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Tolkien, Barfield---and contemporary linguistic theory???

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  • Kevin Bowring
    Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with contemporary linguistics?
    Message 1 of 10 , May 31, 2006
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      Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with contemporary linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are rather wildly out of step with contemporary theory. I noticed in the Bibliography at the elvish.org website, for instance, a book by Jean Aitchison called Language Change: Progress or Decline?, but the bibliography is not annotated, so who knows what to do with it?
      If there is someone more knowledgeable than myself who has ever delved into these deep waters, I would greatly appreciate your advice.
      Kevin Bowring
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      In a message dated 5/31/2006 6:37:57 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, bowring@bc.edu writes: Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of
      Message 2 of 10 , May 31, 2006
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        In a message dated 5/31/2006 6:37:57 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
        bowring@... writes:

        Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of
        language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with contemporary
        linguistics?


        Can you formulate the theories of Barfield about language in terms precise
        enough that they could be tested by contemporary linguistics? Linguists tend
        not to theorize about language in the somewhat vague fashion that outsiders
        to the field expect them to. I suspect that linguists would have little to
        say about Barfield's theories because they aren't testable.

        Wendell Wagner


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David Bratman
        There is an article by Ross Smith in the new issue of Tolkien Studies (volume 3) that acknowledges that Tolkien s linguistic aesthetics is out of step with
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 1, 2006
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          There is an article by Ross Smith in the new issue of Tolkien Studies
          (volume 3) that acknowledges that Tolkien's linguistic aesthetics is out of
          step with 20th century linguistic theory from Saussere and Chomsky, but
          goes on to argue that it's 20th century linguistic theory that's all wrong.
          Smith briefly ties Tolkien's ideas with those of Jespersen, Peirce, and of
          course Sapir.

          - David Bratman


          At 06:14 PM 5/31/2006 -0400, Kevin Bowring wrote:
          >Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of
          >language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with contemporary
          >linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are rather wildly out of
          >step with contemporary theory.
        • Kevin Bowring
          Thanks. I ll get hold of this article. It sounds like a good place to start. Kevin Bowring
          Message 4 of 10 , Jun 1, 2006
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            Thanks. I'll get hold of this article. It sounds like a good place to start.
            Kevin Bowring

            | On Thu, 01 Jun 2006 00:43:28 -0700
            | David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
            | There is an article by Ross Smith in the new issue of Tolkien Studies
            | (volume 3) that acknowledges that Tolkien's linguistic aesthetics is out of
            | step with 20th century linguistic theory from Saussere and Chomsky, but
            | goes on to argue that it's 20th century linguistic theory that's all wrong.
            | Smith briefly ties Tolkien's ideas with those of Jespersen, Peirce, and of
            | course Sapir.
            |
            | - David Bratman
            |
            |
            | At 06:14 PM 5/31/2006 -0400, Kevin Bowring wrote:
            | >Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of
            | >language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with contemporary
            | >linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are rather wildly out of
            | >step with contemporary theory.
            |
            |
            | The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
            |
            |
            |
            | SPONSORED LINKS Writing book Writing a book Writing child book Book writing software Science fiction and fantasy Writing a book report
            | YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
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            |
          • Kevin Bowring
            David, I just finished the Ross Smith article. Very interesting and very suggestive of further work to do. Many thanks for pointing it out to me. Kevin
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 1, 2006
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              David,
              I just finished the Ross Smith article. Very interesting and very suggestive of further work to do.
              Many thanks for pointing it out to me.
              Kevin


              | On Thu, 01 Jun 2006 00:43:28 -0700
              | David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
              | There is an article by Ross Smith in the new issue of Tolkien Studies
              | (volume 3) that acknowledges that Tolkien's linguistic aesthetics is out of
              | step with 20th century linguistic theory from Saussere and Chomsky, but
              | goes on to argue that it's 20th century linguistic theory that's all wrong.
              | Smith briefly ties Tolkien's ideas with those of Jespersen, Peirce, and of
              | course Sapir.
              |
              | - David Bratman
              |
              |
              | At 06:14 PM 5/31/2006 -0400, Kevin Bowring wrote:
              | >Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory of
              | >language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with contemporary
              | >linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are rather wildly out of
              | >step with contemporary theory.
              |
              |
              | The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              |
              |
              |
              | SPONSORED LINKS Writing book Writing a book Writing child book Book writing software Science fiction and fantasy Writing a book report
              | YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
              | Visit your group "mythsoc" on the web.
              | To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              | mythsoc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
              |
            • John D Rateliff
              Interesting field of inquiry, and I hope you ll let us know what you turn up (or at least where you publish your end results). I did want to note though that
              Message 6 of 10 , Jun 1, 2006
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                Interesting field of inquiry, and I hope you'll let us know what you
                turn up (or at least where you publish your end results). I did want
                to note though that there's a major assumption in your query, when
                you refer to "the theory of language held by Tolkien, that of
                Barfield". While this has been suggested in the past (most notably in
                V.F.'s SPLINTERED LIGHT), it has by no means been proven that Tolkien
                adopted Barfield's theories. So long as you distinguish "was aware
                of, and influenced by" from "accepted", I think you'll be okay.
                A quick google search turned up a presentation by one Joseph
                Subbiondo ("The Semantic Theory of Owen Barfield: The Study of
                Consciousness in Linguistic Theory") that might be a start along the
                lines you're investigating, assuming it's been published. Here's the
                link: http://linguistlist.org/~naahols/Newsletter18.html
                --JDR


                On May 31, 2006, at 3:14 PM, Kevin Bowring wrote:
                > Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory
                > of language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with
                > contemporary linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are
                > rather wildly out of step with contemporary theory. I noticed in
                > the Bibliography at the elvish.org website, for instance, a book by
                > Jean Aitchison called Language Change: Progress or Decline?, but
                > the bibliography is not annotated, so who knows what to do with it?
                > If there is someone more knowledgeable than myself who has ever
                > delved into these deep waters, I would greatly appreciate your advice.
                > Kevin Bowring



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Kevin Bowring
                John, I agree with you about the relationship between Barfield and Tolkien--that is why I did not say Tolkien AND Barfield. I have always thought the Prof.
                Message 7 of 10 , Jun 2, 2006
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                  John,
                  I agree with you about the relationship between Barfield and Tolkien--that is why I did not say "Tolkien AND Barfield." I have always thought the Prof. Flieger overstated the case. I suspect that a closer look at Tolkien will show up important distinctions from Barfield; I am quite sure that he would not accept the Steinerian twist on "evolution of consciousness". Fleshing out the differences would, I am sure, be illuminating. I have just read Poetic Diction for about the fifth time--a book I really love, but one that in some ways drives me crazy--and was struck by the prominence of the evolutionary theme, which I had really missed the first time or two through it.
                  Thanks for the link, too.
                  Kevin


                  | On Thu, 1 Jun 2006 13:49:00 -0700
                  | John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                  | Interesting field of inquiry, and I hope you'll let us know what you
                  | turn up (or at least where you publish your end results). I did want
                  | to note though that there's a major assumption in your query, when
                  | you refer to "the theory of language held by Tolkien, that of
                  | Barfield". While this has been suggested in the past (most notably in
                  | V.F.'s SPLINTERED LIGHT), it has by no means been proven that Tolkien
                  | adopted Barfield's theories. So long as you distinguish "was aware
                  | of, and influenced by" from "accepted", I think you'll be okay.
                  | A quick google search turned up a presentation by one Joseph
                  | Subbiondo ("The Semantic Theory of Owen Barfield: The Study of
                  | Consciousness in Linguistic Theory") that might be a start along the
                  | lines you're investigating, assuming it's been published. Here's the
                  | link: http://linguistlist.org/~naahols/Newsletter18.html
                  | --JDR
                  |
                  |
                  | On May 31, 2006, at 3:14 PM, Kevin Bowring wrote:
                  | > Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory
                  | > of language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with
                  | > contemporary linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are
                  | > rather wildly out of step with contemporary theory. I noticed in
                  | > the Bibliography at the elvish.org website, for instance, a book by
                  | > Jean Aitchison called Language Change: Progress or Decline?, but
                  | > the bibliography is not annotated, so who knows what to do with it?
                  | > If there is someone more knowledgeable than myself who has ever
                  | > delved into these deep waters, I would greatly appreciate your advice.
                  | > Kevin Bowring
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  | [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  | The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  | SPONSORED LINKS Writing book Writing a book Writing child book Book writing software Science fiction and fantasy Writing a book report
                  | YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
                  | Visit your group "mythsoc" on the web.
                  | To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  | mythsoc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                  |
                • Larry Swain
                  I need to reread Splintered Light, I guess, but I had always thought that Tolkien was influenced by late 19th century philologists and early 20th century
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jun 2, 2006
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                    I need to reread Splintered Light, I guess, but I had always thought that Tolkien was influenced by late 19th century philologists and early 20th century philologists who looked for ur-language and were more interested in concrete concepts than abstract, still under the influence of medieval thought that the name, the word, has the essence of the thing. Have I missed something?

                    Larry Swain


                    >
                    >
                    > John,
                    > I agree with you about the relationship between Barfield and
                    > Tolkien--that is why I did not say "Tolkien AND Barfield." I have
                    > always thought the Prof. Flieger overstated the case. I suspect
                    > that a closer look at Tolkien will show up important distinctions
                    > from Barfield; I am quite sure that he would not accept the
                    > Steinerian twist on "evolution of consciousness". Fleshing out the
                    > differences would, I am sure, be illuminating. I have just read
                    > Poetic Diction for about the fifth time--a book I really love, but
                    > one that in some ways drives me crazy--and was struck by the
                    > prominence of the evolutionary theme, which I had really missed the
                    > first time or two through it.
                    > Thanks for the link, too.
                    > Kevin
                    >
                    >
                    > | On Thu, 1 Jun 2006 13:49:00 -0700
                    > | John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                    > | Interesting field of inquiry, and I hope you'll let us know what you
                    > | turn up (or at least where you publish your end results). I did want
                    > | to note though that there's a major assumption in your query, when
                    > | you refer to "the theory of language held by Tolkien, that of
                    > | Barfield". While this has been suggested in the past (most notably in
                    > | V.F.'s SPLINTERED LIGHT), it has by no means been proven that Tolkien
                    > | adopted Barfield's theories. So long as you distinguish "was aware
                    > | of, and influenced by" from "accepted", I think you'll be okay.
                    > | A quick google search turned up a presentation by one Joseph
                    > | Subbiondo ("The Semantic Theory of Owen Barfield: The Study of
                    > | Consciousness in Linguistic Theory") that might be a start along the
                    > | lines you're investigating, assuming it's been published. Here's the
                    > | link: http://linguistlist.org/~naahols/Newsletter18.html
                    > | --JDR
                    > |
                    > |
                    > | On May 31, 2006, at 3:14 PM, Kevin Bowring wrote:
                    > | > Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory
                    > | > of language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with
                    > | > contemporary linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are
                    > | > rather wildly out of step with contemporary theory. I noticed in
                    > | > the Bibliography at the elvish.org website, for instance, a book by
                    > | > Jean Aitchison called Language Change: Progress or Decline?, but
                    > | > the bibliography is not annotated, so who knows what to do with it?
                    > | > If there is someone more knowledgeable than myself who has ever
                    > | > delved into these deep waters, I would greatly appreciate your advice.
                    > | > Kevin Bowring
                    > |
                    > |
                    > |
                    > | [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    > |
                    > |
                    > |
                    > | The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                    > |
                    > |
                    > |
                    > | SPONSORED LINKS
                    > Writing book
                    > Writing a book Writing child
                    > book
                    > Book writing software
                    > Science fiction and fantasy
                    > Writing a book report
                    > | YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
                    > | Visit your group "mythsoc" on the web.
                    > | To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                    > | mythsoc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                    > | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                    > |
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >

                    >


                    --
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                  • Kevin Bowring
                    Larry, Look at the Ross Smith article in the newest Tolkien Studies. Kevin Bowring
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jun 2, 2006
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                      Larry,
                      Look at the Ross Smith article in the newest Tolkien Studies.
                      Kevin Bowring

                      | On Fri, 02 Jun 2006 15:32:22 +0100
                      | "Larry Swain" <theswain@...> wrote:
                      |
                      | I need to reread Splintered Light, I guess, but I had always thought that Tolkien was influenced by late 19th century philologists and early 20th century philologists who looked for ur-language and were more interested in concrete concepts than abstract, still under the influence of medieval thought that the name, the word, has the essence of the thing. Have I missed something?
                      |
                      | Larry Swain
                      |
                      |
                      | >
                      | >
                      | > John,
                      | > I agree with you about the relationship between Barfield and
                      | > Tolkien--that is why I did not say "Tolkien AND Barfield." I have
                      | > always thought the Prof. Flieger overstated the case. I suspect
                      | > that a closer look at Tolkien will show up important distinctions
                      | > from Barfield; I am quite sure that he would not accept the
                      | > Steinerian twist on "evolution of consciousness". Fleshing out the
                      | > differences would, I am sure, be illuminating. I have just read
                      | > Poetic Diction for about the fifth time--a book I really love, but
                      | > one that in some ways drives me crazy--and was struck by the
                      | > prominence of the evolutionary theme, which I had really missed the
                      | > first time or two through it.
                      | > Thanks for the link, too.
                      | > Kevin
                      | >
                      | >
                      | > | On Thu, 1 Jun 2006 13:49:00 -0700
                      | > | John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                      | > | Interesting field of inquiry, and I hope you'll let us know what you
                      | > | turn up (or at least where you publish your end results). I did want
                      | > | to note though that there's a major assumption in your query, when
                      | > | you refer to "the theory of language held by Tolkien, that of
                      | > | Barfield". While this has been suggested in the past (most notably in
                      | > | V.F.'s SPLINTERED LIGHT), it has by no means been proven that Tolkien
                      | > | adopted Barfield's theories. So long as you distinguish "was aware
                      | > | of, and influenced by" from "accepted", I think you'll be okay.
                      | > | A quick google search turned up a presentation by one Joseph
                      | > | Subbiondo ("The Semantic Theory of Owen Barfield: The Study of
                      | > | Consciousness in Linguistic Theory") that might be a start along the
                      | > | lines you're investigating, assuming it's been published. Here's the
                      | > | link: http://linguistlist.org/~naahols/Newsletter18.html
                      | > | --JDR
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > | On May 31, 2006, at 3:14 PM, Kevin Bowring wrote:
                      | > | > Can anyone point me towards something to read evaluating the theory
                      | > | > of language held by Tolkien, that of Barfield, in comparison with
                      | > | > contemporary linguistics? I suspect that Tolkien and Barfield are
                      | > | > rather wildly out of step with contemporary theory. I noticed in
                      | > | > the Bibliography at the elvish.org website, for instance, a book by
                      | > | > Jean Aitchison called Language Change: Progress or Decline?, but
                      | > | > the bibliography is not annotated, so who knows what to do with it?
                      | > | > If there is someone more knowledgeable than myself who has ever
                      | > | > delved into these deep waters, I would greatly appreciate your advice.
                      | > | > Kevin Bowring
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > | [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > | The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > |
                      | > | SPONSORED LINKS
                      | > Writing book
                      | > Writing a book Writing child
                      | > book
                      | > Book writing software
                      | > Science fiction and fantasy
                      | > Writing a book report
                      | > | YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
                      | > | Visit your group "mythsoc" on the web.
                      | > | To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                      | > | mythsoc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                      | > | Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                      | > |
                      | >
                      | >
                      | >
                      | >
                      | > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                      | > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      | >
                      | >
                      | >
                      | >
                      |
                      | >
                      |
                      |
                      | --
                      | _______________________________________________
                      | Surf the Web in a faster, safer and easier way:
                      | Download Opera 8 at http://www.opera.com
                      |
                      | Powered by Outblaze
                      |
                      |
                      | The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                      |
                      |
                      | YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
                      | Visit your group "mythsoc" on the web.
                      | To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
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                    • John D Rateliff
                      Amused to come across two more references to Western fantasy in a Japanese manga, this time in NEGIMA: MAGISTER NEGI MAGI volume 10. The main character is a
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jun 12, 2006
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                        Amused to come across two more references to Western fantasy in a
                        Japanese manga, this time in NEGIMA: MAGISTER NEGI MAGI volume 10.
                        The main character is a ten-year-old magician who's teaching a very
                        strange class of Japanese junior high girls that includes a vampire,
                        a ghost, a ninja, a mad scientist, and a robot, among others. In one
                        episode, he goes on a kinda/sorta date with one of his students (a
                        shy librarian) to a bookstore, where among the books they look at and
                        praise are TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN and A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA (the cover
                        of which is clearly shown). Apparently, according to the translation
                        notes in the back of this volume, the literal Japanese title of the
                        latter translates as "The Battle Against the Shadow" and the series
                        to which it belongs as "Chronicles of Ged".

                        And of course closer to home, Steven Colbert revealed his Tolkien
                        geek credentials on his Wend. June 7th show, when he took CNN to task
                        for a 6/6/06 broadcast, revealing that what they showed as the face
                        of Satan in the background on one piece was in fact a blow-up of the
                        Hildebrandts' Balrog. Never thought I'd hear the name "Thangorodrim",
                        used correctly, from the lips of a Comedy Central fake news show
                        host. Live and learn.

                        --John R.
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