More Hyphen Thoughts

I had the great pleasure of talking with Tech Support about the graph I shared on July 10th:

Hyphenated Graph

Tech Support made a few interpretations –

  • Clearly Bilbo’s native language of Westron is perfectly suited to hobbit life and has many specific words relevant to the Shire and the hosting of tea-parties that English simply can’t translate and hyphenated words must do to cover the inadequacy.
  • British English is plenty concerned with hunger and sogginess and dimness, so the Mirkwood scene was directly translatable into common English words.
  • He hazards a guess that Westron is agglutinative, that it is a more parochial and conservative language than a language that has reached the “modern” stage.

Shout-out to Mark Rosenfelder whose Language Construction Kit moved Tech Support from actively resisting the conventions of grammar (as nine-year-olds are wont to do) to giving Mama grammar lessons so she can do her thesis work.

Intriguing Hyphens

I nourish ideas about the different people Bilbo encountered in Middle Earth and the different languages those people spoke (although they may all have spoken Bilbo’s own language to him during the adventure there and back again).  I’ve mentioned a few times already that Tolkien uses a goodly number of hyphenated words which are not hyphenated in the OED (snow-peak, egg-question, check the Concordance for all 608 of them). Either they are separate words that he’s joined or compound words that he has separated.  He even had made compound words of ones which the OED says are separate words or hyphenated!  I thought of searching for these words to see if they show a particular region of Middle Earth which speaks a language that flexibly mooshes words together to express meaning more specifically.  Would the right word for that be agglutinative?

Well, it’s easy enough to search on hyphens (fear not, I took out the dashes).  I’m just going to leave this graph here for folks to nibble with their second breakfast.

Hyphenated Graph

I’m not sure what to make of it yet; my first approximation is that Westron, Bilbo’s native language, is the agglutinative one and that Mirkwood and the effects of dragon-sickness were both so depressing as to shock Bilbo out of his usual speech patterns.