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2573Re: [elfscript] Istan pole!

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  • Helge K. Fauskanger
    Sep 5, 2003
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      Carl F. Hostetter wrote:

      > Once again we see one of the classic Fauskangerian rhetorical
      bankruptcies: pretend that I used a term I never did, so as to introduce a
      false contradiction. I never called such compositions "genuine Quenya", and
      I do not do so now, despite Helge's dishonest implication. Yes folks, he
      really does think you're that stupid.

      The man who speaks about "dishonest implication" would probably do well to
      refrain from ascribing to me such ideas about the intelligence of the
      "folks" reading this list.

      CFH is very afraid of the word "genuine", it would seem, or insists on
      using it in a highly specialized meaning. Yet what is the relevant context
      here? This whole thread started with someone asking whether a certain
      (post-Tolkien) Sindarin sentence was correct or not. Often we see people
      asking such questions (normally with some remark to the effect that "I'm
      going to have a tattoo made so it'd better be right!") Do these people
      mean, "Does this string of words happen to be directly attested in
      Tolkien's corpus?" Hardly. In many cases it is a translation they have
      made, or had made, themselves. So their question really means, "As far as
      anyone can tell without hiring a medium to contact Tolkien himself, is this
      sentence grammatically correct Quenya/Sindarin? Is it genuine in the sense
      Grelvish is NOT genuine?" Of course, they may have to provide a little more
      info about their own definitions before we can answer that. Some would
      tolerate one or a few neologisms (like _estelio_), others would insist on
      using only Tolkien's own words. Yet it is possible to provide a useful
      answer to their question.

      I wrote:

      > 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.

      Predictably, CFH responded:

      > Nor is it genuine Quenya, or genuine Sindarin.

      It is genuine Neo-Quenya/Sindarin. It is not genuine Tolkien-made Q/S, of
      course, which simply means that Tolkien didn't write it.

      Incidentally, is Tolkien's _istan pole_ a genuine Quenya sentence? Genuine,
      but wrong? That's a tricky one...

      I wrote:

      > Indeed one cannot infer much about Tolkien's invented world simply by
      examining the languages supposed to be spoken there.

      CFH brings out the capitals:

      > WHAT!? Helge, you really shouldn't let your political zeal lead you into
      making such absurd statements. It makes you look stupid.

      I stand by it. I also wrote: "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".

      CFH writes:

      > Sure, so long as they were a monotheistic culture of immortal spirits
      indwelling in immortal bodies

      How can this be inferred from the languages? How can you tell that a _hroa_
      is an immortal body just by looking at the word? (Indeed I would think the
      same word can also be used about mortal bodies; Tolkien placed no such
      restrictions on its meaning.) How can you tell that the speakers of the
      language must be immortal? Because the words _ilfirin_ (Q) or _alfirin_ (S)
      occurs in their lexicon? Well, duh, English also has the adjective
      "immortal", yet no speaker of English has even reached 150.

      > inhabiting a once-flat world made round

      Oh yeah? I really wonder how this can be deduced from such words as _Cemen_
      or _Ambar_?

      > who lived alongside a race of angelic gods

      "Gods"? I thought you just said they were monotheists? Indeed, if all you
      had was the word _Vala_ and the knowledge that it referred to some kind of
      powerful spirit being, how could you even tell if "angel" or "god" was the
      best translation? If you opted for the latter translation, if logically
      follows that these guys believing in several _Valar_ must be polytheists.

      > as well as a race of demonic creatures corrupted by an immensely powerful
      Dark Lord who ruled over them as well as dragons and fire-demons.

      Again, how is this deduced? Because words like _valarauco_, plus the name
      of a sinister being called Melkor/Moringotto/Morgoth, occur in the lexicon?
      English has words like "demon" and "Satan", yet the objective existence of
      these beings remains a matter of faith. Just by looking at his name in a
      dictionary, who can tell whether or not this
      "Morgoth" (let alone his fire-demons) is a purely mythological being?

      No, I'm afraid the fact remains that very little certain knowledge about
      the intended world could be extracted just by examining the grammar and
      dictionary of the languages supposedly spoken in it. One could plausibly
      conclude that the speakers of these languages must be MORTAL, for otherwise
      their languages wouldn't have diverged into two branches as distinct as
      Quenya and Sindarin. The Teachings of Pengolodh can hardly be deduced from
      any Q/S wordlist or grammar...

      CFH is warning the reader against me again:

      > 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.

      All right. So the "real" or intended distinction was between those who
      depend only on secondary sources like the ones I have provided, and those
      who have also (or only) read the published primary sources. I would surely
      encourage all serious students to read the primary sources, but what
      immense revelations are people supposed to experience, really? The "read
      Tolkien's books!" mantra becomes misleading if people are lead to believe
      that everything will be answered there. Say you want to know about the
      Quenya pluperfect. Maybe you have worked your way through my Quenya course
      and found nothing about it. Disappointing. Now how could the author leave
      out the pluperfect?

      Well, let's buy LotR, the Silmarillion, the Hobbit, RGEO, MC, all twelve
      volumes of HoME, every single back issue of VT and Parma... Half a year
      later, when you have absorbed all of this stuff, you would discover that
      you STILL don't know how the Quenya pluperfect is formed. And you could
      have saved yourself all the trouble and the expenses, for if such
      information had been published, it would have been in my course as well. It
      is not there because it is not _anywhere_. I don't think I have left many
      stones unturned.

      I wrote:

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

      CFH responded:

      > Absolutely, _in cases where it is in fact quite obvious_; which cases are
      far, far fewer than you believe (because you want to believe, to keep your
      conclusions tidy, compact, and "useful").

      All right, so maybe we should expect to see the genitive ending _-n_
      suddenly come back to life for several minutes in a 1963 note Tolkien
      scribbled on the back of an envelope -- and therefore nobody must ever feel
      free to say that Tolkien dropped the ending -n in favour of -o.

      I wrote:

      > 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.

      CFH wrote:

      > OK, let's.

      Yes, let's. From the list of quotations provided by CFH, the reader will
      already have inferred that there is nothing even remotely as insulting or
      condescending as "My goodness, Helge, you are quite the little masochist,
      aren't you?". CFH is not called a "demagogue", neither is he compared to
      Morgoth (as I have been by CFH on several occasions).

      It's no point in going through the entire list; CFH himself has to admit
      nothing insulting can be read into many of these quotations. Yet he tries
      his best to do just that.

      Quote from me:

      > "Hostetter in his editorial observed: "Translations of the Lord's Prayer
      have enjoyed a long tradition as representative texts for use in
      side-by-side comparisons of various languages." But since Tolkien
      apparently never made any efforts to have his Quenya-language Lord's Prayer
      published, it does not seem that he intended it to be a general "sample" of
      the language."

      CFH comments:

      > Looks to me like a typical Fauskangerism: create a contrast to make it
      look like I was making a claim about Tolkien's translation, which I never

      No artificial "contrast" is intended here. I believe it is quite clear from
      the reference that the quote does NOT come from the same VT issue as the
      one where Tolkien's Lord's Prayer versions are presented; it is much
      earlier and relates to his OWN attempt to translate this prayer. The quote
      from CFH simply presents entirely general information. In no way am I
      trying to make it look as if he is asserting anything about Tolkien's

      Quote from me:
      > "When making their own translation of the Lord's Prayer, Patrick Wynne
      and Carl F. Hostetter indeed coined precisely the word *síre to translate
      "today" (VT32:8). Yet Tolkien's manuscript definitely seems to read síra
      and not *síre

      [CFH:] > What has our coinage to do with Tolkien's creation? Why even
      mention it?

      I am discussing the possibility that _síra_ should actually read _síre_. It
      is then relevant that other researchers also found this a plausible word
      and even came up with such a form themselves (though not in the context of
      analyzing Tolkien's own text, as I clearly state).

      The quotes relating to the publication project and its rather slow progress
      are, as far as I can see, simply factual information. I don't believe my
      wording is anywhere particularly bitter or insulting.

      > Hm, yes, "some _useful_ material". That speaks volumes about you, Helge.

      For my purposes, which are also the purposes of very many other students,
      some material is indeed more relevant and interesting than other material
      (in particularly clearly pre-classical writings). Like it or not.

      [Quote from me:] "On the other hand, Carl F. Hostetter thinks the Quenya
      aorist is used to describe an action that is "punctual, habitual, or
      otherwise durationless" (VT41:15). This is probably correct in most cases,
      describing the typical function of the aorist. Yet some examples suggest
      that it may be better to say that whereas the present tense explicitly
      identifies an ongoing action, the Quenya aorist is simply unmarked as far
      as duration is concerned."

      CFH is really eager to find some kind of manipulation here:

      > Never mind that "unmarked as far as duration is concerned" _is_
      durationless; just self-servingly manipulate terms and make it _look_ like
      you are drawing a distinction where none exists.

      One does exist. "Durationless" must mean "without duration", i.e. punctual.
      CFH himself writes "punctual...or OTHERWISE durationless". This is not the
      same as "unmarked as far as duration is concerned", which implies that the
      action in question can be _either_ punctual or ongoing. Yet when I cite CFH
      and add, "this is probably correct in most cases" (though I have some minor
      reservations), I think this can be called a favorable quote. It tells a lot
      about his mindset when he really, really tries to find some 'self-serving
      manipulation' even here.

      [Quote from me:] "Years ago, Vinyar Tengwar reported that one of the
      Elfconners was editing the Taliskan grammar, and Carl F. Hostetter confirms
      that it will be published...one day."

      [CFH:] So apparently neither I nor Christopher Tolkien are to be permitted
      to judge what is the best order in which to publish material.

      Did I say anything to this effect? Yet the confirmation I refer to came in
      a letter where CFH himself admitted to me that it had been wrong to refer
      to the editing of the Taliskan grammar in such a way as to suggest that it
      would soon be published. This forms part of a larger pattern: I think
      exactly NOTHING that was pre-announced in Vinyar Tengwar in the nineties
      has yet been published. Do judge for yourself "what is the best order in
      which to publish material", but please don't raise false hopes and then be
      very angry if someone reminds you about what you said (in some cases even
      promised), but failed to deliver.

      About Sindarin pronouns:

      [Me:] > Yes, we have _le_, but what we need is an _ending_ to be added to

      [CFH:] > And of course we have no examples or even the slightest indication
      of how pronominal endings relate to independent pronouns. Nope, not a clue.

      Actually we don't have very many Sindarin examples to go on. Yet I have
      discussed the possibility of *_-l_ as a 2nd person marker in Sindarin (see
      my article "Reconstructing the Sindarin Verb System" on Ardalambion.com),
      though I would expect this to be a plural "you" if it is to correspond to
      Quenya _-lle_ (this ending apparently denoting the 2nd pl. in some versions
      of the language).

      [Me:] > Oh my, what sinister motives I really have...

      [CFH:] At least you aren't denying it.

      Carl, please look up the term "irony" in one of those dictionaries you are
      so fond of quoting from...

      - HKF
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