Re: [Lambengolmor] The value of _ll_ in Sindarin - Comments on the _Tengwestië_ article
- Carl wrote:
> [...We know that he avoided _dh_ for this reason; and there is no reason toAlso lh in Portuguese, like ll in Castilian, has the value of l mouillé. Hence it is unclear (as indeed any Latin spelling of any non-Latin sound, except for those familiar with the conventions: sh is a Schin in English but an h in Gaelic, th Thorn or Edh in English but h in Gaelic, final a is Latin a in Castilian but Sch'wa in Catalan, sz is Schin in Polish but s in Hungarian - were Schin is spelled s! - and so on). No doubt Tolkien used Tengwar to circumvent the difficulty, and he specifically states that the Tengwa alda - ld in Quenya - is used for voiceless l (whatever be the Welsh name for that sound) in Sindarin.
> think he would not avoid _lh_, which looks extremely similar to _dh_, for
> precisely the same reason. CFH]
> [...These assumptions are made for the sake of argument, which is fair enoughA good point in _any_ branch of science, whether grammar (Tolkienian or non-Tolkienian) or astronomy or whatever.
> -- Helge himself points the uncertainties he is navigating with the _LotR_ forms;
> but you can't treat these assumptions as fact and then use them to "prove" that
> Tolkien was making a contradictory statement. In fact, when contradictions are
> arrived at, it is the _assumptions_ that must be discarded. CFH]
Hans Georg Lundahl
Höstrusk och grå moln - köp en resa till solen på Yahoo! Resor
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- On 10.12.2003, at 04:50, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
> Since the reader of _The Lord of the Rings_ would have no readyUseless only as a way of indicating the correct pronunciation of every
> means of knowing the etymologies of the forms involved, information
> regarding the dual values of _ll_ and _d_, unlike that for discerning the
> values of _h_ and _f_, would have been essentially useless for the target
> audience of App. E, the interested lay reader.
single word. But isn't it useful to the 'interested lay reader' to know
that they _d_ and _ll_ etc. could have such value ? Or indeed simply the
statement on etymology as such. Tolkien does furnish the
reader with etymological details although they're not strictly
necessary for pronouncing the words correctly.
[Apparently, in Tolkien's judgement, no, the information was not
useful _enough_ to be included. Quite reasonably so: with no way
to determine the etymology of most Sindarin words in _ll_, so as
to distinguish the correct pronunciation, what would the reader
do with the information? In the event, the number of words in
_LotR_ that seem at all likely to have the pronunciation /L:/ of _ll_
are small; so the errors of pronunciation would likewise be small,
small enough to satisfy Tolkien's stated goals of describing the
pronunciation with "fair" (not scientific) accuracy, while avoiding
what he judged to be spellings uncouth to his English readers. CFH]
In fact, while Tolkien gives the reason for excluding _dh_ originally
(a point on which he later changed his mind), he doesn't say anything
about _ll_. The exclusion of _dh_, in my view, precisely doesn't
parallel the writing _ll_ as _lh_ is indeed used in the Lord of the
[You're entitled to your view, but in my opinion the visual parallel
between uncouth _dh_ and _lh_ could hardly be more striking.
And note that Tolkien did not merely "exclude" _dh_, he altered its
_representation_ to _d_, which thus, like _ll_, represents two
different values depending on etymology. CFH]
Tolkien writes: In the transcription of Elvish Sindarin in _The Lord of
the Rings_ _ll_ is used in the manner of modern Welsh for the medial
voiceless _l_; as in _mallorn_ < _malhorn_ < _mal�orn_ < _malt_
�gold� and _orn_ �tree�. So apparently we have the following scenario:
S. _lh_ == _ll_ when < *_-lC-_.
[No, that is not at all apparent, nor is that at all what Tolkien is saying.
He is speaking specifically and _only_ of _-ll-_ < _-lh-_ < _-lth-_
< *_-lt-_. Neither the etymological figure nor Tolkien's statement makes
any claims whatsoever about the value of _ll_ developed from other
combinations (e.g., *_-ld-_). This was _precisely_ the point of my article.
Phonetically that is; they both represent a *short* voiceless _l_.
[No. Tolkien states specifically that "Medially ... _lth_ (_l�_) became _long_
voiceless ... _l_, though the old spelling [_lth_] was mostly retained (beside
... _lh_)" (emphasis mine), and that he used _ll_ in _The Lord of the Rings_
to represent the sound arising from this specific source. Now, we don't know
for certain -- because Tolkien doesn't say, nor does his statement prevent
the possibility -- that the long voiceless /L:/ that developed from medial
_-lth-_, and was spelt as both _lth_ and _lh_, didn't eventually shorten to
simple /L/ by the Third Age, in which case _ll_ could indeed represent short
/L/; but we would need other evidence to show or support this development.
Nor, of course, does this conjecture of possible simplifcation beyond the
stage of development that Tolkien describes have any bearing on the point
of my article, or on the point of Tolkien's statement, which concerns the fact
(previously unknown, and thus now disruptive of certain "canonical" notions,
and therefore eagerly desired to be set aside) that _ll_ was used in _The Lord
of the Rings_ to represent two different values, depending on etymology. CFH]
So, the phonetic value (voiceless l) is represented in _The Lord of the
Rings_ by both _lh_ and _ll_. Thus neither orthography can be considered
uncouth (especially as _lh_ doesn't figure in English but didn't give
rise to worry).
Interestingly Tolkien says that he uses _ll_ *medially* as in Welsh.
Briefly, the differentiation _-lh-_ and _-ll-_ could be an
etymological one but would still not be exactly in the manner of Welsh,
which uses _ll_ for a simple voiceless _l_ in all places.
[That is because Tolkien is specifically describing a development that
only occurs medially: _-lh-_ < _-lth-_ < *_-lt-_. He is not addressing
at all the development of initial _lh-_ < initial *_sl-_. CFH]
Or else, we take Tolkien's above cited statement [VT42:27] as meaning
"...medial [long] voiceless _l_". In that case there is a good
phonetic reason for the orthographic differentiation of _lh_ and
_ll_. This would be in tune with Tolkien saying that: "Medially however
_lth_ ... became long voiceless _l_ .... Still, the usage wouldn't
exactly be in the manner of Welsh either.
At any rate, if _ll_ in _The Lord of the Rings_ is to represent voiceless
_l_ in the manner of Welsh (that is short) what about _nn_, _mm_, and
ng ? (Modern Welsh only has one more voiceless resonant written _rh_ at
all times although in Middle Welsh, _rr_ too occurs). Do they also at
times represent voiceless sounds in the manner of... Tolkien (?)
altough he never says so (the Elves, when not retaining the old
orthography, that is _lth_ etc., wrote _lh, _nh_ etc.) ?
Are we to assume that these doubly written consonants were at some
point meant to primarily represent double consonants rather than
Whatever the answer, I don't think the 'revision' theory can be easily
[I don't think the "revision theory" is a theory at all, as it does not explain
all the available evidence. Again, precisely the point of my article. CFH]
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- On 10.12.2003, at 20:46, Carl Hostetter wrote:
> with no way to determine the etymology of most Sindarin words in _ll_,Know the truth.
> so as to distinguish the correct pronunciation, what would the reader
> do with the information?
[There are very many facts about his languages that Tolkien could have
included in the Appendices had his purpose in writing them been to allow
the reader to know every linguistic truth. But that was not his purpose;
instead, his purpose was, as he stated in the Appendices, "to represent
the original sounds (so far as they can be determined) with _fair_ accuracy,
and at the same to produce words and names that do not look uncouth in
modern letters" (emphasis mine). CFH]
> [You're entitled to your view, but in my opinion the visual parallel1) Let me get this straight: Was there no _#lh-_ in the first edition
> between uncouth _dh_ and _lh_ could hardly be more striking.
> And note that Tolkien did not merely "exclude" _dh_, he altered its
> _representation_ to _d_, which thus, like _ll_, represents two
> different values depending on etymology.
of the LotR?
If there was, why wouldn't it be used medially ? That's my point.
[I can think of only one instance: _Amon Lhaw_. This might be an isolated
case where Tolkien forgot his own decision. On the other hand, how else
could he have represented it? _Ll_ would be out of the question, because
_in initial position_ _Ll_ would be even more uncouth and foreign to
English readers than _Lh_ (or so feels this English reader). Tolkien could
instead have used _L_, but for whatever reason did not. In the particular,
rare (if not unique) case, Tolkien may have weighed the balance of accuracy
and uncouthness in favor of _Lh_ because it was in initial position; medially,
_lh_ would tend to be pronounced by English readers as _l_ + _h_ -- as,
indeed, it is _sometimes_ to be pronounced; so again, one would have to
know the underlying etymology in order to decide on the correct
pronunciation; and thus it would be no improvement, in addition to
being uncouth. CFH]
2) Let's not play with words! By using _d_ instead of _dh_ the spelling
_dh_ is excluded from the text. Your point about the double value is
valid but note that I never doubted the fact that _ll_ is meant to
represent two different values in strict accordance with Tolkien's
statement cited in VT42.
> So apparently we have the following scenario:That's a typo. It should of course read <*_lt_.
> S. _lh_ ==== _ll_ when < *_-lC-_
Regarding the issue of whether _ll_ is single or double voiceless _l_,
the big point, which you seem to miss, is that Tolkien does say that
_ll_ represents short voiceless _l_. He implies it when saying (VT42:27):
"In the transcription of Elvish Sindarin in _The Lord of the Rings_ _ll_
is used in the manner of modern Welsh for the medial voiceless _l_;
as in _mallorn_ < _malhorn_ < _malþorn_ < _malt_
‘gold’ and _orn_ ‘tree’."
Clearly, there is no 'conjecture' as Welsh _ll_ represents short
voiceless _l_ (1). Also Tolkien writes "... voiceless _l_" not
**"...voiceless _ll_". So the passage you cite must refer to a
transitional stage, not the one reflected in the LotR and its spelling.
[I certainly recognize this as a possible _implication_ of what Tolkien
writes, as I have already said; but I do not consider this an explicit
statement or proof. To my mind, Tolkien may only be referring to an
orthographic convention in Welsh, not intending thereby to make a
precise claim as to phonetic length. Alternatively, he _may_ have had
such in mind, but I don't see this as a _necessary_ implication of his
Thus, if we take what Tolkien himself says seriously, we have a double
representation of one and the same sound (unless _#lh-_ doesn't figure
in the original version of the LotR, which I don't know).
[I do take Tolkien's words "seriously"; seriously enough to consider the
context in which statements are made, and to distinguish possible
implication from established fact. CFH]
If _lh_ figures the reason for not using _lh_ medially is etymology not
[I maintain that the reason Tolkien _ll_ instead of _lh_ _may_ have
been for visual aesthetic reasons, as explained further above. CFH]
(Or does initial _lh_ look less uncouth to English speaking eyes that
medial _lh_ ? Seriously.).
[Again, see above. And thank you for giving my article serious attention,
and for sharing your thoughts on it, and giving me an opportunity to
further consider, explore, and clarify my own thoughts on the matter. CFH]
(1) In Modern Welsh, that is. In Middle Welsh _ll_ could represent both
long voiced _l_ or short voiceless _l_.