Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Old Albic and the quest for the essence of Elvishness

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Friday, February 17, 2006, 21:12

Andreas Johansson wrote:

> I'm afraid I don't have any immediate comments about the language as such, > except to reiterate that I find it a nice blend of Tolkienian and original > elements. Well, that, and that I find the concultural background overly > sugary.
I am not all too content with my concultural background myself. It looks, well, too nice. But Elvendom as I see it is a very personal matter to me, I mean: I want to create a culture I can feel at home in. But I also want to make it realistic, hence I should add a few "dark spots" to it ;-)
> :p But I wanted to take the opportunity to take a bit about elflangs and > "Elvishness" as regards conlangs. > > I am, of course, an elflanger myself, and one of my goals in developming > Meghean* is to create something that's simultaneously original and > recognizably > "elfy". Judging by the comments the project has elicited on this list, I've > more-or-less succeeded in that. Jörg, I think, has achieved something > similar - > yet, Old Albic and Meghean are hardly very similar beasts.
They draw upon similar sources of inspiration, but other than that, each of them is a work on its own. And I really like Meghean!
> The cynic would here jump to the conclusion that the only reason they'd > both be > perceived as "Elvish" is that they loan various features from Tolkien. > There's > undoubtedly some truth to this; afterall, Tolkien is to a great extend for > the > modern popular conception of an Elf.
Yep. Before Tolkien, "elves" were tiny, winged sprites. It is the merit of Tolkien to reinstate the Elves into their old dignity. Since then, many variations on the theme has been produced, including your and my versions.
> But they do not borrow the same things**, > and no matter how many structural features it borrowed from Tolkien, I doubt > we'd perceive a language with a general sound of "Khuq-khaak-zbnug" as > particularly Elvish, so the debt to JRRT is hardly the whole story.
Well, as I already said in other words, the whole modern high fantasy concept of "Elves" is rooted in Tolkien's creation, and his languages set the standard of what an "Elvish" language should sound like. Do you remember Danny Wier and his infamous Tech language (which never seemed to get much past the (huge) consonant inventory)? Now that's an "Elvish" language that was designed to be un-Tolkienish.
> So, is there some set of features that have established themselves as > "Elvish"? > Or are there just more-or-less clever Tolkein-ripoffs?
I sometimes feel I have borrowed too much from Tolkien. But the grammar of the language is more or less fixed (and there isn't much actual Tolkienian substance in it), and the words borrowed from Tolkien number in the few dozens only. There are more Indo-European than Tolkienian roots in it. It is just that the Tolkienian roots are over-represented in the examples I have given so far because they are (extrafictionally) the oldest layer in the vocabulary. Greetings, Jörg.