David Salo's 'A Gateway to Sindarin'

Elizabeth #3819

I recently came across a complete scan of David Salo's book 'A Gateway to Sindarin' (2004) while looking for references about the sound systems and histories of Sindarin and other languages from Middle Earth, as I am currently in the process of finishing my undergraduate dissertation on the languages and accents used in science fiction and fantasy media.

I wanted to ask the people here who curate the dictionary and translations how much stock you put into the work of David Salo at this stage, as I understand that he was behind the language use in the films, but I have seen some translations taken from the films be rejected here as outdated interpretations of the Sindarin.

Basically, what's the deal with Salo and do we still like his work? And are there similar books out there with more recent stuff that y'all prefer? Sorry if this has been answered in some form somewhere else, I'm a bit scattered in my ability to look too in depth while I rush to finish my actual work.

Rínor #3822

David Salo's A Gateway to Sindarin (2004) is a comprehensive study of J.R.R. Tolkien's Sindarin language, drawing from all extant material available at the time of its publication. It remains a significant work for those interested in Sindarin, especially given its thorough approach to the grammar, morphology, and history of the language.

However, since its publication, there have been criticisms and updates in the field of Tolkien's languages. Some criticisms are related to what is known as "Neo-Elvish," which includes post-Tolkien attempts to standardize, regularize, or reconstruct the Elvish languages. Critics argue that Tolkien's languages were fluid and experimental, and any attempt to standardize them would result in new creations rather than accurate representations of Tolkien's intentions. They also point out issues such as subjective conventions being adopted as facts, arbitrary distinctions of canon, and inadequate references in sources promoting Neo-Elvish​ (Tolkien Gateway tolkiengateway.net)​.

In the case of A Gateway to Sindarin, some specific criticisms include the presentation of a standard or "fabricated" Sindarin that may not fully align with Tolkien's original conceptions. For example, the book describes a plural form of Sindarin gerunds, a feature not found in Tolkien's writings​ (Tolkien Gateway)​.

Since the publication of Salo's book, new material on Sindarin has been published, and there has been further analysis and research in the field. For instance, the website Eldamo.org notes that its analysis of Sindarin phonology draws heavily on Salo's work but also differs in several areas, mainly due to new material published after Salo's book and further research conducted mainly between 2018 and 2019​ (Eldamo eldamo.org)​.

While A Gateway to Sindarin is a valuable resource for those interested in Tolkien's languages, it is essential to be aware of its limitations and the ongoing developments in the field. For a more up-to-date understanding of Sindarin, it is advisable to consult newer research and resources alongside Salo's work.

Elizabeth #3823

Thank you! That's super helpful to consider and I'll check out some of the more recent stuff.