Post DrHPm47xEDe

Tamas Ferencz May 03, 2016 (11:27)

I am reading the new edition of A Secret Vice, and I found in it an editorial note which comments a sentence of Tolkien in which he mentions Gothic - and I thought I'd share this here because it is relevant for us. Bold emphasis is mine:

"In c. 1908-9, Tolkien's study of Germanic myth and legend led him to discover the remains of the oldest known Germanic language, Gothic, through Joseph Wright's 1899 Primer of the Gothic Language. [...] The Gothic language was intriguing to Tolkien for two reasons. First, because of its tantalizingly small vocabulary based on the few extant Gothic texts; and secondly due to the potential for (re)constructing lost words based on the phonetic and syntatctical rules outlined in the Wright grammar. Indeed, for Tolkien the Goths represented a lost culture and held the potential to build upon the corpora of words and texts to reconstruct lost names and tales.[...]"
(Note 50., p48)

I find it deeply poetic that what we do here in this community and all the other communities devoted to studying Tolkien's languages is, essentially, the same: we look at languages that have tantalizingly small vocabularies[1], and we are intrigued and mesmerized by the potential for (re)constructing lost words based on the phonetic and syntatctical rules outlined in Tolkien's various texts. By labouring for six decades or so Tolkien essentially managed to imitate the work of time and history, of building and erosion of hundreds of years, and gave us an Aladdin's cave full of treasures that can happily occupy us for another six decades to come.

[1] Or, dare I say, in the case of Quenya, a tantalizingly large vocabulary?  

Александр Запрягаев May 03, 2016 (14:57)

In Quenya, I dare say 'a tantalizingly large vocabulary where you somehow still immediately stumble upon a missing word'!

Tamas Ferencz May 03, 2016 (15:55)

+Александр Запрягаев
true; but that only makes it even more tantalizing :)

Jim Coish May 04, 2016 (16:49)

Very interesting! Thank you for sharing.

Roman Rausch May 11, 2016 (16:30)

Tolkien's Neo-Gothic poem Bagme Bloma ( is indeed full of reconstructed words, much more even than a typical Neo-Elvish poem, I'd say.