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Watch J.R.R. Tolkien confess that even he found Elvish ‘too complicated’

Contributed by
Mar 30, 2018

If you've ever tried to wrap your head around any of J.R.R. Tolkien's mind-boggling Elvish languages – which many fans have – then you're a braver person than the great man himself.

The late Tolkien famously created many languages (mainly Quenya or Sindarin) for his Elves, which secured his status as one of the most impressive worldbuilding authors of all time.

But in an old clip unearthed today by the BBC’s Archive Twitter account, the author and linguist is heard confessing that he found the language too confusing to actually use in reality, and even encouraged fans not to bother trying it.

"I wouldn't mind other people knowing it, and enjoying it, but I didn’t really want to -- like some people who have been equally inventive in language have done -- and sort of make cults and have people all speaking it together," he said in the footage, first broadcast 50 years ago to the day.

Interestingly, Tolkien added that he had no inclination himself to speak the language, explaining: "No, I don’t desire to go and have afternoons talking Elvish to chaps. For one thing, of course, Elvish is too complicated, I’ve never finished making it!"

Of course, this seemingly fell on deaf elf ears for hardcore fans of his epic fantasy books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Despite the fact that it’s not even just the one language (Tolkien conceived a whole family tree of Elvish languages, all descending from a common ancestor called Primitive Quendian), many have devoted their time in getting involved and learning the tricky discourse.

In fact, some fans have even contributed their own words and phrases, attempting to create a language that can actually be used in everyday life. How do you think Tolkien might have felt about that?

(via io9)


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