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902[elfscript] Re: A question about Artist & Illustrator

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  • Arden R. Smith
    May 25, 2002
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      Sébastien Bertho wrote:

      >But *_aland_ or more probably _alanda_ could be possible as well, since the
      >drawing and the inscription seem to date from the late 20's.
      >Are there any clues for a precise datation of them ? A&I speaks about the
      >preceeding drawingw that are form july and august 1928, but the drawing that
      >interests us seems to have been made on a separate sheet, probably later
      >than the last drawings in the Book of Ishness.

      I can't make any judgements concerning the date of the drawing based
      on the paper or the artwork, but on the basis of the script I would
      guess that it dates from around 1930. Tengwar scripts in documents
      dated 1931 and later conform more or less to the conception of the
      Feanorian system as it is presented in published materials, whereas
      unpublished tengwar-style scripts from as late as 1929 still differ
      in significant respects.

      >Does someone know if the letter _alda_ was already in existence at this
      >stage of Tolkien's linguistics (late 20's) ? I'm most interested in the
      >languages (especially Quenya), but, alas, I'm not a specialist in the
      >scripts !

      The letter that came to be called _alda_ (whether or not it was
      called that at the time) existed in such a form with the value _ld_
      in at least one Qenya application of the tengwar by the 1930s, but
      it's impossible to say whether the drawing is earlier or later.

      Certainly the *concept* of _alda_, i.e. a single letter to represent
      the cluster _ld_ in Qenya, was in existence long before Tolkien made
      this drawing, since we find such a thing in Qenya applications of the
      Rúmilian alphabet (see R13 and R17).

      However, that doesn't mean that Tolkien would necessarily have used
      it every time he wrote Q(u)enya in tengwar. The discussion of the
      Feanorian alphabet from which the Rúmilian excerpts in R24 were
      taken presents a mode in which the letter we know as _alda_ has the
      value _ld_ and another mode in which it has the value _lh_ (or _hl_),
      and Tolkien uses *both* of these modes for the representation of

      Furthermore, it's far from certain that the letter we know as _ando_
      has the value _nd_ in this inscription. This letter doesn't have the
      value _nd_ in *either* of the modes that I mentioned in the previous

      >More, _alanda_ appears indeed unglossed on p. 30 of the QL, but it is
      >glossed "wide" on p. 34 (and so it in the "Poetic & Mythologic Words of
      >Eldarissa") and "broad, wide" on p. 51(from stem LARA, with a diacritic on
      >the 'r') !

      Oops. You're quite correct. As the kids say nowadays, "My bad!"

      >I am most inclined to interpret the inscription as *_alanda orne_, with the
      >probable meaning *"wide tree", since _alda orne_ *"tree tree" would seem
      >very odd !

      Not necessarily. I can think of two scenarios in which the reading
      _alda orne_ would be perfectly normal: (1) This is a tree, and these
      are the two words used to denote this object in Qenya; (2) Which of
      these two Qenya words for "tree" should be applied to a tree of this

      The big question here is whether _alanda_ 'wide' still existed in
      1930s Qenya. _Etymologies_ has _landa_ 'wide' (V:367), with which we
      may compare _I Nori Landar_ *'The Great Lands' (I:84-85, 263) and
      Goldogrin _land_, _lann_ 'broad' (PE11:52). Of course, none of this
      proves anything, since _alanda_ could have existed alongside _landa_.

      >I'd like very much to see how the tree looks like on the drawing... Can you
      >please help, Mr. Smith ?

      That would of course require the permission of both the Tolkien
      Estate and the Bodleian Library, but I can give you some idea of what
      it looks like. It's similar in shape to the tree in the foreground
      of "Trolls' Hill" (_Artist & Illustrator_, fig. 99), but a bit more
      conical, with a trunk only about one third as tall. So while the
      tree isn't narrow by any means, it doesn't strike me as remarkably
      wide, either.

      >To me, the fact that no point is placed under _lambe_ (nor under _ando_) in
      >the first word points also toward an interpretation of it as _alanda_ and
      >not _alda_.

      This is of course a strong point in favor of _alanda_, but I should
      note that Tolkien occasionally forgot to include the subscript dot
      when writing in this fashion. See, for example, the "misspelling" of
      _Ziguur_ in line 11 of Text II of Lowdham's Old English manuscript
      (IX:321). Note also that the subscript dot is optional, as shown by
      the example of _clm_ for _calma_ in Appendix E.

      In conclusion, _alanda orne_ 'wide tree' may indeed be correct, but I
      see no reason to cast aside _alda orne_.

      Arden R. Smith erilaz@...

      "Do you know Languages? What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?"
      "Fiddle-de-dee's not English," Alice replied gravely.
      "Who ever said it was?" said the Red Queen.

      --Lewis Carroll,
      _Through the Looking-glass_
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