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Re: Tolkien, Jonah, and Job

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  • Michael Martinez
    ... Even a finger-fumble would not explain how I managed to write prince for print , but I did have a good time dancing last night. David, thank you for the
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 3, 2004
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      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Martinez" <Michaelm@x> wrote:

      > Thank you. While I cannot change anything which has appeared in
      > prince, I'll post a followup to the newsgroups.

      Even a finger-fumble would not explain how I managed to write "prince"
      for "print", but I did have a good time dancing last night.

      David, thank you for the suggestion. I will look into Kenny's book.
    • Larry Swain
      Wayne, Thanks very much for writing and taking time from toher things. ... Just for the sake of clarity, what we are talking about here is a translation from
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 3, 2004
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        Wayne,

        Thanks very much for writing and taking time from toher things.

        >
        > Since writing the _Bibliography_ I've seen the letters written to Tolkien
        > by the General Editor of _The Jerusalem Bible_, Alexander Jones, preserved
        > in the Tolkien Papers at the Bodleian. Jones first wrote to Tolkien in
        > January 1957, asking him to contribute to the Bible project, on the
        > strength of _The Lord of the Rings_ with which Jones was very impressed. He
        > hoped that Tolkien would translate several books of the Old Testament, but
        > held out Jonah (only three pages in the finished printed Bible) if Tolkien
        > was pressed for time. Tolkien quickly sent a sample translation from
        > Isaiah, and then a draft translation of Jonah. After that he was indeed too
        > pressed for time to do much more. He did, however, discuss points of
        > translation with Jones, including what to do about archaisms (a potentially
        > very interesting subject, especially in relation to his comments on
        > archaisms in _The Lord of the Rings_; unfortunately, copies of Tolkien's
        > letters to Jones are not at the Bodleian), and Jones solicited Tolkien's
        > opinions on a first draft of most of the Book of Job. Tolkien passed a
        > final revision of Jonah only in 1961.
        >

        Just for the sake of clarity, what we are talking about here is a translation from French, not a translation from Hebrew that Tolkien did for the portion of Isaiah and Jonah. That's the impression I devloped and have in my notes. I'll be in the Bodleian later this summer and can check again. Same thing with the draft...Jones was soliciting Tolkien's opinion on the English of the translation, not its accuracy from the original language. Please do correct me if your impression is different.


        > Jones wrote in his foreword to _The Jerusalem Bible_: "In the case of a few
        > books the initial draft was made from the French and was then compared word
        > for word with the Hebrew or Aramaic by the General Editor and amended where
        > necessary to ensure complete conformity with the ancient text. For the much
        > greater part, the initial drafts were made from the Hebrew or Greek and
        > simultaneously compared with the French when questions of variant reading
        > or interpretation arose." That the work was never simply a translation from
        > the French was made clear to Tolkien by Jones in an early letter: reference
        > by the General Editor to Hebrew and Greek was always a given.

        I can only imagine that this is in reaction to my statements that initially the project translated from French and later switched gears and translated from Hebrew and Greek with an eye on the French. In the end I don't see much difference. Some books in their initial drafts were translated from French as I said. That these initial drafts were then compared to the Hebrew and Greek has no bearing on whether Tolkien translated Jonah from Hebrew or not.


        Thanks again!

        Larry Swain
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      • Wayne G. Hammond
        ... This is my interpretation also. Wayne
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 4, 2004
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          Larry wrote:

          >Just for the sake of clarity, what we are talking about here
          >is a translation from French, not a translation from Hebrew
          >that Tolkien did for the portion of Isaiah and Jonah. That's
          >the impression I devloped and have in my notes. I'll be in the
          >Bodleian later this summer and can check again. Same thing
          >with the draft...Jones was soliciting Tolkien's opinion on the
          >English of the translation, not its accuracy from the original
          >language. Please do correct me if your impression is different.

          This is my interpretation also.

          Wayne
        • alexeik@aol.com
          In a message dated 6/3/4 12:14:08 PM, Wayne Hammond wrote:
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 4, 2004
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            In a message dated 6/3/4 12:14:08 PM, Wayne Hammond wrote:

            <<I agree with Larry's argument about the level of Tolkien's knowledge of
            Hebrew, but can add that Tolkien wished to know more, and in April 1957 he
            wrote to his grandson Michael George (an unpublished letter) that he was
            immersing himself in the language so that, when he retired, he could
            participate in a Bible translation project, i.e. _The Jerusalem Bible_. But
            there is no evidence that he got very far with this study before other
            matters became too pressing.
            >>

            I think there's also the evidence of Adûnaic, which seems specifically
            designed to incorporate elements characteristic of Semitic languages. Of course,
            this doesn't mean that Tolkien "knew Hebrew", but it does suggest that he had
            delved into it deeply enough to be generally aware of the unique non-European
            features of its grammar (and naturally used it as inspiration for his own
            linguistic subcreation).
            Alexei
          • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
            Alexei said: I think there s also the evidence of Ad?naic, which seems specifically designed to incorporate elements characteristic of Semitic languages. Of
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 4, 2004
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              Alexei said:

              I think there's also the evidence of Ad?naic, which seems specifically
              designed to incorporate elements characteristic of Semitic languages. Of
              course,
              this doesn't mean that Tolkien "knew Hebrew", but it does suggest that he
              had
              delved into it deeply enough to be generally aware of the unique
              non-European
              features of its grammar (and naturally used it as inspiration for his own
              linguistic subcreation). >>

              I'm sorry, but I have no idea what that A word is or what it means.
              There's also the evidence of what?


              Elizabeth Apgar Triano
              lizziewriter@...
              amor vincit omnia
            • Michael Martinez
              ... The Tolkien linguists have identified Hebrew influence in Adunaic, Khuzdul, and Elvish (the latter being some comments by Helge Fauskanger). Carpenter
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 4, 2004
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                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, alexeik@a... wrote:
                >
                > I think there's also the evidence of Adûnaic, which seems specifically
                > designed to incorporate elements characteristic of Semitic languages.
                > Of course, this doesn't mean that Tolkien "knew Hebrew", but it does
                > suggest that he had delved into it deeply enough to be generally
                > aware of the unique non-European features of its grammar (and
                > naturally used it as inspiration for his own linguistic subcreation).
                > Alexei

                The Tolkien linguists have identified Hebrew influence in Adunaic,
                Khuzdul, and Elvish (the latter being some comments by Helge
                Fauskanger). Carpenter says one of Tolkien's early alphabets was
                apparently modelled in part on Hebrew.

                There are tons of references to Tolkien and Hebrew. It's impossible
                to determine where everyone got their ideas/information from. Some
                other authors besides me have identified him even more closely with
                Hebrew and the Jerusalem Bible (there seems to be a virtual tidal wave
                of religious Tolkien books these days -- too many for me to keep up with).
              • Michael Martinez
                ... Adunaic is the name of the language Tolkien devised for his Edainic peoples. It replaced an earlier language, Taliska, which had been devised for the
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 4, 2004
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                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Elizabeth Apgar Triano"
                  <lizziewriter@e...> wrote:
                  >
                  > I'm sorry, but I have no idea what that A word is or what it means.
                  > There's also the evidence of what?

                  Adunaic is the name of the language Tolkien devised for his Edainic
                  peoples. It replaced an earlier language, Taliska, which had been
                  devised for the so-called mythology for England (THE BOOK OF LOST
                  TALES) and was a pseudo-Germanic language.

                  Adunaic was incorporated into the LORD OF THE RINGS mythology. It is
                  mentioned in the Appendices.
                • Bianca Iano
                  ... It s been a while since I looked at Helge s website, but IIRC, he identifies some common features like plural forms ending in im , and triconsonantal
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 5, 2004
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                    Michael Martinez wrote:

                    > The Tolkien linguists have identified Hebrew influence in Adunaic,
                    > Khuzdul, and Elvish (the latter being some comments by Helge
                    > Fauskanger). Carpenter says one of Tolkien's early alphabets was
                    > apparently modelled in part on Hebrew.

                    It's been a while since I looked at Helge's website, but IIRC, he
                    identifies some common features like plural forms ending in "im",
                    and triconsonantal roots in Adunaic, etc. I'm no philologist,
                    but the borrowings didn't seem to me to be based on any systematic
                    desire to create a thoroughly Semitic language. Specialists could
                    probably tell you more.

                    Nor to my ear do phrases like "Ephalak idon Yozayan" sound like
                    any Semitic language spoken in this universe :).

                    With all due respect, I find it hard to believe JRRT planned to work
                    up his Hebrew during retirement so he could translate the book of Job (?)
                    from the original. Unless by translating one means being able to check
                    words in a dictionary using an already existing translation as an aid
                    and polishing up the English?

                    Not meaning to tread on any toes here ...

                    Bianca
                  • Larry Swain
                    ... Hi Alexei, I ll start by saying that I am somewhat less than expert on Tolkien s languages, to be honest. I ll respond to the things I ve seen about
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 6, 2004
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                      > In a message dated 6/3/4 12:14:08 PM, Wayne Hammond wrote:
                      >
                      Hi Alexei,

                      I'll start by saying that I am somewhat less than expert on Tolkien's languages, to be honest. I'll respond to the things I've seen about Adunaic and its dependence on Hebrew, though.

                      One thing I've seen is that plurals in adunaic are in -im which is a Hebrew plural. That's true....one of the plurals, the masculine, in Hebrew is -im. But other languages have that as well, and it is not hard to go from a -"ium" ending in Latin third declension i-stem genitive plurals to sometimes an -im by medieval Latin writers. If there were other plurals in Adunaic that were in -oth or -ot, then I think a good case of modeling on Hebrew could be made, but not on -im alone.

                      I've also read that in changing to the plural Adunaic changes the vowels of the stem, like Hebrew. But again other languages do this, notably Old Norse where depending on the case and number the stem vowels change. So its possible, but again not enough on this alone.

                      I've also read that Adunaic has triconsonantal primitive roots like Hebrew...but this is true of all Semitic languages and if true is probably more demonstrative of a basic knowledge of certain things about Hebrew/Semitic languages than anyone with linguistics training would know than knowing the language.

                      Is there more? This is suggestive, but far from conclusive.

                      I think Michael mentioned the early alphabet that Carpenter mentions that was based on Hebrew. I wonder about this too, and have a theory that at the moment is baseless. I suspect though that Tolkien was probably thinking about the well known fact that the NW Semitic alphabet delevoped from Ugaritic gave rise to the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets. The latter of course became the language of the Bible. The former passed its alphabet onto the Greeks and through them to the Romans and then to the rest of Europe. I suspect that he was playing around with the origins of the alphabet and trying to develop a different one from the "roots" so to speak, rather than modeling it directly on Hebrew. Of course this is just a guess since I've not seen the original (and might just need to go and see if I can find it), but given Tolkien's early interests in these sorts of things and what is known about his mind, I suspect that this is more likely than an imitation of a known language.

                      Just some thoughts.

                      Larry Swain

                      found> I think there's also the evidence of Adûnaic, which seems specifically
                      > designed to incorporate elements characteristic of Semitic languages. Of course,
                      > this doesn't mean that Tolkien "knew Hebrew", but it does suggest that he had
                      > delved into it deeply enough to be generally aware of the unique non-European
                      > features of its grammar (and naturally used it as inspiration for his own
                      > linguistic subcreation).
                      > Alexei
                      >
                      --
                      _____________________________________________________________
                      Web-based SMS services available at http://www.operamail.com
                      From your mailbox to local or overseas cell phones.

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                    • alexeik@aol.com
                      In a message dated 6/6/4 3:39:16 AM, Bianca wrote:
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jun 11, 2004
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                        In a message dated 6/6/4 3:39:16 AM, Bianca wrote:

                        <<I'm no philologist,
                        but the borrowings didn't seem to me to be based on any systematic
                        desire to create a thoroughly Semitic language. Specialists could
                        probably tell you more.

                        Nor to my ear do phrases like "Ephalak idon Yozayan" sound like
                        any Semitic language spoken in this universe :).>>

                        That's strange, because to mine it does. It doesn't closely reflect any
                        particular Semitic language, but it does suggest to me the kind of aesthetic effect
                        Semitic languages in general could have on an outsider for whom they
                        represent something alien and exotic. All of the sounds in the quoted phrase can be
                        found in Semitic languages in comparable combinations, and the shapes of the
                        words reflect elements that are common features of Semitic (eg, the _-ak_ ending
                        of 2sg. possessives; the _-an_ ending of many Arabic plurals and Hebrew
                        extended verbs, etc.) -- even the orthographic use of _ph_ reflects the use of _ph_
                        in transliterations of Hebrew and Aramaic where it points up the origin of
                        that sound as a lenited _p_. The sound _z_ (common in Semitic) tends to be used
                        by Tolkien as a sign of alienness, being characteristic of Adûnaic, Khuzdul and
                        the Black Speech but absent from most recorded forms of Eldarin languages
                        (except for very early Quenya, where it primarily serves to illustrate the
                        phenomenon of rhotacism). The point is that Tolkien's linguistic subcreations are
                        rarely close imitations of primary-world languages, but more usually
                        elaborations of aesthetic reactions to certain of their features, so one shouldn't expect
                        Adûnaic to be a "thoroughly Semitic language", even though it does indeed
                        reflect both phonetic and structural aspects of Semitic. It's commonplace to
                        point out that Quenya and Sindarin respectively resemble Finnish and Welsh; and
                        yet Quenya is obviously not "a thoroughly Finno-Ugric language", any more than
                        Sindarin is "a thoroughly Celtic language". Their sound-systems reflect certain
                        characteristic features of Finnish and Welsh that Tolkien particularly liked,
                        but leave out others that were judged less attractive (Quenya lacks the
                        "umlauted" vowels of Finnish; Sindarin omits the ubiquitous short-_y_ "schwa" vowel
                        of Welsh, etc.). On the structural level the subcreated languages share
                        certain salient features with their primary-world models (eg, a great variety of
                        case-suffixes in Quenya/Finnish; initial consonant mutation in Sindarin/Welsh,
                        etc.), but by and large don't reproduce the primary-world languages' grammars
                        closely at all. I see the relation of Adûnaic to Semitic languages as being of
                        exactly the same degree: Tolkien incorporated aspects of Semitic phonetics
                        that he found particularly suggestive or striking aesthetically (while ignoring
                        others), and singled out one aspect of Semitic grammar (vowel variation within
                        triconsonantal roots -- a far more complex and sophisticated phenomenon than
                        Ablaut in Germanic languages) as particularly interesting and distinctive and
                        worthy of being experimented with in a subcreated language. This last choice
                        would indeed have necessitated his being exposed to the conjugation of a Hebrew
                        (or Arabic) verb. I don't see that this would have been beyond his reach, or
                        that it would have required devoting a great deal of time to intensive study of
                        Hebrew.
                        Alexei
                      • Carl F. Hostetter
                        ... Also in Tolkien s later concept of Valarin, also with, I feel the same intended effect of alienness, both to the Indo-European and the Eldarin ear. For
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jun 11, 2004
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                          On Jun 11, 2004, at 4:45 PM, alexeik@... wrote:

                          > The sound _z_ (common in Semitic) tends to be used
                          > by Tolkien as a sign of alienness, being characteristic of Adûnaic,
                          > Khuzdul and
                          > the Black Speech

                          Also in Tolkien's later concept of Valarin, also with, I feel the same
                          intended effect of alienness, both to the Indo-European and the Eldarin
                          ear.

                          For what it's worth, I have yet to encounter any evidence, published or
                          unpublished, that Tolkien had made any special study of Hebrew or any
                          Semitic language, beyond that that any philologist and comparative
                          linguist of his age would naturally encounter.
                        • dianejoy@earthlink.net
                          Pardon my linguistic ignorance, but what is an extended verb? Thanks in advance. ---djb ... From: alexeik@aol.com Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 16:45:58 EDT To:
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jun 14, 2004
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                            Pardon my linguistic ignorance, but what is an "extended verb?" Thanks in
                            advance. ---djb

                            Original Message:
                            -----------------
                            From: alexeik@...
                            Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 16:45:58 EDT
                            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien, Jonah, and Job



                            In a message dated 6/6/4 3:39:16 AM, Bianca wrote:

                            <<I'm no philologist,
                            but the borrowings didn't seem to me to be based on any systematic
                            desire to create a thoroughly Semitic language. Specialists could
                            probably tell you more.

                            Nor to my ear do phrases like "Ephalak idon Yozayan" sound like
                            any Semitic language spoken in this universe :).>>

                            That's strange, because to mine it does. It doesn't closely reflect any
                            particular Semitic language, but it does suggest to me the kind of
                            aesthetic effect
                            Semitic languages in general could have on an outsider for whom they
                            represent something alien and exotic. All of the sounds in the quoted
                            phrase can be
                            found in Semitic languages in comparable combinations, and the shapes of
                            the
                            words reflect elements that are common features of Semitic (eg, the _-ak_
                            ending
                            of 2sg. possessives; the _-an_ ending of many Arabic plurals and Hebrew
                            extended verbs, etc.) -- even the orthographic use of _ph_ reflects the use
                            of _ph_
                            in transliterations of Hebrew and Aramaic where it points up the origin of
                            that sound as a lenited _p_. The sound _z_ (common in Semitic) tends to be
                            used
                            by Tolkien as a sign of alienness, being characteristic of Adûnaic, Khuzdul
                            and
                            the Black Speech but absent from most recorded forms of Eldarin languages
                            (except for very early Quenya, where it primarily serves to illustrate the
                            phenomenon of rhotacism). The point is that Tolkien's linguistic
                            subcreations are
                            rarely close imitations of primary-world languages, but more usually
                            elaborations of aesthetic reactions to certain of their features, so one
                            shouldn't expect
                            Adûnaic to be a "thoroughly Semitic language", even though it does indeed
                            reflect both phonetic and structural aspects of Semitic. It's commonplace
                            to
                            point out that Quenya and Sindarin respectively resemble Finnish and Welsh;
                            and
                            yet Quenya is obviously not "a thoroughly Finno-Ugric language", any more
                            than
                            Sindarin is "a thoroughly Celtic language". Their sound-systems reflect
                            certain
                            characteristic features of Finnish and Welsh that Tolkien particularly
                            liked,
                            but leave out others that were judged less attractive (Quenya lacks the
                            "umlauted" vowels of Finnish; Sindarin omits the ubiquitous short-_y_
                            "schwa" vowel
                            of Welsh, etc.). On the structural level the subcreated languages share
                            certain salient features with their primary-world models (eg, a great
                            variety of
                            case-suffixes in Quenya/Finnish; initial consonant mutation in
                            Sindarin/Welsh,
                            etc.), but by and large don't reproduce the primary-world languages'
                            grammars
                            closely at all. I see the relation of Adûnaic to Semitic languages as being
                            of
                            exactly the same degree: Tolkien incorporated aspects of Semitic phonetics
                            that he found particularly suggestive or striking aesthetically (while
                            ignoring
                            others), and singled out one aspect of Semitic grammar (vowel variation
                            within
                            triconsonantal roots -- a far more complex and sophisticated phenomenon
                            than
                            Ablaut in Germanic languages) as particularly interesting and distinctive
                            and
                            worthy of being experimented with in a subcreated language. This last
                            choice
                            would indeed have necessitated his being exposed to the conjugation of a
                            Hebrew
                            (or Arabic) verb. I don't see that this would have been beyond his reach,
                            or
                            that it would have required devoting a great deal of time to intensive
                            study of
                            Hebrew.
                            Alexei



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                          • alexeik@aol.com
                            In a message dated 6/14/4 1:58:04 PM, Diane Joy wrote: A verb
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jun 14, 2004
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                              In a message dated 6/14/4 1:58:04 PM, Diane Joy wrote:

                              <<Pardon my linguistic ignorance, but what is an "extended verb?" Thanks in

                              advance. ---djb>>

                              A verb with various affixes in addition to its basic root and
                              number/gender/person indicators, thus modifying its meaning.
                              Alexei
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