A Secret Vice

Today I am enjoying the Fimi & Higgins edition of Tolkien’s A Secret Vice. Thrilling to hear in the professor’s own words his thoughts on sound-play.

For us departed are the unsophisticated days, when even Homer could pervert a word to suit sound-music; or such merry freedom as one sees in the Kalevala, when a line can be adorned by words phonetic trills – as in enkä lähe Inkerelle, Penkerelle, pänkerelle (Kal. xi 55), or Ihveniä ahvenia, tuimenia, taimenia (Kal. xlviii 100), where pänkerelle, ihveniä, taimenia are ‘non-significant’, mere notes in a phonetic tune struck to harmonize with penkerelle, or tuimenia which do ‘mean’ something.

Tolkien, J. R. R.. A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins. (Kindle Locations 1347-1352). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

What shall we do with Mountain-king?

In my mission to identify which hyphenated words are Tolkien original compositions, I have use the Oxford English Dictionary’s word on whether something like “Moss-green” is only ever found as “mossgreen” or “moss green” and if the hyphenated form is not attested, I’ve given it the “JRRT” tag.

Further, if the hyphenated form is found in OED, but the only example is from Tolkien’s work, I’m giving him credit for putting together this form as his own intentional style.

Mountain-king“,   however, has three examples, one of which is Tolkien’s and one of which comes earlier.

I would love to hear from you, Word Fans!  This is the type of art-work that has crept into what I thought would be the cut-and-dry list-making of this project.

Thanks for your notes, Word Fans – I have reached clarity.  Since the other examples of “Mountain king” do not have the hyphen (unbehyphenated?), I am giving JRRT credit for an original-ish spelling.

First Pass for the Food Words!

Word Fans, I have done it!  All the way from “cellar” to “tobacco-jar“, I have scanned for all the food words, common and uncommon, and entered them into the concordance.  I’m certain to have missed some, and I am humbly ready to call this my First Pass.  Alert Readers who put me wise to food words I have missed will have a verse written in their honor in the style of the Tra-la-la-lalley Elves.

Let it be noted that I have already had a good argument with myself over “supplies”, and have decided that it’s not a food word.  It is used in “food-supplies”, which is counted separately, and in all other instances can indicate “bandages” as well as it stands for “food”.

Next I will make some lovely graphs of food words.  I’m interested in their frequency and location in the text; I also have an idea in the back of my mind to do a deeper analysis including a negative valence for those times that food words indicate a lack of food.

As I made this first pass, I also took the chance to improve my file of the text.  I’ve eliminated many of the phrase-breaks which left only one-word phrases, fussed with punctuation breaks, and started keeping an eye out for use or non-use of a marked subjunctive.