Post Vtsck9xPNbT

Tamas Ferencz Jul 02, 2014 (14:22)

Concerning loanwords in NeoQuenya

+Kevin B Walsh and I have been having a very interesting discussion via email over the past few days about neologisms, and we both think it is something we should bring public and ask for the community's opinion.
He was asking me about a specific neologisms which happened to be a loanword taken from its original source language (that of an American tribe) and asked about my opinion. This what I replied:

[It is very interesting,] the question of loanwords. No language can exist without them I think, and it's especially true with a language like NeoQuenya [if it's meant to be a usable language], with its limited vocabulary. Attested Quenya does have loanwords already (from Valarin), so the concept was not alien for Tolkien. But before we start filling the gaps with loanwords we (i.e. the community) should agree on some basics, like what should the source language be? Real life languages do not care about the ultimate origin of the word, they take their loans from whatever language they are in daily contact with. So when we look for something like a word for 'ketchup', should we go back to the ultimate etymon (in Chinese), or should English, the lingua franca of the NeoQuenya community, be the lender?

What do you think?


Ицхак Пензев Jul 02, 2014 (18:33)

I'd love to discuss the way to denote real life Geography, esp. placenames, too.

Tamas Ferencz Jul 03, 2014 (09:43)

+Evan Winterhavik
I agree, but only to a degree. You say that neologisms should be easily understandable lest people go tired of seeing unfamiliar words. I say that learning NQ is like learning any other language: you learn by looking up unfamiliar words in a dictionary, and then start using them in context and practise their usage. I thought the idea behind the new wiki was to provide people with a robust secondary corpus of neologisms that have the weight of the community behind them and come from reliable sources, a corpus people can turn to just like they turn to the Etymologies or Helge's wordlists, and don't have to second-guess the intended meaning of a neologism every time they encounter them in a text.
There is only a limited degree of transparency we can ensure in neologisms; many of them will be easily, or reasonably easily understandable, but with our limited stock of attested roots and words there will be a growing pile of concepts and ideas that we simply cannot translate into NQ using our attested material; and precisely that's the point when resources like VQP can become valuable - you don't need to readily understand the neologism on the spot, just simply look it up and learn it as any other unknown word.

BTW I have agreed to host and admin the new wiki, but I must say already now that I will not be able to fill it with neologisms and maintain it singlehandedly. The project will need editors who stick around in the long run and add to the corpus continuously. Obviously we cannot load the wiki with hundreds of words overnight, but we need a steady flux. Otherwise it will be just another aborted project.

Having said that, we already have +Kevin B Walsh , +Ицхак Пензев , and +Fiona Jallings on board so thank you all and keep those words coming!

Tamas Ferencz Jul 03, 2014 (11:07)

+Evan Winterhavik  thank you, Evan. I will set up your account and send you the details today.

As for place names, I agree that in most cases massaging the the original name into a Quenya-conform shape is the best option.

Naming plants and animals: I think we can get more creative with these; look at the defining characteristics of the species and come up with some clever kennings. We dn't necessarily have to translate the species' English name directly (perhaps the Latin name of the species can be a good indicator).

Tamas Ferencz Jul 03, 2014 (11:12)

Hey, +Evan Winterhavik could you please give me your proper email address or if you don't want to share it here publicly, send me a short email from it to
I need your proper email address for the registration on VQP.


Tamas Ferencz Jul 03, 2014 (14:04)

+Kevin B Walsh
of course one could argue that since Finnish and Latin seem to be the chief source of inspiration for Quenya for Tolkien, any loanwords should similarly be inspired from those, where possible?

Tamas Ferencz Jul 03, 2014 (15:12)

+Kevin B Walsh
the adoption of *máhis could be supported by the fact that the Latin name of the species is Zea mays.

Ицхак Пензев Jul 03, 2014 (16:58)

My opinion:
1) Loanwords should be our last resort. We should try to find an Eldarin word in published materials, or coin a neologism at least vaguely based on the attested roots or words. For example, I don't see any need in borrowing "computer", if we can say "nonwa" (lenári for denarius. And, surely, any loanword should be fully Quenyarized.
2) Geografic names may be adopted from local names in the way to be writeen in tengwar. It means they need not fully fit the Q. phonology. If the local name is too difficult to push into the Q. frame, let's try its Latin variant. Hence, I see Tyungo (from original Zhongguo)  for China instead of dubious Tyena, but Polonia for Polsca (to avoid consonant cluster). Spanish and Italian variants (as close to Q. phonology) may help, too.
3) Not sure about maize or ketchup, but rice can be called orrópolë (eastern corn) without borrowings.

Tamas Ferencz Jul 03, 2014 (17:00)

+Ицхак Пензев
well maize used to be called Indian corn (hence the 'corn' often used for it today) so that's another angle that can be taken

Ицхак Пензев Jul 07, 2014 (10:41)

I agree with your opinion about Mediaeval Latin as an important source for geographic terms. As for modern realities, I agree with Helge who once said at Elfling that we need to fill the gaps on the pre-industrial level first. Nevertheless, some newwords have been circulating for years, and usage legalizes them, IMHO. It was not me who invented the word nonwa, I mean.