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Re: [elfscript] stop it please ! will you !

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  • Michael Everson
    ... He does troll you pretty successfully, though. -- Michael Everson * * Everson Typography * * http://www.evertype.com
    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 3 10:42 AM
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      At 10:19 -0400 2003-09-03, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
      >I'm sorry, but I will not accept being included in this
      >admonishment. As always, it was _Helge_ who dragged this discussion
      >from matters of Tolkien's languages into personal attacks. As
      >always, it is _Helge_ who continues to drag matters further and
      >further away from topic (either for this list or even for the
      >discussion to which he is responding) as he gets increasingly
      >desperate to score points. And as always, it is _Helge_ who
      >continues to ignore invitations to move this discussion elsewhere.

      He does troll you pretty successfully, though.
      --
      Michael Everson * * Everson Typography * * http://www.evertype.com
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      ... That s one way to look at it, I suppose. ( Gee, it s a shame your store was robbed, mister. You did open your doors to the public, though.... ) Another way
      Message 2 of 8 , Sep 3 11:23 AM
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        On Sep 3, 2003, at 1:42 PM, Michael Everson wrote:

        > He does troll you pretty successfully, though.

        That's one way to look at it, I suppose. ("Gee, it's a shame your store
        was robbed, mister. You did open your doors to the public, though....")
        Another way is that which I went on to state:

        "And I will _not_ remain silent in the face of his lies,
        misrepresentations, and demagoguery. Or in the face of attempts to
        equate our characters and responses."
      • Michael Everson
        ... I happen to agree with you, Carl. I think you re right. I think Helge doesn t listen to what you actually say. I also think he enjoys winding you up. I
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 4 4:25 AM
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          At 14:23 -0400 2003-09-03, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
          >On Sep 3, 2003, at 1:42 PM, Michael Everson wrote:
          >
          >> He does troll you pretty successfully, though.
          >
          >That's one way to look at it, I suppose. ("Gee,
          >it's a shame your store was robbed, mister. You
          >did open your doors to the public, though....")
          >Another way is that which I went on to state:
          >
          >"And I will _not_ remain silent in the face of
          >his lies, misrepresentations, and demagoguery.
          >Or in the face of attempts to equate our
          >characters and responses."

          I happen to agree with you, Carl. I think you're
          right. I think Helge doesn't listen to what you
          actually say. I also think he enjoys winding you
          up. I don't know whether you need to defend
          yourself so vociferously,

          You know, it's possible to learn Gothic. People
          do. Tolkien did. It's possible to study the
          language to learn about Germanic linguistics,
          Gothic grammar, and to read the things that the
          Goths wrote to learn about them.

          It's also possible to make up new words in
          Gothic, to use them with other people. Tolkien
          did this in school, at least a little. What
          results may be well-formed, and it may be
          grammatical, if it follows the rules of grammar
          and morphology which we learn from Gothic. Is a
          Gothic word for "iuplausan" 'liquidize' (calqued
          on German "auflösen") Traditional Gothic? More so
          than if it were calqued on "pürieren" 'purée'
          perhaps) can only be Neo-Gothic, perfect,
          imperfect or not.

          Cornish is an interesting counter-example.
          Cornish died out as a native language at the end
          of the 18th century but has been successfully
          revived -- even if marginally -- in the 20th.
          People speak it to one another; some children
          have been raised with it alongside English.
          Neologisms are coined for it, like "lynnushe"
          'liquidize'. (As it happens there are competing
          orthographies for Cornish, which people argue
          about, but it's agreed that word-formation and
          borrowing and coinage are needed and useful.)
          Scholars who study Traditional Cornish limit
          themselves to the texts. That study sometimes
          informs Neo-Cornish, which, because it is being
          used productively. Good Neo-Cornish is something
          that a speaker of Traditional Cornish might
          accept. Nicholas Williams' translation of the New
          Testament in Cornish is probably the best example
          of Neo-Cornish one could hope for.

          Now, how does this relate to the study of
          Tolkien's languages? Well, there are different
          things people do. On one end of the spectrum we
          have people who are interested in the corpus of
          what I will call here Traditional Tolkienian
          (lumping all the languages together just for the
          sake of this argument). This is serious academic
          linguistic and literary work, and is important
          and satisfying and helps us to understand both
          the creator and his creations. It is "the proper
          study of Tolkien and his languages".

          Now from the beginning some folks have enjoyed
          writing new texts in Tolkienian, and some of
          those texts are quite good too. (Tolkien's Old
          English is great fun as well.) Of course people
          get frustrated when there is a gap in the record,
          whether a lexical or a grammatical gap. Does this
          justify inventing new things? Well, the INSTANT
          one does it is no longer Traditional Tolkienian,
          but it is Neo-Tolkienian. And there you're stuck.
          Because there's no "guarantee" that anything
          Neo-Tolkienian is authentic in any way. There is
          a much higher likelihood of the 25,000 words in
          Williams' English-Cornish Dictionary being
          accepted as authentic, because (1) we have a fair
          bit of Traditional Cornish, (2) we have Welsh and
          Breton and English and French and lots of
          information as to how to borrow from them into
          Cornish.

          Does the same obtain for Tolkienian? Could it? I
          think not. I think it's easy for people with "a
          little" linguistics to grossly overgeneralize,
          and to just make things up when it suits them.
          It's just as easy for people with "a lot" of
          linguisics to err. An infinite variety of
          Neo-Tolkienians is possible. And at the end of
          the day, what does it get you?

          Part of the study of Tolkien's languages
          naturally involves reconstruction and conjecture.
          So does the study of Proto-Indo-European. No
          reconstruction is anything but conjectural,
          however obvious the reconstruction might be.
          Authentic Tolkienian is found in the writings of
          the man himself.

          I'm going to make a complaint, to give this
          thread some ElfScript relevence. I once thought
          that I could use ElfScript to help us encode
          Tengwar and Cirth in Unicode. The reason for
          doing that encoding is ONLY to assist in the
          study of the primary sources. That the encoding
          could be used for other things is fine, but, for
          instance, no tengwar which are unattested will be
          entertained for encoding, however clever or
          useful they may be to a Neo-Fëanor. At the
          beginning I did get some good feedback on the
          Elfscript list, and will eventually get back to
          the encoding (living scripts like Cham and N'ko
          are taking precedence at present). Probably I
          will create a separate list for further
          discussion.

          Why? Because Jackson's films have thrilled
          millions, and Legolas is cute, and when the Elves
          speak it is sexy. (One might say that about many
          films. In "Shunkmanitu t'anka 'ob wachi" (Dances
          with Wolves) the Lakota does sound cool.) So
          ElfScript descends into alphabet magic: "How do I
          write 'I am eternally eternal' in Elvish? I am
          getting a tattoo on Friday."

          I think Professor Tolkien would not have approved.
          --
          Michael Everson * * Everson Typography * * http://www.evertype.com
        • Carl F. Hostetter
          ... Then neither do you know whether I _don t_ need to. Nor do I. ... It is possible to _study_ Gothic. It is possible to examine authentic texts in Gothic,
          Message 4 of 8 , Sep 4 7:59 AM
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            On Sep 4, 2003, at 7:25 AM, Michael Everson wrote:

            > I don't know whether you need to defend yourself so vociferously,

            Then neither do you know whether I _don't_ need to. Nor do I.

            > You know, it's possible to learn Gothic.

            It is possible to _study_ Gothic. It is possible to examine authentic
            texts in Gothic, analyze and theorize about what those texts tell us
            about the language as it might have been spoken. It is possible to
            examine the traces of Gothic influence left in other languages, and
            incorporate theories derived from analysis of those remnants into
            broader theories about the language as it might have been spoken. It is
            possible to draw inferences about spoken Gothic from the theoretical
            results of the historical linguistics of the Germanic and Indo-European
            language families to which Gothic belonged.

            But no, it is _not_ possible to "learn Gothic", not in the sense that
            "learn" means when unqualifiedly applied to languages, such as "learn
            Japanese" or "learn German". _No one knows_ how Gothic was actually
            spoken. _No one knows_ for sure what was and what was not grammatical
            in spoken Gothic. _All we know_ is theory derived from _written_ Gothic
            and other theoretical results.

            And precisely the same is true of Tolkien's languages.

            > Tolkien did.

            Tolkien was able to write and speak (to some extent; we have only
            second-hand reports, not transcriptions, so know way of knowing what
            Tolkien actually said, or how artificial or rehearsed it was) sentences
            composed of words and grammatical devices according (for the most part)
            with the predominant theories of the day concerning Gothic (and, no
            doubt, with his own personal theories and convictions). Nor was he
            entirely successful even at that, even in writing, as he himself
            pointed out.

            > It's also possible to make up new words in Gothic, to use them with
            > other people.

            Strictly speaking, it is possible to make up new words that conform
            with theory regarding Gothic phonology and morphology. But those words
            are nonetheless _not_ "genuine" and "authentic" Gothic. Still, in the
            usual sense of the phrase "make up new words in a language", yes, what
            you say is true. Of course, the very fact that one would do this "to
            use them with other people" speaks volumes about the vast difference
            between (relatively) poorly attested languages like Gothic and
            Tolkien's languages and other, spoken languages: If I were learning
            Japanese with some other people, we wouldn't be making up new words to
            use amongst ourselves. Nor would I pretend to "know Japanese" (as many
            pretend to "know Quenya" or "know Sindarin") just because I can string
            together words I look up in a dictionary into sentences that happen to
            conform to broad syntactic models.

            > Is a Gothic word for "iuplausan" 'liquidize' (calqued on German
            > "auflösen") Traditional Gothic?

            I have no idea what you mean by "Traditional Gothic". "Traditional" is
            not a linguistic term. Is it "genuine" or "authentic" Gothic? No. Does
            it conform to theory regarding Gothic phonology and morphology? Yes.
            Might it turn up in some as-yet-undiscovered Gothic text? Yes. Might it
            never ahve existed in any form of Gothic ever? Absolutely.

            > Cornish is an interesting counter-example.

            Cornish is an interesting _case_. But there are also key differences:
            First, there are far more surviving Cornish texts than there are for
            Gothic. Second, Cornish texts are not nearly so artificial as written
            Gothic was when compared to the spoken language (Wulfilas's translation
            of the Bible being _heavily_ influenced by vocabulary and syntax of the
            Greek texts).

            > Cornish died out as a native language at the end of the 18th century
            > but has been successfully revived -- even if marginally -- in the
            > 20th.

            I don't know much about the specifics of the Cornish Revival, so at
            this point I can only ask questions: apart from the _lexicon_ of what
            you call Neo-Cornish, how much of the grammar is reconstructed or
            invented? In other words, is the body of surviving Cornish texts, and
            information regarding the spoken language, sufficient to exemplify
            broadly and in detail the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the
            deceased language, or did much of this have to be reconstructed from
            fragmentary evidence? I ask this because, to the extent that the latter
            is true, I would question the precision of the claim that "Cornish" --
            which term would have to be qualified -- has been "revived".

            > it's agreed that word-formation and borrowing and coinage are needed
            > and useful.)

            Of course; but that's because it was first agreed among the same group
            of people that "reviving Cornish" (see my reservations about those
            terms above) was a goal they wished to pursue in common. But neither
            word-formation nor borrowing nor coinage are "needed" or "useful" to
            those wishing to study Cornish.

            > Good Neo-Cornish is something that a speaker of Traditional Cornish
            > might accept.

            "Accept" as what?

            > Nicholas Williams' translation of the New Testament in Cornish is
            > probably the best example of Neo-Cornish one could hope for.

            Whoa now. If Neo-Cornish has _truly_ become a living, spoken language,
            then there must be a community of fluent speakers of Neo-Cornish, and
            _anything_ said by _any_ of them would be just as good an example of
            Neo-Cornish as any other. On the other hand, if Neo-Cornish is in fact
            an _artificial_ language, then indeed one person's productions could be
            said to be better than another's -- and the phrasing of what you just
            wrote seems to betray a level of artificiality to the language, and a
            privileged status to Mr. Williams. Against what, exactly, do you
            measure Mr. Williams's translation to decide that it is the "best"?

            I should note that these are _not_ rhetorical questions. They go to the
            very heart of a crucial distinction between a dead/poorly-attested
            language (including nearly all artificial languages) and a living one.

            > This is serious academic linguistic and literary work, and is
            > important and satisfying and helps us to understand both
            > the creator and his creations. It is "the proper study of Tolkien and
            > his languages".

            I don't agree with that statement at all, as it implies that there is
            something improper about the sort of activity that Helge and the
            majority of posters to Elfling enjoy, and there absolutely is not.
            (Helge _wants_ you to believe that I feel it is improper, but even he
            knows better.)

            What _is_ improper is to attempt to eradicate the distinction between
            that activity and the activity of scholarship, which Helge does with
            his frequent use and fierce defense of applying such terms as "genuine"
            and "authentic" to the products of his and others' efforts at writing
            "in Elvish". It is this and other such (dare I say unscholarly)
            attempts to falsify the distinctions and actual natures of the two
            spheres of activities that I have spoken out against, and _only_ this..

            > Of course people get frustrated when there is a gap in the record,
            > whether a lexical or a grammatical gap. Does this justify inventing
            > new things?

            Of course it does, _if_ your goal is to produce (what matches your
            personal sense of what constitutes) a complete grammatical system for
            use with others. What it does _not_ justify is taking the results of
            these inventions and attempting to pass them off as "genuine" or
            "authentic". Nor does it justify elevating the hypothetical to the
            level of fact or evidence.

            > Because there's no "guarantee" that anything Neo-Tolkienian is
            > authentic in any way.

            In fact, it is _not_ authentic in _any_ way.

            > There is a much higher likelihood of the 25,000 words in Williams'
            > English-Cornish Dictionary being accepted as authentic,

            As authentic _what_? As accepted Neo-Cornish? You bet! As authentic
            (what you call Traditional) Cornish? It most certainly is not. You
            yourself draw a distinction between Traditional and Neo-Cornish; they
            are not interchangeable.

            And let's be honest here: in the case of _any_ artificial language
            lacking a community of fluent speakers (only Esperanto has, to my
            knowledge, achieved this status), the work of one or more "authorities"
            on the language will not be subject to a "vote": they will in fact
            _define_ the language. You will have people who accept their authority
            citing them as sources and their writings as proof (How else could it
            be? By what other measure can you judge the authority or evidentiary
            status of elements of a non-native artificial language?) -- and as we
            have seen throughout the history of artificial languages, you will very
            often have _other_ people following _other_ authorities, with resulting
            schisms (of course, because the work of each such authority defines
            their own artificial language). The difference between a scholar of
            Cornish and a student or speaker of what you call Neo-Cornish is that
            the former accepts only the actual written evidence of Cornish as facts
            about the language, while the latter will accept the writings and
            productions of their authorities as facts about the language. And the
            difference between a scholar of Tolkien's languages and a student of
            Neo-Elvish is that the former accepts only the actual evidence of
            Tolkien's writings as facts about the languages, while the writings and
            productions of their authorities as facts about the languages.

            And there is not one thing wrong with that, so long as the students,
            and _especially_ the authorities, don't misunderstand or deliberately
            misrepresent the fact that they are _defining_ new languages, _not_
            speaking or reviving the pre-existing language.

            > I think it's easy for people with "a little" linguistics to grossly
            > overgeneralize, and to just make things up when it suits them.

            Yep.

            > It's just as easy for people with "a lot" of linguisics to err.

            Yep.

            > An infinite variety of Neo-Tolkienians is possible.

            Yep.

            > And at the end of the day, what does it get you?

            Indeed.

            > Part of the study of Tolkien's languages naturally involves
            > reconstruction and conjecture. So does the study of
            > Proto-Indo-European. No reconstruction is anything but conjectural,
            > however obvious the reconstruction might be.

            Indeed. But no scholar of Proto-Indo-European will ever pretend that
            those reconstructions are anything more than theoretical, or that we
            know how to speak Proto-Indo-European.

            > Authentic Tolkienian is found in the writings of the man himself.

            Exactly so.

            > Jackson's films have thrilled millions, and Legolas is cute, and when
            > the Elves speak it is sexy. (One might say that about many
            > films. In "Shunkmanitu t'anka 'ob wachi" (Dances with Wolves) the
            > Lakota does sound cool.) So ElfScript descends into alphabet magic:
            > "How do I write 'I am eternally eternal' in Elvish? I am getting a
            > tattoo on Friday."
            >
            > I think Professor Tolkien would not have approved.

            I think you are right.
          • BP Jonsson
            ... Nobody has contested that. ... And some are trying to do exactly the same with Tolkien s languages. You, Mr. Hostetter seem to find this morally
            Message 5 of 8 , Sep 6 2:21 AM
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              "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...> wrote:

              >But no, it is _not_ possible to "learn Gothic", not in the sense that
              >"learn" means when unqualifiedly applied to languages, such as "learn
              >Japanese" or "learn German". _No one knows_ how Gothic was actually
              >spoken. _No one knows_ for sure what was and what was not grammatical
              >in spoken Gothic. _All we know_ is theory derived from _written_ Gothic
              >and other theoretical results.
              >
              >And precisely the same is true of Tolkien's languages.


              Nobody has contested that.


              >Tolkien was able to write and speak (to some extent; we have only
              >second-hand reports, not transcriptions, so know way of knowing what
              >Tolkien actually said, or how artificial or rehearsed it was) sentences
              >composed of words and grammatical devices according (for the most part)
              >with the predominant theories of the day concerning Gothic (and, no
              >doubt, with his own personal theories and convictions). Nor was he
              >entirely successful even at that, even in writing, as he himself
              >pointed out.

              And some are trying to do exactly the same with
              Tolkien's languages. You, Mr. Hostetter seem to
              find this morally reprehensible. I wonder why?
              Just as Tolkien knew what hat he was wearing
              when he pursued scholarship and when he pursued
              linguistic creation, so do I know what hat I'm
              wearing when I'm working as a scholar and when
              I engage in linguistic creation, whether a-priori
              or a-posteriori, and I'm sure that all other
              adult people know what hats they are wearing at
              any given time. So where is the problem?

              /BP 8^)
              --
              B.Philip Jonsson mailto:melrochX@... (delete X)
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~__
              A h-ammen ledin i phith! \ \
              __ ____ ____ _____________ ____ __ __ __ / /
              \ \/___ \\__ \ /___ _____/\ \\__ \\ \ \ \\ \ / /
              / / / / / \ / /Melroch\ \_/ // / / // / / /
              / /___/ /_ / /\ \ / /Gaestan ~\_ // /__/ // /__/ /
              /_________//_/ \_\/ /Eowine __ / / \___/\_\\___/\_\
              Gwaedhvenn Angeliniel\ \______/ /a/ /_h-adar Merthol naun
              ~~~~~~~~~Kuinondil~~~\________/~~\__/~~~Noolendur~~~~~~
              || Lenda lenda pellalenda pellatellenda kuivie aiya! ||
              "A coincidence, as we say in Middle-Earth" (JRR Tolkien)


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Carl F. Hostetter
              ... May I remind you that my reply was to the claim that we can learn Gothic ? ... And you, Mr. Jonsson, are _completely_ wrong, as you would know if you had
              Message 6 of 8 , Sep 6 5:34 AM
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                On Saturday, September 6, 2003, at 05:21 AM, BP Jonsson wrote:

                > "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...> wrote:
                >
                >> But no, it is _not_ possible to "learn Gothic", not in the sense that
                >> "learn" means when unqualifiedly applied to languages, such as "learn
                >> Japanese" or "learn German". _No one knows_ how Gothic was actually
                >> spoken. _No one knows_ for sure what was and what was not grammatical
                >> in spoken Gothic. _All we know_ is theory derived from _written_
                >> Gothic
                >> and other theoretical results.
                >>
                >> And precisely the same is true of Tolkien's languages.
                >
                > Nobody has contested that.

                May I remind you that my reply was to the claim that we can "learn
                Gothic"?

                >> Tolkien was able to write and speak (to some extent; we have only
                >> second-hand reports, not transcriptions, so know way of knowing what
                >> Tolkien actually said, or how artificial or rehearsed it was)
                >> sentences composed of words and grammatical devices according (for
                >> the most part) with the predominant theories of the day concerning
                >> Gothic (and, no doubt, with his own personal theories and
                >> convictions). Nor was he entirely successful even at that, even in
                >> writing, as he himself pointed out.
                >
                > And some are trying to do exactly the same with Tolkien's languages.
                > You, Mr. Hostetter seem to find this morally reprehensible.

                And you, Mr. Jonsson, are _completely_ wrong, as you would know if you
                had read even just my most recent posts to this list, in which I have
                _repeatedly_ denied that there is anything improper in doing so. My
                issue is _only_ with the blurring of the line between scholarship and
                creativity, specifically between fact and hypothesis: Tolkien never
                attempted to pass his Gothic off as "genuine" or "authentic" Gothic.

                (If anyone wonders why I feel so strongly the need, and claim the
                right, to correct the charges and misrepresentations leveled against
                me, how can you wonder after reading this? Here Mr. Jonsson, a
                prominent contributor to this and other Tolkienian-linguistics lists,
                lazily maintains a completely false opinion of me, because he can't be
                bothered to read my words, but instead simply accepts the distortions
                and misrepresentations fostered by Helge Fauskanger as true.)
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