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Old 09-01-2009, 02:23 PM   #41
Lalwendë
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I have to admit to taking wicked delight in wilfully pronouncing the names as I see fit. The world is full of pedants these days and I'd rather come down on the side of pleasure than that of being smugly correct.

Mispronouncing the names in a book is hardly crime of the century anyway, and I think we only force ourselves to do it to 'fit in', it's a completely different thing to making the effort in learning how to pronounce a real person's difficult name (says she, feeling proud at having learnt some Polish and Kenyan names today ). Davem is correct that forcing yourself to read a certain name in a book in a prescribed way, especially one as long as Lord of the Rings, can somewhat spoil your reading experience.

And yes, I pronounce it "tol-kin"
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Old 09-02-2009, 07:44 AM   #42
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The world is full of pedants these days and I'd rather come down on the side of pleasure than that of being smugly correct. Mispronouncing the names in a book is hardly crime of the century anyway, and I think we only force ourselves to do it to 'fit in',...'
I can't include myself in this 'we'. Heck, I don't know anyone within earshot who cares enough about Tolkien to talk about his tales, and nobody can hear you on the web (in these types of forums anyway).

Anyway, I would guess there are a number of people who simply want, or like, to get it right, perhaps because (externally) they know Tolkien put a lot of time and effort into creating nomenclature, and into creating the specific sounds of each language.

Also, to my mind it seems a way for readers to further engage with, and thus further enjoy, Middle-earth. If one likes Seleborn, that's obviously fine, if it enhances one's reading, fine again -- so too if it enhances one's reading to try to say Keleborn (assuming it's a change), simply because he or she 'knows' or imagines that that's how folks in the Secondary World said it.

I haven't met any smug correctors (yet). The matter seems to come up in threads on the web often enough, but there people are usually wondering how the names are supposed to be said and heard (which implies they might like some help), or are outright asking about proper pronunciation. And I can also understand the desire (at least) for good pronunciation at conventions for example, or Tolkien-related events -- for guests speakers, for instance. But at conventions or social events, one is probably not reading the book, especially aloud, in any case.

My cat used to react everytime I said Túna. He must have approved of my pronunciation
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:01 AM   #43
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I'm one of those who feels I have to get my pronunciations in line with Tolkien's, if only to satify my persnickitiness.
I don't judge others for getting them wrong, however. Appreciation and understanding of the subject matter are much more important than knowing not to say Sore-on or Sirith Ungol.
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:06 AM   #44
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I haven't met any smug correctors (yet). The matter seems to come up in threads on the web often enough, but there people are usually wondering how the names are supposed to be said and heard (which implies they might like some help), or are outright asking about proper pronunciation. And I can also understand the desire (at least) for good pronunciation at conventions for example, or Tolkien-related events -- for guests speakers, for instance. But at conventions or social events, one is probably not reading the book, especially aloud, in any case.

My cat used to react everytime I said Túna. He must have approved of my pronunciation
Oh yes, if you go to Oxonmoot you have to watch more than your Ps and Qs, you also have to watch your Cs and Ks

Mind it was funny to see the signs around Somerville College that said "Tolkein Convention" all altered in angry writing to "TOLKIEN!" - you could almost hear the person who had corrected them tutting
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:27 PM   #45
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I only judge a pronunciation that doesn't match up with Tolkien's guidelines when the speaker is in a field that requires some attention to pronunciation.

I don't know how my reaction would be for a mispronunciation in, say, a lecture that's not about languages, but if it's an adaptation, say, or a musical performance...

Whenever you're performing something in a foreign language, the least you can do is respect said language enough to pronounce it right or as close to right as you can manage. Even if you don't say it that way in real life.

Now, what gets really interesting is when it appears that Tolkien does not follow his own rules. What's one to do then?
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Old 09-03-2009, 06:43 AM   #46
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Now, what gets really interesting is when it appears that Tolkien does not follow his own rules. What's one to do then?
Well, I think it depends on who you're talking to and it what context.

For example, if I talk to someone (especially someone who isn't as much of a fan as me) about one of Tolkien's characters, I'm less likely to pronounce it with a trilled "r", etc., because it would sound strange because I don't normally trill my "r"s.

However, if I'm reading the book aloud, or trying to pronounce something in Elvish, or talking to someone with more Tolkien expertise than me (I assume, I don't think I know anyone who has read more than TH, LOTR and the Silm), then I'd probably try my best to pronounce it right.

As well as this, one reason I've thought of for my preference of Sirdan over Kirdan could be that the "s" sound makes it more sibilant, which makes it more sea-ish, at least to me.
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Old 10-17-2009, 10:31 PM   #47
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I really do make an effort to pronounce things correctly. Or at least how I think is the correct way of pronouncing. For the longest time I was pronouncing Feanor 'FEE-nor'.
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:00 AM   #48
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Interesting thread... I first read the woks in Bulgarian and as it uses Cyrillic, my only chance was to trust the transliteration... which was Seleborn etc. Only years after did I understand my mistake... and Keleborn still sounds unnatural to me.

I think with books one is in their right to mispronounce or misinterpert their characters, so that they fit the inner sight better. I don't feel oblidged to follow the right pronounciation or to change the image I had in my head for some character or place, just because a second close read proved that it is wrong. A book is a personal experience (unless you are doing it for research) and if being right makes it less enjoyable, being wrong is the way to be.

With real people it is something else... althou I can say by personal experience, it is easier to agree with the majority of a country about how you say your name.
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:18 PM   #49
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Instead of degrading my experience when I pronounce the names correctly, it enhances my reading. Then I know that that is the way to say something and I can really get my head into it. I guess that there are some things that I think don't sound right when pronounced correctly, such as Isengard. I don't think it's supposed to be pronounced the way I pronounce it, but I just can't get it into my head to say it any other way. So it stays how it is.
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:35 PM   #50
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The radical distinction between all art (including drama) that offers a
visible presentation and true literature is that it imposes one visible form. Literature works from mind to mind and is thus more progenitive. It is at once more universal and more poignantly particular. If it speaks of bread or wine or stone or tree, it appeals to the whole ofthese things, to their ideas; yet each hearer will give to them a peculiar personal embodimentin his imagination. Should the story say “he ate bread,” the dramatic producer or painter canonly show ”a piece of bread” according to his taste or fancy, but the hearer of the story willthink of bread in general and picture it in some form of his own. If a story says “he climbed a
hill and saw a river in the valley below,” the illustrator may catch, or nearly catch, his ownvision of such a scene; but every hearer of the words will have his own picture, and it willbe made out of all the hills and rivers and dales he has ever seen, but especially out of TheHill, The River, The Valley which were for him the first embodiment of the word.Tolkien: On Fairy Stories
This is the whole point, for me - the reader as 'co-creator' of the story, & this is the difference between drama & literature. Drama, whether on stage or film, is given to the viewer - the look, the sounds, the words & their pronunciation - the viewer is effectively a passive observer with no control or input into the experience. Literature on the other hand is a participatory event - the characters look & sound how the reader decides, their names are pronounced by the reader, not the writer. The writer must be aware of this too. And this personalises the experience of the story - the Lord of the Rings I experience when I read is different to the one you experience when you read it - because its full of my Hills, Rivers & Valleys. Pronunciation of names of people & places is part of that personal experience, & the more we attempt to achieve a 'proper' uniform pronunciation, or single, agreed picture of a place or character, the more detatched we become from that unique experience of the story. If it was possible to see the characters & places of Middle-earth exactly as Tolkien himself saw them should we all make ourselves see them in that way? In the excerpt I gave earlier from OFS Tolkien seems to argue that would actually be a mistake, because the reader would have no input into the experience of the Story & therefore it would not touch them in the same way. Why is the pronunciation of names different from the images of places & characters - Tolkien effectively states that the reader must be free to imagine the world & its inhabitants as they will for the story to work, & I can't see how the pronunciation of names & words is a different case.
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Old 10-18-2009, 02:56 PM   #51
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Ha, brilliant point, davem. I consider myself knowing On Fairy Stories very well and basically remembering something from it all the time, even this particular part (I have always applied that one to criticise the movies ), but it never occured to me to apply it in this way. Once again a proof of how well can a company of people contribute while single person's thinking always remains limited.

Let me just note, I have never thought that Tolkien was so close in his thoughts to the reader-response criticism - in the light of this, this certainly is something related. Just, like, I never thought of that.

But anyway, that means, long live Tsirith Ungol! (As that's the one, of all of them, which I just cannot discard )
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:34 PM   #52
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Tolkien effectively states that the reader must be free to imagine the world & its inhabitants as they will for the story to work, & I can't see how the pronunciation of names & words is a different case.
Not to mention the fact that the hobbits (even Frodo), who are the "authors" of the story, probably didn't pronounce the place names 100% correctly either. And what is correct anyway? Isn't the most commonly used pronunciation the accepted one after all?
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:29 AM   #53
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I consider myself knowing On Fairy Stories very well and basically remembering something from it all the time, even this particular part (I have always applied that one to criticise the movies )
Its kind of odd to read reviews of the movies where people comment that 'Jacksons' Shire/Moria/Minas Tirith/....... (fill in the blank) was exactly/not at all as I imagined it', & are happy to accept that different people will 'see' Middle-earth in different ways, but when it comes to pronunciation of names & words people simply accept that because Jackson got in 'experts' to give cast & crew the correct pronunciations they must be accepted - I rarely if ever hear the comment 'The cast's pronunciation of 'Minas Tirith'/ Legolas/(fitb) was exactly/not at all as I imagined it'. Its almost as if some people are afraid to get it wrong (which seems to imply that reading the books is, or involves, a test of some kind, which the reader can either pass or fail).

My own position is that just as one is free to imagine (in fact, according to Tolkien quoted earlier, will both inevitably & rightly imagine) the world of the story in their own unique way, which will bring it alive for them in a way that no illustration or dramatisation could, so they must be free to 'hear' that world as they will - for the same reason. Of course, one is limited by the text to some degree - one may pronounce 'Feanor' as Fee-an-or, Fay-an-or or Fee-nor but one would not pronounce it 'Stephen'.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:39 AM   #54
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...but when it comes to pronunciation of names & words people simply accept that because Jackson got in 'experts' to give cast & crew the correct pronunciations they must be accepted - I rarely if ever hear the comment 'The cast's pronunciation of 'Minas Tirith'/ Legolas/(fitb) was exactly/not at all as I imagined it'. Its almost as if some people are afraid to get it wrong (which seems to imply that reading the books is, or involves, a test of some kind, which the reader can either pass or fail).
This would be an acceptable nitpick if the cast's pronunciations were always correct and included a general concept of accent marks and diareses. (Still waiting on the extra syllable in "Earendil".) As it is I cringe most at whenever Frolijah says "Mohdoh," considering that book!Frodo is supposed to be canonically good at foreign sounds.

Because Tolkien gave specific rules on pronuncation, I think a better parallel would be to compare pronunciation to, say, the doors at Moria, where we're given a specific drawing as to how it looked. If the Jackson films had deviated from that at all, claiming that it was Frodo's faulty memory reconstructing it (which would be well within their rights, since Moria is explicitly called Moria ['black shadow', only used post-Balrog] on the door), there would have been so much howling!

Although to be fair the parallel isn't perfect as the pronunciation rules come from the Appendices and not from the text itself, and the Appendices are specifically only for those who really want to know more.

Ultimately I think the whole thing is a bunch of pedantry as we geeks try to one-up each other. As I said earlier, I personally try to get my own pronunciation as close to the recommended ones as possible, but that's because I am a pedant and a linguistics geek to boot. If you want to pronounce them differently that's fine... but woe to you if you want to market that pronunciation!

Mirkgirl's points are actually really good ones: to what extent have translators adapted spellings to fit with pronunciations? Does Tolkien's translator's guide give any hints?


P.S. to Eonwe... Frodo at least probably got his transcriptions and pronunciations right; the other hobbits however tended to have really bad Shire accents when it came to the Elvish tongues.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:06 AM   #55
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Because Tolkien gave specific rules on pronuncation, I think a better parallel would be to compare pronunciation to, say, the doors at Moria, where we're given a specific drawing as to how it looked. .
Except... the doors may have looked right, but to me they seemed too small - I envisioned them to be about twice the size on reading the book. Still, that's not a problem for me, as I'm fairly fine with any concept of Middle-earth either visual or 'audial', as an individual take.

And if you go with the Translator Conceit, then even Tolkien the Translator could have been wrong about the correct pronunciation of languages which disappeared thousands of years ago. In fact, one could argue that individual pronunciations, avoiding the idea of 'correct/incorrect' fit that idea better than the kind of 'geekish' precision you're talking about. I note that we don't worry about the 'correct' pronunciation of the names in Homer or Malory ('You say 'Lance-e-lot', I say 'Launce-e-lot'').


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Ultimately I think the whole thing is a bunch of pedantry as we geeks try to one-up each other. As I said earlier, I personally try to get my own pronunciation as close to the recommended ones as possible, but that's because I am a pedant and a linguistics geek to boot. If you want to pronounce them differently that's fine... but woe to you if you want to market that pronunciation!
I think the problem is that it can exclude the reader who doesn't have the time (or inclination) to study the subject of Tolkienian linguistics, & make then feel 'second class citizens' in Middle-earth, & I'm sure it must annoy those who really don't like the 'correct' pronunciations & feel happier & more at home with their own.

As to 'marketing my pronunciations' - that's exactly the opposite of what I'm advocating - I'm for going with what feels right for the individual.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:34 AM   #56
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davem, by "marketing" I meant such things as adaptations with an audio component and/or settings of Tolkien songs, not simply telling people to pronounce things "your way"--things that actually make money off the notion that this adheres to Tolkien in the details.

And if we want to talk about making people feel like second class fans, pronunciation pedantry pales compared to, "You haven't read x?!?" (Although pronunciation is perhaps the most obvious form of this.) I first set out to read the Silm because people were telling me I still wasn't a true Tolkien fan yet.

You actually do have a very interesting point on the "reconstructed" pronunciations... it rather reminds me of how you're "supposed" to pronounce classical Latin and Greek. We all know that this may be nothing like how it's actually pronounced, but we agree on it for clarity's sake. This is also why I'm so intrigued by words like "Nargothrond," which are pronounced one way according to the "official" rules but always scan differently in the Lays. One is tempted to say that there are exceptions, even in Elvish, that we will never know about.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:39 PM   #57
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davem, by "marketing" I meant such things as adaptations with an audio component and/or settings of Tolkien songs, not simply telling people to pronounce things "your way"--things that actually make money off the notion that this adheres to Tolkien in the details.
I'm still intrigued as to why 'correct' pronunciation is so important - much more so than imagery - after all, Tolkien did produce illustrations of Middle-earth, for TH, LotR & The Si, but no-one seems to bother if an illustrator goes their own way & ignores Tolkien's own imagery in favour of their own. Take a look at these which were issud as a stamp set a few years ago: http://www.norphil.co.uk/2004/2004im...trblokbull.jpg

Check the second row - pic 1 is Orthanc, pic 3 is Barad-dur, pic 4 is Minas(Mynas ) Tirith. That's how Tolkien visualised those places. Should we be bound by them, & make ourselves see those places in the way he depicted them? I'd say, no, because while they may have worked for Tolkien they won't work for most of his readers. If its ok to visualise a place in the story in your own way, then why is thee an issue with pronouncing the names in your own way?
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:25 PM   #58
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Depends. The difficulty is that the pronunciation guides were published as part of Lord of the Rings, albeit in the Appendices. Which means that they are not placed nearly as high on the hierarchy of accuracy as, say, the doors to Moria or the maps or the fact that Aragorn had grey eyes.

But how many visual cues about Middle-earth came from Tolkien during his lifetime?

I think the difference is that envisioning something from a book takes much more imagination--and thus much more effort and wiggle room--for the reader than simply pronouncing a foreign word. You're given more liberty simply because of the differences in medium (so, we could have two completely different-looking, but equally canonical "Frodo"s but however we say his name it's going to sound pretty similar).

The other thing is that we're given guidelines--which Tolkien says we don't have to follow if we don't want to!--in the books themselves, and we know that Tolkien expended a lot more effort into languages than into illustrating (though he spent a lot on both!).

What would be really interesting now would be to hop 20 years or so down the road and see how much the "your mileage may vary" attitude towards mental pictures remains as more and more people enter the fandom with the Jackson films ingrained in their heads.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:44 PM   #59
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Depends. The difficulty is that the pronunciation guides were published as part of Lord of the Rings, albeit in the Appendices. Which means that they are not placed nearly as high on the hierarchy of accuracy as, say, the doors to Moria or the maps or the fact that Aragorn had grey eyes.
And the Appendices are optional reading (& as I pointed out previously, there was a single volume edition of LotR published during Tolkien's lifetime which omitted the Appendices altogether apart from The Tale of Aragorn & Arwen). This being the case, I asked, firstly, is one's experience of the story lessened in some way if one does not read the Appendices & has no idea of the 'correct' pronunciation of the story, & secondly, if one does read & 'obey' the pronunciation guide in the Appendices, is one's experience of the story 'enhanced' by that, or does the sacrifice of one's own original pronunciations actually take something of that original experience away?

Quote:
But how many visual cues about Middle-earth came from Tolkien during his lifetime?
And if Allen & Unwin had decided that the Appendices were an unnecessary part of the book & simply refused to print them - or Tolkien hadn't been able to bring them into publishable form - wouldn't the pronunciations be as optional as the illustrations?

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What would be really interesting now would be to hop 20 years or so down the road and see how much the "your mileage may vary" attitude towards mental pictures remains as more and more people enter the fandom with the Jackson films ingrained in their heads.
It would - and also to what extent the video games affect that mental imagery too - & in many other ways besides the simple pictures. I haven't played any of them (or intend to) but I notice that there are a lot more prominent female characters in the games, a lot more magic users (& casual use of magic), & I even read a report that mixed race (ie human-elf, hobbit-dwarf, etc, etc) & same sex relationships are options in the game world too. All these things affect one's perceptions of the world of M-e & the way one conceives/visualises it. Beyond that, the screenshots I've seen depict a countryside & landscape which is often subtly (& sometimes not so subtly at all) different to the English countryside that inspired Tolkien - in fact when I look at said screenshots I'm reminded much more of pictures of North American countryside with a 'New Zealandish' overlay inspired by the movies. My Middle-earth is an English Middle-earth & looks like the landscapes I know & is nothing like the game world. What this means is that, yes, the look of Middle-earth is becoming incresingly as 'fixed' as the sound, & the reader has less & less freedom to participate in the creation of Middle-earth in their own mind. Many readers from now on will only have the 'correct' pronunciation in their heads because they will come to the books via the movies & the games. I would argue that their whole experience will be lessened by that - they will get the pronunciation right, but only because they will never have had the freedom to get it 'wrong'. Increasingly we will achieve a uniform sound & vision of Middle-earth. More & more manifestations of M-e will actually result in a more precisely defined & limited experience - all in the name of 'authenticity'.

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This is worse than Mordor!' said Sam. 'Much worse in a way. It comes home to you, as they say; because it is home, and you remember it before it was all ruined.'
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:43 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by davem View Post
And the Appendices are optional reading (& as I pointed out previously, there was a single volume edition of LotR published during Tolkien's lifetime which omitted the Appendices altogether apart from The Tale of Aragorn & Arwen). This being the case, I asked, firstly, is one's experience of the story lessened in some way if one does not read the Appendices & has no idea of the 'correct' pronunciation of the story, & secondly, if one does read & 'obey' the pronunciation guide in the Appendices, is one's experience of the story 'enhanced' by that, or does the sacrifice of one's own original pronunciations actually take something of that original experience away?
No, not of the story. But one could argue that one's experience of the world is different since the languages provide such a grounding.

I would not say that the experience is "enhanced" or "detracted" if a reader chooses to adopt Tolkien's pronunciations (which is ultimately what he says the point of the Appendices is--to provide you with more information if you want it), merely altered. And honestly there's so little of the original experience that you can ever get back on a second reading, simply because you already know what happens.

Similarly, does knowledge of the Silm enhance or detract a reader's experience of rereading LotR?

I think that ultimately because of the nature of knowledge you can only go deeper when you're rereading LotR, even if you don't intend to--unless you get Alzheimer's.

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And if Allen & Unwin had decided that the Appendices were an unnecessary part of the book & simply refused to print them - or Tolkien hadn't been able to bring them into publishable form - wouldn't the pronunciations be as optional as the illustrations?
Absolutely. But they were published, and when you consider the extent to which Tolkien himself considered things published as "set in stone" it makes sense that they get this status. I'm still very intrigued by the completely different natures of all the Appendices, due to the fact that they were somewhat rushed to print--how in one you get some very English-looking "Real Shire Month" names and how in another you learn that the "Real Shire" sounded nothing like English.

If Tolkien had had more time to dither about these, because A&U rejected them, they would be completely different from what they are. But once they got published Tolkien tried his best to treat them as they were as set in stone. So I think that the pronunciations do require a somewhat elevated status compared to the illustrations if you're selling your take on it--though not nearly as high as the facts presented in the text itself.

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It would - and also to what extent the video games affect that mental imagery too - & in many other ways besides the simple pictures. I haven't played any of them (or intend to) but I notice that there are a lot more prominent female characters in the games, a lot more magic users (& casual use of magic), & I even read a report that mixed race (ie human-elf, hobbit-dwarf, etc, etc) & same sex relationships are options in the game world too. All these things affect one's perceptions of the world of M-e & the way one conceives/visualises it.
I'm not terribly concerned about the video games, actually--most of the people I've talked to IRL have been more than willing to admit that it's just a gamerization of Middle-earth and not to be taken seriously, especially when you read the actual books. Just as I'm not concerned that David Wenham is going to strongly affect anyone's reading of Faramir--not for a while at least.

And there are other visualizations that, if made available, would help counteract the monolithicness of the Jacksonian vision. I was pleasantly stunned by the symbolic, minimalist imagery of the Stage Show, which proved to me that there really is a completely different way of looking at everything that can still be valid.


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Beyond that, the screenshots I've seen depict a countryside & landscape which is often subtly (& sometimes not so subtly at all) different to the English countryside that inspired Tolkien - in fact when I look at said screenshots I'm reminded much more of pictures of North American countryside with a 'New Zealandish' overlay inspired by the movies. My Middle-earth is an English Middle-earth & looks like the landscapes I know & is nothing like the game world.
So, what do you think of this situation: someone grows up seeing the landscape as presented in the games and the films, reads the books, and finds that the "actual" Middle-earth is nothing like these on levels of characterization and general mood. S/he then, surmising that Tolkien's landscapes are English since he was English, adapts his/her mental picture to fit along with a more English landscape.

Is this considered better or worse than this reader sticking with his/her original visualizations?

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What this means is that, yes, the look of Middle-earth is becoming incresingly as 'fixed' as the sound, & the reader has less & less freedom to participate in the creation of Middle-earth in their own mind. Many readers from now on will only have the 'correct' pronunciation in their heads because they will come to the books via the movies & the games. I would argue that their whole experience will be lessened by that - they will get the pronunciation right, but only because they will never have had the freedom to get it 'wrong'. Increasingly we will achieve a uniform sound & vision of Middle-earth. More & more manifestations of M-e will actually result in a more precisely defined & limited experience - all in the name of 'authenticity'.
I think that more and more manifestations of M-E are actually the best way we can get out of this mess. We cannot return to the innocent halcyon days of Everybody Comes Up With His/Her Own Idea, but if there are enough people who are willing to present more manifestations that go against the visual flow but still fit in with the cues we're given in the books that might be enough for people to begin to realize that what they've been seeing is not what they're limited to. And this is the exact sort of effect that I try to achieve in fan fiction. Unfortunately I think the battle is lost on "right" or "wrong" pronunciations because we're given guidelines that were published during Tolkien's life. Although I know at least one person who read the books after the movies and still chose his own pronunciation that just barely fit into regular English phonetics.

I think you and I at least agree that Middle-earth will always exist somewhere between the text and the reader... we just differ on where the fuzzy borders of that zone stand.
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Old 10-20-2009, 02:22 AM   #61
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No, not of the story. But one could argue that one's experience of the world is different since the languages provide such a grounding.
Different, yes, but ....beyond that its a matter of opinion - the more onw changes in order to conform the more of one's individual participation in co-creation one sacrifices.

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Similarly, does knowledge of the Silm enhance or detract a reader's experience of rereading LotR?
It obviously alters it - after reading the Silm LotR becomes a 'smaller' thing, just a tiny part of a bigger - but ultimaterly more delimited world. The more we find out about the history of M-e the less freedom we have to imagine thngs into that world. Its the unexplored vistas thing...

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But once they got published Tolkien tried his best to treat them as they were as set in stone. So I think that the pronunciations do require a somewhat elevated status compared to the illustrations if you're selling your take on it--though not nearly as high as the facts presented in the text itself.
Except when he got the chance to change them (Riddles in the Dark in TH, the numerous smaller but occasionally significant changes in the 2nd ed of LotR). Tolkien wasn't averse to simply changing or even inventing things on the spot (cf Raynor Unwin's statement that when Pauline Baynes was having a problem with the poster map of LotR she had been commissioned to paint - too much empty space when the map was blown up to that size - Tolkien simply invented some features to fill in the gaps). Tolkien certainly felt freer to play with his creation than many geeks like to admit. Many things - as you've mentioned re the Appendices - don't quite 'fit', & fans seem to prefer to 'invent' complex explanations of their own in a desire for 'consistency' rather than simply acknowledge that Tolkien 'slipped up'.

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And there are other visualizations that, if made available, would help counteract the monolithicness of the Jacksonian vision. I was pleasantly stunned by the symbolic, minimalist imagery of the Stage Show, which proved to me that there really is a completely different way of looking at everything that can still be valid.
I never saw the stage show, but I have the book & the album, & I have to say that it is often an improvement on the more 'conservative' approach taken by the movie makers.

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Is this considered better or worse than this reader sticking with his/her original visualizations?
I wouldn't judge them either way - its what works for them. If they are more at home with their original pictures they should stick to them.

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I think you and I at least agree that Middle-earth will always exist somewhere between the text and the reader... we just differ on where the fuzzy borders of that zone stand.
But it should be a co-creation. The reader should not feel 'forced' into surrendering ground in order to conform to some 'ideal' - if as a result they lose some of the magic which first attracted them into the secondary world..
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Old 10-20-2009, 05:19 AM   #62
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I was pleasantly stunned by the symbolic, minimalist imagery of the Stage Show, which proved to me that there really is a completely different way of looking at everything that can still be valid.
For those who haven't seen anything of the stage version - pics: http://www.lotr.com/sights_sounds/ch...hotographs.php & footage:http://www.lotr.com/sights_sounds/ As I said, I really liked the looked of the show (from the book, album & these clips). I wonder if they shot enough footage to put the whole thing out on DVD?
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