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117[LDB]? "Canonical" Quenya and Quettahostanie

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  • Kai MacTane
    Jul 23, 2002
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      [Not sure if this should have LDB in the Subject: or not; I figure I'll
      play it safe. --KDM]

      I've just been looking through the archives of the messages sent to this
      list before I joined. There was a lot of discussion that week! Of
      particular interest to me was William Welden's essay in message number 35,
      titled "Quenya of _Namaarie_ (long)". (See
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor/message/35 for the full text).

      To paraphrase one of Mr. Welden's points, he notes the distinction between
      "things Tolkien wrote [in Quenya]", and what he calls "canonical Quenya",
      the latter being defined as things which Tolkien intentionally published
      or sent to correspondents.

      For those who have been evaluating _Quettahostanie_, I'd like to point out
      that the concept of "Attestation Levels" encoded in the system does make a
      fairly similar distinction, though it draws its boundary lines in slightly
      different places. The full description of Quettahostanie's Attestation
      Levels can be found at:
      http://www.freaknation.com/quenya/docs/attest-levels.html .

      In particular, Quettahostanie considers forms published in the
      _Silmarillion_ to be "canonical" as well, working on the theory that JRR
      was involved in the early stages of its preparation, and *intended* to
      publish those forms, but was simply interrupted in his intent by the
      unfortunate event of his own death. I'm also assuming that Christopher,
      having worked with his father extensively, had a good idea of what his
      father was up to, and minimized his own contributions to the work in
      deference to his father's memory and intent.

      These are, however, *assumptions*.

      I'd like to see if people here think they're reasonable -- in short, should
      the Silmarillion (and its appendix) be considered a source for "canonical"
      Quenya (what Quettahostanie lists in the "Published" level), or should its
      offerings be demoted to "Unpublished"?

      For what it's worth, making the change would not be too difficult; it would
      involve altering the text in the description, then a quick search through
      the database for any element with "Silm" in its Attestations field.
      Elements found in that search that didn't have some other canonical
      attestation would then get switched to "Unpublished".

      (I'm leery of automating the process completely, since I'm quite sure that
      subtleties would crop up that would *require* a human's judgement.)

      --Kai MacTane
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      "No sound to break, no moment clear
      When all the doubts are crystal clear;
      Crashing hard into the secret wind..."
      --Peter Murphy,
      "Cuts You Up"

      [For what it's worth: I find the whole concept of "canonical" _anything_
      to be highly dubious when applied to Tolkien's work. The fact that
      something was published while he was alive was in fact of surprisingly
      little deterrence to his desire and willingness to change things in
      the underlying system; it just meant that he had to reinterpret what was
      already published in some more or less plausible manner -- nor is it at
      all clear that even he could always remember or discover what his
      original interpretation had been! -- or justify a change in terms of his
      subcreation (a la Frodo's "mistake"). As for _The Silmarillion_, there
      are many cases where Christopher Tolkien altered spellings and forms
      editorially, and then came to think better of it. For this reason (among
      others) my personal practice is, wherever possible, to _always_ cite forms
      found in those texts that were incorporated in _The Silmarillion_ from the
      original texts as presented in _The History of Middle-earth_. If we are to
      speak of such things, _HoMe_ is by far the more "canonical" work,
      representing what Tolkien actually wrote, without the literary editing and
      stitching. Carl]
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