--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
, "cgilson75" <cgilson75@h...> wrote:
> Given that Sindarin is a language that, in the mythology, human
> beings are capable of learning to speak (see Appendix F), it seems
> reasonable to hypothesize that similar cognitive strategies underlie
> the interplay of redundancy and ambiguity that seems evident in its
> syntax, though our insights must depend largely on a much better
> understanding of the inner workings of our own native languages.
It is also of importance to indicate that Tolkien did have an
opinion on the human ability to learn the Elvish tongues -within-
his invented world. A good example from _The Lord of the Rings_ would
be the Gondorians: we are told throughout the story and in the
appendices that they spoke Sindarin (<< Noldorin). The famous example
is the name _Rochand_ which in their speech became _Rohan_.
Now, if we hypothize that they could only speak Elvish as a second
language, we learn that their pronunciation (and supposedly also
parts of grammar) were affected by their own speech (in the
aforementioned example - the lack of /x/ in their speech lead to the
shift of S. /ch/ > /h/).
However, if we hypothize that Sindarin was a living language amongst
Men in Gondor, we inevitably learn that the rules of nature applied
once more and in time, Sindarin began to change ceaselessly among
Men and in time would become a different dialect and later a
Therefore, we must conclude that only the Sindar (and the Noldor of
Middle Earth) could speak what is to be, internally, considered
as "true" Sindarin for they would only change the language according
to their taste and love for sounds and it would forever remain their
own, while Men would change it to be theirs.
[It is indeed clear that the Men of Gondor spoke a dialect of Sindarin,
with distinct phonological and lexical developments. See, for example,
Tolkien's essay on _The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor_ (_VT_ 42).
However, I don't think this is really the sort of "ability to learn
languages" that Chris has in mind, which instead goes to more
fundamental typological and cross-language features, such as the
presence and role of formally redundant markers that are nonetheless
quite happily tolerated in many human languages. CFH]