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Re: Khuzdul: The Dwarven Tongue

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    In Elfling message 33020 (
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 5, 2006
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      In Elfling message 33020 (< http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
      message/33020>), Helge Fauskanger writes:

      > Taliska (if the grammar of the latter is ever
      > published...it was announced in VT many years ago)

      (for about the umpteenth time)

      and

      > Years ago, I asked
      > Bill Welden whether they do, but apparently such sensitive information
      > cannot be released. (Not that I asked, or will ask, any questions
      > about the
      > CONTENTS of these notes; I just asked whether they still EXIST at
      > all, so
      > that we can hope for their eventual publication.

      Hm, now why on earth would any of us be disinclined to answer Helge's
      queries, even just as to the existence or non-existence of materials?
      Hm. Hm. That's a puzzler.

      That doesn't mean, of course, that we haven't answered this question
      when _others_ have asked it.
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      In Elfling message 33020 (
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 5, 2006
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        In Elfling message 33020 (< http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
        message/33020>), Helge Fauskanger writes:

        > In principle we could even derive wholly unknown "Avarin" Elvish
        > tongues,
        > starting from Tolkien's roots, and there would still be a
        > relatively firm
        > connection to Tolkien's original work. (What the Professor would have
        > thought of such projects, and whether he would even consider
        > granting the
        > results any official or "canonical" status, are of course questions
        > that
        > must remain forever unanswered.)

        They most certainly are _not_ unanswerable: in fact, the answer in
        both cases is clearly and emphatically NO (as Helge well knows,
        though of course he doesn't _like_ the answer). There is absolutely
        no reason to suppose that Tolkien would _EVER_ consider such
        manipulations of _his_ art-languages to be _IN ANY WAY_ "official" or
        "canonical", any more than he would consider stories (or movies)
        using his characters to be. Nor is there any reason to think that he
        would approve of "such projects", or of any alteration or
        manipulation of his languages with forms and for purposes that were
        not his own, any more than he did, for example, of efforts of
        translators of his work to reinterpret or otherwise alter his own
        carefully devised system of nomenclature: "I wonder why a translator
        should think himself called on or entitled to do any such thing. That
        this is an 'imaginary' world does not give him any right to remodel
        it according to his fancy" (L:250); or of attempts by Mr. Rang and
        others to discover hidden significances in Tolkien’s Elvish
        nomenclature, about which he wrote: "These seem to me no more than
        private amusements, and as such I have no right or power to object to
        them, though they are, I think, valueless for the elucidation or
        interpretation of my fiction. If published, I do object to them, when
        (as they usually do) they appear to be unauthentic embroideries on my
        work, throwing light only on the state of mind of their contrivers,
        not on me or on my actual intention and procedure" (L:379-80). If
        Tolkien objected to such relatively limited manipulations of his art-
        languages and their significance and nature, how can anyone think
        that he would in any way approve of wholesale fabrications such as
        Helge imagines?

        What's more, the whole "project" would assume that Tolkien's
        languages behave in way that _no_ real languages do, and impart to
        them a nature and character that they demonstrably do not have:
        namely, that every root and primitive form yielded descendant forms
        in each descendant language. Whereas in fact we see that in Tolkien's
        languages, as in all real languages, primitive roots and forms often
        enough did _not_ have descendants in all descendant languages, and
        even when they do they often enough develop different senses and/or
        change formation classes. Such artificially generated "Avarin"
        languages would thus be even more relentlessly artificial in nature
        than are Helge's neo-Quenya and Salo's neo-Sindarin -- neither of
        which Helge could honestly suppose Tolkien would consider "official"
        or "canonical" in any sense.
      • Carl F. Hostetter
        In Elfling message 33157 (
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 14, 2006
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          In Elfling message 33157 (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
          message/33157>), Jay Lawson wrote:

          > I find this a little frustrating, although certainly not your
          > fault. I had corresponence with Carl Hostetter, Bill Welden, and
          > Patrick Wynne some years back that was quite amiable (despite some
          > of the experiences of members on this forum). However, I was
          > unable to get them to release any information at all regarding what
          > they had in their possession.

          Jay, this is simply untrue, as my e-mail records show. I told you
          everything I was able to tell you (admittedly, not much) by way of
          characterizing the material, which was at any rate enough to convey
          to you that the remaining unpublished material isn't going to
          "complete" Khuzdul or make it "usable" in the way you seem to want.
          Khuzdul was, for Tolkien, and thus ever will be, for us, nothing more
          than a sketch of a language. (To my mind, your interests would be
          much better served by simply making up your own language expressing
          your own phonetic and grammatical tastes, and leaving Khuzdul out of
          it entirely. I rather think Tolkien would have made the same
          suggestion to you.)

          As for the rest of your post: Christopher Tolkien gave us copies of
          this material to edit and (eventually) publish in a scholarly manner.
          Part of that manner includes a judgement as to what to publish when.
          I'm sorry you aren't willing to let us (including Christopher
          Tolkien) use our judgement in these matters, but so long as
          Christopher Tolkien is, we'll continue to present the material in the
          manner and order that we deem best for fulfilling his purpose in
          providing the material to us in the first place.
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