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Re: [elfscript] Thoughts on Tengwar. Heed thy eyes! List you sin! kidding :-)

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  • Graham McArthur
    ... Sulaid, Well, please re-read my post. Firstly I did not claim Elvish as non fiction, although many philologists consider it to be real enough. Secondly, I
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 2, 2002
      Enigma wrote:
       Its fictional, not real, if you take it as a second language, then your like a star trek fan who follows the code of Spock.. Please he created it out of pure imagination, not fact.

      Well, please re-read my post. Firstly I did not claim Elvish as non fiction, although many philologists consider it to be real enough. Secondly, I did not claim it as a second language.

      Tolkien knew what he was doing, his Elvish languages are not mumbo jumbo. Having sketched a "primitive Elvish" language, he cleverly devised sound-shifts that would produce a tongue with the desired flavour: Quenya resulted from his teenage romance with Finnish; in his own words he was, "quite intoxicated" by the sound and style of this language when he discovered it. However, it should be emphasized that Finnish was an inspiration only. Quenya is in no way a garbled version of Finnish, and only a few words of its vocabulary display any semblance to the corresponding Finnish words. Tolkien also used Greek and Latin as inspirations, as well as Spanish.
      We certainly can't sit down and readily translate the works of Shakespeare into Quenya, but we do know many thousands words and we know the general outlines of the grammar Tolkien envisioned. Still, you cannot really become "fluent" in Quenya. Not yet. There are still many thousands of pages of Tolkien’s manuscripts yet to be published on Elvish.

      Much of the Quenya vocabulary is not wholly "original." Tolkien readily admitted that the vocabularies of his "Elvish" languages were "inevitably full of...reminiscences" of pre-existing tongues. Though its not obvious, the fact remains that the knowledgeable easily discern Indo-European (and sometimes even Semitic) words and stems underlying many of Tolkien's "invented" words. He noted that "it is impossible in constructing imaginary languages from a limited number if component sounds to avoid such resemblances"  adding that he did not even try to avoid them.

      Structurally speaking, Finnish provided considerable inspiration not only for the sound-patterns, but for the basic structure as well. Tolkien described Quenya as a "highly inflected language". That means, that words appear in many different forms depending on their precise function in any given grammatical context. The differing forms are for the most part constructed by employing endings. Endings with meanings that in English would often be expressed as separate words instead. Hence an English translation of a Quenya text will normally consist of more words than the Quenya original.

      Very little of the work Tolkien did on the language has been made available to us. Even so what we do have makes this the most complete and detailed artificial language ever constructed. This is not made up mumbo jumbo, this is as close to a real living language that is possible.

      Any natural language has a phonology, a set of rules defining the sounds that are used, how they vary and behave, and how they can be combined. This goes for any well-made invented language as well. Quenya is most definitely not a haphazard jumble of sounds. Tolkien carefully constructed its phonology  both as an evolving entity (classical Quenya gradually developing from Primitive Elvish) and as a "fixed" form (defining the kind of Quenya that was used as a language of lore and ceremony in Middle-earth). None of the sounds used in Quenya are particularly exotic from a European viewpoint, but they are combined in an exquisitely tidy manner. Compared to Tolkien's Elvish, many "real" languages appear rather clumsy & messy.



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