Of Elves

Discussion in '"The History of Middle-earth"' started by Mithrellas.Dagoranna, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Don't feel stupid.

    I knew what you meant anyway... and I was only joking. Though maybe you are too :)
     
  2. Mithrellas.Dagoranna

    Mithrellas.Dagoranna Heiress of Ecthelion of the Fountain

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Warrior
    Location:
    Imládris
    Well, half of me agrees while another one disagrees. Hahahah.. nevermind.
     

  3. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    By the way... I don't think you've yet asked a certain, fairly popular question about Tolkien's Elves. I'll answer it anyway: I think it's ambiguous.

    But what's the question I'm thinking of? Anyone guessing will win...

    ... well nothing actually ;)
     
    Mithrellas.Dagoranna likes this.
  4. Mithrellas.Dagoranna

    Mithrellas.Dagoranna Heiress of Ecthelion of the Fountain

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Warrior
    Location:
    Imládris
    Well, I like details. Because sometimes, I would miss a detail. Hahaha... also I like to imagine things, and of course like thinking of a fun plot to write. But I always think, what is the circumstance of the plot setting? What is the character wearing? And such little things.

    But imaginations with real facts and trivias. I don't like imagining like,

    "When Aragorn was at the Prancing Pony, suddenly he heard a thud, and when he checked, he found out there was a boy with a short strange hair (that time, men use long hair, right?), wearing a shirt with 'YANKEES' on it."

    Like, come one, how is that even possible?????
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017

  5. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I don't know the hairstyles of all Men in Middle-earth...

    ... but anyway the fairly popular Elf-question you haven't yet asked is: "do Tolkien's Elves have pointed ears?"

    People often ask this, because they see drawings, or the films, but yet Tolken himself never once published anything about the shape of Elvish ears.

    As for what JRRT might have written (and at what time), in papers he himself never published, that's a different, more complicated matter, but my conclusion from the "evidence" (so far) is that he "ultimately" left the matter ambiguous.

    So far!
     
  6. Mithrellas.Dagoranna

    Mithrellas.Dagoranna Heiress of Ecthelion of the Fountain

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Warrior
    Location:
    Imládris
    Well, never think about elvish ears! Hahaha..

    But I think pointed ears match with long hairs, right?? Coz it looks lovely and elegant.

    Well if there's a real fact about elvish ears, I would like to know!
     
  7. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    "Well if there's a real fact about elvish ears, I would like to know!"

    This might come down to how different people treat the posthumously published texts.

    For myself, I have no doubt that in the mid to late 1930s or early 1940s, Tolkien thought of his Elves, the Quendi, as having more pointed (and leaf-shaped) ears than humans. How much more, we don't really know, but some level to be notable anyway. This information is found in a text called Etymologies, a mostly linguistic text, in one of the entries for the Elvish base LAS.

    However, that was then, years before Tolkien would publish The Lord of the Rings in 1954, 1955. If we look at the Silmarillion as it stood in the mid to later 1930s for example, the wonderful Galadriel did not even exist, and more generally speaking, we can see Tolkien changing his mind, down through the years, about a number of concepts.

    So did JRRT change his mind later?

    From the 1950s until Tolkien's passing, there are as yet no statements about Elvish ears either way, not even in the heaps of papers Tolkien himself never published, nor any letter (again, that has come to light so far). JRRT did however, himself publish Elvish words like lasto "listen" and lassi "leaves", so whatever he thought about Elvish ears and leaves, he had to at least "deal" with some seemingly related "las words"... and this is what he wrote in the years after publishing The Lord of the Rings (possibly in the later 1950s, though I can't recall the exact dating period at the moment). From Tolkien's Words, Phrases and Passages (published in Parma Eldalamberon 17).

    Q lasse 'leaf' (S las); pl. lassi (S lais). It is only applied to certain kinds of leaves, especially those of trees, and would not e.g. be used of leaf of a hyacinth (linque). It is thus possibly related to LAS 'listen', and S-LAS stem of Elvish words for 'ear'; Q hlas, dual hlaru. Sindarin dual lhaw, singular lhewig.

    lasse 'leaf'.


    So (and I realize this might be a bit confusing for folks who don't care about linguistic matters), after The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien writes "possibly related" but now without directly stating -- as he had done in the mid to later 1930s or 1940s back in Etymologies -- that his Elves had more pointed and leaf-shaped ears than humans. Thus it seems to me that Tolkien revised the earlier, abandoned text, at least in such a way as to leave the matter ambiguous, rather than directly describing Elven ears as pointed.

    In other words (shorter version) I think JRRT went from saying Elvish ears were more pointed than human ears, in a text about "las words" -- to not describing Elven ears in an updated text about "las words", while still maintaining a "possible" relationship of some sort.


    Some will probably look at these same texts differently (and add other reasoning beyond these linguistic texts, which admittedly I'm not really going into here), and say that Tolkien once thought Elves had more pointed ears than Men, and he never again specifically said that they didn't (so far). That doesn't work for me in this case, but I've seen that stance (at least seemingly) taken regarding this issue.

    Ah another long post. In my defense it could have been a longer post :D
     
  8. Mithrellas.Dagoranna

    Mithrellas.Dagoranna Heiress of Ecthelion of the Fountain

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Warrior
    Location:
    Imládris
    Wowowowowowowowowowo!!!!

    The first time I heard "Lasto beth nin" spoken by Arwen on the movie, I immediately looked it up. And when I found out LASTO is an order word for LISTEN (o in the back is a suffix for giving order, right?), I immediately remembered LASS means LEAF and I that was why Elves have leaf-like pointed ears, maybe they generated the word of LAS (LISTEN) after theythe generated LASS (LEAF) or vice versa.

    I meannnn,,,,,, Both me and you are thinking the same!!!!
     
  9. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    "The first time I heard "Lasto beth nin" spoken by Arwen on the movie, I immediately looked it up. And when I found out LASTO is an order word for LISTEN (o in the back is a suffix for giving order, right?),..."

    Yes that's right. Final o is an "imperative" marker here, just like Arwen's noro to her horse (in the film -- in the book it's Glorfindel rather), and daro in the chapter Lothlorien:

    "... a voice spoke suddenly from the tree shadows above him.
    "Daro!" It said in commanding tone, and Legolas dropped back to earth in surprise and fear."


    "I immediately remembered LASS means LEAF and I that was why Elves have leaf-like pointed ears, maybe they generated the word of LAS (LISTEN) after theythe generated LASS (LEAF) or vice versa. I meannnn,,,,,, Both me and you are thinking the same!!!!"

    Well I do think that's the general suggestion from the "oldish" abandoned text Etymologies.

    But... :)

    ... given the much later description of "las words" that I quoted above from PE 17 (and comparing that to Etymologies), as I say, in my opinion Tolkien changed his mind later and decided to make this matter ambiguous -- that is, he left it to the reader's imagination here, hinting that there might be linguistic "evidence" to wonder about, though not being certainly conclusive.

    It's true that Tolkien might have simply omitted the direct reference in the later text, while himself imagining the same idea as put forth earlier. But that much is a mystery, and I think if we as readers are to imagine him publishing something about these words, for me so far, it would be the later text as it stands (for whatever reason), which again, by itself doesn't seem to me to answer the question directly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
    Mithrellas.Dagoranna likes this.
  10. Mithrellas.Dagoranna

    Mithrellas.Dagoranna Heiress of Ecthelion of the Fountain

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2017
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Warrior
    Location:
    Imládris
    I expected that answer. Again, i have to Google Translate it. And finally got what you meant.

    Sure. So... in my 'Middle Earth' , Elves have pointed ears.

    Thanks a lot!!
     
  11. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    563
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Ah you like the ears then. For me, I'm still not sure. But I like to blather about the matter, so here's yet more rambling that no one asked for.

    "But to those creatures which in English I misleadingly call Elves* (...) *Intending the word to be understood in its ancient meanings, which continued as late as Spenser -- a murrain of Wil Shakespeare and his damned cobwebs." JRRT probably late 1951, letter to M. Waldman

    "Also I now deeply regret having used Elves, though this is a word in ancestry and original meaning suitable enough. But the disastrous debasement of this word, in which Shakespeare played an unforgiveable part, has really overloaded it with regrettable tones, which are too much to overcome. I hope in the appendices to Vol III to be able to include a note "On Translation" in which the matter of equivalences and my uses may be made clearly" JRRT, 1954, letter to H. Brogan

    And Tolkien did!

    "Elves has been used to translate both Quendi, "the speakers", the High-elven name of all their kind, and Eldar, the name of the three Kindreds that sought for the Undying Realm and came there at the beginning of Days (save the Sindar only). This old word was indeed the only one available, and was once fitted to apply to such memories of this people as Men preserved, or to the making of Men's minds not wholly dissimilar. But it has been diminished, and to many it may now suggest fancies either pretty or silly, as unlike to the Quendi of old as are butterflies to the falcon -- not that any of the Quendi ever possessed wings of the body, as unnatural to them as to Men." JRRT, Appendix F, The Return of the King


    At this point in his life, Tolkien clearly didn't like the small, winged type of Elves/Fairies depicted in turn of the century children's books for example, at least not for his Elves...

    ... but he must have known, and clearly did know (given Etymologies), that Elves were at least sometimes popularly depicted with some measure of pointed ears. And yet to date we have no confirmation of this in any tale, letter, posthumously published scribble, after 1955, in which Tolkien generally disassociates his Quendi from the popular view, including even the physical attribute of wings here, which (to me) seems hardly necessary at the end of his tale, although I think it reads nicely along with the butterfly to falcon comparison, in any case.

    The we get back to the Words, Phrases, Passages quote. I consider that here is exactly "the place" (linguistic context) where Tolkien once enjoyed to reveal this detail...

    ... and he doesn't do it.

    I know that this lack of evidence is not evidence of proof.

    But to me it just seems very Tolkien-like to reveal this detail in a linguistic context (as he had, noting that in the old stories themselves the ears are not described), and thus for me, it seems un-Tolkien-like to let this chance pass if the detail is certainly true, only noting the possibility of some connection.

    Possibly, in the end, the detail wasn't important enough for Tolkien to take a side, meaning that, although pointed ears were the popular view, and despite his never publishing the answer, "more" pointed and leaf-shaped ears -- if a reader likes them -- were not in any case part of the problem Shakespeare had contributed to...

    ... meaning, as long as Elves were tall, fair (unwinged) and so on, as Tolkien paints them, then pointed ears (within "reason" I would assume, despite the subjectivity of that) would not drag them into "fancies either pretty or silly".

    Or... something else :D

    Too bad Pauline Baynes chose to represent Legolas with a hood, or we might have got Tolkien's reaction to Elvish ears... and the mysterious colour of Legolasian hair!

    This post is a good example of a lot of blah blah blah :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017

Share This Page