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2553Re: [elfscript] Istan pole!

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  • Helge K. Fauskanger
    Aug 30, 2003
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      I wrote:

      > > It is entirely possible to write long texts in Quenya using only
      Tolkien's own words and attested grammatical constructions.

      CFH responded:

      > And this is news to whom, exactly? This point was never at issue.

      Really? Normally CFH is extremely reluctant to recognize any post-Tolkien
      composition as genuine Quenya.

      I also wrote:

      > Beyond Tolkien's own work there is NOTHING (except post-Tolkien
      material).

      CFH responded:

      > To whom do you think this is news, other than those whom you confuse by
      insisting that "post-Tolkien" material is "genuine" and "authentic"?

      Post-Tolkien material is genuine Neo-Eldarin, to the extent it is
      well-formed according to the rules that can be inferred from Tolkien's own
      material. Of course it is not "genuine Tolkien", which simply means that
      Tolkien didn't come up with it.

      > It is _more_ than just fiction, it is _art_, art _requiring_ a history
      and a people, even if invented. Remember?

      What should be remembered is that Tolkien wrote that his languages inspired
      his authorship, NOT vice versa. Indeed one cannot infer much about
      Tolkien's invented world simply by examining the languages supposed to be
      spoken there. Also notice the ease with which Tolkien completely revised
      the internal history of his Celtic-sounding language, while keeping the
      language as such. But for a very few highly specialized vocabulary units,
      like "Silmaril", the entire Quenya-Sindarin-scenario could be fitted to
      just about ANY people and ANY history -- as long as one group was isolated
      from the other for some centuries or millennia, so that an original common
      language could split into two quite distinct branches.

      > No one has ever said that the Eldar were real (...) But _Tolkien_ was
      real, and so are his artistic creations.

      Tolkien was real, but Tolkien is also dead. Exactly how he would have
      solved any given problem facing people trying to write in Quenya or
      Sindarin is impossible to say; in many cases he probably wouldn't have a
      ready answer, but would have had to come up with something. We would have
      to do the same (except that we feel less free to introduce completely new
      roots). Again: when we move into uncharted territory in such a way, we are
      not contradicting Tolkien's work, but letting it live and grow (I
      understand this sounds overly "romantic" to CFH).

      > The Eldarin tongues were not, are not, and never will be, "living"
      languages. They were imaged by their creator to have verisimilitude as
      _having once been_ living languages (and even within the fictional image,
      Quenya ceased to "live and grow" long, long before the events of _The Lord
      of the Rings_),

      I don't think Quenya was particularly "dead" in Tolkien's mind. Whenever he
      considers his languages, his mind seems to move along the entire imagined
      period, even diving into the "pre-historic" period with its primitive roots
      and asterisked forms. The perspective is hardly that of a Third Age scholar
      "looking back" and trying to make out the history of a long-dead tongue.

      CFH wrote:

      > >> as the example of your own work and the "new texts" based on it shows,
      the desire to produce "new texts" _before_ Tolkien's own writings are
      understood actually _impedes_ understanding,

      I responded:

      > > What impedes our understanding of Tolkien's own writings more than
      anything else is their unpublished status, a problem CFH is potentially
      able to address.

      CFH is outraged:

      > This is yet another outrageous example of Helge's rhetorical
      sleight-of-hand. By ripping my words out of context, and by replying as he
      does, he wants you, the reader, to believe that the contrast I was drawing
      was between the understanding of those who have not read _all_ of Tolkien's
      own writings, published or unpublished, and those who have.

      Yeah, what a grotesque misrepresentation... Frankly this was the only sense
      _I_ could make of what CFH wrote, but luckily we now learn what "the actual
      contrast" was all about:

      > The actual contrast, as is apparent to anyone who actually reads what I
      actually wrote, is between those who rely _only_ on _Helge's_ writings and
      those who rely on _Tolkien's_ writings. The former are legion, as is
      evident from Elfling and much of the Internet-based discussion of Tolkien's
      languages.

      I believe there are quite a few people out there who rely _both_ on
      Tolkien's writings and on secondary sources like the ones I have provided,
      and are not aware of any particularly striking or important contradictions
      between the two. The Quenya course, in particular, is riddled with
      references to the primary sources and takes the reader through nearly every
      step of my reasoning.

      > My criticism is not of the conclusions you reach, per se, but of the
      methods you use to arrive at conclusions:

      Some would say that the conclusions are more important than the methods.
      The methods are a means; the conclusions are the goal.

      > for example, dismissing any evidence that doesn't conform to your
      pre-judgments as invalid;

      It is quite obvious that some "evidence" represents ideas Tolkien
      abandoned, and then I must be allowed to say so.

      > I have in fact already offered some corrections to your work, some of
      which you've adopted (without acknowledgment, I note, as for example in the
      matter of pronouns; though I don't realistically expect you to cite my name
      or my work other than in expectoration),

      If CFH can be bothered to search for his own name in my articles, he would
      find that he is cited favorably a number of times.

      > and others of which you've chosen to ignore (as for example in the matter
      of Noldorin and Sindarin past-tense forms).

      I don't seem to be aware of any "correction" offered me by CFH having to do
      with Sindarin past-tense forms. Where did it appear?

      > Indeed, as my colleagues -- esp. Bill Welden -- and I have made plain on
      numerous occasions, you continue to labor under a false assumption, that
      all questions will be answered and all debates settled once all of
      Tolkien's papers have been published; while in fact, given the
      ever-shifting nature of Tolkien's artistic creation, you will find yourself
      even _less_ certain about many things than you are now.

      Like, "Gee, there are two genitive endings here --- both -o and -n!!! How
      could Tolkien do this to us?! Which one are we to use? What a dilemma! My
      head explodes!"

      If we live to see the day when "all of Tolkien's papers have been
      published", we will know what the options are, and what remains is mainly a
      matter of selection.

      I wrote:

      > > For instance: if CFH thinks _-ch_ is a bad choice as the ending for sg.
      "you" in Sindarin, what ending(s) would in his opinion be a better
      alternative?

      > We _do_ have a 2 sg. form attested for Sindarin, as you know.

      Yes, we have _le_, but what we need is an _ending_ to be added to verbs.

      > Were I inclined to "use" one, I would certainly pick an _attested_ form
      over one that is not only _not_ attested, but for which there is strong
      evidence _against_.

      Is there any published evidence either way for _-ch_ as a 2nd person sg.
      marker?

      > So too would you, if you weren't motivated by a desire to see a friend's
      pet theory "vindicated" against the arguments of someone else whom you have
      set up as an enemy (precisely in order to be able to mock and thus ignore
      all those inconvenient facts he offers).

      Oh my, what sinister motives I really have...

      > There is not a _single_ pronominal suffix to be "revealed". There is not
      a _single_ answer to this question, or for most questions you have
      regarding Tolkien's languages, because they are _not_ _single_, complete,
      self-consistent entities.

      Please notice that I did write "what ending(s) would in his opinion be a
      better alternative?" Notice "ending(s)". One, or several. The way CHF is
      behaving would seem to suggest that he knows one or more endings that he
      believes would be a BETTER alternative than _-ch_ as the ending for sg.
      "you" in Sindarin proper. CFH's mantra "there is no single answer to any
      question" is all too familar by now. Very well, but it should still be
      possible to produce summaries of the main trends in (say) Tolkien's
      thinking on the pronouns, even if one is not trying to crystallize a
      "standard" system.

      > the slimy rhetorical misdirections and fallacies of a politically- and
      self-interested demagogue.

      The demagogue would be me, I guess? Carl, Carl -- only ONE of us is
      obsessively discussing the moral standards and (supposedly) sinister
      motives of the other...

      - HKF
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