Title's Quenya, idiomatically means "elvish" but literally means "pertaining to speakers". Have you seen this? It's Ardalambion ("About the Languages of Middle-earth"), a huge ol' site about Tolkien's languages. Some of the pages use weird colors, so...y'all consider your eyeballs to have been warned.

Apparently the appendix in Return of the King RE: Westron is kind of perfunctory. It implies, by saying that it changed masculine -a endings to our masculine -o, for instance, that Bilbo and Frodo are named Bilba and Froda, when in fact they were named Bilba and Maura. I assumed on the basis of Boffin=Bophîn that Baggins=Baghîn, when in fact the original of Baggins is Labingi (and Bag End is Laban-neg, "laban" means "sack"). The Shire is called Sûzat, not Sûza (which is just "a shire")—Westron, like Romanian and the Scandinavian languages, makes its definite article with a suffix, and hasn't got an indefinite (well, Romanian has one, but I don't think any of the Scandinavians do, and if they do, it's probably borrowed from West Germanic).

There are also entire poems—one about the fall of Númenor—in Adûnaic (Númenorean), which is the ancestor of Westron. I actually think there might be sufficient corpus, with a few creative additions, to fulfill my (mad) dream of a production of Lord of the Rings that is entirely in constructed languages.

For instance, the dwarves (nargi, s. narag) that Bilbo Baggins (Bilba Labingi) entertains at Bag End (Laban-neg):
  1. Thorin Oakenshield, from Norse Þorinn Eikinskjaldi; Þorinn probably means "the Thunder" (and "Oakenshield" is probably also somehow Thor-related, that being his sacred tree). Westron doesn't have an attested word for "thunder", Quenya does, Funda—>Hunda. How about Hundat Darûndirn, built from Elvish roots (which Westron also has lots of), which would feel more prestigious to Westron speakers (as befits the Heir of Durin)?
  2. Dori means "borer" or "driller" in Old Norse, so how about "Phura", from the same root as Phurunargian (the Dwarrowdelf)?
  3. Nori supposedly means "little bit", so "Miya", from Adûnaic miyi, "small".
  4. Ori means "violent", how about "Azgara", from the Adûnaic for "wage war"?
  5. Óin comes from Old Norse Óinn, "the shy"; the closest I can get is Hampa, Quenya for "restrained".
  6. Glóin comes from something like "the glowing one", so it could be Kalima, which is the Quenya word for "bright" and also probably related to Merry's real name. It might, in other words, mean "cheerful".
  7. Kili means "wedge-user", so I say Felka, from Dwarvish felak "chisel"—Dwarves may use Dwarvish-derived "outer names" while still keeping their "inner names" secret, like how King Azaghâl probably isn't his real name.
  8. Fili means "file-user", so let's go with Mula, from Quenya mul- "grind".
  9. Bifur means "beaver" and by extension "hard worker", so Mota, from Quenya móta, "labor".
  10. Bofur comes from Bofurr, with a nasalized "O", but apparently nobody knows what it means.
  11. Bombur probably comes from "swollen", so Tuya, from Quenya tiuya, "to swell".
  12. Balin is theorized to come from "the burning one", which could give us Urat via Quenya "urya" and "urwa".
  13. Dwalin comes, undisputably, from "the sleeping one", so it could be Humat, from Quenya's word for "sleep".
Of course, there's one more dwarf-name involved in The Hobbit:
  1. Gandalf, the "wand elf", which in Westron would be something like Olunnimir, from Quenya "olwen" for "wand" and Adûnaic "nimir" for "elf".
How weird is that business with Óin and Glóin and Ori and Dwalin? I wonder if Disney got the names for the Seven Dwarfs from the Voluspa's dwarf-list (the Dvergatal), same as Tolkien did.


De Romanicorum Theoriarum V

Fantasy, science fiction, writing.
  • This dissection of the Super Mario Bros movie is an interesting look back at the first of the "let's pith a brand for the name recognition and toss away the content as a useless husk" movies. But one thing I thought was funny was that the writer gives that movie too much credit, or rather ignores what the movie says about things she does credit. She describes Jurassic Park (which came out at the same time and, well, didn't suck) as "an auteur-driven, smartly conceived demographic buster". But read the article: that's exactly what they were trying to have Super Mario Bros be. Admittedly each of the writers they brought in thought he was the auteur, which brings up proverbs about cooks and broth (and reminds one of the David Lynch Dune), but what motive is there to make Super Mario Bros another Blade Runner—yes, that idea actually informed their adaptation—apart from the desire to see your film described as "smartly conceived"?

    And let's be frank: Jurassic Park is a monster movie. Yes, it's got interesting ideas about hubris and technological overreach. So does Frankenstein; so does The Fly. Still a monster movie. If people had noticed that the important thing about Mario is that it is about a guy who saves a princess from a giant fire-breathing turtle—no social commentary, no satire, just "rescue the girl"—they might well have made an intelligent movie (though it might've helped if anyone involved had even heard the name "Miyamoto Shigeru"). Legend of Zelda uses the same basic premise as Mario, and they've been doing the best work in fantasy, bar absolutely nothing, for 25 years. Hell, most of Skyward Sword was about a guy who rides a pelican saving a girl from a giant flaming pangolin; that doesn't change the fact it was better than all fantasy produced in the West since, oh, 1998, combined.
  • I haven't read "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society"—which comes up a lot in discussions of military science fiction, hence why I bring it up here—but the people who reference it lead me to suspect it's not all it's cracked up to be. Several of them, for instance, discussing the average soldier's reluctance to kill, cite the thousands of rounds expelled in modern wars for every enemy casualty inflicted. But those don't demonstrate that soldiers are deliberately missing (which is the implied claim); they demonstrate that laying down machinegun suppression-fire uses a lot of ammunition.

    Now, again, I have not read the book. It may be that the people who cite it put forth that stat on their own, as evidence for the book's argument, without the book itself doing so. And the argument is fundamentally sound—most people are hesitant to kill. It takes discipline and/or brainwashing to get people able to kill when the need arises, that's why both honor-codes and propaganda are permanent fixtures of war, even among stone-age hunter-gatherers. That's also why specialized warrior-classes are the norm, not the exception, among cultures with any division of labor beyond "men hunt, women cook".

    But nevertheless, I think, the book does suffer from being recommended by people who commit that "cum hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy. And I think its main claims about hesitancy to kill are somewhat culturally biased, since it mainly deals with post-Baby Boom Americans. The attitude about killing in our culture is colored at least as much by suburban middle-class affluence and security as it is by violent media and popular culture.
  • I like the wizard-spell system in D&D, except that I don't like the "you forget the spell once you cast it". Jack Vance needed a limit on his wizards in the Dying Earth stories, so he had them only able to force their brains to take a few spells. Vance's weird gimmick was borrowed by Gary Gygax because he realized MP are a pain in the ass in a tabletop game. Only, why do you forget your spells? For that matter, why is memorizing spells how they're prepared? Instead, you can have that the wizard, rather than memorizing the spells from his book, performs rituals beforehand that he can complete later to cast the spells. Once he uses 'em up he has to rest and perform new rituals.

    Sorcerers, of course, would be people who essentially perform a ritual once, and can cast it and any of the other rituals they've performed ad hoc—though only some per day, and then they have to rest. Really, of course, the sorcerer-class was a way to make Charisma no longer the universal dump-stat, and to essentially introduce the versatility of MP-like spellcasting without having to screw with MP. Why they cast their spells from Charisma makes next to no sense (same goes for paladins, who cast from Charisma rather than Wisdom in 3e, mostly to make them easier to roll up), unless we're going with an obsolete sense of Charisma as "divine favor" (which makes some sense in the case of paladins, actually, since they cast priest-spells, but who the hell are sorcerers impressing to get their spells?).

    And while the "have to rest after they've cast all their spells" mechanic is often used as justification for that optional rule where bonus spells/day is determined by Constitution rather than Intelligence or Charisma, I don't think it has to be. People who are smarter or more charismatic may find their spells less draining, after all, because their power doesn't derive from their body's endurance, although it affects it.
  • Saw most of the pilot of Defiance. It's really, really dumb, obviously trying—far too hard—to ape little bits of Game of Thrones and Firefly and Mass Effect. Like Firefly, it's got glamorized prostitution and utterly lackluster garage-sale production design. Like Game of Thrones, it's got gratuitous politicking and conniving. Like Mass Effect, it's got interspecies sex as anatomically and chemically possible, only even worse, it's interfertile, which I don't think even Mass Effect was stupid enough to think made sense.

    Most of it is just puerile TV-science fiction crap we've come to expect from the Syphilis Channel—that crap-factory seems to get the same results whether they're trying way too hard or not trying at all—but the brothel needs a moment more examination. When Whedon created Inara, he demolished not only his claim that there was no racism/orientalism in Firefly, but also his far more publicized claim to be a feminist. Because prostitution is, pretty much always, at least de facto slavery. The exceptions are in the most decadent phases of extremely patriarchal societies, like late Imperial Rome and a certain part of the Edo Period in Japan, when women's normal lives are so bad that prostitution actually looks like a step up. Is that the society Defiance takes place in? Because I don't root for societies like that. I want them annihilated with all convenient speed, I don't think that's usually what you're going for with a protagonist-culture.

    And don't say "it's going to happen anyway, we need to be able to regulate it", as is so often said by self-proclaimed feminists and libertarians who have probably called someone else a hypocrite at some point in their lives, which is just plain wrong. Guess what, organized crime is going to assassinate people anyway, does that mean we need to make it legal so we can license hitmen? And assassination can be done far more honorably than is possible with pimping. Merely because we cannot eliminate an evil action completely is not grounds for legalizing it, you quitters, you do realize the same argument goes for all crimes?
  • I recently finally saw the Peter Jackson Hobbit. He did a better job with it than with the Lord of the Rings, but I still have complaints (you shoulda seen that coming). First off, is that Thorin's companions are not supposed to be crude, belching, Scottish- or Welsh-accented dwarves. This is Tolkien, not Warcraft. Tolkien Dwarves are Semitic, not Norse; the Germanic names are the result of the translation convention that also calls Razanur "Peregrine" and Karningul "Rivendell", and aren't their real ones anyway. The Dwarves in the book are explicitly said to have very good manners, apart from a certain gruffness (and their messing with Bilbo's head RE: his dishes). I would dearly love to ask Peter Jackson where he gets his penchant for treating the Dwarves as comic relief, because they really, really are not. Read the Silmarillion sometime: at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, King Azaghâl wounded Glaurung the Black (the most powerful of all dragons) so badly he had to retreat, though Azaghâl died doing it. His followers bore him from the field singing a dirge, and not even Balrogs tried to stop them.

    The other issue, though, is that even Thorin isn't that paranoid. For one thing his grudge would be with Thranduil, a Sindar lord ruling over one part of the remnant of Thingol's domain of Doriath (I believe the other part is Celeborn's domain of Lothlórien); he would only have a typical dwarf's coolness to outsiders, or towards Elves, for Elrond, the lord of the last Noldor remaining in Middle-Earth. Also? If Thorin did have any such issue, it's entirely likely that Elrond would say, essentially, "You do realize that I and the other major Noldor noble, my mother-in-law Galadriel, both speak your secret language? We visited Khazâd-Dûm all the time before Durin's Bane awoke. Do you really think you have secrets we're interested in?"

    Actually there's one other thing: while Thror might have become greedy (presumably his ownership of one of the Seven would place him under the resurgent power of Sauron at Dol Goldur—increasing their greed is the only thing the Seven do to their wearers, because Dwarves are less easily-moved than Men), he would not have taken the finding of the Arkenstone as a sign he ruled by divine right. As the head of the clan of Durin, greatest of the seven Dwarf-lords personally crafted by Aulë the Smith, of course he ruled by divine right. He doesn't need some shiny rock to tell him that.
  • It seems my endorsement of the New 52 was as premature as the condemnations of it. The Lantern-family of books are all pretty good, but some of the other series? Not so much. Justice League doesn't have J'onn in it; instead he's in this BS "Stormwatch" thing, apparently the source of "The Authority", which is basically the answer to the question "what if Mark Millar had created X-Factor?"; it's a grievous waste of probably my favorite or second-favorite DC character. The new Superman? Garbage. They One More Day-ed Clark's marriage to Lois (which admittedly doesn't exist in every continuity anyway, e.g. All-Star Superman), put in some perfunctorily-veiled Fox News-bashing...it was just bad. On the plus side, Kal's new suit looks pretty boss: no underwear on the outside!

    On the other hand, the new Supergirl is pretty good, not least because it's mostly about stuff relating to Krypton. The Worldkillers are neat (they're all female because, come on, they're fighting Kara, you figure it out). This version is probably the cutest Kara in many ways (character-development wise, I mean, she's been drawn better though this one is more convincingly a teenager than many), and I like the whole she-remembers-Kal-as-a-baby-but-now-he's-older-than-her thing. It's never wrong to go with a twin paradox if you can ever afford it. I don't know if I approve of making "quite obviously a cheap knockoff Lex Luthor" the villain, although I do like the plot developments that actually happened around him. Also, "Simon Tycho" is a cool name for a bad guy.


Comentario 3

Piensas al azar. Post 473, which is 11×43 and the sum of five consecutive primes.
  • It's somewhat amusing, when people try and claim knights were really just a bunch of thugs, to watch the sleight of hand they engage in. One trick is that they generally will say that the "conventional" view of knighthood is the one that comes from the literature of the High Middle Ages (1100-1300, or 1091-1348), whereas the reality...is a list of incidents from the era immediately preceding that, e.g. the exploits of Foulques the Black, 972-1040.

    It's an amusing sport; let's try it with other cultures! I mean, the literature of the Edo period claimed samurai were loyal to their lords, but while the warlords were jockeying for position after Nobunaga's death, samurai changed sides all the time! American literature in the 1920s assumed America was opposed to slavery, but Americans in 1860 owned slaves!

    I'm sorry, if your statement about a period hinges on events that didn't happen during it, you're not only a liar, you're also a thundering moron. Also? "All knights are thugs" is the conventional view, how old are you?
  • If I had even less of a life than I do, I'd find it interesting to catalog the number of take-downs of Eragon that are themselves as bad as Eragon. Yes, Paolini's a hack who knocked off Tolkien, Lucas, and McCaffrey, and knows almost as little about linguistics as Karen "Uwe Boll of literature" Traviss (although she was about three times as old, when she made Mando'a, as Paolini was when he made the Ancient Language). His books are transparent adolescent fetishism and wish-fulfillment, and his protagonists are wall-to-wall Mary Sues.

    That doesn't legitimize your illiterate taboo on various fantasy tropes, your stupid attempts to nitpick words whose definitions you don't know (roots can indeed be "convoluted", saying so just makes you a dork), your racist tokenism (if the setting were based on Africa would you complain there were no white people?), or your getting sidetracked onto detailing your own fetishes while criticizing Paolini for regaling us with his. Seriously, you're only providing ammunition to his deluded followers; look how much work the Stalin-defending fellow travelers got out of "Hitler was anti-Communist".
  • Speaking of Traviss, apparently she doesn't read fiction. Which, I mean, we suspected—she also plainly doesn't read anything on linguistics. But seriously, also, her hate for the Jedi apparently stems from her deciding, as Pommies seem to love to do totally at random, that the Jedi and Sith represented Nazi race theories (which are different from British race theories because they were written about in German). Yes, she seriously said the Jedi are a Nazi master race.

    Except, of course, that the Mandalorians she created fit that particular description far better than the Jedi ever did—they're probably more Nazi-esque than the freaking Empire, and, uh, just think about that for a second. The greatest thing a Mandalorian can be is a parent...i.e., a perpetuator of the Herrenvolk. They pretty much go to war solely for Lebensraum, and at one point their moral superiority to the Jedi is summed up in the Jedi not having callused hands from digging. Do I actually have to show you the Nazi pamphlets?

    Come to think of it I might owe Uwe Boll an apology.
  • People's weird ideas about clones make me sad, and by sad I mean "homicidally annoyed". Guess what? A clone is no different from a twin, because—guess what else—a twin (an identical one anyway) is a clone. The idea that clones "might not have souls", or alternatively that cloning would somehow disprove the idea of a soul, is asinine. Again: do identical twins lack souls?

    Of course, then again, most people don't actually have a right to an opinion about whether anything has a soul, because they don't know what the damn word means. Newsflash, everything has a soul; all "soul" means in actual philosophy is "that which makes it what it is". Sapient beings' souls are different from those of other living things, which are different from those of inanimate objects; but if an entity is sapient, it has the exact same kind of soul as any other sapient.
  • I was worried that I might need to come up with a reason why the people in my book go slogging around in armor that looks like, well, armor, rather than in light, comfy carbon-nanotube bulletproof garments. One issue I already noticed is that even if a nanotube garment prevents a bullet from penetrating, it still won't stop the force—you'll just be very tidily-bagged shattered bones and pummeled organs. The Mongols' silk shirts were more-or-less arrowproof, but there was a reason the Mongol aristocracy also wore metal armor. But then I got to thinking, and did a little research. And the major reason they don't use nanotube clothes, is price.

    Consider. It takes 180,000 feet of silk thread to make one yard (square) of silk fabric; it takes about two square yards of fabric just to make a t-shirt. And nanotubes, at about 70 nanometers thick, are 143 times thinner than silk fibers. So a single nanotube t-shirt would take 51,480,000 feet of nanotube fiber, or 15,691 km. A space elevator is 35,786 km long, so every 2.28 nanotube t-shirts would cost as much as the cable for a space-elevator. It would take the equivalent of 86,000 space elevators to outfit just the current Marine Corps active-duty numbers; imagine outfitting a combined force recruited from every country on Earth!
  • A number of the criticisms leveled at Superman comics are fundamentally wrongheaded—the people making them generally being largely unacquainted with the last decade or three of the comics' continuity. You know how Superman catching people should snap their spines? Yeah, well, that might be a valid criticism of Spider-man, but not our boy Kal. Similarly, how he should just slam through the hull of an aircraft, rather than catching it? Nope again. See, Kryptonians under the effects of a yellow sun aren't actually super-strong. They're telekinetic. Superman proper has to manipulate objects with his hands, but some other Kryptonians have learned to dissociate the effect from physical handling, and can just make things float.

    Similarly, those explosions Kal survives, up to and including low-grade nukes? Yeah, Kryptonians aren't just indomitable mountains of muscle, either. They're basically only tenuously matter; they can just as easily be regarded as not-very-versatile energy beings. Incidentally the same is true of Maltusians (better known as Guardians of Oa) and Martians and Czarnians, although Czarnians are somewhat more vulnerable, having deliberately engineered the effect rather than achieving it on their own. (Lobo isn't an energy-being so much as he is a nanomachine swarm—he's even been used as a Gray Goo weapon on occasion.)

    Humans were going to achieve the same powers as Kryptonians and Martians (they're related to both in some way), but they were sabotaged by the White Martians, who didn't want the competition. The Martians' own fear of fire is the result of similar sabotage, brainwashed into them by the Guardians to keep them from overrunning the rest of the cosmos.
  • This DeviantArt article is an example of why, I think, people need to stop arguing that the population at large knows reality from fantasy. Because read those comments: a substantial majority are by people who think drones are autonomous robots, probably nearly half predicated on the assumption that we can actually make AI. In other words, these people judged an issue in real politics based on what they've seen in movies. And not only because movies influenced their perceptions of right and wrong: they not only assumed the movies showed that correctly, they assumed the movies showed facts—current conditions—correctly.

    Just so we're all on the same page, drones are remote controlled. They have no autonomy whatsoever; forget AI, they don't so much as correct for turbulence without operator input. And there are no new legal issues raised by their use against terrorist targets, trials or no, American citizens or no. Terrorists are not citizens of any country, their official legal status is "enemy of the human race". No sane person disputes that it is permissible to send in special forces to assassinate them—so it is also permissible to kill them with remote-controlled airplanes. Technology does not change morals, if it's moral to kill you with a stone axe or a steel sword than it's moral to kill you with a tungsten-carbide kinetic-energy penetrator dropped from an orbiting platform.
  • Pretty good anime season this spring. Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge ("Crime Edge of Cutting and Severing"), the cutest manga about serial killers ever written, has an anime out, and it's excellent. Mushibugyô, about people hunting giant demon insects in the Edo Period, was a decent manga (all three times it was rebooted), and it's got an anime. Karneval's a neat, weird little josei manga, along the lines of Tripeace but for a female audience and minus the transvestitery. Hentai Ôji to Warawanai Neko (The Perverted Prince and the Unsmiling Cat) was a weird, kinda dumb manga, but it's getting an anime, although I haven't seen it yet. Date A Live is a tolerable light novel (most light novels are tolerable at best, with only a few standouts like Baka Test and Slayers), it's got an anime that I haven't bothered to watch.

    There's three mecha series this season, all of them worth a look. Suisei no Gargantia, which no way no how means "Gargantia of the Verdurous Planet" ("verdurous" means "with flourishing vegetation", and the planet in question is nothing but ocean), is excellent science fiction. Ginga Kikôtai Majestic Prince is pretty neat, albeit it's in the generic Sunrise anime style (see also S-Cry-Ed and Gundam SEED), and half the jokes only make sense if you're familiar with the conventions of tokusatsu shows. Kakumeiki Valvrave is all right, albeit a bit Jingoistic—plus a series where people who live in a Dyson sphere behave exactly like contemporary Japanese high-schoolers, though par for the course, is a little hard to take running at the same time as Gargantia, with its genuine worldbuilding.


They Are All Nifty

Last Samurai reference, Sluggified.

I just spent probably the last week doing an archive binge of Sluggy Freelance, which is probably the best webcomic ever. It's consistently funny, yet manages to also be very dramatic, without giving either quality short-shrift. It's got some genuinely interesting ideas, like the fate-spider, the Ocean Unmoving, and the zombies that can only regenerate tissue-types they eat (i.e., if one of those zombies wants to keep from becoming mindless, it has to eat brains).

And it has Bun-bun, who is pretty much the best use of the "psychopath hero" ever, or at least in the top three with Lina Inverse and Lobo (his later characterization even talks like Lina, e.g. here, except macho). His fights are often genuinely excellent action sequences, with some of the best fight dialogue in fiction—and they're also all automatically hilarious, because he's a tiny little rabbit. With a switchblade.

The writing and art are consistently good. The fights, especially Oasis', are genuinely interesting comic art on par with any achievement in the field that you care to name; the girls are cute without being too fan-servicey. The writing manages to have characterization without losing comedy, and the plots resolve satisfyingly while leaving enough loose ends for later. Also, the conclusion of the 4U City arc reveals an important principle in writing: you can have any Deus Ex Machina you want, if you pull it off cool enough.

I am, however, really glad I saw Rise of the Guardians before I read the Holiday Wars arc; I wouldn't have been able to watch that movie without making Black Ops Elves jokes.