Friday, August 21, 2009

Is Boromir a mimsy borogove?

Series straddling three blogs: 
Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ...on linguistic evolution
...on Tower of Babel or language evolution
Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Milk and Gollum, and Nostratic M-L-Q
Is Boromir a mimsy borogove?
"If God spoke a language" - to correct Grimm
On the "Reformed Egyptian" of the "Nephites"
side issue on previous, Theology: A Gerald Smith on the theme of "Great Apostasy" and "Restored Gospel" - answered
Is Romanides accurate?
Was Romanides accurate? Bis! Not very much at all!
Linguistics for Romanides: Greek, Latin, Patois
Coniectura linguistica, pro casu unitatis vetustissimae indo-europaeae linguae.
Creation vs. Evolution : 32 language families for 72 nations ...
To this essay: 

"borogove mimsy"="borogóv mimzi"
"borogov mimzi" (delete second of two nasals)
"borogov mimzi" (delete second of two voiced stops)
"borogov mimzi" (delete second/last of two/three identical vowels)
OR, if you insist on vowel length (borogove=borogóv):
"borogóv mimzi" (delete second of two exactly identical vowels)

which leaves us with:

borogov mimzi
borogóv mimzi

= boro miz or boró miz
z > r (rhotacism)

BUT. "Mimsy Borogoves" are nonsense words. "Boromir" has been given a meaning: 'faithful jewel' (source Tolkienwiki > search > Boromir).

If Lewis Carroll indulged in non-sense syllables, Tolkien indulged even more (since his elven glossary entries, even in just one of the major languages, probably by far outnumber the crypto-English glossary that could be made from The Hunting of the Snark*) in giving sense to his syllables.

Let us presume, I did not look up the meanings of the roots, it is boro that means faithful and mir that means jewel. I would not let mimsy mean faithful, and I hesitate to call things generally as small as jewels borogoves. So if this is where Tolkien came up with Boromir, he let adjective become noun and noun adjective. But the point is: there is something about "mimsy" which is repugnant to making it mean "faithful", there is nothing repugnant in making "mir" mean "jewel", there is something repugnant in making "borogove" mean "jewel", except a very big and costly such (thrones, crowns, scepters, Arkenstone - possibly, rings - no), there is nothing repugnant in making "boro" mean "faithful". Which is a point against the total arbitrariness of the relation of sound and meaning.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Paris IV - G. Pompidou
8/21 august A. D. 2009

*oops, that may be Jabberwocky I was thinking about!

OTHER UPDATE: the deletion rules above are what might have been contributing consciously or unconsciously to the invention of either name Boromir or elements it was made of in Tolkien's life, and are of course no more soundlaws for Quenya or Sindarin than cow > woc, how > hoc are internal soundlaws of Nevbosh.