I started a reply to this yesterday and it crashed.  Sorry.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Amanda Babcock" <[log in to unmask]>

> On Sat, Jan 11, 2003 at 01:38:49AM -0500, Sally Caves wrote:

>  > But a
> > more notable and versatile author (than she is a conlanger), AND
> > Tolkien is/was."
> I agree.  The movie has had to add in more stuff for the female characters
> to do, in part because Tolkien sucked at women :)

Well, what I liked about the film was the replacement of Glorfindel with
Arwen.  We needed Arwen to participate more fully in the film than she does
in the book.  I prefered seeing Arwen and Elessar's relationship developed.
My problem with Tolkien's prose is that despite some really stunning
passages  it can get so grandiose and removed, at times, takes more strength
of imagination to put his world into my head.  I love his prose when he's
talking about the hobbits in the Shire, but as the book progressed, I found
myself getting impatient with abstractions like "And wisdom sat on his
brow."  And words like "fell."  Or the lack of contractions (contractions
prevailed, interestingly, when Aragorn was Strider at Bree; or when Pippin
and Merry listened to the conversation of the Orks!).  What works in the
novel rhetorically often doesn't work so well in an action film, so I
disagreed with other people who found the colloquialisms in the movie to be
jarring (Aragorn's "let's hunt some ork!").  I was glad they brought the
diction more up to date and put Arwen in a stronger role.  Others will swear
by the diction of the original, and hate what the film did to it.

> > Hmm.  My book didn't come with a cassette. :-(
> They've been selling it without a cassette lately :(  Would you like a
> copy?  (I don't think that would be immoral, given that you did buy the
> book...)

Oh Amanda, that's very generous.  Let me try to find it myself first,
because it would involve work on your part.

> Oh, here we go.  The tape insert says "Distributed by Valley Productions,
> P.O. Box 3220, Ashland, Oregon 97520".  Maybe it's available separately?
> The name of the composer for the music was Todd Barton.
> > Does she sing the songs herself?
> They are sung by multiple people, including snippets of "background
> conversation" and stuff.  It's meant to sound like real field recordings,
> I guess.  Musicians are credited on the cassette insert, but nothing as
> to whether they are playing or singing.


> I suspect that she may be the voice on the one "Teaching Poem", which
> seems rather strongly to be a statement of her philosophy.

Now that I'd like to hear!

> > It depends on what you mean by "rather extensive."
> *Blushes*  I meant "rather extensive to 13-year-old me in 1985".  There
> are about 520 words in the glossary in the back.  Note, however, that she
> says:
>         It was my intention in making this glossary to include
>         all the Kesh words which occur in the text of the book
>         or in the songs and poems in the recording that accompanies
>         it.  A number of other words were included for the pleasure
>         of my fellow dictionary-readers and adepts of what an
>         illustrious predecessor referred to as the Secret Vice.

I'm tempted to think, now, that Le Guin might have been developing this
language for a long time, and that _Always Coming Home_ was the book she
intended to showcase it in.  So she had her "secret vice" too.  I feel like
an idiot for doubting her.

> so there may be more words that weren't published (or there may not).
> But still, 520 words is more than any of my languages have, or more
> likely about as many as my oldest and truest language has.  (It had 483
> words in the 1990 glossary that's online, but I don't know how many I've
> added since then; they fit in two memos in my Palm Pilot.)

Keep copies, Amanda!  Put them on a desktop computer.  I've lost vocabulary
through the computer.  At least you have it on-line.

> And note that The Silmarillion itself has only 180 word roots listed in
> its appendices, and none of them useful for everyday conversation :)
> From those two books alone, one can't really tell which is the greater
> work, though if you include the rest of the stuff Christopher Tolkien
> has published it becomes clear :)

Yeah, and Tolkien didn't include clear grammatical instructions, or at least
he didn't systematize them or put them all in one place.  A difficulty in
pre-Internet days.   What I love about the computer is its ready-made
library system, where you can put something on disk in categories, and find
them easily.  Always back it up!!!!  And print it out.

> > I believe that Amman-Iar boasts something
> > like ten thousand words, and David Bell has the glossary to prove it.
> *sigh* that is greatness...  I work slowly.

Some of our colleagues have vocabulary generators, which helps immensely in
creating words.  I haven't explored that possibility (would like to), so I
work slowly, too.  My on-line lexicon has about half of what I've really
developed, and the rest are in scattered notes.  Because I don't have a
system, I find myself duplicating words for things.  For instance, I found
two words for "salt" last week.  Noyril and hsakra.  So I made noyril "sea

> > ....can't say that our languages do?   Can't say that you've done in
> > language?  But Amanda, we communicate in small ways to each other all
> > time
> Of course you are right.  My tunnel-vision was in effect when I wrote
> that we don't.  I don't know why I didn't count Relays, and even if I
> go back to 1985, I used to sign letters to my best friend "I miss you"
> in merechi, which surely counts.

Aah, don't worry about this.  I think your letter to UKLG is a marvelous
story, and maybe you could find the letter eventually.  What a conlang
experience!  And LG is so elegant, so kind.  I met her when she came to the
UR about thirteen years ago.  We were fine when we talked about the right
kind of boots to wear in this weather.  I turned into a stuttering idiot
when we tried to talk about her work and how much I admired it! <G>
Celebrities are a little formidable.  The temptation to gush is so close to
the surface, even when you know that that's exactly what they don't want to
hear because they've heard it a billion times.  Your letter was unique, and
she must have loved it.

> You know, I keep meaning to study other people's conlangs, but so far
> that has only happened when I had a Relay to prepare for :)

Translation in another conlang is one thing, especially if you've got
directions and a lexicon.  Composing is completely hard!  I tried it in
Kernu and flubbed it.   What is fascinating is the Il Bethisad group of
languages, where the participants know each other's conlangs, and develop
their own within the same universe.  Admirable.

> > No one will be married in Teonaht,
> Ooooh... now what a cool idea that is!  Getting married in one's conlang
> (especially if it has spritual significance!)  Only problem is that one's
> partner would be rather short-shrifted by it :)

I was thinking of the couple who got married in Klingon.  Raised their child
to speak Klingon as his first language.  That's only because Klingon has a
real cult following.

> > Maybe we should issue new challenges to one another besides the
> > popular Conlang Relay Game.  Maybe we should be doing more with each
> > what Amanda did with Ms. Le Guin.
> I feel all embarrassed now, since it was really just the one sentence.

You shouldn't.  Do you remember the sentence?

> It's a sad fact that many interesting, quirky self-publications that
> used to come on paper are now just online.  On the other hand, that means
> I can read them at work :)

Just on-line?  That's a real plus.  We used to exchange paper grammars, and
they'd become obsolete in a few months.
And you can always print out somebody's on-line grammar.  Numerous times.

> 17 years of intermittent conlanging, and I still can't say "pass the
> salt" :)

Okay, you're a veteran at this!  I don't know which word to use for salt.
As for very common words, many of them I have to reinvent, because in my
old, naive notes, they were completely stupid.  Like brotre for "brother"
and thystre for "sister."  How derivative is that?  (Very yellowed,
thirty-year old battered T. book).

> Being a little mad has got me where I am with all the words for goddesses
> and holiness and feelings and the outdoors, but it's unlikely to generate
> "rice" and "salt" and "bake".  Maybe I should start doing like some of
> you and making recipes...

That got me into a spell of word-invention!  I have a grandiose list called
"Teonaht Taxonomy," copied shamelessly from Hildegard's list of words.  She
systematizes her words by going from God to crickets, listing all the things
of her world, including members of a family, parts of the body, diseases of
the body,  parts of the monastery, offices and stations in life, trees,
bushes, plants, animals, etc.  What I tried to do was something similar,
except the list became gargantuan.  I started out with PEOPLE, and members
of the family.  Then I had BODY PARTS.  Immensely long.  Then words for the
HOUSE and the HOUSEHOLD.  Got out of control.  Then the GARDEN and all its
parts, which led to WORDS FOR PLANTS.  Then COOKING, then.....  And mind
you, this is all still in English.   I look at this thing and think, how
will I ever fill all this in?   The CITY.  BUILDING MATERIALS.  GOVERNMENT.
accommodate this.

> I didn't even have words for "mother, father, brother" till I needed
> 'em for my first Relay.  Which was in language number two, unfortunately.
> I think my primary language still lacks them.

See, you're working with more than one language.  T. is my only language, so
I have less excuse than you do for missing  updates on "brother" and

> (In both languages I had a word for sister, which was meant to be used
> non-biologically, one for my best friend and one for my personal goddess.)

I hope you will tell me about this goddess.

> Should I type in the songs and poems?  One of the neat things about
> them is the way they illustrate the postpositions and derivational
> processes so neatly.


And give me some background on your main conlang.  If you've answered the
survey, I'll look at it there, and get to your website if you gave one.

> > ("Eek!  As for me, I blue a bit tonight-- i.e., getting ornery,
> > "blue," out of sorts.  My apologies.  Me envious?  Not a chance!")
> Well, I'm envious of many on this list more disciplined than I :)

I don't consider myself disciplined, if that helps.

Sally Caves