S03E04 Script Discussion

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Okay, how about this? Norn is a language expert, interested in traveling and learning about different cultures. And so, he knows Khuzdul, Sindarin, and Nandorin. The entire reason he's on the road crew in the first place is to do 'public relations' with any native elves they meet.

And so, when Mablung appears, he promptly says something in Nandorin. Mablung and company catch one word, but look puzzled. He says 'oh!' And switches to Sindarin.

Mablung is delighted, if confused. How did these strangers learn their language? Norn explains that some elves crossed the mountains, looking to meet up with their kin on the other side. There was an accident (rockslide, avalanche, idk), and the elves sought help from some traveling dwarves. Norn allowed the injured elf to stay with him until he healed, and the others came back to fetch him when he was well enough to walk again.

Aka, Norn speaks Sindarin, but the Sindar have had no news of the dwarves. And when the Nandor arrive, there are former Sindar among them (perhaps even Saeros), so the language barrier can be addressed. Would that be acceptable?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
takes as much time as using the Nandorin idea...
This is true. I'm not sure we have room for "story time" concerning things that don't drive the plot. It also seems like quite the contrived coincidence considering Mablung still hasn't heard any news of this.

If this show was in any other European language, it would likely be an easier situation, but English, to my understanding, with its hodgepodge of Germanic and Romance words, makes it quite the conundrum.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Okay....then I'm back to 'Norn speaks with a funny/archaic accent; when we meet the Green Elves, they too speak with this same accent.'

Is that preferable?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Okay....then I'm back to 'Norn speaks with a funny/archaic accent; when we meet the Green Elves, they too speak with this same accent.'

Is that preferable?
I think we can throw in some Old or Middle English pronunciations to make their speech a little different, but yeah, I don't see any way around that.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Who meets whom first?

I mean the Sindar?

Do they meet the Nandor first? In that case they should already know the language Norn does know!
Do they meet Norn first? Then they recognize the Nandor and their language and are able to understand them because they have already talked to norn!
I think two Elves speaking such closely related languages we could shorten things and clear up the misunderstanding in a few seconds of scene... because we know these are Elves, Quendi, natural language talents.

In fact we already DO ghave a very similar scene from the books, the situation when Finrod first meets the Beorians:

Now the Eldar were beyond all other peoples skilled in
tongues; and Felagund discovered also that he could read in the
minds of Men such thoughts as they wished to reveal in speech,
so that their words were easily interpreted. It was not long
therefore before he could converse with Beor; and while he
dwelt with him they spoke much together. But
It is said also that these Men had long had dealings with the
Dark-elves of Middle-earth, and from them had learned much of their
speech; and since all the languages of the Quendi were of one origin,
the language of Beor and his folk resembled the Elven-tongues in many
words and devices.)
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Who meets whom first?

I mean the Sindar?

Do they meet the Nandor first? In that case they should already know the language Norn does know!
Do they meet Norn first? Then they recognize the Nandor and their language and are able to understand them because they have already talked to norn!
I think two Elves speaking such closely related languages we could shorten things and clear up the misunderstanding in a few seconds of scene... because we know these are Elves, Quendi, natural language talents.

In fact we already DO ghave a very similar scene from the books, the situation when Finrod first meets the Beorians:
It depends upon what you mean by "meet". The Nandor are obviously of the same kindred as the Sindar. In our story, Mablung knew Denethor's father, and it isn't a given that he doesn't know Denethor himself. It would strain the credulity of most people that they would have more than a little difficulty communicating. In S03, we meet the Nandor after we meet the dwarves. My question is, what language is similar enough to English to be used in the way you describe? Because there zero languages I can glean much meaning from based on my knowledge of English.

Actually, I think that some of the difficulty we are having in this discussion is based upon the fact that you yourself are multi-lingual. English, I think, is singularly bad for this purpose. There are no "closely related languages" that can be sussed out in this way.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The Sindar meet the dwarves before they are reunited with the Green Elves. Keep in mind that the language skills of the dwarves, while impressive, are not the same thing as the language skills of the elves. Making Finrod and Galadriel telepathic and able to understand foreign languages is one thing. Giving *every* elf that skill would be a bit much.

There are multiple issues to work out here. One, is that Tolkien posited that the long periods of time while geographically separated would lead to disparate language development between the Sindar, the Noldor, and the Nandor (as an example). The challenge with this is that 'last season' does not necessarily feel like 'thousands of years ago' to our viewers, and with elvish immortality being what it is, our main characters are all still mostly the same people (or their children). That level of language development in a single generation is going to strike the viewers as...odd. Doesn't mean we can't have it. It just means that it is a challenge that is difficult to work into the story.

The second issue is that we've been having everyone speak English. So, the elves at Cuivienen were speaking English. The Sindar in Beleriand are speaking English. And the Noldor in Valinor are speaking English onscreen. So, with all of these groups actively speaking English, how do you portray them as 'actually' speaking different languages? While much of Tolkien's story relies upon language development, we will likely find this easier to accomplish with the 'fringe' groups who meet the main characters but remain on the periphery. There is no issue with introducing dwarvish in this episode. The dwarves will speak it privately with subtitles, and not use it to communicate with the elves. The audience will not expect the dwarves to speak the same language as the elves. It will be much harder to pull this off when the Sindar meet the Noldor in Season 4. How can we show two groups who both speak English on screen having trouble understanding one another?

The third issue is showing how closely related Nandorin is to Sindarin. While we could certainly portray characters using Nandorin, it would seem a seriously foreign language to an English speaker. NOT the kind of language where you catch every fifth word and know what it means. We'd have to invent some sort of fantasy patois for that effect to come across in our show. This one is harder to explain, so I will use examples.

In 'The 100,' the Grounder language has developed among the survivors on Earth. It is clearly a variation on English, and has only had 100 years to develop distinctively from the other groups. Compared to Klingon or Dothraki, it sounds much less foreign, with some words being clearly identifiable English words. For instance, the word for tunnel sounds suspiciously like 'subway,' the word for blood sounds like 'juice,' and the word for people sounds like 'crew.' While it's still a different language, it's not nearly as foreign as most foreign languages would be. So, if we are going to represent a language that is 'similar' to the one our main characters are speaking, we can't actually use the languages Tolkien invented, but would have to invent another that was similar to English.

This is all an issue for the script writing and the voice coaching and the directing, of course, and overlaps some conversations we've had on the 'how do the characters talk' thread. We don't need to resolve all of that for this outline. We just need to figure out how understandable Norn is, and then represent that appropriately in the outline. And, we have to decide whether Nandorin as a language is something we ever plan to mention on our show.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
So, I haven't been able to figure out whether any decision has been made. I am worried about having a script outline written by this Friday (Edit: or next friday). I'm not trying to push any of my past suggestions. But I would like to know what language the Nandor will speak?

(Clarification detail: I know everyone will speak English on screen. What I mean is, when the script lists the actual name of the specific language that Norn learned from the Nandor, what is the name of that language?)
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
This Friday will be the Session discussing the season finale (episode 13).

I am in favor of having Norn speak English with a peculiar accent, and then using that same accent when the Green Elves return to the screen. So, Mablung can ask Norn how he speaks his language, without naming it.

We would likely have opportunity to use some Nandorin words in the script. For instance, if the Nandor wish to declare someone their 'unfriend' forever, it would likely be best to use something other than the English word for that. We may have opportunity to differentiate the languages further later, when we encounter Silvan elves in the Second Age.
 
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Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Derp, I keep forgetting which sessions are when.

Edit:
So, my concern is that if it is stated in the dialogue, by Mablung, to be Mablung's own language, then it is still very specifically Sindarin. Even if the name Sindarin is not used, "Mablung's language" does mean Sindarin. That will, necessarily, require that the Nandor cannot speak Nandorin.

Edit:
We would likely have opportunity to use some Nandorin words in the script. For instance, if the Nandor wish to declare someone their 'unfriend' forever, it would likely be best to use something other than the English word for that. We may have opportunity to differentiate the languages further later, when we encounter Silvan elves in the Second Age.
I would like this! But, the problem I see is that this would create a logical contradiction. If the native language of the Nandor is stated in the script to be "Mablung's language" (which is Sindarin), then their native language cannot also, simultaneously, be Nandorin. Both at the same time isn't possible. It can only be one or the other.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
That opening scene with Eöl - do we leave that in, even if we're *not* having Eöl buy Nan Elmoth this season? I really don't like the idea of just dropping Eöl's storyline at the end of the season, but the Hosts do seem to want to introduce Eöl-in-Nan-Elmoth as part of Season 4 now. So...thoughts?


As for the use of unique words in Nandorin, I think that fits with the 'archaic' version of Sindarin that we are treating it as. The TV show Outlander has characters who speak Scotch Gaelic (without subtitles) and French (with subtitles) [and, naturally, they mostly all speak in English]. While they do occasionally use a word of Gaelic in English (specifically 'sassenach' as a term for an outsider or non-Scot), what is more common is to use a word of dialect that is not too strange to the audience. So 'wee' for little, 'bairn' for child, and 'ken' for know. These are of course used in the English dialogue, but *not* by the characters who speak English as their native language. I am merely suggesting we pick a word or two of Nandorin to use in this way, so that the speech of the Nandor seem a bit archaic or to have it's own dialect, in comparison to Sindarin.
 
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Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Would you please be willing, to at least consider and think about as a possibility, naming the language "Elvish" instead of "Sindarin" and Mablung's language? Please, please at least consider the possibility of avoiding the explicit, unequivocal declaration that the Nandor literally speak Sindarin. I beg you to consider naming the language of the Nandor a name that is not explicitly literally "Sindarin". I don't think "Elvish" is a bad word. It is very ambiguous and would not force you to ever acknowledge the existence of Nandorin in any form, at any time in the series. "Elvish" would not in any way imply that the Nandor have any distinct language or linguistic history, at all. It would not even imply any dialect difference. Please, please, just don't use the name "Sindarin" itself. Since everyone in the series speaks English, using the name "Sindarin" is not necessary.

I am giving in to you about making the Nandor literally speak Sindarin itself. I have completely given in to all of your opinions about linguistics, and totally given up all my other requests that mean so very much to me. I promise that will never, ever ask you to mention the names "Nandorin" or "Silvan", ever in the entire series -- I will make a note to myself so I don't forget, and if I do forget later you can yell at me. Please just don't draw a lot of attention to this change by also naming the language "Sindarin" and calling it Mablung's language. I beg you to please just be willing to consider the possibility of using the very generic, non-committal name "Elvish". It would only be just three words different, out of the whole script. I think it would be really be only a tiny edit.

Haerangil and Brian Dimmick and I have all requested something along these lines. That is three people, three votes.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Sure, I can say 'Elvish' here - I'm not sure that actually changes anything, though. They're still speaking in English. The greetings can be in elvish, though, so if Mablung calls out in Sindarin and Norn answers back in Silvan, it's not like the audience is going to know that. But that is definitely at the level of script writing.

Seriously, there's no reason to be like this. If it's important to you that the Nandor in this season speak a different language than the Sindar of Doriath, then we would have to work out a way to make that happen. The problem is going to come back MUCH MORE STRONGLY next season when the Sindar and the Noldor meet each other. Because, on film, it is very difficult to show a language barrier when your characters are both speaking English.

I have no problem understanding the linguistic issue, and I'm aware of how important that aspect of world-building was to Tolkien -- what I have a problem with is trying to figure out how to make that both happen and look believable on screen. Lenwë, Denethor's father, spoke English last season. Mablung spoke English last season. Mablung is still speaking English. Why would Lenwë's son Denethor be speaking a completely non-Germanic language at this point?

The Dwarves are new characters who have just appeared. They can speak a unique language without thought or explanation. The Nandor...are not new. We are re-introducing them. That limits us. So, as a compromise, we are giving them a weird accent with some archaic English words in it. We are giving Norn this same accent/vocabulary when he meets Mablung.
 
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