.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

 

Orc talk

American English is a dying language. In many circles, it is being replaced by Anglo-Orkish.
This phenomenon was described by the well-known linguist and philologist J.R.R. Tolkein, and discussed in his works, "The Hobbit", and "The Lord of the Rings". He goes to some trouble to discuss orkish language and culture, particularly in Bilbo's passage through the Misty Mountains; Pippin and Merry's captivity, and Frodo and Sam's journey into and through Mordor. There is a further reference in the scouring of the Shire, when the hobbits take note of the "lots of rules and orc-talk", due to an orkish influence brought in by Saruman and his agents.
In the appendix to Lord of the Rings, he mentions that "orkish speech is even more coarse than I have rendered it", but that he does not need to detail it any further, since examples are commonly encountered among the orc-minded.
Very possibly, he could be referring to references to people as rectal orifices, women as female dogs and men as the offspring of such, and the replacement of most english adjectives by a vulgar term for the reproductive act, or a more specific variant referring to a female parent.
I don't like to criticize other people's language: I've confined myself to refusing to speak orkish myself. How resistible is linguistic change?

Comments:
not at all. language is all contextual and as such, has no reliance whatsoever on an absolute standard as we are taught to believe in grammar. does this makes sense? anything that can be referred to is in reference what is not referred to, we cannot tie language to any absolute and doing so is a fight against the importance of progress in human culture and experience. i say all this authoritatively, but i feel strongly that much of the history of human knowledge bears testament to this: we cling to standards as a matter of life-and-death. they are important us because they give the appearance of the absolute in anything, the quell our fear of the Unknown. languages have holes and no list of words can prevent a concept or idea from slipping through. i feel there is importance in this. also, wittgenstien said something like it.
 
S.I. Hayakawa, wrote or quoted in his "Language in thought and action" (a work which had a great influence on my thinking) that compilers of dictionaries are historians, not authorities.

Language is created by agreement among its speakers that certain words are used to symbolize certain things that may be perceived in some fashion.

Not all people perceive things in the same way; sometimes they use different words to describe very similar perceptions, sometimes the same words to signify very different concepts. No two people speak exactly the same language.

But for every word in the language there is some one person who spoke it first while others followed suit, while entire languages have died when everyone who spoke them either ceased to use them or died. Let others decide what they will; there are certain conventions I refuse to adopt.
 
S.I. Hayakawa, wrote or quoted in his "Language in thought and action" (a work which had a great influence on my thinking) that compilers of dictionaries are historians, not authorities.

But this statement seem to assert, or not deny, that there is such a thing as an authority on language, but I think it is a statement of division. If a language is really a collection of accepted meanings, then a compiler is absolutely an authority. But if we accept that that language is context, we accept that it's meaning is defined by each individual who utters a word. Each speaker is then an authority.

Language is created by agreement among its speakers that certain words are used to symbolize certain things that may be perceived in some fashion.

This statement assumes agreement as important, such as in a democracy where each speaker might be polled of their opinion? Does this seem close to actuality? I don't think such a language census exists, so the idea of "agreement among members" is arbitrary under this definition of language.

Not all people perceive things in the same way; sometimes they use different words to describe very similar perceptions, sometimes the same words to signify very different concepts. No two people speak exactly the same language.

Now we are using the term language in a subjective context. I would say to use language in this context we show that language is dependent upon perception, which generally seems true - to the degree to which a perception is widespread, it's language will bear that degree of similiarity to the speaker's intent.

But for every word in the language there is some one person who spoke it first while others followed suit, while entire languages have died when everyone who spoke them either ceased to use them or died. Let others decide what they will; there are certain conventions I refuse to adopt.

It seems here like you are saying that you either do not accept a statement that you find unreasonable, in which case there should be no problem in your explaination as to why - without having to simply state you don't believe what everyone else believes, or that you see no reason to give an answer for your own opinion or to reconcile it with others. Which is it?
 
If one wishes to conform to historical or majority use of language, then the dictionary is an appropriate reference to consult. Dictionaries owe their prestige as authorities to the fact that English includes such a rich variety of expressions, that few people have learned all of them, and so people do consult them for this purpose. But each person is the ultimate authority on his own use of language, which may or may not conform to the historical or majority use.

I would not agree that language is context. I would say that language is only meaningful in a given context. There must be agreement between the speaker and the hearer on how a given noise and the context are connected; otherwise there is miscommunication or no communication. A conversation in Chinese means nothing to me; and one who asks the bank for a "loan" when they want a "gift" is miscommunicating.

Language is created by agreement among its speakers that certain words are used to symbolize certain things that may be perceived in some fashion.
Perhaps you have heard of twins having private languages

The agreement between speakers in a language is by no means as formal as a democratic election. It is possible to invent a private language known to no one but the speaker; there are cases of twins having private language between them that no one else can understand. But the kinds of informal agreements among large numbers of speakers that constitute language can, do, and must exist.

You said that:
To the degree to which a perception is widespread, it's language will bear that degree of similiarity to the speaker's intent.

I see no inherent connection between language and context. Four people walk by the same object of perception. One says "Clarabelle". One says "cow.". One says "horsie!" One says "vaca". Same referent, but different symbols and different language.

I lost the meaning of your last paragraph in abstraction; so I return to a more specific context. I refuse to use what I call orc-speech, even if a majority of speakers around me use it commonly. I seen no compelling reason to conform to the local convention, explain my reasons for nonconformity, or chide other people for their speech.
 
This Amer English simpleminded orc post still has truth even it falls into a nest of nasty grad students. All grad students are nasty. They are training to professors. Student and prof alike are orc, which goes to the heart of the dying language thing. Really it is a dying culture and Tolkers enables its metaphorical dissection. Yes the orifices, the debased sex organs, often refered as being castrated, the ridicule of parents, breeders, the preoccupation with mucus, dirt, digestion--well it's not pretty, but it is the social norm among orcs.
So who are orcs? Literally everyone.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?