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Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Tuilinde » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:43 pm

I wonder if any of you can help with these two requests:

1 Is there a good Sindarin translation of Galadriel's Namarie anywhere?

2 Someone wants to interview a
fluent speaker of Elvish
I promised the committee I would ask around. My feeling is that there probably isn't such a person as he is imagining. I've sent an email asking for more about the who, why and where of the interview, and what his expectations are. He is in London, and seems to think there'll be someone there he can go and see. I'll let you know what he says when he replies.

I hope you are all well, and that we'll be able to kick this forum back into action soon - that is unless you're all going off to one of September's many Fests, Feasts or Moots!!! (I'm going to Oxonmoot - see some of you there!)
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Tuilinde » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:52 am

OK here is the reply I've had from my email:

Hi Tuilinde/ Susan,
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

The article will appear on our website Reg Hardware, which is a sister site of The Register, where it will be cross-linked. We mainly work on technology reviews and IT news.
Recently we reported on iPhone apps that teach Elvish and cave tours offered in Klingon and therefore, with new technology offering a better platform for conlangs to grow, thought it was worth a deeper look into the people that speak them.

The feature will draw on some of these services, but is mainly an informative piece on constructed languages, why people speak them, the practicality of them, popularity, history and purpose.
We have a very large readership that will enjoy such an article, here and across the waters.

I have no previous knowledge on the subject and have been researching it for a few weeks now. To be honest, I don't know what to expect from those immersed in Elvish culture. It's easy to speculate and imagine a stereotypical Elvish convention of Tolkien fans gathering to show off their fanaticism and share their mutual interests, but it would be built too much on assumption, hence the need to speak with some.

The questions I would ask would be simple and along the lines of:

Why did you begin learning Elvish, could you explain how you first got into it?
What is it about Elvish that interests you more than say Spanish for example?
Where do you practice the language? Have you been to any Elven conventions or gatherings?
Do you think Elvish is practical enough to become a language more people spoke, including those who aren't Tolkien fans?
Do you know of any such speakers that exist already? Ones that perhaps learn it purely out of linguistic interest.
What are your views on Elvish being more widely spoken, is being a minority part of the appeal?
With only 350 Elvish words penned by Tolkien, how are new words created and agreed upon?
How does one decide on their Elven name? Where is it used?
What are your feelings on World of Warcraft games? Do you think it's had a positive effect on Elven culture? While WOW say it's just a tip of the hat to Tolkien and languages vary, there is little doubt that Elven popularity has expanded through the game. Many players may not have even read any Tolkien. Ok, so the languages aren't necessarily Tolkien anyway, but there must be some relation. Would be interesting to know a true Tolkien's feelings on such games and if they play them themselves.

There are other questions I'd ask too - all in the name of building the image of Elven language and what it's really about, from those that speak it.

Thanks for the help in this. It would be interesting to speak further with someone on the matter.
Those that are building the language up themselves into something more complete would be fabulous to speak with, if you could point me in their direction, that would be amazing.

The people who write poetry would also be of interest. If there's anyone that you know of in London who would like to show off their skills, maybe have some of their poetry featured in the piece, please let me know. It would be great to meet them. As you mention though, Elvish speakers are a rarity in this country and if that's difficult, then any contact, be that over the phone or email, is hugely appreciated.

The more I speak with, the better, so feel free to answer anything yourself, it'll be a huge help.
I don't speak any of the Elven tongue, but am definitely open to learning some of it along the way.

Huge thanks for the assistance.
Look forward to speaking with you soon.

Caleb Cox
Editorial Assistant
Reg Hardware


There's a lot there to think about. I will send a "holding" reply for the moment.

One of my reactions is to say that I don't want to do it, but if someone reputable doesn't speak with him then others will. Please can I have some responses and suggestions as to the next action to take.

Does anyone know anything at all about the iphone apps he mentions?
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Tuilinde » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:18 pm

I sent a long reply summarising the world of Tolkien Linguistics from Carl through to Grelvish tattoos, and a list of good websites to look at (Oh, and our Welcome message and the Neo-Quenya messages!)

So here is his response to that:

Hi Susan,
Brilliant reply thanks.
I did realise there were multiple languages within Elvish, I guess I didn't really think of it as the equivalent of Earthlings and their multiple languages. Trying to generalise them all into one would be pretty difficult and as you rightly say, cause tension between factions.

I think my feature needs roughly 800-1000 words on Elvish speakers, so I don't need to be too specific. I'll mention groups four and five, but keep it mainly to the top three you speak of. The idea of Neo-Quenya is very interesting, the disagreement of factions and Elfless Elvish.
You've given me a lot of food for thought. I'll check out these webpages next.

I remember a program with Dara O'Briain where he had to do a comedy gig at an Elven role-play convention. I'll try and find that footage, might be of use.
I've also ordered a book on Invented Languages by Arika Okrent, been waiting weeks for that to arrive, which should also fill me in a bit more.
I am most certainly an innocent walking through a minefield, taking one step at a time - unprepared for potential explosions that could set me off balance. Thanks for the heads-up.
I guess Quenya would be the one I'll look at most in depth, I believe that's what the iPhone apps were teaching.

I write Elvish 1.0.1, an app from Sviluppo iPhone Italia

ElvenSpeak from developers Lassiquendi

There's some links for you.
I look forward to talking with you more and what the forums have to say.
Massive thanks for all the help.
Caleb.
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Lúthien » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:24 pm

I wouldn't mind talking to him at all. I'm aware of the typical sort of misconceptions that live among so many people regarding the elvish languages. Thus it'd be undesirable indeed, as you indicate also, to have some Grelvish user adding more to that.

Incidentally, I know the person who wrote mentioned iPhone app though, luckily I might add, not very well. It was probably the shortest msn conversation I've ever had the displeasure of not being able to avoid altogether  :( 

Thinking about the "speaking" in particular; I'm willing of course to bring forward other opinions as my own, as long as they mirror a cross section of those with a serious interest in the elvish languages. Though I am very enthusiastically for (also) using these tongues in speech, albeit respectful of the original context, not everyone is. But I needn't tell that here, of course. 
About the requirement that the reporter stated as being a "daily user": I'm not at this time, but I was sometime ago when a short chat in Sindarin over Skype was one of the things that my study partner and I used by way of exercise. The problem is that there's not much people around who seriously want to try and speak Sindarin. But it remains my conviction that it can be done, even within the limits that the (linguistic) state of the language imposes. 
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Lúthien » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:44 pm

I just read the other question. If there's no Sindarin version of Namarië I'm much willing to give it a try. 

Re. the iPhone app: I can post some screenshots and a description here later tonight, so you have an idea what it's like. It is Quenya-only, and it contains one of the free available Quenya courses (forgot which one) and a word list (with a totally cripple search index) plus some other documents. I had the idea that the developer just collected everything from the Internet without bothering too much about, well, anything. The developer is not knowledgeable about Quenya or a user even when applying these words very loosely - which might account for the above. 
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: órerámar » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:18 pm

One of my reactions is to say that I don't want to do it,


and I think you are right

but if someone reputable doesn't speak with him then others will.


In my opinion, that will not make a great difference.

P.S. What I mean with this is : Given the length of the article 800 - 1000 words and considering the questions, there is hardly enough room to put the records straight.
Last edited by órerámar on Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Lúthien » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:01 pm

Here's some screen pictures of the "ElvenSpeak" iPhone app.

Image Image
Image Image
Image Image
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Lúthien » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:20 pm

One of my reactions is to say that I don't want to do it,


If you are offered a chance to have your say and decline it because "it won't do any good anyhow" you throw away maybe the only chance you'll ever get to challenge at least some of the faulty notions that live out there.
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: órerámar » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:45 am

Lúthien wrote:Here's some screen pictures of the "ElvenSpeak" iPhone app.

Image Image
Image Image
Image Image



I had a look at Lassiquendi's home page. The course and wordlist are obviously both from Helge K. Fauskanger. I would have expected this fact to be mentioned on their page and on the pages from where the applications can be downloaded. It is to be hoped that Helge's work is at least recognised in the programme. I could not check that as I have no i-phone.
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Re: Questions via the Tolkien Society Committee

PostAuthor: Lúthien » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:10 am

Yes, it is mentioned.
On a "About" page somewhere at the back. But it can still be that he asked Helge and that they agreed on this. I don't know.

But to be honest, I find it a bit hard to imagine. The whole thing is practically useless: as you can see from the screen capture pictures, you can read maybe twenty words on a page. As if a book has been printed on a tape measure. I cannot imagine anyone who would actually read it like that.

And about the word list: it is English-Quenya only, not the other way around. Besides, the search indexing is useless.
If you type in the letter "A" - you only see <A> on the screen.
If you type in the letter "B" - you get the entry for "ABANDON".
If you type in the letter "C" - you get the entry for "ABUNDANCE".
If you type in the letter "D" - you get the entry for "ABANDON" again.
If you type in the word "MAN" you get the entry for "*AMANIAN"

It's even worse than I thought ... :neee:

Mr. Lassiquendi is not only no good at Quenya, but he's also a lame programmer. Sigh.

Final conclusion: "ElvenSpeak" for the iPhone is a completely useless piece of software.
The developer seems to have tossed a few resources that he'd found on the internet into one package. It does not give the impression of having been designed to be used: reading a long document like Helge Fauskanger's Quenya course on a display which is barely an inch wide is not something that anyone who wants to learn Quenya is likely to do.

The included English - Quenya word list is rendered effectively useless because it cannot be searched in any useful way. There is no wildcard search; the display cannot be scrolled; the entries are cut off after a certain length; and well, it just does not work.

The only positive thing that I can say about it, is that it is free (if it hadn't been, he would probably have gotten into trouble - there is also music by Howard Shore in the app, and that is NOT credited).

Overall score from the Dutch jury: zero points.
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