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Re: Words of Wynne

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    In Elfling message 34910 (
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 13, 2008
      In Elfling message 34910 (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/34910
      >), Helge Fauskanger yanks a number of quotes by Patrick Wynne out of
      their contexts and uses them to paint a portrait of Pat as mocking
      Elfling members. (The _real_ mockery is that which Elfling's moderator
      has made of himself and his list-readers' intelligence, but that's
      another topic.)

      Fortunately, the full texts in which these quotes appear are easy to
      find, and anyone whose does so and reads them will see that Helge has
      yet again misrepresented a critic, and their criticism. Pat is not
      opposed to translation into Tolkien's languages _per se_: he's done it
      before, and he does it far better, more learnedly, and more believably
      than Helge ever has.

      What Pat spoke out against in each of the quotes Helge provides, as
      readily seen when read in their context, is one or the other of
      several closely-related phenomena:

      1) Helge's insistence on labeling "Neo-Elvish" constructions -- in
      particular, his own -- as "authentic", as though there was no
      distinction of any importance to be made between his constructions and
      Tolkien's own. Pat rightly insists that only Tolkien's own writings
      can truly be regarded as authentic, and that everything else, no
      matter how skillfully or cleverly devised, remains _inauthentic_. _In
      this context_ it is indeed accurate to call the attempt to pass off
      "Neo-Elvish" constructions as "authentic" _forgery_: that is the term
      for _any_ attempt to create a fake and pass it off as "authentic".

      2) Helge's campaign of denigrating the value of and interest in
      Tolkien's earlier writings on his invented language. This of course is
      merely part of his campaign of attacks against my colleagues and me
      and our plan of presenting Tolkien's linguistic writings more-or-less
      chronologically: Helge wants everyone to think that our work is
      unimportant, even meaningless, and so he throws the vast bulk of
      Tolkien's writings about his languages under the bus.

      3) Helge's apparent belief that translating (usually badly) texts and
      poems (usually banal) into "Neo-Elvish" is a scholarly endeavor of _at
      least_ the same importance and magnitude as actually studying what
      Tolkien actually wrote about his invented languages. To see the
      absurdity of this, imagine that the whole archive of Elfling were
      suddenly and irretrievable lost: would it make _one bit of difference_
      to _anyone's_ knowledge or understanding of Tolkien's languages? Now,
      imagine that, say, "The Early Qenya Grammar" -- one of those early
      works of which Helge is so dismissive -- disappeared, and compare the
      impact.

      The nature of Helge's dishonest rhetoric can readily be demonstrated
      and summed up in his deliberate twisting of Pat's comment about
      "speaking languages that were never meant to have a life outside of
      Tolkien's mythology", of which Helge asks: "Never 'meant' by whom, by
      the way? Tolkien, presumably -- in the sense that he did not _foresee_
      a situation where people might want to actually use his languages".
      No, that is _not_ the sense of Pat's words, which are very clear: Pat
      said nothing about Tolkien's prognosticatory powers, he spoke of
      Tolkien's _intent_, and it is undeniably a fact that Tolkien never
      intended for others to be able to speak his languages.

      Of course, clear meanings, and honest representations of the same, are
      never Helge's friends....

      Carl
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