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697Re: Sindarin _ned_

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  • hisweloke
    Jun 23, 2004
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      Carl F. Hostetter wrote:

      > see for example the etymology of _ned_, presumably provided by
      > David Salo,* in Didier Willis' _Sindarin Dictionary_
      > (<http://www.jrrvf.com/hisweloke/sindar/>)

      This is exact, for 99% of these etymological notes, as implied by the
      Foreword you quoted.

      In recent versions, however, I took the liberty to add additional a
      few notes (especially for compounds and new words) and to change some
      notes that clearly required to be updated with new information. The
      etymological text hasn't much changed otherwise since the first
      version of the dictionary -- and that's actually the main reason why
      these etymological reconstructions are planned to be removed in some

      By the way, the dictionary is better referred as "Hisweloke's Sindarin
      dictionary", preferably with an indication of version, for the reasons
      given on the above-mentioned web page - for additional reference, see
      also elfling-d mailing-list message #454. (1)

      > this proposal is no more _unlikely_ than the current, seemingly
      > universal notion that _ned_ here in fact means 'in', and is to be
      > derived from a base *NED-. [...] Willis/Salo's etymology _ned_
      > < *NED fails, first, on phonological grounds: for original final
      > *_-d_ would yield S _-dh_, _not_ **_-d_ (cf. S _enedh_ 'middle'
      > (UT:264) which apparently, like N _enedh_, < √ČNED-).

      Correct. Regarding this point, and indeed very possibly the related
      issue of _enedh_ and _ened_, the discussion between Bertrand Bellet
      and Carl Hostetter himself on the sindict mailing-list is
      enlightening, cf. messages #196, #197. (2)

      > Worse, Willis/Salo derive S _nedh_ (<< N _nedh_) from _precisely
      > the same supposed base NED_, _without_ noting or accounting for
      > the discrepant phonological derivation. And worst of all,
      > Willis/Salo assert that this _nedh_ means "in, inside, mid-:
      > Ety/376", implying that this gloss is attested in the
      > _Etymologies_, when in fact the _only_ gloss given there is
      > 'mid-'.)

      As for the first, "worse" item, I make no claim that the dictionary
      project is accurate on all points. As the above-mentioned discussion
      on sindict attests, the issue is not that simple. There is indeed a
      clear failure to correctly interpret it, in current versions of the
      dictionary. (But let's also say that I am not unhappy if such an error
      has incidentaly made Bertrand and your own remarks possible --
      discussion and criticism is a good way to improve our knowledge.)

      As for the second, "worst" item, I will object that this is certainly
      not the way references should be used. It is nowhere stated (and for
      many long entries it is even not true) that the glosses or definitions
      are exactly taken, _verbatim_, from Tolkien's books. There is actually
      a permanent effort (and of course it implies a risk of error -
      comments such as Carl's one are of course welcome to point these
      errors) to refine and classify the definitions, basing them on other
      sources and/or theories. It is by no mean a mere "reversed" version of
      the _Etymologies_ (and other sources), but it tries to build upon the
      bricks we know, while trying to be as accurate as possible at the same
      time. Most real dictionaries have the same fallbacks when indirect
      definitions are involved. And if references are indeed provided, it is
      certainly not to misrepresent the source, BUT that's all the other way
      round: it is intended to direct readers to the original source(s) so
      that, notably, they can check it _in context_. If readers want the
      genuine defintions, they ought to refer to the primary material.

      > b) this just introduces yet another layer of unsupported
      > assertion.

      If the work was finished, to my taste and as I envisioned it so long
      ago, all entries would have encyclopaedic discussions (of the sort
      provided in recent versions for _arnen_ "(?) royal", *_gwin_ "wine",
      _mass_ "bread" vs _mast_, *_bassoneth_, etc. -- to quote but a few

      But as an unfinished project (as clearly noted on the web site) and
      actually a very lone project currently (with lots of users but very
      little contributive feedback), it suffers from the lack of
      completeness. I accept therefore the above criticism, though its
      wording is perhaps a bit too rude (Pesch "Elbish" book in German,
      on-line wordlists on wwww.sindarin.de or council of Elrond, etc. are
      not that cautious with sources, references and marking of
      deduced/reconstructured entries... I tried to do better, and still
      hope to improve, but that's certainly not perfect. Errare humanum est).

      > (Nonetheless, apparently on the authority of Willis/Salo's
      > dictionary entry, a supposed S _ned_ *'in' proliferates in
      > "Neo-Sindarin", having become the preferred translation of 'in'
      > in all of its English senses, i.e., not constrained even to the
      > more restricted sense assigned to the form in the dictionary. [...]

      It is certainly not my fault if people misuse the material offered to
      them... And I wouldn't care much about what proliferates or not in
      Neo-Sindarin (whose users are most of the time known to reject some
      newer conceptions or evidences that do not fit their needs for a
      "usable" languages)... "Liquid mutations", "infinitive vs. gerund",
      "hennaid - thanks", "-ech for thou" and all well known Neo-Sindarin
      theories, while often criticized, _do_ proliferate also, despite of
      us. Even if/when I correct the _ned_ and _nedh_ entries in the
      dictionary, that will not change the face of Neo-Sindarin, because
      they will need this word (beside the fact that it was already used for
      "in" long before this dictionary). So what? Scholarship will progress
      anyway, thanks to criticisms such as this one, and Neo-Elvish has not
      part to play in this, as fan-fiction has no part either to play in
      studies of Tolkien's mythos.



      [I largely agree with what Didier says, and so won't bother to respond
      point by point. I _would_ however like to say that while it is indeed
      true that Didier is not responsible for how others use his work, there
      is still incumbent upon any _serious_ work of scholarship to maintain
      a distinction between what is known and what is conjecture --
      linguistics even developed a convention for succinctly conveying
      precisely this distinction. Now, my own impression of the dictionary
      was that it was intended to be scholarly and accurate; and as such, if I
      see a form and some glosses given, without qualification, and a cross-
      reference to a source, I expect that if I look up that source I will find
      there precisely that form and those glosses. If I don't, I consider that an
      error and, if intentional, misleading to boot. I'm sure that Didier will
      appreciate how normal such an expectation is in linguistics, and how
      easy it will be for a user of his dictionary not to understand that such
      cross-references are not provided as citation of _support_, but merely
      as an index to a place in the corpus that has some at least tangential
      bearing on the form in question. Now, this may all be made clear
      somewhere in the front-matter of the dictionary, but even if so it is so
      contrary to convention and expectation in linguistic glossaries, which
      Didier's work certainly has the form of, that I consider it insufficient,
      and I urge you to minimize reliance on such contra-conventional
      presentation in later version of the work. I will also note that
      incompleteness has, in itself, no necessary bearing on correctness. CFH]
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