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CONLANG  October 2012, Week 5

CONLANG October 2012, Week 5

Subject:

Re: Denny's wins some linguistic savvy points

From:

"J. 'Mach' Wust" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 03:47:43 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (154 lines)

On Tue, 30 Oct 2012 12:03:27 +0100, BPJ wrote:
>On 2012-10-29 08:18, J. 'Mach' Wust wrote:
>I'm not saying that we shouldn't study Tolkien's usage,
>but that we shouldn't feel bound to follow it slavishly,
>even if his usage were consistent and our knowledge of it
>were comprehensive, neither of which is the case!

I think our knowledge of the author's usage of the scripts is
comprehensive enough so we can get by transcribing almost anything
without hardly ever inventing something new (at least for English and the
Elvish languages).

>> I wouldn't even make any exception for the IPA. Broad
>> IPA "transcriptions" tend to be highly
>> conventionalized -- or orthographic, if you will.
>> They are even taught like spelling rules and not like
>> 'listen carefully to what you hear and then write
>> that down'.
>
>I agree.  I even got criticized by my phonetics professor
>for transcribing what I actually heard!

:) or rather :(

>> Then again, we know from letters that he disapproved
>> of certain uses that were out of place like reusing
>> the names Elrond or Shadowfax, if I am not mistaken,
>> for a cow or an ugly boat, respectively.
>
>How does that invalidate his express statement that "it
>is impossible to make mistakes, unless according to
>your own system", or the several pages long manual on
>*how to devise Tengwar modes* in Appendix E? He clearly
>enjoyed the thought of other people experimenting with
>his scripts.

There's two sides to it: He may have enjoyed people experimenting with
his creations. But then again, he resented his creations being taken out
of context and used in ways contrary to his intentions, like using the
name of a noble Half-Elven for a farm animal. With regard to the scripts,
I believe that dismissing Tolkien's careful phonologic spellings and
using an ad-hoc mishmash of half phonological and half orthographical
spellings comes close to taking his creations out of context. Sure, I may
be wrong.

>> Good reply. I haven't said 100%, though. I still
>> uphold that all of Tolkien's text are clearly either
>> orthographic or phonological, if you stick to the key
>> elements that constitute orthographic or phonological
>> spelling.
>
>I too got the impression that you meant 100% either/or.
>If you don't I think there's no disagreement between
>us on this point.

99 % perhaps? ;-)

>> In this regard, I believe Tolkien's mixtures
>> (orthographical spelling with marginal phonological
>> changes such as occasional Z for S and V for F and
>> one instance of WOR for WAR) to be very different
>> from the Denny's ad mixture.
>
>I don't. I haven't been able to find any instances
>of //-s// *other* than _is_ on the rather crappy
>reproductions of the leaves from the book of
>Mazarbul that I have access to, so is there really
>any telling how he'd spelled //-s// after a voiced
>sound in general?

I'm somewhat less positive about the consistence of that Denny's ad.
Again, it is infinitly better than the common nonsensical Boloneyland
mode transcriptions. But still, it is so inconsistent that I can't even
tell whether it is an orthographic spelling with lots of phonological
intrusions or the other way round. Unambiguously phonological features
are the use of E for EA in _breakfast_ and the absence of doubling in
_middle_. Unambiguously orthographical features are the use of schwa in
_middle_ and the use of AI in _await_, and somewhat less so, the use of E
in _earth_ (which is not really orthographic either, but still, in my
opinion, rather on the orthographic side). Plus there are three spellings
contrary to Tolkien's examples, namely the spelling out of _the_ (instead
of the abbreviation used both in his phonological and orthographic
spellings), the morphophonological spelling of the /-iz/ (if
phonological) or *-es* (if orthographic) plural affix, and the spelling
out (if phonological) or swapping (if orthographic) of the weak E in
_middle_. That is why I'm calling this particular spelling a very
different mixture from Tolkien's very marginal mixtures (even though it
is still by far superior to many other deplorable 'transcriptions'):

http://stringofbits.net/2012/10/25/an-adventure-in-transliteration/

Compare the more consistent transcriptions I have proposed:

http://fotogalerie.herr-der-ringe-film.de/data/3802/brekfastrichiz.png

>> (even though it is relatively short, it seems to be
>> like some kind of phonological spelling with
>> interspersed pre-shift vowels and other funky stuff
>> such as morphophonemicity).
>
>Which by his descriptions is not too different from
>the way he says the Dwarves wrote the Common Speech
>at the end of the Third Age!

The dwarves spellings that we know (the Leaves from the Book of Mazarbul)
are clearly identifiable as orthographic spellings with a few Z for final
S, V for final F, and whole-word abbreviations.

>> Very much so! I completely agree with you in this
>> respect! It is just me who's having strong feelings
>> about the lay misunderstanding that Tolkien's scripts
>> are "phonetic" and therefore inherently require
>> phonological spelling -- they don't.
>
>I very much agree here too.

I like!


On Tue, 30 Oct 2012 22:03:36 -0400, Herman Miller wrote:
>On 10/30/2012 7:03 AM, BPJ wrote:
>> He was interested in English spelling
>> reform, and that is part of the pedigree at least of
>> the Tengwar.
>
>Interesting, I wasn't aware of that. Why so few vowel signs, then? Is it
>just that there's so much variation in the vowels between English
>dialects compared with the consonants? If you're going to reform English
>spelling, the consonants aren't all that bad for the most part, but it's
>the representation of vowel sounds that really needs work.

Tolkien used a transcription similar to a Trager & Smith system that
manages to spell English phonoligically with as little as 6 different
vowels (a e i o u V/@), while the others are expressed as diphthongs with
following [j] or [w], or as doubled vowels.

>Jim Allan's book has examples of both orthographical and phonological
>types of Tengwar spellings of English, including one with extra vowel
>marks for the different English vowels. I'd probably be more inclined to
>use a more phonemic approach myself, but the traditional spelling
>approach does have the advantage of working equally well with any
>dialect of English.

Back in Allan's day, Tolkien's phonological spellings were as yet unknown
for the most part. In my opinion, a truely phonological spelling allows
for almost identical transcription with all dialects (or varieties, as I
prefer to call them) of English. The exceptions are the sound mergers or
splits, but those are relatively few, and then again, the orthographic
spelling isn't the same for all varieties of English either.

-- 
grüess
mach

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