as
much as possible! Some samples of Hostetterian rhetoric:
> it is not the Estate's fault that Helge can't bear adult qualities.
> trusting in the basic decency of people (we hadn't met or heard
of Helge and David yet, after all),
> I [did not] think that [David Salo] would prove so underhanded, or that
one who fancies and prides himself an adult and a scholar would act in such
a petty and unscholarly fashion
> what does that make Helge, **Lisa, Salo, and company: the "unstable"?
> What I am calling them is juvenile, egotistical, dishonorable, arrogant,
> But in accord with the impatient arrogance of the Internet age, [Edouard
Kloczko] chose to break his word... [Notice that criticizing EK isn't
enough for CFH; the entire Internet community must be included!]
> [To the Elfling moderator:] stop offering blatantly hypocritical and
self-serving defenses of your reasons for seeking to silence me while
allowing Helge et al. free reign to continue their attacks...
** CFH had also invented a charming name for the people he doesn't agree
with: we are the _Dorkhoth_. In light of these (not _entirely_ unique)
examples of CFH's style of rhetoric, some would pardon me for feeling that
he has nothing to teach me about how to carry on a civil debate. But then
it has actually been several months since he last compared me to Morgoth,
at least publicly. That's "quite refreshing", too.
P.S. As for the debate of whether or not post-Tolkien Quenya is in any way
"real" or "authentic" Quenya, and whether or not we should feel free to
edit "standard" forms of Tolkien's languages, this forum is hardly the
right place for such discussions. I hope to write an article about this,
probably to be published on my site; in that article I plan to address many
of the arguments CFH has presented on this list and elsewhere.
P.P.S. If we are still in the Glasnost Era of CFH's team...what _is_ the
Elvish word for "cabbage", anyway? I am well aware of the dreadful
possibility that Tolkien may never have considered this...