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  • That would make sense. After all Tolkien only wrote the books so that he would have a back drop to play with inventing languages. If he hadn't felt that languages need a complete history, culture and environment to be real, there would be no LOTR.

    • Personally I wish Tolkien had kept his languages to himself -- from what I've seen of them, they're about as exciting as tap water. They all look like Tokharian on the skids.

      There were grammars of actually interesting languages (like Native American languages) back then, but apparently it would have been too excitingly unwhite for Tolkien to have people speak anything of that sort in his (t)wee Shire.

      As to Tolkien in translation: I think it would improve him greatly.

      • I'm not qualified to comment on the beauty and/or cleverness of the grammars of Tolkien's languages (of which I know some, mainly vocabulary), and especially as compared with NA languages (of which I know very little), since I'm just a hobby linguist, not a real one, but allow me to point out that you seem to be missing the background of *why* Tolkien created these languages.

        He didn't create them "just for fun", out of the blue, for no other purpose than just linguistics, just to create "interesting languages". He created the languages (and the history intertwining them) to create an alternative history for England. Not for the Navahos, not for the Lakota. For England.

        He wanted something approximating in nature and scope the other epic histories of the European people: the Nordic sagas, the Mabinogion, the Kalevala. The Arthurian cycle he (quite rightly) thought of as medieval romance, and irrelevant for Anglo-Saxon (and older) mythos. That there should be only a few remnants (such as Beowul) of something that surely there was a tragedy for him.

        Summary: he wanted to create an epic history in a mythical prehistory, and the languages to go with it.

        Therefore your "Tokharian on skids" is probably something he would have appreciated: a dead ancient language we didn't even know about up until very recently.

        Finally, I also challenge you a bit: how much in the artificial language achievements arena have *you* to show to us, Sean, exactly? :-) Grammars? Vocabularies? Writing systems? Poetry? Background material (such as histories, cultural essays)? :-)
        • Sigh, yes, I should have previewed (more): in the 3rd paragraph please

          s/something that surely there was/something that surely there was much more of was/
        • :He created the languages (and the history intertwining them) to create an alternative history for England. Not for the Nava[j]os, not for the Lakota. For England.
          It's very alternative, if it uses Finnic linguistic influences (as it seems to, to me, what with all those odd cases on the nouns, and the restrictive phonotaxis). And then there's the writing system that looks quite un-English and un-European; it's pretty clearly an Indic script.

          :How much in the artificial language achievements arena have *y