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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:30 am 
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Teremia wrote:
Voronwë was articulate, clear, interesting, and even got some laughs from the audience. The illustrations were lovely. I think we all felt very, very proud.


Before I comment any further, I should emphasize that I agree with that assessment, and was glad to be able to tell V so at lunch, when I spoke with him all too briefly.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:33 am 
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narya wrote:
I listened to several papers, some great, some painfully dull. The one on metaphors was interesting. The presenter studied LOTR in great detail, and found that the "good guys" tended to get their power through gift or cultivation. They were likened to plants and gardeners. They found their power to be troubling and burdensome, something they didn't really want, often times. The "evil guys" had no such qualms. They tended to take their power by force, and were more likely to be given animal attributes. There are of course, gray areas where this all broke down in the discussion after the paper. What about Boromir? What about the fact that Bilbo knew he had stolen property, the Ring, but took it anyway?


Fascinating content. Annoying presentation: she worked from an outline rather than read, and said "um" more than 300 times.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:36 am 
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N.E. Brigand wrote:
[ Another person I spoke with later that afternoon said he wished that V had picked one or two of themes, like Christopher Tolkien's slighting of female characters, and focused on those to the exclusion of separate comments on every single chapter.


I considered that, and in retrospect, it might have been a better approach. I agree that it was an awful lot to take in.

I was very glad to meet you, too, Brigand (though too briefly), and I look forward to your further comments.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:40 am 
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I'm glad that I didn't go that route. I wasn't wild about just reading my paper, but I'm not sure I would have been able to pull off the working from notes/outline without rivaling her in the "um" department. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:33 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
One of his compatriots added that "they" (meaning, I suppose, the 'real' Tolkien scholars) used the HoME texts for doing research, but when they wanted to actually read the stories of the Elder Days, they always turned back to the Silmarillion itself.


V, I didn't hear that to be quite as snide as you did. When his compatriot said "We use the HoME texts for research, but read the Silmarillion..." I just heard him to be speaking of the group he was with (or just himself and the previous speaker - I'm not sure how big that group was.) I didn't hear him to be implying that he was a "real" Tolkien scholar and you were not, or to be speaking in "imperial 'we'" terms. I took him to be a CT fan who wanted to defend Christopher's editorial choices made to create a more readable/coherent set of tales. After all, you began your talk by suggesting that Christopher had at times subordinated the integrity of his father's vision to the aim of creating a readable/marketable/more enjoyable story. So I took his comment to be a defense of Christopher's choices in that regard, but not so much a snide remark towards you.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:36 am 
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I just recalled what another one of the comments was. One of the folks pointed out that the material in the Beren and Lúthien and Túrin sections that I cited as examples of places in the publised text where the scope varying greatly from surrounding areas were two of the "Great Tales" and thus should have been treated in greater depth. He acted like I would not have known anything about that, whereas of course I understand about the Great Tales, even though I ended up removing any mention of them from my talk for brevity's sake. I didn't say much in response to that comment, but there were a few things that I could have said. First of all, even if the material that Christopher removed was not part of the Great Tales, that still doesn't change the fact that it was important material that Tolkien specifically intended to include in the Silmarillion (particularly the tale of Finwë and Míriel). Secondly, the material that Christopher removed still wasn't nearly as detailed as the material on in the Beren and Lúthien and Túrin sections. Thirdly, one of my biggest complaints was that the third of the Great Tales, the Fall of Gondolin, itself was too condensed. And fourth, Christopher actually used a portion of the Beren and Lúthien material that his father himself deemed to be too long.

But I didn't say any of those things. :)

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:43 am 
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As expected, there were a few feathers ruffled by my criticism of Christopher.


As to the responses by the elvish linguists and others. It should first be noted that the four attending linguists --Christopher Gilson, Patrick Wynne, Carl Hostetter, and Arden Smith: I think that was the left-to-right order in which they sat, from V's point of view-- are four of the (I think) five official editors of Tolkien's linguistic work, as authorized by Christohper Tolkien personally. They need his good wishes to continue to publish material like the new issue of Parma Eldalamberon, which features an edition of Tolkien's never-before-seen "Words, Phrases & Passages in The Lord of the Rings", a fascinating word-list with comments, mostly on material in FotR. Undoubtedly that reality colors their remarks, a little.

Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Most of the people who asked questioned at the end weren't really asking questions; they were making comments.

My chicken-scratch notes indicate that the first question was a question, I'm not sure by whom, about whether Christopher Tolkien's compression was a result of publisher influence. V said he had no information on that.

The next question was a comment by Mike Foster, noting what Clyde Kilby reported of Tolkien's 1960s work on The Silmarillion --specifically that Tolkien meant for it to be at least as long as LotR. Foster would probably describe himself as far from expert in The Silmarillion. (He also had a remark on Glorfindel, not relevant to V's paper.) Still, it may be worth reading Kilby's Tolkien and The Silmarillion for ideas on Tolkien's intentions.

In response, Hostetter observed that while Tolkien may have dreamed of such a work, he never came close to bringing the material near to what his supposed grand plan would probably have included (working from memory, I think Charles Noad's well-known estimate is that a completed 'Silmarillion' would include Ainulindalë, Valaquenta, Quenta Silmarillion, Akallabêth, Rings of Power, Annals, Great Tales, Laws and Customs, Atrabeth, Appendices -- something like that, anyway, whereas in the published work, Christopher Tolkien combined material from the various incomplete Annals and Quentas to make the QS, because JRRT never brought them both to separate levels).

Hostetter then turned to V's paper, called it "interesting" and "important" and wished for its publication.

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Interestingly, one person gave exactly the opposite feedback to that given by the 'reader' that had reviewed my manuscript, suggesting that I should present the raw material of the changes that were made, but keep my opinions about them to myself.


That was also Hostetter. I don't read his response necessarily as a call to return your work to its earlier form, as much as a wish that you let the facts speak for themselves as much as possible (presumably in essay form with the details relegated to tables, largely as I understand you to be working) -- describe what Tolkien wrote, what Christopher presented, and let the readers come to their own conclusions. My own notes on your paper include the thought that you said too often that something was "clearly" contrary to Tolkien's intention. But I would say the same of some of your compliments as well: you gave more opinion than fact, sometimes. Of course, in your finished work, you probably have more space to say why a particular change by Christopher T. succeeds or fails, whereas here you probably had time only to give the briefest of thumbs up or down, in most cases.

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...also made a somewhat snide comment to the effect that if I didn't like Christopher's version of the Silmarillion, I should create my own version. I thought - but did not say - that would be not only illegal, but immoral.


That comment I read completely as a joke. The result of your (presumably forthcoming) publication will be, de facto, the presentation of a plan for the best of all possible Silmarillions, no?


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One of his compatriots added that "they" (meaning, I suppose, the 'real' Tolkien scholars)...


I think it was Wynne who used that "we". It didn't sound the least bit exclusionary to me: you had after all, specifically addressed them at the beginning of your paper (by the way, except for the pronunciation of "Turgon", you sounded fine to my non-linguist ears). I would stress again that Mythcon is not an especially scholarly conference, and that these guys, longtime Mythsoc members, are language-loving fans whose love of Tolkien earned them the right to edit his linguistic texts. They were overheard to joke later that they would be excoriated if certain other linguists knew they were "wasting time" in fannish skits, rather than busy editing and translating elvish (there is apparently some large schism in the world of Tolkien linguistics, about which I know little).

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...used the HoME texts for doing research, but when they wanted to actually read the stories of the Elder Days, they always turned back to The Silmarillion itself.


I thought you more-or-less agreed? When they said that they loved The Silmarillion? Certainly it's hard to dispute the claim that HoMe is much harder to read. You make a strong case that The Silmarillion is not the text it might have been; but there is the opposite argument that it is much better than it could have been. And when Hostetter suggested putting yourself in Christopher Tolkien's shoes, I suspect he was thinking of his own experience with Tolkien's manuscripts, and the difficulty he and his colleagues encounter trying to make sense of those papers. So that sometimes when you expressed yourself flabbergasted that Christopher T. selected the weaker of two texts for the published Silmarillion, these four were thinking that CT simply may have been unaware of the other text, or that he just couldn't figure out what to do with all that material. Even the published HoMe is very much an edited text that doesn't begin to express the complexity of the manuscripts themselves. (This is only my speculation: of the four, I'd met only Smith before yesterday, and only briefly, and have not spoken with them about your paper.) They love the published Silmarillion, but they might very well love one edited to conform to your observations even more.

The only other comments that I noted, besides my own (first that Gil-galad's seems now more than ever not to be of the House of Fingolfin, given Huor's comment to Turgon in CoH [I got that from dna on TORN, by the way, and --ack!-- I was supposed to pass along greetings from him but failed] and second a question about the idea of elves being born into their children), were Hostetter's remark that Kilby may have been responsible for the reduced number of balrogs in the Silmarillion tales, and someone else's comment that tricky questions of internal history vs. external textual development set his head spinning.

I had one further question of my own in my notes: describing the chapter on the unchaining of Melkor, you said that JRRT's text unused by his son would see Nerdanel much more developed than what was presented in 1977. It may be worth noting somewhere in your final work that (almost?) nowhere would any part of The Silmarillion, even were JRRT's wishes followed, be brought to anything like the full development of LotR. That is, The Silmarillion would always be a difficult work for many readers who prefer the style of trilogy. CoH is a much more detailed work than The Silmarillion , but the recent discussion of the first chapter on TORN shows that many readers still find it sketchier than they'd like.

In any case, well done! One reason to attend a conference is to get feedback. It was a fascinating paper, and beautifully presented, both clearly read and more than ably assisted by the visuals. I'm really sorry you weren't able to stick around for longer. Three days of social interaction with other people who love Tolkien is the foremost value of Mythcon.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:49 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
I just recalled what another one of the comments was. One of the folks pointed out (in a quite a condescending manner, I thought) that the material in the Beren and Lúthien and Túrin sections that I cited as examples of places in the publised text where the scope varying greatly from surrounding areas were two of the "Great Tales" and thus should have been treated in greater depth.


Ah, that jogs my memory. Hostetter again. I didn't think he was condescending --I had actually made the same point in my notes; and he has no idea what you (or others in attendance) may or may not know, so may have felt the need to over-explain-- but I think he may be wrong. It goes back to the issue that the Great Tales were meant to be separate from the Quenta, which was intended to be more consistent in tone. But Christopher Tolkien didn't include the Great Tales because only CoH exists (sort of) as such, and instead worked that into the published Quenta.

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But I didn't say any of those things.


It would have been perfectly appropriate to have done so.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:00 am 
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I was editing my post above to remove the comment about it being condescending as you were writing that post. :)

I really appreciate your comments, Brigand! They are very helpful. So that was the famous Carl Hostetter? I'm flattered.

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It would have been perfectly appropriate to have done so.


I didn't really think of them until afterwards. But I have already worked some of those thoughts into my manuscript. :)

I wish I could have spent more time at the conference, as well. Anthony Burdge of Heren Istarion (who apparently was tapped to chair next year's conference in Connecticut) indicated that he hoped that I would be available to present something there, so hopefully I'll have an opportunity to spend more time there. I hope you'll be there too. (And you too, Jn, since it will be closer to home).

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:13 am 
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Connecticutt is definitely doable!

Thank you, Brigand, for such a thorough summary!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:06 am 
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Perhaps the CT conference will present an opportunity for one of those "more focused" topics? I do think the one about the effect of CJRT's editing on the presentation (or existence) of female characters probably has the best legs, as it were. It would help illustrate that JRRT's view of his female characters wasn't quite so schematic as is often thought...

There is always a thin line in literary scholarship between making a case and expressing an opinion. Books may have more room and more latitude for allowing both, I think, than a presentation with strict time limits. But in any case, I think that you've established your "street cred" with the right people, Dr. V. :) They may not all agree with you, but they seem to recognize the worth of what you're doing.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 5:46 am 
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Just finished by third and final night. Too jazzed to sit still at a computer and write about it except in snatches.
- Arrived after lunch, having been forced to stay home and do laundry, or go to work naked on Monday. Also saw my mom and regaled her with my adventures of the previous day.
- Listened to a fascinating panel discussion on the mechanics of getting a book written - how to get past writer's block, what to do to develop a character, etc. I'll have to review my notes and post it somewhere later.
- Wrote about 10 pages on my new novel, now that I have finally gotten the inspiration to start, while listening to the talks.
- At dinner, sat at the same table with the guy who gave the incredibly bad dragon paper yesterday, and successfully stumbled around to find some positive things to say about it, much to his delight. Turns out he's a teacher, so I suppose he does this all the time. Nothing I might say would change his style, so why not add to the pleasantries of the evening and be complimentary? I said things like "you certainly covered a lot!"
- Food art is evidently a tradition at Mythopoeic conferences, and is usually a pun on the works of the guest of honor, in this case Ellen Kutchner. My favorite was two string beans arranged like the hands of a clock on a large square ravioli, entitled "Rhombus the Timer" to spoof the author's "Thomas the Rhymer". The plate full of various salt and pepper shakers on their sides was "The Fall of Things" (instead of The Fall of Kings). I quickly read Kutchner's bio in a book of hers I'd just bought, to see what other titles to spoof. Cutting out pairs of holes in several raviolis I presented her with food art to match her recent performance art: "A Feast of Masks", and received first a puzzled look, a query "ravioli with eye holes???" followed by a "Woo hoo! Twenty points for Laurie!" when she got it.
- I reflected, as the night wore on, that this was like some religious retreats I've been to - lots of listening to lectures on deep subjects, chances to have self reflection and motivation to make life changes, meeting new friends and having deep conversations and instant rapport, then leaving at the end of the weekend, perhaps never to see them again, but with a renewed sense of purpose. And why not, Tolkienism is a religion, isn't it. :D

This is narya, signing off. Gotta go write that novel, pack tomorrow's lunch, catch up on mail, read the five novels I just bought, and clean my desk. I'm going to stay away from message boards for as long as my resolve lasts, which will probably be about 24 hours. :P

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 6:11 am 
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axordil wrote:
Perhaps the CT conference will present an opportunity for one of those "more focused" topics? I do think the one about the effect of CJRT's editing on the presentation (or existence) of female characters probably has the best legs, as it were. It would help illustrate that JRRT's view of his female characters wasn't quite so schematic as is often thought...


Just back from the Mythcon banquet, where guest-of-honor, Delia Sherman, gave an excellent speech, and the fun concert by Broceliande that followed. At dinner, a friend suggested exactly the same idea as axordil here, and noted that the theme of next year's conference is the role of women in mythopoeic fantasy.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:44 pm 
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Goldberry and I just returned home after two and two half-days at Mythcon 38. We had an excellent time with many strange and wonderful people. They were definitely intelligent, literate, interesting, and fun-loving folk.

Voronwë's presentation was one of the highlights. I thought his introduction was particularly strong. It's a shame he didn't have an additional hour to go into more detail, but then perhaps that would rob us of some of the pleasure we'll undoubtedly receive when his work is published. Bravo, Voronwë!

I participated in the Bardic Circle the first two nights, doing my dramatic recitation of "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" on both nights. I also sang "Annie Laurie" in honor of Narya, Stephen Oliver's setting of "The Fall of Gil-Galad", Caspar Reiff's setting of "The Song of Beren and Lúthien". Other participants read poems of their own, sung folk songs, and so on.

Besides all of the scholarly papers and presentations, silly music, and skits, we were also entertained in first class by radio personality and author Ellen Kushner on Saturday Night and by members of Brocelïande, a Bay Area group specializing in early music, on Sunday night.

I bought one of Brocelïande's CDs as well as "The Starlit Jewel Songbook" featuring songs from The Hobbit and LOTR written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and group members Kristoph Klover and Margaret Davis. (Unfortunatetly, their CD featuring this music has been sold out and is unavailable at this time.) They were fantastic!

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Old_Tom_Bombadil wrote:
Voronwë's presentation was one of the highlights. I thought his introduction was particularly strong. It's a shame he didn't have an additional hour to go into more detail, but then perhaps that would rob us of some of the pleasure we'll undoubtedly receive when his work is published. Bravo, Voronwë!


Thanks, Tom. I really gratified that you were impressed. I'm particularly pleased by your observation that the introduction was particutlarly strong. I really resisted the urge to greatly reduce the length of the introduction in order to be able to get more detail in. I really think it was important to give my comments some context, and I'm glad that that came across for you.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:06 pm 
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I think I understand in part where the ELFers are coming from: they aren't motivated by some ulterior motive related to their privileged stautus, but simply because they know Christopher T and like him-he's a very likeable fellow- and are perhaps oversensitive towards criticism which they think may hurt his feelings.

I've mentioned before my own thoughts that you push the women-thing a little too hard: my own opinion is that CRT was concerned with excessive length *in the early chapters, up to Fëanor's rebellion*, and therefore several characters found their screen-time on the cutting room floor: not only Míriel and Nerdanel, but also Finwë, Fingolfin and Mahtan. It's certainly the case that once we get to the Beleriand section of the book, T himself wrote little about women, save Lúthien, Aredhel, and Morwen: but what there was CT preserved.

FWIW, my own opinion is that CT regarded the new, longer, more detailed rewriting of 1958 as an abortive fragment of a fuller version (which is how his father referred to it!), and which made an unwieldy bulge set into the matrix of the 1951 writing which comprises most of the book. Therefore he worked to include the significant new narrative elements-chiefly Finwë's two wives- but streamline them down to the 'mode' of the Annals. I have in fact asked him about this; however, he politely but firmly deflects any discussion of his 1974-77 work, only saying that for him it's impossible to view the published Sil 'objectively.'


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:22 pm 
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As far as linguists and pronunciation goes, I wouldn't worry too much about that, Voronwë. I heard a lot of mangled Sindarin over the weekend, and some of it by a professor fluent in Middle English and very knowledgeable of Old English. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:14 pm 
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I can't spot mangled Sindarin myself, but I did notice that a couple of linguists (IIRC) asking question stumbled on name pronunciation themselves. Which I bring up, not to make fun of them but as comfort to Professor V.

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Actually I'm grateful to have been forced into paying more attention to that aspect. I have never worried about correct pronunciation before, but I didn't realize just how far off I really was. Maedhros' name is the best example. I have always said "May-drose" in my head. Whereas it is really "My-thros".

Soli, glad to see some comments from you here.

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FWIW, my own opinion is that CT regarded the new, longer, more detailed rewriting of 1958 as an abortive fragment of a fuller version (which is how his father referred to it!)


Can you point me to where JRRT referred to the 1958 "second phase" fuller narrative as "abortive"?

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It's certainly the case that once we get to the Beleriand section of the book, T himself wrote little about women, save Lúthien, Aredhel, and Morwen: but what there was CT preserved.


He did fail to incorporate Nellas as a character in the Túrin chapter, despite incorporating many other elements that do not appear in the Grey Annals. I think that is a shame.

Do I think that CT consciously set out to reduce the role of woman in the Silmarillion? Of course not. But do I think that the edits that he did have that effect? You betcha!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:03 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
Which I bring up, not to make fun of them but as comfort to Professor V.

Exactly! I personally find pronunciation far easier to learn than grammar, and I'm sure those linguists could teach me (or attempt to anyway) far more than I could teach them. :P

As far as online pronunciation guides, I looked at a few and found that the Sindarin Pronunciation page at Ardhon Ellammath looks pretty good.

I've found most native English speakers have difficulties with the DH combination. It should be pronounced like the voiced TH in thisand that rather than the unvoiced TH in thimble and thistle.

Americans also have a distictive way of pronouncing the letter R that is a dead giveaway when they speak other languages. The guide I linked to states that R in Sindarin trilled.

When I learned diction for singing in foreign languages I was taught that an R preceded and followed by a vowel is 'flipped' (a single trill) while those beginning a word or following a consonant are 'rolled' (multiple trills).

I would tend to treat R in Sindarin in this same fashion. For instance, I would flip the R in Caras Galadhon rather than have a prolonged roll: Carrrrrrrrrrrras Galadhon. ;)

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