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Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien, Jonah, and Job

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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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