Back to previous post: And at the other end of the galaxy, Second Conservapedia

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Phishing/Scam

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

February 23, 2007

Geek test
Posted by Teresa at 05:47 PM *

Here’s the question: If you don’t already know what this is, and you don’t google on it, can you nevertheless tell what it’s a translation of?

Baradis, Eltāringua!
Be telepe penda mīrala
Menello alat’ elnio.
Chaiana palan-tīrala
Gallarembinai dorilo
Spanoioglossen linduban
Nib gaiar, sī nib gaiaran.
A simple “yes” will suffice for the next day or so. The answer can be found here.
Comments on Geek test:
#1 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Well I fail miserably. I looked at the answer and still don't even know what it is.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Proving only that there's a kind of geek you're not.

I tried this one on Patrick (currently manning the Tor booth at the comics convention) and got back "Good grief. Try a hard one, why dontcha."

#3 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:25 PM:

No. But I'm guessing it's got something to do with Tlkn, nd lvsh. That's what it feels like.

#4 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:27 PM:

I'll have to go with "half yes." I'll explain later after the next day or so.

#5 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:28 PM:

I went "here," and found that I was, well, close. I didn't know such a website existed. Those folks are way, way, way geekier than I am.

#6 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:29 PM:

My rusty memory is telling me that last line is something like 'nf r s nf rn' ... bt wldn't trst t wtht pllng th trlgy t f whchvr-th-hck bx t's lvng n.

#7 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:32 PM:

I did fail to recognize, alas, but indeed the website showered me with the much and badly needed illumination.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Way geekier, Lizzy; there are lots of sites like that. I regard them with admiration, but no impulse toward emulation.

#9 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:38 PM:

Yes! I don't know the language it's translated into, but the original is obvious enough. Very useful in dark places, that one...

#10 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Also, I second Teresa in the admiration-sans-emulation department.

#11 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Oh wow! I've been disemvoweled!

(I can't remember more than that one bit, anyway.)

#12 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:44 PM:

+1 smug for me. Plus another, I'm sure, for saying "Neo-...? I guess there'd have to be one, sure" upon following the link.

#13 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:45 PM:

yes,oddly enough.

#14 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Two people partially disemvowelled for what will probably be their first and last time.

#15 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:59 PM:

My college madrigal ensemble sang a lovely version of this text, to music written by one of our members; I think he regards it as juvenilia now, musically, but it engrained the feel and the rhythm of the words in my mind in a way that has apparently lasted. :-)

#16 ::: JanetM ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:00 PM:

No.

Well, sort of; I correctly intuited the author, but not the text.

#17 ::: harmonyfb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:01 PM:

I believe that's the prayer to Elbereth from LotR. Yes?

#18 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:01 PM:

I recognize the meter & rhythm of the poem, plus a few of the words are half-familiar. Is it Proto-[Language]? ::wanders off to look at link::

#19 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:04 PM:

To my extreme surprise, I guessed the original text correctly. (I did check, after I guessed, and I really didn't expect to be right.)

#20 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:04 PM:

Yes, I'm that kind of geek.

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:06 PM:

#1: You're not alone, will.

In my defense, I'm not running on all cylinders due to a head cold.

#22 ::: gramina ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:06 PM:

It reads like a translation of a poem in one fictional language into what would almost have to be another fictional language. And yes, the poem I'm thinking of would indeed be a help in dark places - !

#23 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:06 PM:

Yes. Instantly. That's a bit surprising, really.

#24 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:11 PM:

Yes. Doesn't everyone? Memorizied it as a kid. Forgot that I'd memorized it as a kid until reading this.

#25 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:11 PM:

I couldn't tell exactly, but I guessed who wrote the original.

#26 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:13 PM:

I couldn't tell exactly, but I guessed who wrote the original.

#27 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Somewhat to my own astonishment, I got it.

(I kept looking at it, and muttering to myself, "no, Doyle, it can't possibly be that; you're just being faked out by the meter." Lord knows, there wasn't any one specific thing I recognized, and while I'll cop to being a language geek, I've never been that particular variety of language geek.)

#28 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Alas, not my form of Geekery. Failed again.

#29 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Y'all will be unsurprised to find that Chad & I are indeed geeks.

I personally couldn't tell you how I knew, I just did.

#30 ::: yabonn ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:25 PM:

I couldn't tell exactly, but I guessed who wrote the original.

The exclamation point at first line put you on the track?

#31 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:31 PM:

The vocabulary was suggestive, as it's obviously translated into that kind of a language, but it could have been some poem from the Centennial thread translated into you-know-what-ish.

Once that idea was in my head, it just felt like a piece by, well, you know, and my tired brain just couldn't come up with which particular piece.

#32 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:32 PM:

Elbereth Gilthoniel. Don't know the language.

(Now to read the rest of the comments here ...)

#33 ::: lohengrin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Like poster #1, I still didn't know what it was after I clicked the link. ^^;

#34 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:34 PM:

palan-tīrala is a bit of a giveaway, surely? And the meter, and number of lines and whatall.

But I bow to those who are geekier than I, and have actually Gone That Far with the translation.

#35 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:36 PM:

And, after reading comments 1-31, I guess I'm due for a disemvoweling ...

#36 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:37 PM:

I get a half point, I think, for the same reasons Lizzy and PJ do....and because I recognise the last word of line four. As for the source material....I'm not such a geek that I'm able to translate more than a little.

#37 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:37 PM:

I was half right because I spotted a familiar eight-character (well, nine if you count the hyphen) sequence which turned out to indeed not be a coincidence (but also not be quite what I thought; I thought it was a translation into a real language I happen not to understand, in which that particular word had been left untouched).

I guess it says something for the powers of a person whom I shall not name that I could so easily confuse his work with a real language.

#38 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:39 PM:

Does it still count if I know it largely because of the Lords of the Rhymes?

#39 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:40 PM:

I knew who wrote the original, and that it was translated from one flavor into another, but couldn't remember the dang verse!

Must be this +3 Hat of Forgettery or something.

#40 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:44 PM:

Yes.

#41 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:44 PM:

Instantly. Which rather frightens me.

Last year when we were helping my mom move out of the home she'd lived in for 45 years (and the home I grew up in),my husband was appalled to discover a small journal I kept,writing in Elvish of course. He was even more shocked by my cache of Paul Williams albums. Somehow we weathered the storm.

#42 ::: vjstewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:53 PM:

I got it. Sigh. My husband knew he was in trouble when we went to see a movie which shall remain nameless at this time; and I began, in his opinion, to speak in tongues.
V

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I'm pretty sure I do. I can't identify the language, though.

Now I will go look at the answer and come back and say whether I was right.

#44 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:58 PM:

For me, too, it was instant. As others said, palan-tirala was an instant giveaway; I assumed it must be a borrow-word, and then I just had to look at the approximate meter and the repetition in the last line to be sure. I also guessed it must be translated into a conlang (I love that abbreviation!) though not the general class of language.

Skwid @ 38: Ah yes, that's the passage which means "lf bt gt sl! lf grls lk t rck'n'rll!" (Are we still disemvowelling after everyone's spilled the beans?)

punkrockhockeymom: Nice to see you posting here again!

#45 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:58 PM:

I suspected the approximate locus of the original, but was not sure. Then again, I haven't read the source material since Jr. High, so hey.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:59 PM:

I was right. I know it by heart and to a tune in the original. And Teresa needs to disemvowel some more people.

#47 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:59 PM:

My two biggest clues were the rhythm of the translation, and who was doing the asking.

#48 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:06 PM:

Wow, I got it.

It's a thing of beauty in its way.

P.

#49 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:07 PM:

The meter felt familiar, but it was that hyphenated term that made it click. I'm tempted to make a "through a glass, dimly" joke, but I'm too sick to manage it properly.

If I may ask, why disemvowelment rather than rot-13ing?

#50 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:09 PM:

yes.

And if you give me a moment I can dig out the book that has the words in English.

#51 ::: Evelyn Browne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:13 PM:

Yes.

Also, wow.

#52 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Yes, somewhat to my surprise, my first thoughts on seeing the thread being, "It's probably Anglo-Saxon" and "The first word looks like 'paradise'" which were of course both way, way off the mark.

I think I got it from the metre and the punctuation in the first line. I didn't spot the word at the end of line 4 until afterwards. Actually I wasn't quite right, because the closest thing I could remember was th smlr vrs nr th nd f th bk wth th lst thr lns n nglsh. t ls ddn't ccr t m tht t hd bn trnsltd nt nthr nvntd lngg, lthgh dd wndr wht ws th pnt f trnsltng t nt nthr rl-wrld n.

#53 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:22 PM:

"Spanoioglossen" is rather a good word, I think. It ought to mean, "trying to mumble something that will appeal to Hispanic voters without making a commitment or even sense".

#54 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Nope, and like answer #1, the link didn't help.

#55 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Nope, and like answer #1, the link didn't help.

#56 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:28 PM:

Yes, after skimming it once. But I'm such a geek that I'm attempting to translate "The New Colossus" into Q**ny*.

#57 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:34 PM:

I was, like many, able to identify author and approximate language without actually nailing down WHAT it was.

#58 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:39 PM:

Nope. Definitely the wrong kind of geek. Purely on the basis of length, my first guess was William Carlos Williams's "this is just to say." Though, come to think of it, that would be a fine poem to translate into any of the relevant languages.

#59 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:39 PM:

I thought, on reading it, "could it be ---------?" but wasn't sure enough for it to count as even a guess.

Then I checked the link, and wished that I had been more sure, because if it had been my guess it would have been correct.

#60 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Recognized it after a couple of readings.

#61 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:40 PM:

No. I intuited where it came from, but that was more from context than anything else.

Not my brand of geekiness anymore, I guess. Twenty years ago, maybe.

#62 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:41 PM:

I guessed the author, but couldn't come up with the original. Several of the words, as others have said, seemed familiar, and I was sure that if I could just come up with the last line, I could identify it exactly. (I was wrong.)

#63 ::: Robert Legault ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:50 PM:

I didnt even recognize it in the original. But then, I'm not really into that stuff. Shoot me if you like.

#64 ::: Dave F. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Well, it's obviously highly-inflected but I couldn't find an Indo-European root anywhere in there. That, and the seeming excess of liquids makes it likely to be a conlang belonging to a specific, rather famous author.

Could I nail down the exact language or remember the poem itself? Not a chance. But I'd put a bet on the species.

#65 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:56 PM:

I had a gut feeling, assumed I was wrong, and found out I was right.

#66 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:57 PM:

*grins* saying it did it for me. There's only one language family that sounds like that.

#67 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:00 PM:

I got which verse it was wrong, but recognized the provinence.

Which scares me a little.

---L.

#68 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:11 PM:

I identified the author and work from that give-away phrase in the middle, but though I had a nagging sense of familiarity about the poem, I couldn't nail it down.

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:14 PM:

Teresa, I was tempted to put (bounce, bounce) in the post after the disemvowelling, because of the disemvowelling.

Also, I like that definition of 'Spanoioglossen'!

#70 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:17 PM:

I didn't know, but was unsurprised when I clicked the link, just due to the fact that it's a geek test.

#71 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Not my brand of geekiness anymore, I guess.

Not actually what I think of when I hear the word "geek"--which goes to show something, I expect.

Twenty years ago, maybe.

Mmm. Well, I've been assigning names to foals by a horse called "Gevybtl" the last few years, which may have served as a refresher course.

#72 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:41 PM:

I got it, author and exact verse both.

Weirdly, this afternoon I was just thinking about the musical setting I wrote of the original text...

#73 ::: Connie H ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:45 PM:

I am SO that geek. Well, not to the extent of trying to translate, but recognizing it straight off.

Come to think of it, it also counts as a sort of Hail Mary, doesn't it?

#74 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:47 PM:

OK, I'm geekier than I thought I was, but that one was easy. :)

Though it should have come as a warning that I'm a geek when I started translating Latin poetry into English. ;)

#75 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:58 PM:

If I hadn't had to pack up and go home on the subway, I might have kept up with the disemvowelling. I'm not sure how much point there is in doing it now. Let me think about that for a bit.

For me, the most telling line is the last one -- an oddity I appear to share only with P J Evans -- though most of them recall the originals.

Connie (73), it's that or Salve Regina.

#76 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Half-yes. I deduced that it was fbzr fbeg bs Gbyxvra ynathntr, nyorvg na hasnzvyvne bar, but I don't know the original well enough to know the exact piece.

#77 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:01 PM:

I think so...googling reveals that I am correct.

A couple of the words are dead giveaways. "palan-tirala" and the last line were what did it for me.

#79 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:16 PM:

73, 75: You're sure it's not Ave maris stella?

#80 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:23 PM:

Dear me. And I thought I knew that text. Has anyone seen my mind, lately? I appear to have lost it.

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:24 PM:

The size and shape of it gave me my first clue, but when I looked at the last line I knew instantly what it was...and that it was translated into a closely-related language.

#82 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:27 PM:

I had the author right, but even after looking at the link, didn't particularly recognize the piece. Then again, I haven't read the books in 30 years and the movies haven't made it to the top of the Netflix queue yet.

#83 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:33 PM:

I guessed the author (partly from that loan word and partly from the sheer feel of the thing), but not the piece, and did not recognise it even when I looked. But then I've only read the source a couple of times.

#84 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:24 PM:

I get... half-credit, maybe? I knew pretty quick that it was gung Gbyxvra irefr nobhg Ryorergu but then realized that I couldn't remember much of anything about the original, beyond its being 'gung Gbyxvra irefr nobhg Ryorergu.'

#85 ::: Elaine ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Yes. Just from the meter.

#86 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Yes - although I went to look, just to be sure.

#87 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:38 PM:

Without reading any of the previous comments---yes, I think I can. A few words, and something in the pattern, especially the last line---I heard it in my head in the original language when I read it up there.

The funny thing is, I can't tell what language that it has been translated into. Now to go find out whether I'm right or not.

#88 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:49 PM:

Not remotely, some reason I read the accents as gutterals, which sent me in a Klingon direction. I suspect that's a tin ear for language overall, though--I never understand examples of bad writing, either.

#89 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:58 PM:

Nope. It looked like alternate-universe Esperanto to me.

#90 ::: Penelope ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:09 AM:

I didn't get what poem it was - though I should have - but I'm fairly impressed with myself all the same; my immediate response was 'it's not [language of original], but it looks like it could be a related language...'

#91 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:18 AM:

"Proving only that there's a kind of geek you're not."

Heh. I heart you, Teresa. That must leave so many different kinds of geek I can be.

#92 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:30 AM:

Yes. How on earth did we do that?

MKK

#93 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Nope, didn't recognize it, couldn't place it.

I tried to read it, but my brain kept imposing a Gilbert and Sullivan tempo...

#94 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:00 AM:

Well, since it appeared here, I was able to guess the author. But it's been too many decades for me to actually get it.

I find it interesting that here - in this company - I don't even budge the needle on the Geek-O-Meter.

#95 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:46 AM:

I got the author instantly, with a relatively high level of confidence - I think I saw 'palan-tīrala' on scanning it and then the first line reinforced that for me. It wasn't one of the ones I'd memorized, but there's something unmistakable about it nevertheless.

I haven't looked at the linked page yet but the URL confirmed it for me.

#96 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:13 AM:

Sadly, no, although there is a Tolkienish tone to it...

#97 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:25 AM:

Hm. Looked it up and discovered that my first idea (which I didn't believe for a second) was right.

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:00 AM:

Got it, but could not remember the actual text of the original. Just knew what it was.

(Mind you, finding it on ML is a hint in itself.)

#99 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:10 AM:

Missed it utterly. I was thinking part of the Lord's Prayer. Once I clicked the link, however, I instantly understood what was going on.

#100 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:19 AM:

Yes - but I wasn't absolutely certain until I double-checked.

#101 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:21 AM:

Oh dear, I seem to be a geek....

#102 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:16 AM:

See, clearly I had an insufficiently geek upbringing, because I was never exposed to T. while young enough to really get into it. I've tried several times to read more than just Th Hbbt, but I just can't. I always stop in about the same spot, right around the formation of the Fllwshp, when all the characters sit around and discuss the plot for several pages. Maybe there's something about epic literature I just don't get.

Without that, trying to read the Smrlln is just pointless - I just don't care about the world. By all rights I should care: I like Germanic languages, or think I do; I read fantasy regularly for enjoyment; I have no objection to obsessive geekery about a constructed world. However, I just can't bring myself to care about this particular constructed world. This even extends to the movies - I watched them once, but have no desire to see them again.

All of which is to say that following the link was not enlightening for me either, and I had to go back to googling the original for a while to find out what was going on.

#103 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:32 AM:

I didn't get it at all. Then I went to the link, and still didn't get it, until the author of the original was referenced more or less explicitly near the end.

A pity. I'd been psyching myself up to go read the trilogy again (for the first time in thirty years), as preparation for watching the movies ... but being reminded of the poetry and the linguistic stuff put me right off it again.

I am not that kind of geek.

#104 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:36 AM:

Half-yes. since I am not 100% sure of which original bit of the Professor's verse is being translated (and possibly re-translated).

#105 ::: Jean ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 06:05 AM:

Recognised the source straight off, did a double take and realised that no, I'm not obsessing, yes, it really is that.

Still don't know what's been done to it, alas, as the link to the answer appears to be broken...

#106 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 06:46 AM:

Yes.

(I have more to say on how and how much, but I observe the injunction to stick to a simple yes for now.)

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 06:57 AM:

I must be another kind of geek too (and I don't mean the kind that specialized in biting the heads off chickens at carnies) because when I read "Baradis, Eltāringua!", I immediately thought of "Klaatu barada nikto!", which I think translates as "Klaatu's in jail again!".

#108 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 07:21 AM:

Yes. It was the last line that made me realize.

#109 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 07:46 AM:

abi said:
Got it, but could not remember the actual text of the original. Just knew what it was.

For me it was the first line -- but then that's the only part of the original I sort of remember.

A few other words were pretty suggestive, though "Spanoioglossen" threw me off; sounds like some kind of mock-German. (After I went to the site, I kicked myself for missing "palan-tīrala", which would have made me more confident in my guess.)

(Mind you, finding it on ML is a hint in itself.)

Oh, yes -- that plus "Geek test" narrowed the possible field a lot. (Without the "Geek test," I would have worried about all sorts of English poetry being plausible sources...)

#110 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 08:59 AM:

Yes. Which is an OMG moment. The meter* just bump-de-bumped it into place.

*Aided by my allergy meds, no doubt.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:07 AM:

Just out of curiosity—am I the only one who was helped by knowledge of regular sound change? That is...when I see a familiar pattern, my brain automatically shuffles through closely related consonants and vowels to try to figure out where I know it from?

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Xopher--I do that with music all the time, but here only the meter portion of my brain lit up.

#113 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:35 AM:

Dear G*d(s), these people have way too much time on their hands.

(Recognized source text immediately, couldn't place target language... followed link... brain explodey. Note to self, go back and read historical linguistics textbook, then try again.)

(After breakfast.)

#114 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Charlie, you may be pleased to know that all the poetry and linguistic stuff got left out of the movies along with most of the characters, which are replaced by cardboard cutouts of younger, cuter versions of themselves.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:49 AM:

Niall 114: Along with the climax of the story.

#116 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Clifton #44: Thanks! That's very kind of you to say. It's been a complicated sort of a year, and that's turned me into a lurker. I'm always about, though. (Now that I've typed that it sounds kind of creepy, I think).

Regarding my half-yes: I recognized the who and the what but couldn't remember the original text. What tipped me off was, to be terrifically imprecise, the flow.

#117 ::: Torie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:35 AM:

That was uncommonly easy--I got it right away. Though I suppose I had a leg up from my former roommate, who used to recite that to herself when writing difficult papers.

#118 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:58 AM:

We still remember.

Sasha says he might not have got it if he'd seen it written down rather than hearing me reading it aloud in my reading that aloud voice. I didn't know I had a special reading that aloud voice!

#119 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Xopher (111), no, you're not: penda mīrala/penna míriel, chaiana palan/chaered palan, gallarembinai/galadhremmin, et cetera. It's a bit like reading disemvowelled text, only different of course.

I never studied consonant changes. Is there a rule whereby Spanoioglossen linduban is a reasonable transformation of Fanuilos, le linnathon? My hindbrain thinks it's logical, but I can't say why.

#120 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:10 AM:

I recognized a word, which let me know what kind of geek you'd have to be to get the whole thing.

I'm several other kinds of geek, so I don't feel *too* bad.

#121 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Mary, considering the distinguished performances you've turned in of late, I don't think you should to feel bad at all.

Some of us read those books before the flood of imitations taught fantasy readers that invented words are arbitrary strings of phonemes -- which was appropriate, because in Tlkn's case they weren't arbitrary.

#122 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:51 AM:

I skipped to the bottom here without looking, I swear.

Yep. Mostly by rythmic structure and a couple of the words.

And yes, this will figure in a discussion of fundamental images and development at some point. Just another kind of geekiness.

#123 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Teresa 119: That particular one is tough. Remember, though, that we're not talking about one language descended from another (like French from Latin) but two languages descended from a common source (like French and Spanish, or more distantly, English and Sanskrit). That gives us more flexibility in postulating a common source.

Remember also that they could have drifted apart grammatically too. English and German use commas very differently, and adjectives function differently. While 'grün' means "green," 'Grün' can only be translated as "green one" (German capitalizes all nouns). So one word in one language...you don't need to be told this. I momentarily forgot who I was talking to; please forgive me!

For the phrase you cite, try saying each of them aloud with only the vowels. They're almost identical.

But for me, the cue was the last line—remember, my task was "identify this short poem," not "do a historical sound change analysis with this poem and its original as corpus." (Thank gods for that; it's not nearly enough data.) The last line of the subject text is 'Nib gaiar, sī nib gaiaran'. Compare 'nef aear, sí nef aearon'.

Let's call the problem text (and its language) P, and the original text and language S. (Yes, I intend the pun.) I would phonemically spell the last line of P /nib gayar si: nib gayaran/ and the corresponding S line /nev ayar si: nev ayaron/ (remember that the creator of S specified it was much like Latin, my reason for phonemicizing 'ae' as /ay/; and that he states that in S 'f' is pronounced /v/ in final position). The /si:/ with the long e sound is identical, as is the structure and pattern all around it.

The remaining differences are:

  1. The final vowel, which is different but close.
  2. The first vowel, again different but close (this time so close that many of the people I grew up around don't distinguish them at all, leading to phrases like 'ink pen', which strike me as redundant).
  3. The final consonant of the first and fourth word, which is /b/ in P and /v/ in S. Those two consonants are both voiced labials, one a stop and the other a fricative. Fricatives and stops change back and forth all the time in language evolution.
  4. The presence of the /g/ in the second and fifth words in P, which is absent in both places in S. This is the hard one, though not as hard as if it were in one place but not the other! I could make a case for a /g/ appearing historically, but I'd rather postulate that in the common ancestor of P and S the /g/ was there, and it was preserved in P but lost in S.
My brain does this in background. Do not envy me.

#124 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:58 AM:

Before I consciously noticed the hyphenated phrase (which as others have noted was a dead giveaway), I started to get the same earworm that's stuck in my head with the original: the lonely goatherd's yodelling song from "The Sound of Music". The "Yodelayee yodelayee yodelay (hee-hoo)" chorus interleaves between the lines.

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:06 PM:

Thank you so much, Julie. Now excuse me while I go pour bleach into my ear.

But oh, before I go, let me return the favor: try putting "doo-dah, doo-dah!" between the lines.

#126 ::: Lyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Got it as soon as I saw the second line. Not from the words, the meter. When I actually read the words, I had a another think - but the overall shape and size convinced me. I wonder if all famous poetry is like that. If I read Ozymandias in Finnish, would it be instantly recognizable?

#127 ::: Alexis Duncan ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:46 PM:

"palan-tīrala" allowed me to guess the author, though not the exact passage.
"Eltāringua" and "Spanoioglossen" led me to guess (wildly) Interlingua for the translated language...

#128 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Jo @ 118 - I think we all have special reading-that-aloud voices. I've also got a speaking-German voice, which is somewhat deeper than my conversational English voice.

#129 ::: comelovesleep ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Xopher, at 123:

I didn't know there was anyone else whose head worked like that.

#130 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:28 PM:

I recognized what language it was, and which dialect of it that it must be, but I wasn't sure about the source text. Amusingly, I was thinking that it might be a familiar bible verse translated, while instead it's the native equivalent.

#131 ::: Johan Anglemark ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Oh yes, I'd recognized that verse anywhere. I am that kind of geek, dabbling in languages and a member of a Tlkn Society.

#132 ::: DBratman ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:49 PM:

The last line was the metrical giveaway for me. I know the original by heart. That, and knowing these kinds of translations exist.

I am not the kind of geek who creates things like this. But I know the world-class experts in this particular line, intimately. You should see the translations they've made into these languages of popular song lyrics.

Some of the negative reactions to T posted above intrigued me. Like C.Stross, so put off by the poetry and the language that it interferes with his reading of the book. I'm sorry that he finds he can't just ignore or overlook the aspects he dislikes. On my first reading I found them uninteresting or bewildering: I just skimmed. But not everybody can do that.

And D.Martin saying he gets stuck in the place where, he says, the characters sit around discussing the plot for several pages. I've described that scene that way myself, but I was kidding. What always strikes me about that scene is how very differently it reads from any such scene in any other fantasy novel. And that, I've decided, is because they're not actually discussing the plot: they're discussing morality and ethics. But perhaps that is not how it reads to this particular person.

Each to their own. I'm intrigued by these differences in taste, but differences in taste is all they are and not a matter for disputation.

#133 ::: DBratman ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:54 PM:

comelovesleep 129: All the experts in this particular line have brains that function exactly like that. I can only do it myself if I really work at it, but for it to come naturally is not that uncommon.

#134 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:11 PM:

tavella said (#130):
I recognized what language it was, and which dialect of it that it must be, but I wasn't sure about the source text. Amusingly, I was thinking that it might be a familiar bible verse translated, while instead it's the native equivalent.

But... "Neo-Telerin"? I thought Tlkn only produced a handful of supposed Telerin words here and there in his unpublished papers. So where does Neo-Telerin come from? (I tried looking for relevant links on that site's wiki, but almost everything "Telerin" is a stub.)

#135 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Daniel Martin said (#102):
... Without that, trying to read the Smrlln is just pointless - I just don't care about the world. By all rights I should care: I like Germanic languages, or think I do; ...

Not that this will help you at all, but T. was apparently more inspired by Finnish than by any Germanic languages in his main language creation. (The main Anglo-Saxon references come in the second book of the trilogy, in Rohan.)

There's a wonderful description by T. himself here:

He had been studying for exams in the Exeter College library at Oxford when he first encountered Finnish. Years later, he compared the experience to tasting a fine wine: "It was like discovering a complete wine-cellar filled with bottles of an amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before. It quite intoxicated me; and I gave up the attempt to invent an unrecorded Germanic language, and my own language -- or series of invented languages -- became heavily Finnicized in phonetic pattern and structure." This was to become Quenya, his principal Elvish language, but elves had not yet entered the picture.

#136 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:28 PM:

I knew what the target language was instantly. The source text eluded me until I recognized the pattern of the last line.

By the way, every example of this language that I paste into the Language Identification tool at http://complingone.georgetown.edu/~langid/ comes back as Lithuanian. I keep hoping it will say Finnish.

#137 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:54 PM:

I identified the language, but not the content. Is that worth half-points, at least?

#138 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:56 PM:

comelovesleep 129: It's not a common disorder, but there are a few of us around. You just have to poke us and ask us how we knew something.

DBratman 133: All the experts in this particular line...

Thanks, but I think you flatter me somewhat. I'm a language geek, but I wouldn't call myself an expert.

#139 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Yes, although if it hadn't said "Geek Test" at the top I probably wouldn't have.

#140 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:14 PM:

As long as we're discussing influences, it's long seemed to me that Tolkein's design of the Elvish Tengwar script was heavily influenced by the cursive form of the Georgian Nuskha-khucuri and Mkhedruli alphabets. A picture of an old dictionary is here.

This is just my own pet theory, ever since I saw some Georgian script in my late teens. I have no idea if linguists or Tolkein enthusiasts have considered and endorsed or rejected it.

#141 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Quenya was heavily influenced by Finnish, but most of the (relatively) familiar excerpts are in Sindarin, which iirc was modelled more on Welsh. Offhand, the only exception I can think of is Gldrl's song (which for some reason my brain cell keeps wanting to call an aubade) as the party leaves Lrn.

#142 ::: Lisa B ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:20 PM:

That one was easy. I can even quote the original from memory. (NERD!)

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:29 PM:

Oh, rats. All my Q's should be S's in my long post. Drat. It spoils the pun too.

Julie L...that's two. (Kidding.)

#144 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:59 PM:

I think I should get only a quarter point. I know the last line, but the rest is still avoiding my brain. I'm not going to go dig out the book from whichever-the-heck box it's currently in. Clicking the link feels like cheating.

#145 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Daniel @102:

Aged, ahem, 14 I suppose, I found the Silmarillion a real slog after I prised it from the hands of the sibling who prised it from the hands of the sibling who prised it from the hands of the sibling who bought it in hardback on sight, back in about 1978.

More recently I found it a very easy read: it's short and to the point, with thousands of years of plot compressed into a single volume as opposed to a couple of years of LotR plot stretched over three volumes.

If you try it and find some section tedious, you can just skip to another chunk a thousand years later as it's a compilation of discrete stories, not a continuous narrative.

#146 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Yes.

#147 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:59 PM:

I should mention that I can type the original from memory without looking, though I may not get all the typography correct.

#148 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Xopher @ 143: Julie L...that's two. (Kidding.)

Dangit, now I'm going to be wondering how to score the trifecta. (Though if the "Hello Kali" linkage from a while back still counts...)

Recently I tried re-reading LOTR for the first time after seeing the movies, and it's a very strange experience. In many cases, the actors' voices are now firmly fixed in my brain, and yet the songs are still soundtracked to the melodies that spontaneously flowed around them when I was an urchin. (This is why the "Doo-dah" trick doesn't work on me, despite the goatherd song-- the latter is closer to the rather bouncy tune that defaults to those lyrics for me, perhaps influenced by the music from Rankin-Bass's prequel and entirely different from the canon melody that was presented to Donald Swann.)

#149 ::: Andy Hickmott ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:35 PM:

Instantly. Though I did just reread the original's source last month.

#150 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 06:17 PM:

Clifton @ 44:
That's the one. On further reflection, I think I've decided it may actually be worth bonus points...of a sort...

#151 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Well, I thought I had it, checked the link, decided it was a different passage, read the comments here, and am no longer sure whether it's the same bit or not. The one I'm thinking of, I only remember the first two lines, which started with a one-letter exclamation (or something), and the end of the English version of the C.T. translation given later on the same page.

As an aside, I asked my boyfriend in high school to write in my yearbook in Quechua, spelled in Qny. He did so, and I still don't know what he wrote. Dan's been dead for 30 years, so I can't ask him, and who else do I know with a penchant for both Peru and Tlkn?

#152 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 07:44 PM:

Karen @ 151: Your original guess is the one. The "Stella Maris" and similar references are humorous attempts to match it up to a correspondence in Xtian cosmology. I was confused by the first line myself; that turns out to be because the semi-divinity in question has a completely different name in the other Elvish language group.

Niall @ 145: I had much the same reaction to the Silmarillion. I never made it all the way through it as a teenager; I read it a few years back when the movies started to come out and was startled at what easy going it was.

Julie @ 148: You had your own melodies too? I had my own for this, and for 'The Road Goes Ever On' - I think they got somewhat modified when I heard the Swann melodies but are still distinct. I really wished, as a kid, that I was musical enough to write them down or play them.

Teresa: I hope it's OK to stop disembowelling words in the general subject area now? Enough has gone by up-thread that it seems pointless.

#153 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Ah well. The book that I have does not have the poem you mentioned. Here is the chant that I was mis-remembering;

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna miriel
o menel aglar elenath!
Na-chaered palan-di'riel
o galadhremmin ennorath
Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, si' nef aeron!
(Where "i'" is to be an i with a grave accent over it.)

At the risk of dis-emvowelment, the source is
'The Road goes Ever On, a song cycle', music by Donald Swan, Poems by you-know-who, published 1967, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,first printing.

#154 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Ooh--I got it! And then decided that was way too obvious to be the answer, so I checked the link. But I was right!

But I, like others here, wrote for myself (and notes to friends) in Tngwr.

Julie @ 148 and Clifton @ 152--I'm so glad to know I was in good company! My brain put Galadriel's song ("I dreamt of leaves..." and not the farewell song) and the song for Boromir's funeral to tunes. It may be admitting to too much, but I still sometimes find myself singing them to myself.

#155 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:15 PM:

The "I dreamt of leaves" song always sounds like "Greensleeves" in my head, which theoretically makes it interchangeable with every other tune in ballad meter ("The Yellow Rose of Texas", "Amazing Grace", etc.). Similarly, Bilbo's travelling song sounds like the theme from "MASH". I think the rest of my internal soundtrack has original melodies, though.

#156 ::: Dave F. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:34 PM:

Teresa (119), in response to "Spanoioglossen linduban" ?= "Fanuilos, le linnathon", the answer is mostly "yes", but there are obviously grammatical alterations that can account for the rest of the differences.

Not knowing much about the languages in question, though, I can only work for guesses. It's clear that the words in the second language have undergone some phonetic simplification. Where the first has "sp", the second has "f". Where the first has "gl", the second has "l". Where the first has "nd", the second has "nn".

Take /sp/ ?~ /f/. /s/ has a tendency to disappear over time. /s/ often changes to /h/ (Latin "super" vs. Greek "hyper") and then disappears altogether (as "h" did in the Romance Languages). /s/ was also intermittently lost before consonants in many Indo-European languages (ex: English "steer" vs. Latin "taurus"). Finally, /p/ to /f/ is a common "lenition" (consonant-softening) pattern. Put together, you have the reasonable progression of /(s)p/ -> /p/ -> /f/ or /sp/ -> /sf/ -> /f/.

/g/ often alternates with /y/ (as in Old English). So we have something like /oiogl/ -> /oioyl/ -> /oil/ -> /uil/ (vowels approximate). The change /oioy/ to /oi/ is called "hapology" and is common in English (ex: "Anglaland" -> "England").

/nd/ or /nt/ to /nn/ or /n/ is another common change called "assimilation", where neighboring sounds come to sound more like each other. You hear this when people pronounce "winter" like "winner" in fast speech.

Another interpretation of this is that the proto-root is actually *linnod- or *linnodh (/d/ tends to alternate with /th/ or /dh/, as in Spanish). It's then easy for one branch to undergo lenition to "linnath" while the other undergoes "metathesis" (place-switching) to become "linndo". This is the same process that gave us "three" and "thirty".

A grammatical difference would explain the loss or addition of the "(s)en" on the end of "Spanoioglossen". Endings tend to simplify over time, but new ones are also innovated, so it's hard to tell which (if either) form more closely reflects the proto-language.

Finally, we have the "le" and the extraneous "b" in "lindubon". I'm going to chalk this up to a grammatical difference between the languages. If "lindubon" is a noun, "le" could be an article (a later innovation in many language families). "-bon" could then be an ending in the other daughter language expressing definiteness or indefiniteness rather than using an article. Or, if this is a verb in some marked tense, "le" could be a helper while "-bon" is the equivalent conjugation in the other language. Generally, with suffix-inflected languages, you don't care so much how the word ends as how it begins.

Okay - I've run on way too long here, but you get the idea.

#157 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:38 PM:

Yes, that was it. (Sighs contentedly.) It does mean, however, that the Common translation was a rather free one.

I never made any serious attempt to learn the languages or the alphabets (except the G rune, which was a bit of a plot point), but that didn't stop me from working on my own fictional language a year after reading these books.

#158 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Quoth Peter Erwin, back up in 135 -- The main Anglo-Saxon references come in the second book of the trilogy, in Rohan.

Well, except for Cynewulf's "Crist", arguably the seed of it all:

Éala, Éarendel, engla beorhtast,
ofer middangeard monnum sended,
And soðfæsta sunnan léoma,
Torht ofer tunglas - þu tída gehwane
of sylfum þé symle inlihtes.

#159 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:12 PM:

I don't know the exact meaning, but I recognized the language, and its origin, at once.

Now I'm going to go play chess online, drink ginger ale, and celebrate my immutable geekiness.

-JM

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:49 PM:

linnen 153: you can get the i with the grave accent by typing ì (ì), but I think you actually want í (í).

#161 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 01:32 AM:

Yes. the palan-tirala in the fourth line brought it all back to me in a rush.
Even before Swann sang this sort of thing, I had gobs of it memorized.

I suppose I should move on to the Finnish Kalevala some decade because it's almost as lyrical poetry as the good professor's invention.

#162 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Xopher 160: HTML coding goodness.

Danke.

#163 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 01:34 PM:

I'm not that kind of geek either (never memorized *any* of his poems), but along with Peter Irwin (#135) and others I did think it looks like Finnish. (Long ago, when I was a teenage fan of Jefferson Airplane, the name and ethnic background of Jorma Kaukonen clued me into some things about that language.)

#164 ::: Nicholas ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:15 PM:

I think so.

(looks)

Yep.

#165 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:35 PM:

#151: who else do I know with a penchant for both Peru and Tlkn?

You could ask Mark Rosenfelder at the Metaverse. He knows a bit about Quechua and has made up a whole lot of languages mostly because of Tlkn.

#166 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Yes on the language (much exposure to it at a tender age, which may partially be to blame for me getting into Sanskrit later on), but sadly no on what it's a translation of. I thought the Internationale. Ha!

#167 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Just to show how un-geeky I am, I classified this as "The Hail Mary in a language I don't know."

#168 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Clearly I'm not enough of a geek. I assumed it was Tolkein and some kind of elf-tongue, but that's as far as I got.

#169 ::: jonmeltzer@gmail.com ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 06:38 PM:

#167: Well, sort of, yeah ... Star-Queen and the Queen of Heaven ...

#170 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 07:31 PM:

Allan Beatty (136), thank you for the link to the language identification page. I've wanted something like that. No more will I have to feebly say "Er, maybe it's Turkish."

Xopher (143): I went back and fixed it. I was disappointed that none of the regular words in that post had "q" in them.

Xopher (123): I don't need to compare Nib gaiar, sī nib gaiaran with nef aear, sí nef aearon. If I'd run across the former and had no other context to cue me, I'd still have heard the latter in my head.

Re your "My brain does this in background. Do not envy me": I neither envy nor pity you, because my brain does the same thing, albeit in a less educated way. I'm lucky that it does, too, because otherwise my low-res hearing would be a worse problem than it is. Still, it's helpful to have it formally explained, so I can see what's happening.

Dave F. (156), thank you very much for your own explanation. It's not bit too long. Again, this is stuff I've been inarticulately semi-aware of (enough messing around with Middle English will do that for you), but haven't understood in any orderly way. It's nice to actually know for once why (f.i.) my ear thinks /span/ -> /fan/ is reasonable. My ear is an opinionated critter, but it's not much given to explaining itself.

Carrie S. (165) wins the AKICIF Prize for Most Obscure Piece of Requested Information, for answering Karen Funk Blocher's question (151) about where she can find someone who knows both Quechua and Quenya.

Jim (167): Sorry, but you're right on one count and arguably right on the other -- see Connie's comment, #73 -- and besides, are you really trying to claim you're not a geek?

#171 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Whoops, forgot. Clifton (140), it seems like a reasonable hypothesis. If you crossed Mkhedruli with the uncial hand and threw in a good dollop of Arabic calligraphy, you'd pretty much have Tengwar.

What do we know about Feanor? He was right-handed, wrote in ink using a reed or quill pen, and rested his hand on the page as he wrote.

#172 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Instant recognition of the poem, and enough of a general reading in the background of the languages that I recognized it as a translation into another one of the same family of langauages, although I would never have guessed which one. (I knew it wasn't Quenya, because the sound relationships represented by Celeborn < - > Teleporno don't show up in e.g. palan-tirala as opposed to palan-diriel).

But then I memorized the original at about ten years old.

#173 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 08:27 PM:

Teresa 171: Tolkien explains the structure of Tengwar in the Appendices. I'm sure the calligraphic shaping comes from those sources, but it's an almost perfectly systematic phonemic alphabet. Stems (short/long ascending/long descending) bow (up, down, left or right of the stem, single or double) and occasionally diacritical marks all have specific, consistent meanings.

It's pretty. Unfortunately it's an unreadable mess. The letters look so much alike that...well, shall we hypothesize that Elves have perfect immunity to eyestrain and headaches? I guess with their extended lifespans they wouldn't mind taking half an hour to read a page of text.

And I just noticed the 'Spelling reference'. Gave me a good chuckle, that did. I'd just like to comment that 'minuscule' is easier to spell if you realize that its opposite is 'majuscule', and that it really does help me to put Publishers Weekly on here, since I'm never sure whether it's the weekly for the publisher, the weekly for all publishers, or a weekly about publishers...which is unfortunately what the correct spelling implies to me, and seems least plausible.

#174 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 09:04 PM:

We know Tengwar is an adaptable phonetic alphabet because this specimen is the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in English.

We know that Elves are immune to letter-differentiation eyestrain because it's mentioned somewhere or other that in private records, they would sometimes switch off and write left-handed in mirror-Tengwar.

(Q: What do you get if you take a passage written in Tengwar and rotate it on its vertical or horizontal axis? A: Twice as much!)

#175 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 09:08 PM:

Yes. And it makes me catch my breath in either language.

#176 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Teresa 174: Hieroglyphics are like that...except that you can actually tell which way they're written after initial inspection, unlike Tengwar.

Whoa. Tengwar mirror-palindromes.

I'm not smart enough to make one of those...but I bet there are a couple of people here who could. abi, Teresa...abi and Teresa.

#177 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 09:49 PM:

I recognized the source text right off, and can recite it in its original language... often did, in times of stress, in my younger years, just as I used to recite the Litany Against Fear before standardized college-entrance tests. I recited it, sitting in the theater, at the moment when the protagonist should have, if they'd stuck to the book. "More deadly to him by far was the name of..."

I had no idea in what language it was being displayed in the post. I haven't clicked the link, but other comments have tipped me off. I never delved that far into the appendices, myself. And I never COULD finish the Slmrlln.

That hymn has sustained me in some dark moments, though. Lovely.

#178 ::: Jose Marquez ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Like Skwid @38, I got it off the rhythm, which started my brain's playing of Lords of the Rhymes. It can stop now. Please? Damn.

#179 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Carrie #165: Oh, cool! Many thanks! (Yes, Teresa, I'm impressed, too.) Now I have two possible resources to try. A friend after church today pointed me to someone who has adapted Quechua text to music, but may or my not be familiar with Quenya.

My worry is that after all this, I'll learn that my obscurely translated yearbook inscription says, "Have a nice summer. See you next year."

#180 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 02:03 AM:

Xopher @176
I regret to say that I am not really a Tlkn geek. His works are deep-rooted in my consciousness*, but I have not put any study into the matter. I am still waiting till I've quit my job so I can play with the ROT-13 lists.

----------
* This is what happens when you are read the four core texts at four**. I grew up knowing those characters the way most kids know Mickey Mouse. I still recall my surprise on rereading the books as an adolescent and realising that Eowyn was in love with Aaragorn. At four, and at seven (second read-through), you miss these things.

** That was also about the time that I was introduced to Star Trek. My entire life has, arguably, been shaped by the fact that I fell in love with Spock on first sight.

#181 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Yikes, I actually guessed right! And I didn't think I was that particular sort of geek.

...Which is funny, because I've always admired and wanted to be that sort of geek, but figured I didn't have the aptitude.

#182 ::: Garrett Fitzgerald ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Geeky enough to recognize the original poem, not geeky enough to figure out what language it was translated into. :-)

#183 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:17 PM:

When I read Sarah Avery @58, my brain couldn't help spontaneously trying to come up with a ME analogue to Williams:

I have taken
the ring
that was in
your clutches

and which
you were probably
saving
for my birthday

Forgive me
it was so precious
so bright
and so cold


Right, I'll go wash out my head now...

#184 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:47 PM:

And thanks to the power of the internets, any creative task can now be automated:

a "This is Just to Say" Generator

#185 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Xopher (173): From what I remember reading about its history, Publishers Weekly was originally aimed primarily at booksellers and is indeed about the publishers. But I could be wrong.

#186 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:53 PM:

The letters look so much alike that...well, shall we hypothesize that Elves have perfect immunity to eyestrain and headaches?

And dyslexia, which--if I understand correctly--is often based on mirror-image problems.

#187 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 03:09 PM:

Abi #180: My first readings were in second and third grade, and I entirely missed that part of Eowyn's plot, too! It seemed entirely plausible to me, then, that she merely resented being left home because she was a girl.

I had the same sense of astonishment in the high school re-readings.

#188 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Sigh. abi...it was not possible for me to be introduced to either TLOTR or Star Trek at age four. The latter didn't premier until I was seven, and the former wasn't available in the US until sometime around...when was that, anyway?

You kids get offa my lawn.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Xopher @188
I would have been born sooner, but I had to wait to give Governor Reagan the chance to tear gas me in utero at the People's Park riot. I dared not usurp my destiny by being older, not even for the right to hang out on your lawn.

#190 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 05:47 PM:

I think I entirely missed the deal with Eowyn too when I first read it. I'm guessing I was around 10, as I think it was after we moved back to the US.

One of my favorite memories of Tengwar is from when I was hospitalized with appendicitis at 15. They had a big poster in the children's wing that one of the previous patients had drawn and written in Tengwar, and none of the staff knew what it said. When I translated it, it turned out to be the opening of 'The Creation of Ea' from Earthsea. That was very cool.

#191 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Abi #180: What struck me, when I first read LOTR at 17, was how Catholic Tolkien was, and how difficult it must have been for him to make Frodo both Christ-like and not Christ-like (of course, back then I was struggling to be a Christian and failing -- and I've failed all the rest of my life -- and I had more sympathy for JRRT's Catholicism than I do now.

OTOH, I read the entire LOTR to my children, which seems to have had an influence on them (my younger son was deeply upset when the film came out and Frodo didn't sing the song about the cow jumping over the moon -- and he was 13 then -- Peter Jackson has much to answer for).

#192 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Was anybody else first introduced to Tlkn through Isaac Asimov's short mystery story about an overheard murder plot? That's what led me to seek out the novels.

I recognized the proper geek domain of the poem, but got no further without peeking.

Speaking of geekery, I had a geekish epiphany this weekend, and can't figure out what kind of geekery it is: I've long known that the theme from Star Trek TOS is a contrafact on the jazz standard "Out of Nowhere" (that is, a new melody written on an existing chord progression), and I remember there was an episode of ST:TNG where Riker was practicing trombone on the holodeck, and the tune he was playing was "Out of Nowhere." Which was my single geekiest piece of knowledge up until this Sunday. I was watching ST:TOS on DVD and trying to play the chords to Star Trek/Out of Nowhere on my ukulele by ear, when I gave up and looked up Out of Nowhere in a fake book, where I found out that the song is from the 1931 film, Dude Ranch. And Dude Ranch was produced by what studio? Paramount, who owns the Star Trek franchise. I found this information immensely satisfying, but I can't decide whether it's music geekery, Star Trek geekery, or show business geekery.

#193 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:46 PM:

My first reading of LOTR was around age 8, though due to book (in)availability I went straight from The Hobbit to The Two Towers. That was a bit confusing. I read the Silmarillion within the next two years, though, and have never really grokked why so many people find it difficult; I can draw up rational explanations about archaic phrasing and indirect/compressed narrative, but for me it didn't read any differently than, say, Andrew Lang's palette of [Colour] Fairy Books.

#194 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Howard 192: It's all three. A geekdom confluence.

I love those.

#195 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 08:04 PM:

I read the entire LOTR to my children, which seems to have had an influence on them (my younger son was deeply upset when the film came out and Frodo didn't sing the song about the cow jumping over the moon -- and he was 13 then -- Peter Jackson has much to answer for).

I think Jackson's team did a good job of putting the story on film, except that the big battle scenes could have been pruned considerably without reducing the coolness factor, thereby leaving more room for the subplots (Eowyn and Faramir TLA!). But I heartily recommend the BBC radio production* because it leaves in most of the poetry and songs and preserves the original's air of slow-building menace, which wouldn't have translated well to celluloid. It also features some top-notch voice acting.


*Not, repeat not, the American radio production by a company whose name I don't recall. That one manages to be twee. I guess the production company assumed that anything with wizards in it must be for children in spite of the cannibal orcs, torture rooms, bloody battles, fifty-foot demons with their hair on fire, etc., etc.

#196 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 08:14 PM:

Howard Peirce at #192: Was anybody else first introduced to Tlkn through Isaac Asimov's short mystery story about an overheard murder plot? That's what led me to seek out the novels.

Oh yes, indeed...

#197 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 08:55 PM:

I got what it was supposed to be, entirely from the meter and similarities in a few of the words. I'm not sure whether this is reassuring or frightening.

#198 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 09:46 PM:

coming to this late: yes.

and now I've got the Swann setting running through my head (no bad thing, that, but my wrists are acting up and I want to head for the piano and play the whole of "The Road Goes Ever On", and that would not be wise).

#199 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Xopher, I'm with you. I did watch the original ST series on TV, it annoyed my parents greatly but I was an insistent little busybody.

The Ballantine edition (with the kewl psychadelic covers) I have is dated 1969, so that's when I got it. (I'm thinking that the people I babysat for a LOT gave me an xmas gift certificate for B. Dalton's and that was the Big Purchse, I would have been 13.)

I read it enough that when the editions with the movie covers came out I bought them for re-reading, the original has things like tail feathers from my first pet (a budgie) and stuff like that. The box made it real convenient for sentimental storage.

#200 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Howard #192:

Was anybody else first introduced to Tlkn through Isaac Asimov's short mystery story about an overheard murder plot? That's what led me to seek out the novels.

I think that Asimov story, "Nothing Like Murder," was first published a few months after I first read Tlkn. I've remembered it fondly ever since.

#201 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 01:35 AM:

First take: is this Elvish translated into Finnish?

*clicks link* Oh -- not quite.

I had a friend once in Tolkien fandom who said that Quenya drove him insane because he grew up speaking Finnish, and Tolkien merrily pickpocketed syllables and cadences from Finnish without regard to what the constructed words might be saying -- so someone says "light" and it means "cheesecloth."

Quite funny, to think of it.

Julie L. @ 193, on the Silmarillion: I read it at fourteen, manic and obsessive. I buried myself in the book totally, and still managed only about sixty pages a day, which is not much compared to the usual rate of perusal. It is very thick. It is somewhat easier reading than the King James bible, partly because Tolkien has the pleasant habit of making the begats into appendices. I adored it, but I doubt I could quite manage it today.

#202 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 04:13 AM:

A.J., you might be surprised. The Silmarillion was the toughest thing I'd read at 14, bar maybe Moby Dick, but now it's a breeze. OK, the opening chapter with the choirs of angels is a bit much, but you can just skip it.

#203 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 04:28 AM:

If I didn't know already that Xopher and I went to the same college, #125 would have proved it.

#204 ::: Eimear Ní Mh&eacuteal&oacuteid ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 07:53 AM:

I recognised that it was Elvish, but went off on the wrong track expecting it to be a translation from a well known English text, not from one Elvish language into another. If that thought had occurred to me there would have been no problem. Also, if I'd had to identify whether it was Sindarin or Quenya I'm sure I would have chosen correctly. (I notice that Sindarin has a similar method of forming the vocative case to some Celtic languages.)

#205 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 08:06 AM:

Jenny Islander #195: I suspect it may be more 'The Hobbit is a kiddie book, so LOTR must be a kiddie book.'

I do wish Jackson had included Tolkien's songs in the film.I'd have loved hearing a rendering of 'Eärendil was a mariner'.

#206 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 08:33 AM:

Yes, murmuring the lines and catching the rhythm, I figured it out.

#207 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Fragano #205 -- Unfortunately I still hear "Eärendil was a mariner" to the tune of "I am the very model of a modern major general," which is something we used to do at that same college Xopher and Rich attended. We were a weird lot.

#208 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Tracie #207: Now I'm going to be thinking of it as 'I am the very model of a Middle-Earth elf-mariner'...

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Tracie #207: Now I'm going to be thinking of it as 'I am the very model of a Middle-Earth elf-mariner'...

#210 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 02:03 PM:

#200: Interestingly enough, Tolkien said in a letter (reprinted in the "Selected Letters" book) that he liked Asimov's science fiction. It's too bad (for us!) that the two of them never corresponded.

#211 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Can I simultaneously be supremely geeky and supremely clueless?

I looked at it, I thought "Hmm, I bet it's the one that starts
[vowel] lbrth glthnl!"

And then I clicked the link and looked and said, um, okay, so I'm wrong.

But now after going back and clicking through more of that page, I think maybe I was right after all.

Now I'm going to go read the whole thread and see if the answer is in here somewhere.

#212 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 02:50 PM:

I'm still not sure. Gah.

If I'm right, I could never have recited the rest of it, translated it, remembered a more specific reference than "somewhere in [trilogy]", or identified exactly which language it was in.

#213 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 04:36 PM:

My first guess was it was Jabberwocky and a Gallerembenai was a jabberwock.

Has anyone translated Elvis into Elvish?

#214 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 02:45 AM:

Susan@211: Right you are.

#215 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Oh, yes.

#216 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 05:13 PM:

First thought: oh, it's the hymn to Elbereth. Second thought: no, that's too easy, it's got to be a trick question. And anyway, everybody knows Tolkien, that's not a geek signifier.

After reading the comments, I should have gone with my first instincts. I couldn't possibly have told you what language it's been translated into, though. Also, reading it more slowly to try and find a rational justification for my instinctive guess, I should have noticed that palan-tīrala as a dead giveaway.

Like abi at #180 I'm not really a Tolkien geek, but did have LotR rooted in my consciousness by the time I started school.

#217 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Guessed what it was from the structure and one hyphenated word...

The fact that I have seen the extended version of the films recently, and re-read the books too, probably helped.

Julie at #155 -- dammit -- now I can't see/read "The Road Goes Ever On..." without hearing it double with "Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes..." Ghods help us, it scans beautifully to the tune!

#218 ::: Donna Farley ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 07:24 PM:

not only got it, sang the whole thing to the Donald Swann music.....

#219 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 08:25 PM:

I knew where it came from at least, and spontaneously reciting the "One Ring" rhyme once helped get me a job and my first screen credit. You'll have to look me up on the IMDB to find that out. (cripes, I'm a cagey, egotistical sort).

#220 ::: Tania sees two likely pieces of spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 07:49 PM:

And I had dinner at a Hawaiian places last night. No spam for me, if you don't mind!

The first one is some Turkish phrase. The second one came along too quickly to not also be spam.

I'm more suspicious of spam than trolls.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Spam on a troll... er... on a roll, Tania?

#222 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 08:57 PM:

Hey, if you slay a troll, you can process the meat right there. Spam, that's mystery meat!

At least one knows where the troll on a roll comes from. Properly aged out back, slowly braised and delicately spiced so the sweet, tangy goodness of properly slain troll meat is appreciated.

Spam has no flavor, just salt and preservatives.

#223 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Woo, supersin! Better than regular sin!

#224 ::: P J Evans sees oddness ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2007, 05:42 PM:

226 looks like spam.

#225 ::: Jon Meltzer sees obnoxious singing Vikings ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 07:32 AM:

spam spam spam spam ...

#226 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Who you callin' an obnoxious Viking?

#227 ::: Jen Roth sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2007, 12:26 PM:

And a particularly dull example at that.

#228 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2007, 09:51 PM:

Ooh, tricksy.

#229 ::: David Goldfarb keeps the spam watch going ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2007, 11:49 PM:

No doubt all of our moderators are busy traveling from the Farthing Party and so couldn't get to this. So just a little reminder: 228 and 229 need to go.

#230 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2007, 05:35 PM:

Deleting taking place now. Expect subsequent comments to be renumbered.

#231 ::: Fishie ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2009, 04:57 PM:

I first thought of Elvish to be honest... From the melodic sound of the verse. It is though true that Elvish does have something from ancient English and Latin, Spanish, etc. The word Eltāringua for example is Elentári in Elvish too, and then we have Baradis which was translated as Varda.. Doesn't make much sense, but I had to learn this song, so I did remember of:
"An si Tintalle Varda Oiolosseo
ve fan yar maryat Elentari ortane
ar ilye tier undulave lumbule;
ar sindanoriello caita mornie
i falmalinnar imbe met, ar hisie
untupa Calaciryo miri oiale.
Si vanwa na, Romello vanwa, Valimar!"

I don't know what that language is, but it's pretty similar to Elvish. Please let me know hehe

Fishie

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.