Neo-Elvish is a term that can refer to Neo-Quenya and/or Neo-Sindarin. Neo-Elvish encompasses attempts to productively standardize, regularize and even reconstruct J.R.R. Tolkien's languages with the intent to be taught, studied and be used in fanon compositions. The term Neo-Quenya, Neo-Sindarin etc arose so as to distinguish those attempts from Tolkien's own creations.
Overview of the problem
Tolkien did not leave behind a definite, canonical set of rules for his languages, and did not intend to create them in order to be useable. As a result, the information gathered posthumously from his notes might seem like fluid and fragmentary to someone who seeks to see a possible 'whole picture'. The absence of a final, canonical Quenya or Sindarin has the consequence that anyone attempting to compose an eg. Quenya grammar, would create a conventional, Neo-Quenya grammar.
In order to 'fill the gaps', such a person would rely on speculation, personal instinct and widely subjective interpretation; coping with Tolkien's continuous mutually exclusive revisions, the student would choose to reject Tolkien's older, temporary or 'anomalous' creations in order to keep the most plausibly canonical.
For example, Helge Fauskanger's grammar of Quenya, being such an attempt, is described as a: "synthetic and regularized form of Quenya formed by the selective piecing-together of evidences from across decades of Tolkien's successive versions and elaborations of Quenya".
- Elvish.org FAQ — Article by Carl F. Hostetter. Presents a succinct counterpoint citing Tolkien's own views of the purpose, completeness and usability of his languages.
- "Elvish as She Is Spoke" — Article by Carl F. Hostetter. A thorough examination of Tolkien's purposes in inventing his Elvish languages and his practices in describing them, their consequent nature, and the inherent pitfalls in any attempt to "speak Elvish". Republished with permission from The Lord of the Rings 1954–2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder (Marquette, 2006), ed. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
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