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Re: LoTR dialogue and soundtracks

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    In Elfling message 33726 (
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 27, 2006
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      In Elfling message 33726 (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
      message/33726>), David Salo writes:

      > There are those who argue that I should have simply avoided using
      > them at all. These are people who weren't actually in the position
      > of having to do the translations.

      While I certainly don't fault David for favoring expediency in the
      face of what were no doubt tremendous pressures of time in
      translating dialogue for the films, I must nonetheless note the
      vacuity of this particular response to criticism: it amounts to David
      saying that his Elvish translations are not to be criticized at all
      save perhaps by himself, there being no one _but_ David "actually in
      the position of having to do the translations".

      > the first I could not have known about

      Certainly. No one should fault David for not knowing then-unattested
      forms.

      In conjunction with this, if I may anticipate a line of argument
      regarding my essay "Elvish as She Is Spoke", I would like to point
      out that I do criticize David or anyone else in that essay for
      failing to be prescient. The examples I highlight in that essay of
      conjectures that turned out to be false are meant only to demonstrate
      (as the closest thing we can have to a "controlled experiment" in
      these matters) just how un-Elvish the bulk of "Neo-Elvish" is likely
      to have seemed to Tolkien himself, relying as it does so heavily on
      the non-native coping factors I list in that essay (assumed
      regularity, dictionary translation, kennings and paraphrase, imported
      syntax and idiom, etc.). I cite David and Helge for these examples
      because they are universally regarded as the very best "Neo-Elvish"
      practitioners, and so their works illustrates the _best_ that "Neo-
      Elvish" can be. Using only mediocre (or worse) "Neo-Elvish" efforts
      as examples would illustrate only the weakness of "Neo-Elvish"
      novices, not the inherent problems of "Neo-Elvish" itself.

      > that words of gerundial *form* (like "cabed") are used simply as
      > nouns doesn't seem to me to be truly controversial

      Even if this were true -- which it isn't, as even a cursory glance at
      the work of serious Tolkienian linguists who aren't David or Helge
      (or myself, for that matter) would show -- it still doesn't address
      the _real_ criticisms of David's work in this connection, which are
      1) that he cites several examples of plural gerunds in his _Gateway
      to Sindarin_ that are in fact _unattested_, while in _no way_
      indicating that they _are_ unattested, despite his claim in the front-
      matter to have marked unattested forms; and 2) that there is _a
      priori_ no reason to _assume_ that Noldorin/Sindarin have plural
      gerunds (since many real languages having gerunds do not have plural
      forms of gerunds).

      Let it be noted that I am _not_ saying that Noldorin/Sindarin _can't_
      have plural gerunds (I don't recall seeing any in Tolkien's papers,
      but that doesn't mean much since I haven't gone looking for them
      either, so they might be in there somewhere); I am saying only that,
      despite David's misleading presentation of the matter, none are
      _attested_, and so any construction or use of plural gerunds in "Neo-
      Sindarin" (or, for that matter, "Neo-Quenya") is based _solely_ on
      assumption imported from English: again, one of the obvious and
      inherent defects of "Neo-Elvish".

      In other words, my criticism is of David's _methodology_, and
      particularly of his obvious willingness to manufacture "evidence",
      and even to alter what Tolkien actually wrote, and pass the results
      off as attested, in order to "support" his own view of what Elvish
      _should_ be.

      > the point of the exercise was not to produce "what an elf would
      > have said" (obviously impossible) or to mystically plumb the depths
      > of Tolkien's soul

      Of course not, on both counts; this is a straw man. One does not have
      to do either of those things to produce _much_ better "Neo-Elvish"
      than is typically found (and given no constraints of time such as
      David obviously faced with the movie translations; but that excuse
      doesn't pertain to _Gateway to Sindarin_'s many intellectual
      dishonesties, nor to _Gateway_'s and _Ardalambion_'s running
      roughshod over the evidence and altering Tolkien's own forms to fit
      "theory"). Demonstrating this, and offering concrete suggestions for
      improvement, is one of the central purposes of my "Elvish as She Is
      Spoke", which I invite everyone to read at:

      <http://www.elvish.org/articles/>

      Carl
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      ... That should be I do _not_ criticize David or anyone else in that essay for failing to be prescient , of course. (D oh!)
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 27, 2006
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        On Dec 27, 2006, at 10:09 AM, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:

        > In conjunction with this, if I may anticipate a line of argument
        > regarding my essay "Elvish as She Is Spoke", I would like to point
        > out that I do criticize David or anyone else in that essay for
        > failing to be prescient.

        That should be "I do _not_ criticize David or anyone else in that
        essay for
        failing to be prescient", of course. (D'oh!)
      • Carl F. Hostetter
        In Elfling message 33736 (
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 28, 2006
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          In Elfling message 33736 (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
          message/33736>) Helge Fauskanger writes:

          > It is probably not entirely unfair to suggest that certain reviews
          > of _A Gateway to Sindarin_ may be colored by private grudges
          > against the author.


          It is certainly entirely _beside the point_ of the actual criticisms,
          which had _nothing_ to do with personalities or grudges, but instead
          focused _entirely_ on factual matters, on actual quotes from David's
          book, refuted with actual quotes from Tolkien's writings: such as
          David's fabrication of evidence, while passing it off as attested; or
          claiming that Tolkien's own deliberate forms are mistakes because
          they don't fit David's pet theories.

          But of course Helge has no interest in citing or responding to actual
          criticisms, facts, quotes from Tolkien, or reasoning, and so instead
          simply entirely dismisses all of these with this entirely _ad
          hominem_ response.

          Carl
        • Patrick H. Wynne
          Carl wrote, in reply to Helge Fauskanger s statement in Elfling message 33736 that It is probably not entirely unfair to suggest that certain reviews of _A
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 28, 2006
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            Carl wrote, in reply to Helge Fauskanger's statement in Elfling message
            33736 that "It is probably not entirely unfair to suggest that certain
            reviews of _A Gateway to Sindarin_ may be colored by private grudges
            against the author" :

            > It is certainly entirely _beside the point_ of the actual criticisms,
            > which had _nothing_ to do with personalities or grudges, but instead
            > focused _entirely_ on factual matters, on actual quotes from David's
            > book, refuted with actual quotes from Tolkien's writings [...]

            Indeed. Every statement I made about David Salo's inaccurate translations
            in my Lambengolmor post (#765) can be easily verified as factual by
            anybody with copies of _A Gateway to Sindarin_ and Tolkien's books
            to hand: e.g. I noted that on pg. 348 of his book Salo glosses _Elladan_
            as 'like both Elves and men' and cites _Letters_:282; but in the actual
            passage in _Letters_, Tolkien glosses _Elladan_ as 'Elf-Númenórean'
            instead, a rather important bit of information that Salo does not bother
            to mention. This inaccuracy is a hard, verifiable _fact_, not a subjective
            judgment colored by a grudge. Indeed, I welcome Helge -- or anyone
            else -- to point out _any_ instance in post #765 where I made a factual
            error in reporting the specifics of Salo's inaccuracies.

            -- Patrick H. Wynne
          • Carl F. Hostetter
            In Elfling message 33750 (
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 31, 2006
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              In Elfling message 33750 (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
              message/33750>), David Salo writes:

              > As for -ad forms having plurals: how plausible is it, really, that
              > words like eithad "insult" or erthad "union" would *not* have plurals?

              David here falls once again into the trap of arguing not on the basis
              of Sindarin (or even Noldorin) data, but rather from English.
              Certainly the _English_ words "insult" and "union" are fully concrete
              nouns _in English_ and have plural forms _in English_; but that does
              _not_ necessitate that the Sindarin words they gloss are and do as
              well. To see this, let's just replace languages in Salo's question:

              "how plausible is it, really, that words like (German) _Sprechen_
              "language" or (Latin) _legendo_ "reading" would *not* have plurals"?

              Sure, the English glosses can (and do) have plural forms. But the
              German and Latin words _do not_.

              > Why should one assume them to be exceptions?

              "Exceptions" to what? David makes it sound as though there were
              numerous examples of gerunds, of which it is being claimed that a few
              (like these two) do not have plural forms, while the rest do. The
              situation, again, is that we have lots (by the standards of this
              field) of apparent gerunds, _none_ of which have plural forms
              attested. Those are the facts. Coupled with another fact, namely,
              that many languages having formal gerunds (e.g. Latin and German)
              have no plural forms of gerunds, it is evident that there is no basis
              for claiming that Sindarin either does nor must have plural gerunds.
              (The best we can say is that it _may_ have plural gerunds, and we
              just happen not to have any attested yet.) So the only "assumption"
              being made is by David himself, who assumes that these _must_ have
              plural forms, and is content to make them up and present them as
              though they were attested.
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