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Re: The value of _ll_ in Sindarin

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  • David Kiltz
    ... Know the truth. [There are very many facts about his languages that Tolkien could have included in the Appendices had his purpose in writing them been to
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 11, 2003
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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_,
      > so as to distinguish the correct pronunciation, what would the reader
      > do with the information?

      Know the truth.

      [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 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.

      1) Let me get this straight: Was there no _#lh-_ in the first edition
      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.

      I wrote:

      > So apparently we have the following scenario:
      > S. _lh_ ==== _ll_ when < *_-lC-_

      That's a typo. It should of course read <*_lt_.

      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
      wording. CFH]

      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]

      David Kiltz

      (1) In Modern Welsh, that is. In Middle Welsh _ll_ could represent both
      long voiced _l_ or short voiceless _l_.
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