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Internal historical aspect of the five Catholic prayers in Quenya

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  • Boris Shapiro
    Aiya! Has anyone mused on the internal historical position of the prayers published in VT43-44? From what examples of Tolkien s Quenya I have seen, I gather
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 11, 2004
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      Aiya!

      Has anyone mused on the internal historical position of the prayers
      published in VT43-44? From what examples of Tolkien's Quenya I have
      seen, I gather that Tolkien was inclined (at least in his, pardon
      me, *mature* years) to confine his practice of Quenya to texts of
      definite internal position, or, at least, of readily assumable
      internal "origin" (that is "an Elf would have said X like that). I
      am aware of Tolkien's early usage of his languages in relation to
      his purely Primary World affairs (his relations with Edith - well,
      not a purely Primary World affair, if you judge by the names on
      their tombstones :) - but still, he seems to place every Quenya
      piece in his world, where it should properly be. For example, take
      the Merin Sentence: instead of answering "I would say it like that"
      he curiously explains how would _an Elf_ say "Merry Christmas", with
      all the difficulties involved. So I wonder if Tolkien considered the
      internal factors involved in composing a Quenya translation of, say,
      "Hail Mary". Should we analyze the texts as a unique piece of
      Seventh Age Quenya (probably as spoken in Valinor) and are we to get
      anything interesting from that? For if it was written by Tolkien as
      a piece of "A.D.", and not "B.C." Quenya, this form of Quenya must
      be different from what we've known before, at least in some aspects
      (given the dramatically slower Quenya evolution rate in Valinor).


      Namaarie! S.Y., Elenhil Laiquendo [Boris Shapiro]


      : avartuvan i tauri ni ontaner : an luumenya tyeela ar loanyar sintar :


      [My own take on the Prayers is that they were simply a personal,
      private exercise, not intended to have any place within the
      mythology. My guess is that Tolkien simply had the Rosary on his
      mind one day and decided to see how it might be translated. CFH]
    • Boris Shapiro
      Aiya! Sunday, January 11, 2004, 11:25:39 PM, Boris Shapiro wrote: I raised a question of whether Tolkien s Catholic prayers in Quenya were meant to be a piece
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 13, 2004
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        Aiya!

        Sunday, January 11, 2004, 11:25:39 PM, Boris Shapiro wrote:

        I raised a question of whether Tolkien's Catholic prayers in Quenya
        were meant to be a piece of A.D. (Seventh Age) Quenya or a simple
        exercise of Tolkien's.

        CFH> [My own take on the Prayers is that they were simply a personal,
        CFH> private exercise, not intended to have any place within the
        CFH> mythology. My guess is that Tolkien simply had the Rosary on his
        CFH> mind one day and decided to see how it might be translated. CFH]

        OK, but won't in be somehow extraordinary? I mean, I don't recall many
        Quenya texts that weren't composed by Tolkien to be a part of his
        world. In fact, I fail to recall any (except early Qenya exercises).
        True, given his attitude toward both his world and his languages, it
        is hard to imagine him composing a Quenya text stripped of its
        Middle-earth roots.

        [But he wasn't "composing" a Quenya text, strictly speaking: he was
        _translating_ prayers that we know had a great personal significance
        for him, into the language he was creating. No more (or less!) extraordinary
        I would say than the choice of "Beren" and "L�thien" for his and Edith's
        gravestone. Moreover, Tolkien _is_ known to have been an inveterate
        doodler, writing newspaper stories and headlines in _tengwar_ and the
        like. I see no reason to think he wouldn't "doodle" in Quenya, as it were,
        as well. And finally, let us not forget the long tradition of translating
        The Lord's Prayer into various languages, to give a sample of a
        language through a very-well-known text. CFH]


        Namaarie! S.Y., Elenhil Laiquendo [Boris Shapiro]


        : avartuvan i tauri ni ontaner : an luumenya tyeela ar loanyar sintar :
      • Ales Bican
        ... **Personally, I do not find it extraordinary or even odd. Quenya, though undoubtedly an artistic creation, is a language. One of the major characteristics
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 14, 2004
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          >[Boris Shapiro] raised a question of whether Tolkien's
          > Catholic prayers in Quenya were meant to be a piece
          > of A.D. (Seventh Age) Quenya or a simple
          > exercise of Tolkien's.

          Carl F. Hostetter replied:

          >> My own take on the Prayers is that they were simply a personal,
          >> private exercise, not intended to have any place within the
          >> mythology. My guess is that Tolkien simply had the Rosary on his
          >> mind one day and decided to see how it might be translated.

          Boris:

          >OK, but won't in [read: it -- ab] be somehow extraordinary?

          **Personally, I do not find it extraordinary or even odd. Quenya,
          though undoubtedly an artistic creation, is a language. One of
          the major characteristics of a language, in fact its raison d'être,
          is its ability to express our thoughts and ideas. Tolkien created
          a language that can be used even beyond his mythological world,
          which he testified by translating the Prayers; and we do something
          similar in our Elvish compositions. There is nothing wrong with
          that -- as I said, Quenya is after all a language and a language
          is a means for communication.


          Ales Bican

          --
          What's in a name? That which we call a rose
          by any other name would smell as sweet. (Juliet, _Romeo and Juliet_)
        • galadhorn
          ... The question Boris had raised long ago is very interesting. Quenya is a language being the expression of the Quendian-culture and Quendian-mythology in
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 13, 2004
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            --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, Boris Shapiro <elenhil@u...>
            wrote:

            > Should we analyze the texts as a unique piece of
            > Seventh Age Quenya (probably as spoken in Valinor) and are we
            > to get anything interesting from that?

            The question Boris had raised long ago is very interesting. Quenya
            is a language being the expression of the Quendian-culture and
            Quendian-mythology in whatever context we use it. The words _Eru_,
            _menel_, the expression _i ëa han Ëa_ belong to the mythology
            of Tolkien's sub-creation, his _mythopoeia_. In fact every act of
            Tolkien's _logopoeia_ is the exploration of his myth. It is the way
            every "real" language works (and Tolkien's languages having their
            own mythology, their "sub-creative" context are like real langages,
            and very unlike the languages of the Esperanto-type).

            The prayers (presented in VT 43 and 44) come from the period of the
            1950s, when the mediator between the real history and the mythical
            history of the Elves and Men was Aelfwine/Elendil (cf. "Dangweth
            Pengolodh" in XII:395 from c. 1951-1959). Cannot the Quenya
            prayers be the translation made by Elendil (who was to live in 10th-
            11th C.) himself? Yes and no. Yes, because on that time there were in
            existence already: "Pater Noster", "Gloria Patri (Doxologia
            Minor)", "Sub Tuum Praesidium". No, because "Ave Maria" and "Litany
            of Loreto" are much younger (their final form was achieved in 16th C.).

            In "Qenya Lexicon" we find many words which show that the Elves
            (in the conceptual phase of the "Book of the Lost Tales") knew some
            elements of the Christian faith. There are terms for Holy Spirit,
            Trinity, monks, nuns and monastery. I wonder if Tolkien, translating
            the prayers into Quenya (and into the language of the Quendian
            mythology - I would call it Christian inculturation into the
            mythopoeic context) - had in mind such a possibility that these
            prayers could play any role in his fictitious history. Anyway even
            if it was "only" a linguistic exercise it is worth an analysis of
            how the Quenya terms work incorporated into the Christian context.

            Ryzard Derdzinski
          • lambendil
            In the post 655 (13/04/2004) Ryzard Derdzinski, replying to Boris Shapiro, questions if the catholic prayers presented in VT 43 and 44 could have been
            Message 5 of 5 , Apr 18, 2004
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              In the post 655 (13/04/2004) Ryzard Derdzinski, replying to Boris Shapiro,
              questions if the catholic prayers presented in VT 43 and 44 could have been
              translations made by Aelfwine/Elendil (who was to live in 10th-11th C.). The
              reply was yes and no, because some prayers were already in existence on that
              time (Pater Noster, Gloria Patri, Sub Tuum Praesidium), but the others are much
              younger (the final form of Ave Maria and Litany of Loreto was achieved in 16th C.).

              As Ryzard notes, the question of authorship of the different parts of
              the Quendian mythology, on the internal point of view, is always and
              interesting but a complicated matter. Internal authorship shifted during
              the external evolution of some tales and he sometimes merged the real
              and fictional world (like in the LR Appendix where he appears as the
              translator of the red Book, not as the author of the novel).

              The place of the Catholic prayers in the main work is of course very
              special since they do not, _a priori_, belong to the Quendian
              mythology. But, as Ryszard remarks pertinently, "Quenya is a language
              being the expression of the Quendian-culture and Quendian-mythology in
              whatever context we use it" and "every act of Tolkien's _logopoeia_ is the
              exploration of his myth". So, the only fact that the prayers were written in
              Elvish connects them with the Quendian mythology, even if it creates a kind
              of paradox.

              But I think this paradox might perhaps be removed or at least find
              plausible explanations.

              In his post, Ryzard notes that we find many words in the "Qenya Lexicon"
              which show that the Elves (in the conceptual phase of the "Book of the
              Lost Tales") knew some elements of the Christian faith (terms for Holy
              Spirit, Trinity, monks, nuns and monastery).

              In a first version of the present post post (which was returned for
              revision !), I remarked that there are several words in the Lexicons
              that referred to our 'real, modern, world' and I quoted _Andesalke_,
              Salkinôre_ 'Africa' (QL/31, 84), _kalimba(n)_ '"Barbary", Germany',
              _kalimabardi_ 'the Germans' (QL/44), _Îverind-_ 'Ireland' (QL/43),
              _i•Ponôrir_ 'the Northlands (Scandinavia)' and _ponôre_ 'Norway' (QL/74).

              I tought that these names could give some clues about the authorship of the
              Lexicons, but as Carl Hostetter has pointed out in his private reply to my
              first post, "there's nothing in there that necessarily refers to our 'real,
              modern world'. None of the nations mentioned there were unknown in
              even Classical times, and all have their equivalents in classical
              Greek and Latin. That Tolkien translates them with modern country
              names instead of their Greek, Latin, or even Anglo-Saxon names
              is completely in accord with every other gloss in the Lexicons".

              This made me think of something else : if the Lexicons are the work of
              Aelfwine/Elendil during his sojourn in Tol Eressea, the original
              manuscript would have been written in Old English. Hence, the actual
              version of the Lexicons must have been translated in modern English
              (excatly the same way as the LR is presented as the translation of the
              Red Book in English, merging real and fictional world).

              Some words in the Lexicons are given with Anglo-Saxon, Latin or Greek
              glosses. This suggests, either that these non-English references were
              left intentionally by the translator or that the Lexicons are much
              latter, dating from the XXth century, and are the work of a man with
              very good linguistic knowledge that had some knowledge of the Quendian
              world and mythology.

              We can find in Tolkien's work some characters that fit this portrait,
              characters that lived in our modern age and who had dreams or visions
              of the mythical world of the Elves: Audoin and Alboin Errol of "The
              Lost Road" (V/36-106, c. 1936-37) and Arundel Lowdham of the Notion
              Club (IX/145-330, c. 1945-46). Even if he never finished none of his
              time-travel stories, the fact that Tolkien began two stories of this
              kind seem to show that Tolkien took this narrative process to heart.

              Of course, the mediators cited before are older than the prayers,
              externally speaking (30s and 40s vs. 50s), but a philologist like
              Lowdham might have been fully qualified to try a translation in
              "Avallonian" of some known catholic prayers (and even several attempts
              for some of these prayers !).

              Finally, we have a third possibility. We could think of some Elves who
              would have chosen to stay in the mortal lands and who would have
              withered to become spirits (a very old conception dating from the
              _Lost Tales_). Theses spirits may have contacted some open-minded
              humans and instructed them about the matter of the Elves, their
              history and their languages. Theses spirit-Elves could even have
              taught their tongues to a well-known English philologist of the XXth
              century...

              Sébastien Bertho
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