Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Jewish Tolkien and His Fantasy Country

OK, mostly he didn't write fantasy, he mostly did thrillers, things like Stephen King.

I've said Goldman. William Goldman.

But once, he ventured into the realm of Faërie. When he did, he was clearly as brilliant as Tolkien. The Princess Bride. Originally written for his two daughters and he wrote the screenplay himself. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that the novel came out September 1st* 1973, in Chicago, while it may already have been September 2nd in England, the day when J. R. R. Tolkien died.

I think, the connexion doesn't quite cease here. Fourteen years later, The Princess Bride became a film. Then the film smoldered under the ashes for another ten years, and became a huge hit through video, ten years after the release in theatres. That year, 1997, a certain Peter Jackson acquired the rights for doing The Lord of the Rings, and his The Fellowship of the Ring was released four years (a lustrum) after that. That is, 28 years after Tolkien died and The Princess Bride was published. Anyone noticed a similarity of appearance between Inigo Montoya and Aragorn? In the films, of course.

There are parallels too in multiple attempts at making the film, the difference being, for The Princess Bride, the masterpiece was not preceded by any ... Ralph Bakshi, for instance, not to mention even worse ones.

And there is the technique, in both there is world building. They seemingly, according to critics**, both convey that the world went on before the scenes opened and goes on after they have closed. In both there is map drawing.

But in some other fashions, The Princess Bride would be closer to a novel by Lloyd Alexander. We deal with Ruritanian fantasy, not with actual supernatural entities. Now, most Ruritanians are set in our world. Ruritania. Syldavia (and Borduria). Bretzelburg. Grand Kudpein. Vulgaria. But while Lloyd Alexander has a whole series of Ruritanias visited by Vesper Holly, he also has the Ruritanias in the Westmark trilogy, and the setting of The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian — Ruritanias without connexion to our geography. That is also the case with ... well, not quite ... Guilder and Florin.

It so happens, before the Netherlands switched to the Euro money, their currency was known as Guilder ... but the coins were marked with an FL, which stood for Florin. Two countries, around a marine strait, are on the map*** marked as Guilder and Florin. Shall we think Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maartens or Surinam? Perhaps most of all, what kind of abuse is adressed. Syldavia, Bretzelburg and Grand Kudpein (all written by French speakers) have a huge part for police brutality and dictatorship. Like Westmark and the unnamed country where Sebastian roamed. Lloyd Alexander had a French wife after all. But the purely English or American ones, by Anthony Hope, Ian Fleming, and, obviously, William Goldman, feature abuse involving the family. Anthony Hope allows a double of the King of Ruritania to stand in while he is imprisoned, to avoid usurpation. This double, Rudolf Rassendyll, turns out to be a much gentler husband than Rudolf V of Ruritania. So, in a way, Anthony Hope was making a point against toxic masculinity and abusive husbands.

Vulgaria has the child catchers. I think Ian Fleming was making a point against abortion and child protective services, especially as they targetted certain traveller populations.

Florin ... let's be clear that while Count Tyrone Rugen tortures people, it becomes easier for Prince Humperdinck° to basically force Buttercup into a marriage. Sounds a bit like psychiatry to me. Meanwhile, one hero, though not the protagonist, roughly equivalent to Athos in The Three Musketeers, has a fairly Catholic name. Inigo, son of Dominick .... a reference to the founders of Society of Jesus and Order of Preachers?

Montoya is a Basque surname. It originally comes from a hamlet near Berantevilla in Álava, in the Basque region of northern Spain. During the Reconquista, it extended southwards throughout Castille and Andalusia. The name roughly translates to mean hills and valleys. It has become more frequent among Gitanos than among the general Spanish population.

One father and son or uncle and nephew couple are Ramón and Carlos Montoya, Flamenco artists, not totally out of the way considering there are real life Humperdinck's connected to music too: Engelbert Humperdinck the composer, Engelbert Humperdinck the singer. We also have:

Gabriel Montoya (20 October 1868, in Alès – 7 October 1914, in Castres) was a French singer, chansonnier and lyricist.

Joseph Montoya is less likely, a politician ... did you know a founder of an order also existed of the name Montoya?

Laura Montoya, in full María Laura de Jesús Montoya Upegui, (26 May 1874 – 21 October 1949), religious name Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena, was a Colombian Roman Catholic religious sister and the founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and Saint Catherine of Siena (1914). She was well known for her work with Indigenous peoples and for acting as a strong role model for South American girls.

And, whether Flamenco artists, or gipsies or Catholics, psychiatry in Protestant countries hasn't been too gentle on them. Count Tyrone Rugen ... is he a standin for a shrink, like Baron and Baroness Bomburst for abortion and child protective services? Or was William Goldman prophetic without knowing it? There has been a murder victim Eliud Montoya, and a bandit, Diego León Montoya Sánchez, since the publication of the book. I guess I'd have to read the book first, but one thing is certain : the oppressed population of Florin is not representative of the actual Middle Ages.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Vigil of St. Mathias

* On This Day: The Princess Bride Publication Date
Veronique Manfredini – September 1st, 2021

** For The Lord of the Rings, I'm one of those critics. As for The Princess Bride, I have neither seen the film, nor read the novel. But I have seen extracts, by youtube suggesting after I went from the theme in Jack Sparrow to one by Mark Knopfler in The Princess Bride.

*** Yes, like lots of fantasy, The Princess Bride has a map.

° The name is a Westphalian version of Huniberting ... descendant of Hunibert. Which means "bright warrior" or "bright Hun" ...

Monday, February 19, 2024

I Haven't Read James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, But I Can Tell You What It Is About

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica: I Haven't Read James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, But I Can Tell You What It Is About · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere: Does Gwledig Simply Mean Nationalist?

So can any Irishman. Which I don't have the honour to be one.

[Now, the format of this post is like some of those on Assorted Retorts. 1) I link to a video. 2) Which I had watched. And commented on. 3) And below the video I share my comments. Each one usually begins with a time stamp in bold]

The 5 Most Difficult Books Ever! (Fiction)
Drawn to Books | 1 Dec. 2023

0:21 Are two or just one of them by James Joyce?

2:18 Here is at least one James Joyce. Ulysses?

[nope, Faulkner]

6:09 Ah, two of them were by Joyce.

AND another guy wrote Stream of Consciousness.

6:48 was Joyce a moderately structural conlanger? Does his language have a consistent grammar?

8:23 I have attempted a very different Finnegan's Wake. It's probably about the exact same guy.

Wake = when the corpse is laid out, open coffin, the night before the funeral.

It's kind of a fun occasion in Irish traditions, so the refrain goes "lot's of fun at Finnegan's wake" ... but in the exact final stanzas we hear :

1) a bottle of whiskey gets smashed
2) it spills onto the mouth of "dead" Finnegan
3) who is thereby provoked to actually wake up, because he wasn't so dead after all.

That in itself is a joke on the exact meaning of the Irish word for Whiskey.

Distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae ("water of life"). This was translated into Old Irish as uisce beatha, which became uisce beatha (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɪʃcə ˈbʲahə]) in Irish and uisge beatha [ˈɯʃkʲə ˈbɛhə] in Scottish Gaelic.

While the dead are awaiting the resurrection of the second coming, the living may speculate on what means Jesus will use to wake them up. Trumpets? Fair enough. But I guess Finnegan is a parody figure of the guy of whom they say "a trumpet couldn't wake him up" ... "well, perhaps some water of life could?" ... "oh yeah, it would totally work on him!"

Finnegan's Wake (the song) spells out this joke in an interrupted attempted burial, not very far from the humour of Der liebe Augustin.

After what you've just told me, Joyce was trying to do the stream of counsciousness of a man who was unconscious, to wit, Finnegan, the one of the song.

Finnegan's wake the song:

Finnegans Wake - The Irish Rovers
CArghlhoavp | 7 marzo 2011

8:23 bis

I think you forgot some really unreadable books.

Moebius. As they are graphic novels, they sell very well on the pictorial beauty (which is like a mix of Wizards / Coonskin and Walt Disney / Don Bluth).

But the story is not very clear even for being told in pictures, it's like Alice in Wonderland can't be real dreams, because it's not as confusing as Moebius.

On the pictorial qualities of Moebius, one may add Blueberry too.

Wait ... that's because Blueberry is also Moebius. I was thinking mainly of his Arzak works ... Blueberry is his Western (also not the most readable Westerns, plotwise).

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Indo-European Branches for I and II p. Plural, Pronouns

Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere: Proto-IE or Sprachbund? Dialogue with Josef G. Mitterer · Φιλολoγικά/Philologica: Indo-European Branches for I and II p. Plural, Pronouns · back to Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere: An Anti-Christian Bumped in On My Dialogue with Mitterer, Starting with a Red Flag · Continuing with Mitterer · More Mitterer · Mitterer isn't tired, nor am I

I suggested to Josef G. Mitterer that a hypothetic Sprachbund involving Swedish, English and Italian would:

  • eliminate all forms in V- (I Eng/Sw, II Ital)
  • eliminate all forms in N- (I Ital, II Sw)
  • repurpose the remaining forms for I plural, all of them object forms, so that the Italian object form became subject form.

It is a conundrum in Indo-European linguistics why for I p. plural and II p. plural we find so diverse forms, and especially why Germanic languages seem to have W- / V- forms for I p. plural, while Romance and Slavic have them for II p. plural. It is obviously less of a conundrum why Swedish on top of that has an N form for II p. plural, since it's derived from the normal Germanic Y- / J- form. I = ye = ihr. Viljen I > vilje Ni > vilja (pl) / vill (sg polite) Ni.

Josef G. Mitterer observed that no Sprachbund is known to have been harmonising pronouns the way I suggested in my hypothetic example. So, let's look at the real case of the "branches" of Indo-European. I am now going to group them from South-East to North-West, starting with Romance / Slavic. Then Albanian and Greek. Then Lithuanian. Then Germanic apart from Swedish, then Swedish. For Greek, I am going with a very old form. Homeric or Doric, from memory. The endings -es can also be -eis.

Obviously, we can leave Irish out of it. Sinn, sibh, siad seems to be a series which is very independent of the rest. Perhaps it has a connection with Romance / Slavic after the initial si-, but the initial si- sets the system so much apart from the rest, that confusion with the other pronouns is not possible. Welsh seems partly connected to Romance, ni chi nhw.

 I pl subj I pl obj II pl subj II pl obj
Lat nos nos vos vos
Pol my nas wy was
Greek ammes ammes ummes ummes
Alb ne na ju ju
Lith mes mus jūs jus
Engl we us ye you
Swed vi oss ni er

So, Germanic, the only language group that has W- / V- in I p. pl. is originally separated from Latin by sth like Welsh or Greek or Albanian, and from Slavic by sth like Lithuanian.

Every early neighbourhood of more than one language group counted as "branch" of Indo-European avoids direct conflict. I take it as given the Germanic peoples were 2000 years ago separated from Italic peoples by Celts, Ligurians, Rhaetians and Etruscans. Even much later, Germanic peoples are still prior to AD 1000 often separated from Slavs by Baltic or Finnic peoples.

Indo-Europeanists who believe in the PIE thesis obviously have their (sometimes rather roundabout) theories of how "we" and "uns" and "nos" come from the same PIE etymon. And how vos and you did so. But it is easier to assume that we deal with only partially harmonised Sprachbünder, each case of two neighbouring groups avoiding to have "pronouns in conflict" like we find between Swedish and French.

If we take a look at the possessives of Swedish "vi" and Latin "vos" one could imagine a risk of conflict in neighbouring areas between "vester" and "vår" but ... English and High German, from very early stages, avoid the conflict by dropping the V- before an initial U-.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Pancake Tuesday

PS, 29.IV.2024, to make my point clearer. If two populations close to each other had spoken, for one English, for the other the Dongzu language of China (They live mostly in eastern Guizhou, western Hunan and northern Guangxi.), the words for 2 and 9 would probably have been taken from a third language. For 2 "two" in English and 9 "duf" in Dong sound the same, as I just discovered. 3:01 into this video:

ILoveLanguages! | 29 April 2024

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Was Luther the First to Use Standard Hochdeutsch as Language of a Bible Translation?

Since I have been on the internet, which happened c. 23 years ago, early 2001, I have more than once been challenged by Protestants on Catholicism supposedly banning Bible translations to the vernacular. I have also more than once referred to the fact I was reading in Konvertitenkatechismus, 1950, by the Jesuits of Paderborn. Before Luther's translation there were already 18 German translations* in print, 14 in "Hochdeutsch" and 4 in "Niederdeutsch".

Sometimes this fact has been acknowledged even by Protestant adversaries. "Yes," they will say, "the Catholics did translate, but only into very narrow dialects that hardly anyone understands."

They will give a quote from a Bavarian or Alsatian translation from prior to Luther, and then the same passage in Luther's Bible. Unless you yourself speak the dialect in question, you are guaranteed to understand Luther's Bible better.

I have then tried to explain something to them. This time, I'm documenting it. Please, keep in mind, the Middle Ages in Germany officially ended on the 30 October 1517, just shortly before Luther translated his Bible, on the day when he nailed the 95 Theses. That's how central, for good or for ill, Luther is to German history.

6:05 — 6:33
Im Mittelalter gab es keine allgemeingültige, geschriebene, deutsche Standardsprache, sondern nur sogenannte Schreibsprachen, die in einem größeren aber regional begrenzten Dialektgebiet, wie dem Bayrischen, dem Alemanischen, dem Mitteldeutschen in Gebrauch waren. Die Bestimmung der Schreibsprache einer Handschrift bietet ein hervorragendes Mittel deren Entstehungsgeschichte einzugrenzen.

Mittelalterliche Handschriften mit dem Leipziger Handschriftenzentrum verstehen lernen
Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig | 5. Sept. 2022

I translate:

In the Middle Ages, there was no universal, written, German standard language, but instead only so called Schreibsprachen ["writing languages"], which were in use in a larger, but regionally limited Dialect area, like the Bavarian, the Alemannic, the Middle German ones. To determine the Schreibsprache of a Manuscript allows us an excellent means for circumscribing its history of composition.

This was still the case. Luther was not using an already extant German standard language, which everyone in all of Germany had learned in school, just that no one had made a Bible translation to it yet, Luther was using one among several other Schreibsprachen.

We can note that since the Thirty Years War brought Protestants from the North and Catholics from the South in very intense contact with each other (on the battlefield, in mutual prisoners of war exchanges, etc, etc), the German language tended to unify. This war started in 1618, 101 years minus a few months after the theses. Part of the unification was taken care of by the North already having a unified language through the Luther Bible. So, the modern German standard language certainly is daughter to Luther's German to some extent, but it's not ancestor of it. The other contributors do include Martin Opitz, born in Bolesławiec or Bunzlau, far closer to Breslau (present-day Wrocław) than to Wittenberg, a Lutheran, Angelus Silesius, born in Breslau itself, a Catholic, Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, born in Gelnhausen, in Hesse, who worked as a regiment secretary during the war, and who before writing his ultrafamous novel Simplicius Simplicissimus (something like a mixture of Don Quixote, Gargantua, and Candide) had also resided in Strassburg and in the Black Forest / Renchen / Baden-Würtenberg. So, Luther's dialect area is basically in for about half of the influences, and the other ones are on opposite sides of it. The result is closer to Luther's German than to Bavarian prior to Luther or Alsatian prior to Luther. That's why Luther's Bible seems so much more comprehensible now than the ones I have seen quoted on such occasions.

But this was not exactly the case for everyone back then.

Luther himself claimed that the Saxon Chancery had a Schreibsprache which was understood by all Germans. Well, some language pairs are assymetric in mutual comprehension, it is possible that back then a Bavarian would have been better off reading Luther's German, than a Saxon reading Bavarian written German. Luther's claim is not totally beyond the possible. But it was also not an obvious truth that everyone back then would have immediately realised when he started reading and writing, even before Luther made the claim. By now, we are no longer in a position to test the claim.

But distorting his claim into the proposition that everyone was able to read Goethe and Schiller, had they existed, but for some quirky reason Catholic clergy preferred to translate only for obscure dialect areas and leave most Germans out of a Bible of their own is just not true. It is as said possible that a Bavarian would have had an easier time reading Genesis 11:1 through 9** in Luther's Bible, than a Wittenberger reading it in an already extant Bavarian Bible. It is however certain that a Wittenberger would have understood it better in Luther's Bible, and a Bavarian better in a Bavarian Bible.

The English clergy's relation to Lollards and to Bible translations, as we have it reported from accounts of the Coventry trials, is absolutely an English thing, Germany had no Catholic problem with the vernacular, and the Catholic backlash Luther faced was not for a German translation, but for his German translation and specific translation choices. My first doubt about Luther's integrity as a Christian theologian actually came when reading his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, or extracts of it, in a German anthology for secondary education. In that sense, Luther not only made me a speaker of German (a language which would not have existed as it does without him), but also a Roman Catholic.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Quinquagesima L.D.

* See also:

"Deutschsprachige Bibeln vor Luther? Diese erstaunte Frage ist häufig zu hören, gilt doch der Reformator weithin als der Übersetzer der Bibel ins Deutsche. Doch bereits vor Luther wurden 18 deutsche Bibelausgaben gedruckt. Elf Jahre nach dem Erscheinen der Gutenberg-Bibel entstand 1466 mit der Mentelin-Bibel in Straßburg das Erste dieser Kleinode der frühen Buchdruckerkunst. Bis 1522 wurden Bibeln in Augsburg, Nürnberg, Köln, Straßburg, Lübeck und Halberstadt hergestellt. Sie fanden ihren Markt beim aufstrebenden Bürgertum der Städte, aber auch die große Zahl der »Leutpriester« brauchte Bibeln in der Volkssprache, denn Latein verstanden diese in der Regel nicht."

** I take a theologically neutral text as an example, the first mistranslation of it is in Charles XII's Bible, in which they removed "in the East" instead of "from the East" and it's only recently come to relevance.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

For KJV, No. Against Sinaiticus, Yes.

I know JW's love Sinaiticus.

I just saw a video by David W. Daniels. It was against Sinaiticus.* I then was intending to leave a comment there, but put it here instead:

I believe good things about Alexandrians, and about the "seven extra books".

I believe Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, if genuine, are genuinely made by heretics back then, and therefore laid aside.

So, using Sinaiticus and Vaticanus to take away verses would be a bad thing even if you totally do trust the LXX tradition.

I am far less impressed by Tischendorf.**

A Trinity affirming verse out of the one or both. And Tischendorf's mentor, Georg Benedikt Winer,*** seems to have been anti-Trinitarian.

Meanwhile, I am Catholic, and I have argued the Bible identifies its number of books as 73 overall.° Not in a way which would have been obvious then, but one which is obvious now that we have English miles and even more modern kilometers. Maybe you'd like to take a book at David W. Daniels' book.°° It reads nice in the sample:

So, I don't trust Jack Chick's The Death Cookie one bit. But just because David W. Daniels had bad judgement on that one, apparently, doesn't mean I have to mistrust him on his own research./HGL

° Does the Bible Say How Many Books It Has?
°° Who Faked the "World's Oldest Bible"?

Monday, February 5, 2024

Narnia, Dates, Links to Text (no illustrations), Original Publishers

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
October 16th, 1950

Prince Caspian
October 15th, 1951

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
September 15th, 1952

The Silver Chair
September 7th, 1953

The Horse and His Boy
September 6th, 1954

The Magician's Nephew
May 5th, 1955

The Last Battle
September 4th, 1956

This book is in the public domain in Canada, and is made available to you DRM-free. You may do whatever you like with this book, but mostly we hope you will read it.

Geoffrey Bles:
Bles entered publishing in 1923. Geoffrey Bles Limited were general publishers, but with a specialism in religion and translated works. Among the authors Bles published were: C.S. Lewis, J.B. Phillips, Cecil Street, Mabel Lethbridge, Halliday Sutherland, Vicki Baum,[5] and Maria von Trapp.[6]

The Bodley Head:
Herbert George Jenkins was a manager at the firm during the first decade of the twentieth century, before leaving to set up his own publishing house in 1912.[2] The Bodley Head became a private company in 1921. In 1926 it published the Book of Bodley Head Verse, an anthology edited by J. B. Priestley. The firm published some mainstream popular authors such as Arnold Bennett and Agatha Christie and the book series, Twentieth Century Library (edited by V. K. Krishna Menon),[3][4] but ran into financial difficulties. Allen Lane, John Lane's nephew who had inherited control, left in 1936 to found Penguin Books. Before Allen Lane's new company was established, however, he published the first Penguins in 1935 under the imprint of The Bodley Head. Both "Penguin Books" and "The Bodley Head" appeared on the cover.

The Bodley Head continued after 1936 backed by a consortium of Allen & Unwin, Jonathan Cape, and J. M. Dent. In 1941, John Lane the Bodley Head took over two smaller publishing houses, Gerald Howe Ltd and Martin Hopkinson & Co., whose authors included Cecil Day Lewis and H. L. Mencken.[5]