Post KvvTnyu6d4W

Olga García Feb 14, 2013 (14:44)

Does anyone else here think the way Elvish languages evolve along with their (original) speakers is kind of... strange?? Like they're immortal but their languages still change slowly, and they don't remember the original forms. It is said somewhere that they change their languages due to their mental impulses (and forgot the original forms in the process), but I think that if it were so they could change their languages (and even names) drastically so they could go completely different or unrecognizable (or even genetically unrelated!), but that didn't happen. They could also have retained or remembered their original language, but that didn't happen either.

So this is one of the questions (along with Míriel's death and others) that make me doubt about the Elves' immortality. So I think such immortality is probably a construct made by the storytellers.

Jenna Carpenter Feb 14, 2013 (16:34)

I often find immortality is a misunderstood concept - people believe it to mean that you are like a superhero, and thus incapable of death. Tolkien's Elves were immortal in what I consider the true sense - that if death does not come for them, they never die (but are still capable of dying/passing on). Miriel simply chose to never come back, her spirit was still very much alive. Luthien and Arwen are the only Elves we can consider to have genuinely 'died' (and even then, they're probably just in a separate hall of Mandos) as they can never be reunited with their kin - Miriel could have been reunited if she'd wanted to be, she just chose not to.
As far as the changing of language, well, why not? I'd find it rather odd if their language had never changed over several thousand years at all.

Olga García Feb 14, 2013 (22:25)

Yes, but, concerning the languages, it's also rather odd to live since the beginning and not remember anything about the original language (for example, individuals like Círdan are said to have been born in Cuiviénen; however Elvish philologists still had to reconstruct Common Eldarin).

Concerning what you say about the Elves themselves, that's just what Tolkien wrote. I believe his versions of the stories come from sources that were already mangled and/or distorted, like Germanic (and possibly Celtic) accounts that fused historical elements with mythological ones.

Jenna Carpenter Feb 14, 2013 (23:11)

Well, returning to human terms for a moment, it is entirely possible (I know people that have personally) to lose your mother tongue when you have been immersed in another language for 20 years, so extrapolate that to speaking another language (whichever, be it Telerin, Falathrim, Vanyarin Quenya or whatever) for thousands of years, given that their memories are never said to be infallible, that it's entirely conceivable that they could have forgotten their original tongue. (That's not entirely accurate though, remember 'Elo!'? El is still part of Sindarin and Quenya with its original meaning).

Not entirely with you as to the 'that's what Tolkien wrote' part, are you going along the lines of the Red Book of Westmarch, that he was translating original stories (that he made up in the first place)?

Olga García Feb 14, 2013 (23:34)

Not really the Red Book of Westmarch, as I don't believe the stories from LotR and The Hobbit were true. I was thinking more about Aelfwine's accounts, the Lost Tales and the Silmarillion.

Jenna Carpenter Feb 15, 2013 (11:39)

Ah right okay. Going slightly off piste from the original topic, but why don't you believe the tales in Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit to be 'true'? They're not presented as myths, but as legends, like the rest of the legendarium.

Olga García Feb 15, 2013 (15:24)

Because I believe in the idea presented in the early stories, that is, that the "Elves" inhabited our own world (e. g. the Lost Tales, PE14).

Tamas Ferencz Feb 19, 2013 (10:18)

For myself I don't think the two concepts mutually exclude each other. They are just legends based on the same background/distant past, filtered through a different set of interpreters/vehicles: Aelfwine and Men in general in the case of Silmarillion and the early legends, and Bilbo/Sam/the Hobbits in the case of TH/LotR.