Sunday 21 June 2015

When Elvish Met Klingon - An Interesting Exchange of Two Art-Langs

Mae Govannen!  

Among several projects that now exist as little stickies on my Tolkien Office wall to keep me busy for the next year or two (a tip I recently picked up from a Tolkien colleague) - one of the fairly new projects I have embarked on is to explore the reception of Tolkien's invented languages among early readers, fans and then the different groups of Tolkien linguists which developed around a shared reception and interest in Tolkien's languages and the exploration of various elements of them.  

One group of texts I am currently studying are the earliest issues of Vinyar Tengwar ('News Letters') - the journal of The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship which started to be published in September 1988, edited by Jorge Quinonez and featuring contributions from the founding Tolkien linguistic giants whose shoulders we Tolkien language scholars of today work upon; including Bill Welden, Christopher GilsonTom Loback, Nancy Martsch, Jim Allan, Arden Smith and Patrick Wynne - with my personal Tolkien linguist role-model Carl F. Hostetter appearing first in issue six and who would go on to edit this journal.  In the second issue there is also a letter from UK Tolkien Society member and editor of the Tolkien language journal Quettar  David Doughan!  

Issue 4 of Vinyar Tengwar (which moves to a somewhat easier computer font to read), published in March 1989, has a interesting exchange from a Mr Ronald E Kyrmse from S. Paulo Brazil.  

'Pocket Books, NY, published recently The Klingon Dictionary by Marc Okrand.  If you're a Star Trek fan, you may find it interesting, maybe even fascinating.  I've read it quite attentively and have composed a little text in Klingon which is of interest to Elvish linguists, though not paradoxically, in an Elvish language (I won't give a translation, as finding out what it is all about is left as an exercise of the reader - as it it were that difficult): 

Hoch che'meH wa'Qeb, tu'meH wa' Qeb 
Hoch qemmH lan HurghDaq weghmeH je wa' Qeb 
Qotbogh QIbmey morDor puHDaq 

Well?!' (VT 4, p. 4) 

Well.... given the next to last word that gives it away it is clear that this is the inscription on the Ring of Power ('Wa'Qeb') based on Okrand's Klingon Dictionary which was published in 1985 and is considered the first foundational text for the art-language of Klingon.  The following glosses are attested in this dictionary....

Hoch - Everyone, all, everything 
che - rule 
MeH - infinitive form ('to rule') 
wa - one
Qeb - Ring (for finger) 
tu - discover, find 
MeH - infinitive form (to find) 
wa'Qeb - one Ring 
Hoch - Everyone, all, everything 
qemm - to bring 
mH - infinitive form (to bring) 
lan - place 
HurghDaq - be dark (v) 
weghmeH - confine (v) - to confine 
je - and 
wa' Qeb - One Ring 
Qotbogh - where 
QIbmey - QIb - galaxy (in the galaxy of Mordor?) 
morDor - guess thats what it is called in Klingon as well...interesting. what would be the actual word in Klingon I wonder? 
puH - land 
Daq - of dark (not to be confused with pu'Dah which means phaser banks!) 

So it looks like Kyrmse did some good work on rendering this poem in Klingon - although I don't think the adage 'You have not experienced Shakespeare - until you have read him in the original Klingon' (spoken by Chancellor Gorkon to James T. Kirk in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) is true for Tolkien!! 

In the next issue of Vinyar Tengwar Craig Marnock said of Kyrmse's Klingon version of the Ring Poem 'I liked Ronald Kyrmse's Ring Poem version in Klingon....could this be the start of new trend?' (VT 5, p. 6).  

In Vinyar Tengwar Issue 6 I also noticed another Elvish/Klingon connection.  There is a letter in this issue from Professor Lawrence M. Schoen who writes that he had been intending to offer to his students a Beginning Quenya Course 'sort of learn as you go (which would include my learning as well')' but he had to cancel offering it due to  being transferred to another school (VT 6, p. 2).   Schoen is one of the foremost authorities on the Klingon Language and in 1992 set up The Klingon Language Learning Institute (KLI) which has been responsible for such publications as The Klingon Hamlet (1996)  

So an interesting meeting of two art-languages in the early issues of this foundational journal for Tolkien Language studies - long may the issues continue! 

More to come as I go through them for this Tolkien Language Reception project. 

Namarie and Qapla! 


Ronald Kyrmse said...

Thanks for the mention!

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