"Making a big splash": On David Salo's "scholarship"
- In Elfling message 19980
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/19980), David Salo
attempted to smear Bill Welden as one who:
> care[s] less about getting [his] facts straight than in making a bigI have already pointed out, in Elfling-d message 19
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling-d/message/19), the breathtaking
hypocrisy of this statement, coming as it does from one who, e.g.,
published a presentation and analysis of all the known (to him) drafts
(there are others...) of "Galadriel's Lament", _based solely on a
fourth (or higher) generation photocopy of notes taken by a third
party_, _never having seen one jot of the original texts_, and _without
making even the most minimal effort to verify his readings of the
texts_; with the result that there are a number of misreadings in his
I have also pointed out the breathtaking hypocrisy of this statement,
coming as it does from the only "scholar" of Tolkien's languages I am
aware of who has actually _issued press releases_ declaring his
http://www.newswise.com/articles/2001/12/RINGS.UWI.html ), press
releases _soliciting interviews_, and resulting in numerous
Here is the latest:
Let's take a look at some of David "Lord of the Rings Language" Salo's
claims and representations in this interview:
> Salo ... [is] probably the world's leading expert on Sindarin andOn what basis, other than wishful thinking and self-promotion, can
David make this claim? Scholarly expertise is both earned and measured
by _publication_, not by proclamation. _What has David Salo published_,
of _scholarly_ nature, on _Tolkien's_ languages? A couple of (flawed)
articles in _TyTy_? _I_ have published more in the past year than David
Salo has during his entire "career" as an "expert"; and I certainly do
not consider myself to be "the leading expert" on Tolkien's languages,
nor even particularly well-published, compared to the decades of work
done by some of my colleagues.
> his linguistic marks are all over the films.Well put. Meanwhile, _Tolkien's_ linguistic "marks" are barely in
> Salo translated into Dwarvish (another of Tolkien's languages)This is a sleight-of-hand. By David's own admission, he translated
texts into his own, fabricated language loosely based on Tolkien's
Khuzdul. It doesn't take much "expertise" to pull pseudo-Dwarvish words
and grammatical devices out of one's arse and string 'em together.
> Salo came up with the Elvish dialogue:Let's take a brief look at our "expert"'s version of "Elvish", and see
> Arwen: "Renich i l i erui govannem?" (Do you remember the time when we
> first met?)
how it compares with Tolkien's Sindarin:
*_renich_ is intended to mean 'you (sg.) remember'. But David cannot
point to a single published source or justification for his
oft-asserted idea that the ending _-ch_ _ever_ meant 'you (sg.)' in
Sindarin. Indeed, very strong reasons to think it _cannot_ have had
that meaning has been discussed on Elfling.
_erui_ is intended to mean 'first'. According to _Tolkien_, in a
document published in July 2001 (well before the first film was
released), _erui_ "cannot be used for 'first'. In Eldarin _er_ was not
used in counting in series: it meant 'one, single, alone'" (VT42:10).
Perhaps if our "expert" could be bothered to follow the primary
literature of his field of "expertise", we wouldn't have Arwen asking
Aragorn whether he remembers "the only time we met".
And so on.
> the language needed to be firmly based on Tolkien's creations, toDavid's "expertise" failed him on the first count; and of the
> satisfy the purists
dismissive labeling of those of us who actually _do_ care about
_Tolkien's_ languages as "purists", recalling his falsehood-laden
charges against Bill Welden in the Elfling message referred to above, I
will quote his own words back to him:
"I am dismayed by what this seems to say about "Tolkien language
scholars" .... This kind of thing makes us who study Tolkien's
languages come off as
idiots or buffoons".
What does it say about David's "scholarship" that he would participate
in portraying those who are _actually_ concerned about _Tolkien's_
languages, the truth, and substantive authenticity (instead of merely
_claiming_ such while making stuff up to suit whims, as both David and
Jackson have done in the films), as "purists", only to be patronized
and chuckled at?
> Thus, said Salo, Quenya, the formal Elvish, used in proclamations suchYes, it should. Too bad you can't actually hear "Galadriel's farewell"
> as Galadriel's farewell and in official histories, should sound noble
> and sonorous
in the movie (at least, not distinctly); while Christopher Lee's
"Quenya" declamation is mispronounced, misintoned, and muffled by a
very loud storm. Not that David had any control over either of _those_
> As a result of his study of Tolkien languages, he's written a 300-plusAnd once again, David dangles his 300-plus page book on Sindarin in
> page grammar of the Sindarin language - which traces origins and
> variations of words - that he hopes to publish someday.
front of the press ... but not, of course, in front of those who would
presumably want to read such a thing. And once again, David expresses
the "hope" that he will be able to publish it "someday". Well. What,
exactly, is _stopping_ David from publishing the work _today_? He has
on numerous occasions expressed his utter contempt and demonstrated his
utter disregard for any question of copyright -- while urging the same
views on others -- so of course, it cannot be any _legal_ concern
keeping David from publishing his tome. (After all, certainly David
would not be so hypocritical as to work to convince others that there
can be no possibility of legal issues arising from publishing an
extensive work on Tolkien's languages without the Estate's permission;
and yet be too timid to publish his own work without seeking or
obtaining that permission; would he?) What, then, can possibly have
kept David from simply publishing his completed grammar on the Web?
Could it be that he wants to make _money_ from his work (unlike, say,
Bill Welden, whom David smears as being only self-interested), instead
of giving it away for free by publishing it on the Web? Well no, that
certainly can't be it: after all, his wife, Dorothea, just one week ago
declared her utter disregard for the rights of artists to make money
from their work (http://www.yarinareth.net/mt/mt-tb.cgi/273 ):
"Explain to me why, from a long-range point of view, I as admirer of
literature and other creative arts should care how content creators
make their living.... I should also like an explanation of why the
artist’s living should automatically trump concerns over the strength
and viability of culture in general, or the preservation of cultural
artifacts for future generations."
"Some of the concerns about contributing work to the public domain
strike me as dog-in-manger. “What happens if somebody else makes money
off my work because I didn’t know I could?” Er, you lose. Happens."
"It is entirely possible to believe that artists should and can make a
living from their work while still hoping that they will donate some or
all of their work to the public domain"
So, it's not money, nor is it concerns of copyright, that has stopped
David from freely publishing his for-years-dangled book. What, then, is
it, David? Do you have some sort of religious objection to publishing?
Would publishing it on the Web not make big enough of a "splash" for
And while we're considering the words of Dorothea, former moderator and
manager of the Elfling list, and thus supernally concerned with
accuracy, truth, and fairness, let's consider these from the same
> Did you know, apropos of nothing in particular, that under argumentsAs a matter of fact, no one could know this, as it is a bald-faced lie.
> put forth by some folks with close ties to the Tolkien Estate, all
> that lovely Elvish in the Lord of the Rings movies would have been
> considered a massive copyright violation?
There are no "folks with close ties to the Tolkien Estate" claiming
that the "Elvish" in the movies are a copyright violation. As has in
fact been argued by the "folks" Dorothea has in mind (including
myself), part of copyright is the right to make derivative works, such
as films. It is these specific, derivative rights that Peter Jackson
owns and exercises in making his films. No one disputes that.
It is worth noting, however --- though I have not thought of it before
reading Dorothea's words -- that Jackson's derivative rights extend
_only_ to material, characters, and situation found in _The Hobbit_ and
_The Lord of the Rings_, and _not_ to any other of Tolkien's works,
published or unpublished. Therefore, just as a legal case against
Jackson could (easily) be mounted were he to use characters or
situation from, say, _The Lost Road_ in his film (material to which he
has no derivative rights), it could be argued that using the
_linguistic_ material from _The Lost Road_ (or any other source than
those two novels) -- which Jackson has certainly done, via David's
"translations" -- _likewise_ falls outside Jackson's derivative rights.
As Dorothea herself notes:
> there’s no case law specifically contradicting this point of view.Dorothea continues:
> that hasn’t stopped the folks I’m thinking of from intimidating peopleI don't believe you, and neither should anyone else, since this is
> with threats of copyright suits or general blacklisting. Don’t believe
> me? Go read the Tolklang archives from, say, 1998 or thereabouts.)
another bald-faced, and intensely hypocritical, lie. No one has _ever_
threatened copyright suits; nor has has _anyone_ _ever_ been
"blacklisted" by _anyone_ other than David Salo himself, and his
"colleague" Lisa Star. David's current (and Dorothea's former) list,
Elfling, has a long-standing policy of censorship, and of banning
participants from the list entirely; as does Lisa Star's so-called
"ElvishLinguistics" list. Unlike, say, my own list, Lambengolmor, which
does not restrict membership in any way (only the content of posts,
which must be scholarly: again, unlike Elfling and ElvishLinguistics).
> He's made study trips to Marquette University in Milwaukee,But only _after_ publishing a purported (and flawed) presentation of
the drafts of "Galadriel's Lament" that are found there. I'm still
trying to work out how this demonstrates a concern for "getting his
facts straight" instead of "making a big splash". Perhaps David can
explain this to us.
> and has become expert enough that he can point out where Tolkien madeOh? Would David care to point out a few of these "mistakes" that
> mistakes writing in his own invented languages.
_Tolkien_ made, which have been uncovered only by his "expertise"? Or
would that not make a big enough splash to be worth your time?
- The link I gave to Dorothea Salo's disdainful statements on copyright
and false statements concerning the Tolkien Estate's rights is broken.
The correct URL is:
> The link I gave to Dorothea Salo's disdainful statements on copyright<snip>
> and false statements concerning the Tolkien Estate's rights is broken.
> The correct URL is:
Bear in mind though, that she didn't actually say the rights were broken;
she said someone else said it, viz.: "under arguments put forth by some
folks with close ties to the Tolkien Estate, all that lovely Elvish in the
Lord of the Rings movies would have been considered a massive copyright
- On Wednesday, January 29, 2003, at 01:24 PM, Mark A Miles wrote:
> Carl,Neither did I. I said the _link_ I gave to Dorothea's statements was
>> The link I gave to Dorothea Salo's disdainful statements on copyright
>> and false statements concerning the Tolkien Estate's rights is
>> broken. The correct URL is:
> Bear in mind though, that she didn't actually say the rights were
> she said someone else said it, viz.: "under arguments put forth byWhich is utterly false. No one (at least, none of the "folks" Dorothea
> some folks with close ties to the Tolkien Estate, all that lovely
> Elvish in the Lord of the Rings movies would have been considered a
> massive copyright violation".
clearly has in mind) has argued that such use of Tolkien's invented
languages as is made in the movies would violate copyright (except, as
I have _now_ discussed, possibly the issue of the usage that the
derivative rights owned by Zaentz et al. may permit or prohibit).
Dorothea is once again misrepresenting the actual positions of others
to serve her own political agenda.
- On Wed, 29 Jan 2003, Carl F.Hostetter wrote:
> > Bear in mind though, that she didn't actually say the rights wereMy mistake. I knew you meant the link was broken but then I somehow
> > broken;
> Neither did I. I said the _link_ I gave to Dorothea's statements was
misread the sentence again! My apologies...
- 'Salright. We all make mistakes; and the Internet seems to amplify them!
On Wednesday, January 29, 2003, at 04:38 PM, Mark A Miles wrote:
> On Wed, 29 Jan 2003, Carl F.Hostetter wrote:
>>> Bear in mind though, that she didn't actually say the rights were
>> Neither did I. I said the _link_ I gave to Dorothea's statements was
> My mistake. I knew you meant the link was broken but then I somehow
> misread the sentence again! My apologies...