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574"Based on": A fundamental question

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  • Darrell Martin
    Jan 3, 2004

      If one wished to test a hypothesis that some invented Tolkien language I is "based on" some primary-world language P, how ought one go about it?

      What features and criteria would be sufficient demonstration of an influence? What documentation would be expected?


      Darrell A. Martin darrellm@...
      a native Vermonter currently in exile in Illinois

      [I would say that phonetic character, sc. inventory and permitted patterns, and especially the phonological developments that produced them, must rank as the chief influence on Tolkien's languages from primary-world languages. If you can demonstrate a persuasive similarity between the phonological development of language I from Common Eldarin and that of language P from Proto-Indo-European (assuming P is an IE language), I would count the influence demonstrated. Other influences exist as well, of course, as with grammatical mutation in Sindarin and Welsh, or the rich inflectional systems of Quenya and Finnish (and to a lesser extent Latin). For Tolkienian and/or primary-world languages where phonological information is spotty or non-existent (e.g., Khuzdul, Black Speech), one must instead rely on synchronic features, such as an inventory of phonemes and permitted sound patterns, apparent derivational mechanisms, etc. etc. CFH]
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