Post Dxe8uAoVhSY

P Arellond Nov 06, 2016 (16:40)

How indeed could we build up a spoken (chatting) Quenya? A few months ago David Girardeau was lamenting how the new words and forms seem to actually reduce our ability to communicate in Quenya. I find this true for myself. I can barely understand what is written every time a new PE comes out!

Greg Thomson, A linguist who works on helping learners of obscure minority languages has developed an approach called "Growing Participator Approach". He starts with "Total Physical Response" which involves spoken commands and physically following them.
Its worth googling some of the materials on line to get some language learning principles.

Starting simple and building up is the way to go.
At some point a word list of this community based vocab.

One of his main principles is using and re-using understandable vocabulary will added new vocabulary bit by bit.

One way that we could help each other to understand and write more is try is to keep out obscure vocabulary. To keep to easily understandable forms.

It might also be good to have say a one or two week cycle in which people are encouraged to write a few lines on the same question.

1. Describe the weather in your area.
2. Describe the area where you live.
3. Describe your job.
4 Describe your country.
5. Describe your morning routine.

As a large number of people write back during each meme cycle using the same vocabulary more people are encouraged to imitate and use the vocabulary.

Any further thoughts?

Tamas Ferencz Nov 06, 2016 (17:05)

To strengthen the common vocabulary by discussing simple, everyday topics is a great idea. I have doubts however about the "large" numbers you mention. This community has over 400 members, yet I don't think more than a dozen of us actively participate in the discussions here. Where do we get those large numbers?
Anyway, let's start and see where it takes us! The worst that can happen is that a few of us have a chat.

Paul Strack Nov 06, 2016 (17:28)

This is a very difficult question.

I think the real challenge is the nature of the Tolkienic Linguistic Community. I think many people in the community (myself included) would dearly lovely to see practical, spoken Elvish (either Sindarin or Quenya) become a reality. In order to meet this goal, many of them dive into the available scholarship and discover its immense complexity.

Those that delve into the study of Elvish discover the rigorous standards to which Tolkien adhered: namely that the language not only be functional, but that it has a rich (albeit fictional) linguistic history. To honor Tolkien's memory, they come to desire that their own work adhere to that same standard.

Furthermore, to engage with the rest of the community, they must adhere to an even more rigorous standard, namely consistency with the material that Tolkien wrote, which is both incomplete and filled with contradictions.

At this point it is easy to become bogged down with minutia. It is possible to spend a lot of time learning about the inner workings and evolution of Tolkien's language without advance much (if at all) in the direction of a practical spoken Elvish.

The end result is that most of those who are most knowledgeable about Tolkien's languages are burdened with such (self-imposed) constraints on extending the language that it becomes difficult to do so, much less get any kind of communal agreement on those extensions.

This is something I've thought a great deal about and I don't see an easy way out of this puzzle.

To be honest, I think the only way to advance quickly would be for someone to simply ignore Tolkienic scholarship (except maybe for some basic rules on phonotactics) and just crank out a bunch of additions to the language. You could then end up with a working language that resembles Quenya or Sindarin in a reasonable amount of time, but unfortunately the likelihood of the community accepting it would be very small.

Andre Polykanine Nov 06, 2016 (19:15)

I completely agree with +Paul Strack. More than that, we (since I also have been thinking about spoken Quenya for a long time) are bound and restricted by various copyright issues: what happens if I write a line in Tengwar in my book and then publish it? What happens if I write such a line on my t-shirt? What happens if someone of us invents (or deduces) a word that would accidentally coincide with such a word in still unpublished Tolkienian corpus? This is an extremely important problem to deal with, IMO.

Hjalmar Holm Nov 07, 2016 (17:43)

This was my goal with Sindarin all from when I first tried to learn it. And since a few years, it is also indeed my goal for Quenya. I would be happy to participate in a activity described by Arellond, though I never thought about point 4. and 5. Should i complain over my stupid colleges at work? Or describe machinery and computer programmes? Talk about recent politics? I'm certainly okay with that, but I didn't think of using Quenya for it. One thing I've realized that at least Sndarin is fit for, is discussing relationships.

One method I've seen to expand the vocabulary (though I think the project died out quietly) is to generate Common Eldarin roots. One programmes a computer to analyze the sound-combinations occuring in the CE words, then generating roots that have such combinations, and then choosing the better ones for usage, and assign a meaning to them, and thereafter letting the roots undergo the process of sound-changes seen in Q (or S) development. If we think that we need a large amount of new words (I think we do) and we are keen on having the new words fit together with the attested words (we definitely are), then this might be an option.

As long as we avoid certain names for commercial purposes, I don't think anyone can sue us for speaking a language.

Tamas Ferencz Nov 07, 2016 (19:26)

+Hjalmar Holm you see I think the moment we start generating new roots we start distancing ourselves from Quenya or Sindarin in such a significant way that I can't imagine me taking part in that.

Hjalmar Holm Nov 08, 2016 (01:29)

+Tamas Ferencz First: it's only a play with different possibilities. I do not aim a generating new roots, especially since there are still unpublished words. But further, we, also you, are already creating new words, according to the rules of compatibility with attested stuff and a typical phonology.

If Quenya ever become a living language, it we will see completely new words (or loan words from non-Arda sources) enter the vocabulary, because that is what happens to living languages. To avoid such, we need to keep Quenya a dead language.

Ekin Gören Nov 08, 2016 (05:08)

I couldn't agree more with +Paul Strack. In a recent discussion we had, we were faced with the inconsistency of Sindarin Phonetics, and consequently, the words made with those phonetic rules. By made, I'm not just talking about our reconstructions.

The order, and sometimes the definition of these rules result in words which cannot coexist, at least in the same dialect. Yet we (usually) have no way of knowing which dialects follow which development stages. Thus, deciding on which path to take would be a lose-lose situation. For an argument could be made against each choice. And this, unfortunately, adds to our separation.

This community hosts many of our most knowledgeable lambengolmor, and I believe we could collectively come to a decision concerning these matters and follow it together. We would still be going against at least some attested forms, but the alternative, which is contradicting ourselves (by courtesy of Tolkien), is worse, in my opinion. I'm currently working on something that could help with this problem, with +Lúthien Merilin, +Roman Rausch, and a few others. It is still in its early stages, however.

About +Hjalmar Holm's input, I would definitely trust a computer more than I trust myself or anyone else, it would be much more precise with such a task. And we could still weigh the given results. But, until we run out of roots (to reconstruct), I'm of a mind with +Tamas Ferencz.

Ben Christel Nov 12, 2016 (19:03)

I've been lurking in this group for a while, wondering about exactly these questions. Hello, everyone :)

+Hjalmar Holm Re: using a computer program to simulate sound change--I've started writing a program that attempts to do that ( The problem with this method is that it forces a level of consistency to which Tolkien himself appears not to have adhered. In many cases it's not clear how to generalize the attested sound changes. We even see attested sound changes that appear to be contradictory, or which are at least inconsistently applied. So the sequence of sound changes that get us from PQ to Sindarin or Quenya is far from fixed. To do any sort of reconstruction, we need to pare down the set of "plausible" reconstructed forms to the ones we actually intend to use—and here only our personal aesthetic senses can guide us.

+Paul Strack warns against the possibility of developing multiple "dialects" of neo-Elvish with limited acceptance within the wider community. I share his concerns, and I wonder if we couldn't start by clearly identifying the core "features" that need to be part of any neo-Sindarin or neo-Quenya for it to be acceptable. These would probably be mainly vocabulary and attested forms from The Lord of the Rings (since LotR is really the only source published by Tolkien during his lifetime). We would probably also want to generalize at least a few grammatical and phonological rules from LotR and other sources. It seems inevitable to me that different communities will produce different dialects of neo-Elvish, and a shared "core grammar" would help mitigate the problem of divergence and also inform new students about which parts of the language are well-attested.

I also think our reconstruction methods should be informed by our goals for the languages. I love the Elvish languages for their beauty, not their utility, and I think reconstruction efforts should be directed by aesthetics and not focus as much on making an "Elf-speranto". I share Hostetter's sensitivity to the clumsiness of many reconstructions (see, but I'd like to believe that with some ingenuity we could fix such problems.

I have mixed feelings about strict adherence to Tolkien canon. I began studying Elvish languages in part because I wanted to understand Tolkien's techniques for producing beautiful poems and names, in part because I wanted to build a kind of continuity between Arda and the primary world. However, I didn't start learning from primary sources. My first exposure to Elvish was Salo's neo-Sindarin, and without that exposure I might never have read The Lord of the Rings at all. And this is a source of some distress: while I dearly want an authentic, true-to-Tolkien version of Elvish, am still enamored of many of Salo's coinages, leaps of faith, and false conclusions. Like Hostetter, I am wary of the methods of neo-Elvish, but unlike him I have great affection for (some of) the results of those methods.

Ekin Gören Nov 12, 2016 (21:19)

Maedol, +Ben Christel​!

What +Hjalmar Holm​ suggested and what your project intends are not the same thing. Creating new PQ roots, not reconstructing with the already existing roots. The latter is something we already do, albeit without the help of computers.

And, what you wonder is similar to what I suggested in my previous comment, and is definitely the same thing on which I am working. I agree with the rest of your statements, and I want to add that a continuity is something I also wish to build.

I would like to talk about the project with you, if you are also interested. Judging by your comments, I believe you would want to take part in it.

Paul Strack Nov 12, 2016 (21:59)

+Ben Christel Your sound-change project is a really interesting bit of work. I always want to do something like this as an addendum to my own work and your approach looks very effective, combining regular expressions with custom functions.

I may eventually poach some of your ideas for my own stuff. Very nice!