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87Re: Notes on Óre; or the perils of dictionary translation

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  • Petri Tikka
    Jul 1, 2002
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      --- In lambengolmor@y..., "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@e...> wrote:
      > [I quite agree that it is _possible_ to create a dictionary of
      > Tolkien's languages that will be _useful_ to scholar and student alike,
      > through full and thorough source citation, cross-reference among entries,
      > and by very careful consideration in writing the entries. But the fact is
      > that the dictionaries I've seen thus far fall short of the mark.

      Yes, I agree. Almost all of them are poorly and quickly done, without
      citations and without any cross-references. One must say in defence
      of the ones Helge Fauskanger has done, that they indeed do have
      source citations (most don't), but of course, only from publications
      available to the maker at the time of the creation.

      [Part of the purpose of Web publishing is that documents can be kept up to
      date with ease. I would have thought that Helge could have updated his
      word-list some time in the past two years. Carl]

      And so, the instance of the misinterpretation of _óre_ in "the Quenya
      Corpus Wordlist" is not, in fact, the wholy best example, for VT41
      had not been published during the making of the Wordlist. So the
      discussions in VT41:11 weren't available for citations. The case is
      different in his newer private "Quettaparma Quenyallo", since it
      does refer to this issue.

      [Helge has refused me a copy of his dictionary, so I wouldn't know. I do
      wish he'd get the Tolkien Estate's blessing/permission and publish his
      dictionary properly. As for _óre_, I never said it was the _best_ example;
      but it is a good one. Further, Helge's is not a "misinterpretation", but
      it is certainly an _incomplete_ interpretation, presenting as it does
      only a small part of the available information about this word, and its
      significance across the decades of Tolkien's creativity. Carl]

      But even that wordlist, indeed, falls "short of the mark", not being
      carefully made at all points. But it is the best Quenya-dictionary
      I'm aware of. A much better one could be made, of that I am sure.

      > Didier's dictionary (what I've seen of it -- I _do_ wish Didier would
      > get the Tolkien Estate's blessing/permission and publish it) does
      > look like the best effort I've seen to date; but even he implies
      > that it has shortcomings along the lines that I've mentioned (see:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/message/15989).

      Yes, I am aware of them. But at least it is attempting to be accurate.

      > In any event, no one has ever learned to _speak_ a dead language

      No, not to fully speak. That is impossible for the simple
      fact that to learn to fully _speak_ one must hear people
      who actually _speak_ the language. If no speakers are
      alive, the atempt to do so is doomed from the start.

      > -- and Tolkien's languages are most assuredly that, and
      > what's more, they have never been anything but --
      > by reading a dictionary. Carl]

      A dictionary can be a wonderful helper, but its contents
      are dead without context.

      Petri Tikka
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