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Re: Internal historical aspect of the five Catholic prayers in Quenya

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  • 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 1 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 2 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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