Discussions of Tolkien Language

Studies of the Written Tolkien Legacy: From Analysis, to Maps, to Philosophy and Ethics, to Philology
Riv Res
Manwë
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Discussions of Tolkien Language

Post by Riv Res » Tue Aug 16, 2005 12:20 am

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Becky Carter-Hitchin



The Languages of J.R.R.Tolkien

J.R.R.Tolkien wrote:It has been always with me: the sensibility to linguistic pattern which affects me emotionally like colour or music . . . (Letter 163)


J.R.R.Tolkien wrote:The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows. I should have preferred to write in ‘Elvish’. (Letter 165)


J.R.R.Tolkien wrote:As for plenilune and argent, they are beautiful words before they are understood—I wish I could have the pleasure of meeting them for the first time again!—and how is one to know them till one does meet them? And surely the first meeting should be in a living context, and not in a dictionary, like dried flowers in a hortus siccus! (Letter 234)


J.R.R.Tolkien wrote:At the hill’s foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree; but in his hand was a small golden bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he beheld things as they once had been in this same place. For the grim years were removed from the face of Aragorn, and he seemed clothed in white, a young lord tall and fair; and he spoke words in the Elvish tongue to one whom Frodo could not see. Arwen vanimelda, namarie! he said, and then he drew a breath, and returning out of his thought he looked at Frodo and smiled. (The Fellowship of the Ring)


This is the place to discuss Tolkien’s philology and his contructed languages and alphabets, after having reviewed the House Rules.

Pedo mellon a minno!

Merry
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Post by Merry » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:00 pm

I have to admit that I'm not knowledgeable about the Elvish languages, or really, any of the Tolkien languages. I don't experience the love of language they way he did--indeed, maybe few poeple do.

So I've been going through a list of Elvish words, trying to experience them as he might have: just for the pure love of the sound, like 'plenilune' in the above quote. Here's one that I like: 'Calaquendi'.

Ruth Noel says that 'Calaquendi' refers to:

The High Elves, who had lived in the Blessed Realm in the light of the Two Trees. cala = light, quendi = elves, literally, 'speakers'. S[indarin]


I think it would be lovely to be one of the Calaquendi!

Anybody else have favorite Elvish words or phrases?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:59 am

Okay, I officially name this the deadest thread at Middle-earth Journeys!

Here is something that might enliven it: a new book called Ring of Words is coming out this year. It's about Tolkien's two-year stint writing the Oxford English Dictionary.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=Lj0lKxvChc&isbn=0198610696&itm=1
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Airwin
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Location: Misty Mountains

Post by Airwin » Sun Feb 12, 2006 5:51 pm

Merry wrote:Okay, I officially name this the deadest thread at Middle-earth Journeys!

Here is something that might enliven it: a new book called Ring of Words is coming out this year. It's about Tolkien's two-year stint writing the Oxford English Dictionary.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=Lj0lKxvChc&isbn=0198610696&itm=1


Sounds like something to add to my wish list! Thanks for the heads-up, Merry! :flower:
Namarie,

Airwin

Philipa
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The Hobbit Companion

Post by Philipa » Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:12 pm

I have been given a gift this week called The Hobbit Companion by David Day Illustrated by Lidia Postma. This appears to be a British publication and I have no idea where my friend got this from. It is a wonderful hardcover nicely illustrated with a topic of Hobbits and where Tolkien derives their names, place names and other Hobbit related words come from.

So, Tolkien himself said it: in the beginning was the word – Hobbit. Furthermore, in his writing, “I thought I'd better find out what hobbits were like,” we can clearly see Tolkien's creative mental process at work. Many authors talk about creating a character, but whenever someone asked Tolkien about a character (or a race or a thing or a place) that was named but not yet fleshed out in the text of his stories, he would invariably say, “I'll go and try to find out more about it.”

© David Day



I had a friend who used to say their poems “were not written about things...they were things.” My hunch is Tolkien believed the same about his Arda.
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Merry
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Post by Merry » Mon Apr 03, 2006 3:27 am

That's interesting, Philipa. In anybody else, I'd say that such an answer was kind of an affectation, you know, a goofy way of trying to make the writing something more than it was. But since JRRT's names were based on his philology, I guess there really was more to find out (rather than to invent).

Sounds like a wonderful book--lucky you!
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:25 pm

He really came by Hobbits in an unsual way though, didn't he? He certainly did have to find out what they were like because they just seemed to spring suddenly from his subconcious with no pre-history of the name to dig into, whereas a lot of his other names, characters and places are constructs from his wide philological knowledge.

Seems like there were two forces at work, his academic interest working backwards from old words, and his inspiration forcing its way upwards from his poet soul. What a combination!

And what would have happened if those hobbits hadn't forced their way out? Would he have ever written a best selling book at all or would he have died a well-respected professor who left behind a lot of rather strange writings? This may sound daft but I think hobbits were meant to be and the universe give him (and us) a key to open his world into ours.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

hope
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Post by hope » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:27 pm

Iolanthe said
And what would have happened if those hobbits hadn't forced their way out? Would he have ever written a best selling book at all or would he have died a well-respected professor who left behind a lot of rather strange writings? This may sound daft but I think hobbits were meant to be and the universe give him (and us) a key to open his world into ours


Oh I do agree. Perhaps Professor Tolkien would have too if were here as he wrote and suggested on occasions that somethings were meant to happen or to be. Maybe he believed or trusted to fate or some higher being or God?
What have I got in my pocket?

Merry
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Post by Merry » Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:43 pm

Okay, this is rather silly, but it's okay to be silly on occasion, is it not? In a catalogue, I saw a welcome mat which can be personalized--one can have one's last name put on it. Well, I thought, why not have 'welcome' put on a mat instead--in Elvish! Trouble is, none of my Tolkien books is quite clear on what that would be. I know that people use 'hannon le' or something like that on some internet boards, but I can't find that in Tolkien. Is that just movie Elvish?

Any help would be appreciated.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Airwin
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:07 pm
Location: Misty Mountains

Post by Airwin » Thu Jul 06, 2006 10:39 pm

Merry wrote:Okay, this is rather silly, but it's okay to be silly on occasion, is it not? In a catalogue, I saw a welcome mat which can be personalized--one can have one's last name put on it. Well, I thought, why not have 'welcome' put on a mat instead--in Elvish! Trouble is, none of my Tolkien books is quite clear on what that would be. I know that people use 'hannon le' or something like that on some internet boards, but I can't find that in Tolkien. Is that just movie Elvish?

Any help would be appreciated.


I could be wrong of course, my Elvish is very rusty :wink: , but I thought 'hannon le' meant 'thank you'?
Namarie,

Airwin

Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:27 am

Ha! See--there you are: glad I checked! Thanks, Airwin. Any idea about 'welcome'?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Merry
Varda
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Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Post by Merry » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:30 am

Oh, wait, now I remember: it's 'mae govannan' or something like that, right? (Hate my middle-aged memory!) Same question: is this Tolkien or is it movie?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Airwin
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Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:07 pm
Location: Misty Mountains

Post by Airwin » Fri Jul 07, 2006 5:18 am

I remember reading someone (could have been Aragorn) saying that in the books. If someone hasn't found it before tomorrow, I'll try to to find it.
Namarie,

Airwin

Lindariel
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Post by Lindariel » Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:05 pm

Actually, the person who used the term "Mae govannen!" was Glorfindel when he located Aragorn and the hobbits as they were preparing to return to the Road after wandering in the hills above the area where Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin's company had their encounter with the three trolls. Glorfindel senses their presence in the thicket by the side of the road and calls out, "Ai na vedui Dunadan! Mae govannen!"

Ruth Noel, in The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth, translates only the first part of this quotation as "O [it] is [at] last Dunadan!" I don't know why she chooses not to translate "mae govannen;" even in the Elvish-English section of the book she only references where the words are used, not what they mean.

Jim Allan , in An Introduction to Elvish, translates "Mae govannen!" as "Well met!"

To my ear, this has a more urgent meaning than simply "welcome" or "good to meet you" -- there's a sense that the coming together has happened in the nick of time. When Aragorn uses this phrase in PJ's TTT it is to acknowledge the arrival of Haldir and the elves of Rivendell and Lothlorien at Helm's Deep, and again there is the sense of "By Eru, it is good to see you; you've arrived at the crucial hour!"

Hope this is helpful.
Lindariel Image

“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

Merry
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Post by Merry » Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:30 pm

It's helpful, indeed, Lindariel. At least we have a source in Tolkien now, and I understand your 'ear' for the phrase--that makes sense to me.

On the practical level, it also rules out the phrase for my welcome mat--too many letters!
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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