September 4, 2001
Reply to An_Orc
Hello Orc. Huh boy! I thought that one had been quietly
ignored, but apparently not.
So here we go:
Number 1) I was clearly thoughtless in my sweeping condemnation. I should have made a
concession to those who do not speak English as their first language. Chalk it up (oh
look, you did!) to anglophonism: I didn't even think about this aspect because I don't see
a lot of people posting to, say, Elostirion.com who don't have a lifetime of experience in
French (or if they do, they're being sneaky). I subconsciously assumed that most people
who came here were probably English-speakers from the cradle (or shortly thereafter).
Stupid of me, but then, you already think I'm dumb, so I shouldn't worry that you won't
draw that conclusion.
In any case, and whatever your private opinion, I am highly impressed by anyone who posts
to forums not run in his/her native tongue(s).
Number 2) There are, however, large hordes of us who have no such excuse. Every so often,
I stumble upon a string of articles that are just painful to read. Since I have absolutely
no evidence that the writers are all coming from a non-English background, I get
Got that? I am not mad at you, I am upset by people who are like me (i.e., grew up in an
English-only household) who don't use their own language properly.
Number 3) Other than being in a really crappy mood brought on by slogging through the
badly written papers of my friends (all of whom, you will be relieved to know, fall
into category 2 of this response) I posted that article here because I think there's
something inherently tragic in praising the beauty of Tolkien in a manner that betrays a
woeful lack of concern with the beauty of the language. If I suspect that this comes from
a reluctance to reread one's work or use the resources thoughtfully provided by this site,
then I get highly annoyed to say the least.
To be perfectly clear: My complaints have nothing to do with the global phenomenon
that is Tolkien-in-translation. I do not think LOTR belongs only to the English-speaking
world, any more than Dostoyevsky belongs solely to the Russians. And I am not trying to
reform to a seventeenth century perspective: I was raging against what I perceive as
carelessness, which is a problem in any century and in any tongue.
In conclusion: I'm sorry about your hurt feelings, O Orc! Go forth knowing that you
were not being addressed. Spread the word among your fellows that I'm not picking on you
(honestly and truly, I am not!). Be happy that you can speak five languages while
Americans "enjoy" a reputation for linguistic stupidity that does not spare
their own tongue. Laugh when you discover the errors in this article!
Anyone else who wants to snipe at me for my high and mighty airs will doubtless do so. In
fact, just in case they do, here are the responses, once and for all, to all the excuses
that come to mind:
1) I come here to relax so don't pester me with grammar, you tyrant! Response: I also come
here to relax, and I'm asking the same thing.
2) Your writing style sucks! How dare you criticize mine?! Response: I didn't say your
style was at issue, I was talking about something more basic than that.
3) How dare you criticize me period!? What gives you the right? Response: The same thing
that gives you the right to call me into question. If it helps, I won't be bringing this
topic up again. That was a one-time blast.
4) Why should I live up to your expectations, you elitist, you? Response: Well, I wasn't
asking you to live up to my standards. I was rather hoping you'd want to respect the
language to which you were born. If you don't want to do that, fine. I can't argue with
that attitude. Just know that my feelings about English as my native tongue are very
5) This was not an appropriate topic for this forum. Response: At the time, it made sense
to me (see 3 in body of article). As I said, I won't be bringing it up again, so rest
6) That was just stupid of you. Response: Apparently so. We young folk often suffer from
an appalling lack of judgment. Forgive me.
7) Jerk! Response: No comment.