Came across somebody on the blogotubes complaining (“No!” you exclaim, “people complain on the Internet?”) about this post, specifically the part where the author rants about stupid made-up fancy-dancy fantasy names like Silvuirielalala Tinyhands and the like. The complaint?
“Well, Tolkien did it.”
People. J.R.R. Tolkien was a actual honest to god linguist. He invented languages for fun long before he ever even started writing fantasy books about short people with furry feet, and even the other Inklings made fun of the elves in his books. In fact, the unabridged biography of C.S. Lewis records this interaction between the two great British fantasy novelists:
LEWIS: John, you wanker! Drop the elf crap and let’s go down the pub, Dyson is buying the rounds tonight.
TOLKIEN: One second. Just want to finish these notes on Dwarvish. You know, they use runes, and –
LEWIS: Oh, god, another language? How many does that make now? The elves have two, the humans have two –
TOLKIEN: Well, actually that’s just the good humans. If you count the evil humans it’s more like seven.
LEWIS: And you wrote them all up with dictionaries and everything, didn’t you.
TOLKIEN: …I was bored.
LEWIS: So, are the Dwarves going to have two languages? Oh, and what about the furry little fellows –
TOLKIEN: The Hobbits?
LEWIS: I keep telling you, people are going to think you mean “rabbits.”
TOLKIEN: Oh, piss off.
LEWIS: “Dear Mr. Tolkien, I bought your so-called “novel” because I was anticipating an entertaining story about rabbits, much like that Watership Down thing. Instead, I got midgets with furry feet. What the hell. Signed, J.M. Puddlepoof, Esq.”
TOLKIEN: But you said you liked the Hobbits.
LEWIS: No, I said that I liked that they spoke English rather than Hobbitese or Hobbitaya or something like that. It was not a wholesale endorsement of your disturbing midget fetish.
TOLKIEN: Oh, I do not have to take this tripe from Mister “Hey, What If God Was A Lion?”
LEWIS: Come on, that’s solid stuff!
TOLKIEN: And “Mr. Tumnus.” Why did you think naming a character after foot fungus was a good idea?
LEWIS: He’s not!
TOLKIEN: Sounds like it.
LEWIS: At least I’m not conceited enough to put bloody epic poetry in my books.
TOLKIEN: At least I’m not fool enough to make the heroes of my story a bunch of annoying brats.
LEWIS: At least I came up with a better symbol for evil than a damn ring. What did your wife think of that?
TOLKIEN: I can’t believe I bloody converted you.
LEWIS: Well, I didn’t become a pope-hugger like yourself, so I think technically I’m still a heathen or something, aren’t I?
TOLKIEN: Technically, yes.
LEWIS: All right then. Are you done crafting fantastic new verbs ending in the letter “a” so we can go get sloshed?
TOLKIEN: The Dwarves have a much more guttural language, actually. You’re thinking of the Elvish tongues, like Quenya and –
LEWIS: No, I’m thinking of a pint of bitter with my damn name on it is what I’m thinking.
Actually this is much more fun than the actual biography in question. I should hire out.