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Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien, Jonah, and Job

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  • Michael Martinez
    ... The Tolkien linguists have identified Hebrew influence in Adunaic, Khuzdul, and Elvish (the latter being some comments by Helge Fauskanger). Carpenter
    Message 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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
            >
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          • alexeik@aol.com
            In a message dated 6/6/4 3:39:16 AM, Bianca wrote:
            Message 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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