Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Futility: On the current state of Elfling

Expand Messages
  • Carl F. Hostetter
    [Please feel free to refer to or forward this message to the Elfling list.] In message 17077 (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/17077), Ben Hamill
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 27 8:47 AM
      [Please feel free to refer to or forward this message to the Elfling

      In message 17077 (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/17077),
      Ben Hamill rehearses at length what he terms two "differing theories"
      to explain various 1st pl. endings encountered in Tolkien's writings.
      In doing so, he (self-admittedly) relies only on what Helge Fauskanger
      last had to say on the matter, and on what he was able to glean from
      the Internet, and not on the actual evidence. He therefore regards the
      two "differing" accounts as "theories" (i.e., explanations that
      sufficiently account for all the known evidence), and as having equal
      theoretical weight; though in the end he "sides" with Helge's "theory".

      Now, the purpose of this post is not to pick on Ben, who at least
      recognizes that he hasn't considered all of the evidence, and the
      consequent limitations of his methodology. Instead, I selected Ben's
      post because it and the subsequent discussion (which includes asking
      for a "vote" to see what the most common "usage" is) provides a
      forceful example of the sorry state in which Elfling finds itself.

      The fact is, in light of actual evidence published in _Vinyar Tengwar_,
      Helge's "theory" is clearly invalid, in that it does not explain _all_
      the available evidence. I think Helge knows this, but, for whatever
      reason, he chooses not to point this fact out in Elfling, despite once
      having been an eager and active participant on the list. Nor does he
      choose to update his web site (of which he is justly proud and upon
      which he is proud to see so many rely for their view of Tolkien's
      languages -- often, solely) to reflect the new knowledge. Nor, for
      whatever reason, does list manager David Salo choose to provide any
      correction, despite his renewed interest and participation in the list,
      and his newfound concern for reducing the blather that has all but
      overwhelmed the list. Meanwhile, I have been banned from the list, and
      so unlike David and Helge have no choice in the matter.

      The facts about Tolkien's languages must be determined by thorough
      consultation and citation of the actual evidence. Any list that, like
      Elfling, proclaims itself to be concerned with the "_scholarly_ study
      of _the languages invented by J.R.R. Tolkien_" must recognize and
      enforce this, or it has no claim on scholarship, and will inevitably
      fall into a state of continuous argument by assertion, propagation of
      error, and the creation of accepted truths by constant repetition of
      "facts" that were "read somewhere" or that "Helge said" sometime,
      somewhere in his more-or-less outdated web tomes.

      In message 17141 (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/17141),
      an Elfling member writes:

      > if the students were thrown a few incomplete reference books and left
      > to teach themselves and each other, NOW THAT WOULD BE FUTILE.

      The extreme irony of this statement, especially as made on Elfling, is,
      I feel sure, lost on the poster. The fact is, anyone trying to "learn"
      Elvish, in the sense of being able to "use" it, to speak or write it,
      is and forever will be "teaching themselves and each other" from "a few
      incomplete reference books", because that is all that Tolkien left
      behind. There are not, never have been, and never will be, any fluent,
      or even competent, speakers of Tolkien's languages (not even Tolkien
      himself qualifies). The effort is, therefore, as the poster correctly
      concludes (without recognizing the larger situation) utterly futile. It
      is only "learning" Elvish, in the sense of studying Tolkien's writings,
      the actual facts of the language, that is ultimately _not_ consigned to
      this futility.

      But even within the smaller context of the specific situation the
      poster was thinking of, they apparently fail to recognize another
      irony: that the very "teachers" being imagined have all but abandoned
      the list they started, and are quite content to sit in the sidelines
      and watch error after error (often enough "learned" from themselves)
      being repeated and turned into truth.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.