Talk:Lapine language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Constructed languages (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Constructed languages, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of constructed languages on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

An open letter to the editors[edit]


I corresponded with Richard Adams and "subcreated" a language around his Lapine. In fact 2 related languages (differnt historical states of devlopment if you like). This is written up in 2 theses in the library of Trinity College Cambridge and University College of Wales Swansea (Schema Aleoloingoistica and Ars Aleolinguistica).. i developed the idea of "Aleolinguistics" -- the development of languages in literature (a la Tolkien). I was awarded the D H I Powell Memorial Scholarship from Swansea and the Projects Fund Scholarship and First Yeomanship from Trinity for this work. A summary appears in 2 articles published in 1986 and 1988 in Quettar, journal of the linguistics group of the UK Tolkien Society, and in Aglared, (English edition), journal of the Swiss Tolkien Society in 1987 and 1988. Adams commented that the motivation for th sound of Lapine was that it should sound "wuff-fluffy" and akin in some phonological respects to Arabic (from his time in N Africa in WWII I believe).

Thought you might like to put in something to this effect...

Some examples of script and so on are found at my company website (Alowvelki' Consulting Ltd). "Alowvelki' (acute accent on final "i") is Lapine for "bittersweet".. i have this as a tattoo design... "Hririn alowvelki" means "life is bittersweet" (* grin *).

I have written some poetry and prose (U Frithhain - The Sunsong, for example); U Sthinga-i-Kelaabr (translation of Tolkien's Ring Poem).

I dont; have my literature in electronic format but could scan some.

Eur Chem Dr Patrick Jemmer BA (Hons) CertPostgradStudy MA (Cantab) MA (Oxon) MRSC MInstP MIMA CChem CPhys CMath LNCP MNCH (Lic) LHS LAPH FRSH AMWFH AMBAThH AMSHA AMSHR

Senior Lecturer & Admissions Tutor (Computing)

D110 Ellison Building School of Informatics Northumbria University NE1 8ST UK telephone: +44 (0)191-243-7679 facsimile: +44 (0)191-227-3362


For example, the proper Lapine name "Kehaar" is quoted as being reminiscent of the Arabic "Behaar". Kehaar was a bird, so did not actually speak Lapine. If I remember correctly, he communicated with the rabbits via a simpler language, the same as they used with the mouse. Maybe this sentence should be re-worded, since his name is not actually part of the language but another? Oogabooga 01:44, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

If it was, as seems to be implied, Richard Adams himself that was the source of that "Kehaar/Behaar" comment, then we can hardly override him! It's a fair point though, since (except for that one short prepared speech) Kehaar speaks no Lapine at all. Loganberry (Talk) 03:31, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
As I recall, Kehaar's name meant something like "crashing waves" or something similarly marine. The rabbits had no word for this. Mon Vier 10:27, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Just checked my copy: Chapter 23 - Kehaar - Bigwig says "That's his name - Kehaar. It's the noise the water makes".Mon Vier 18:07, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

The other animals spoke "hedgerow," which is almost certainly simply the animal term for "pidgin." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:09, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Removal of list of words[edit]

This article recently had a full list of Lapine words added to it. Although it did have a much shorter list earlier, I deleted the list section entirely, per WP:NOTDIRECTORY. The list was (as far as I can tell) merely copied verbatim from an external website, which is linked at the bottom of the article, so the resource is still available to those who need it, while this encyclopedic article can remain an encyclopedic article. Mr. Absurd (talk) 02:17, 28 July 2008 (UTC)


I've taken out the entry

  • bob-stones: A type of guessing game with stones played by rabbits.

which is (by all appearances, anyhow) not a Lapine word but an English word with a Lapine-cultural referent. 4pq1injbok (talk) 00:04, 24 June 2009 (UTC)


Deleted the tag, since Watership Down is such an influential book. This isn't just another personal conlang. — kwami (talk) 23:13, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

It doesn't matter how influential Watership Down is; notability is not inherited. We need to find independent sources which cover the language in depth. Do you know of any? If so, please add them to the article as references. Psychonaut (talk) 08:31, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Not only am I fairly certain that no noteworthy independent reliable source will suitable to establishing the notability of this topic will be forthcoming, even if one were to materialize, keeping this as an independent article would not make sense. A fair bit of this information can be merged into Watership Down, but not the entire index (see WP:WWIN). Snow talk 16:13, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Did you notice the message by Patrick Jemmer elsewhere on this page? There are apparently two monographs (though whether they've been formally published isn't clear), plus two articles in Tolkien Society journals, which may have significant coverage. A quick Google Scholar search shows some other academic articles which may discuss the language in depth. One I found (but didn't read) is "Lapine Lingo in American English: Silflay" by Thomas E. Murray in American Speech 60(4):372–375, 1985). —Psychonaut (talk) 16:33, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
(Note: First section written before you altered you post to include the Google scholar search. Note that it's usually best practice in these cases -- when responding immediately to another comment -- to append a second message rather than edit the original, such that issues with edit conflicts are less of a pain):
None of which meet Wikipedia's standards for a suitable reliable source in this instance, I'm afraid. First off, speculated-upon monographs are never acceptable sources and even if we had concrete confirmation of them, they are not appropriate sources for establishing notability, which requires independent secondary sources which themselves demonstrate that the language was discussed by sources not connected to its creation. I'm doubtful that Tolkien Society journals would be considered reliable sources in this event, but in any case we have no reference details on them, nor indeed any indication of how they treat this topic, if really at all. Even putting aside the sourcing, I have a hard time envisioning a group of editors (if it comes down to an AfD or RfC) doing anyhting but voting to merge this material. We don't create host vocabularies of languages on this project, real or fictional. Please see WP:INDISCRIMINATE and WP:NOTDICT. I don't see much chance of this surviving any kind of community discussion that brings in broad perspectives via RfC or AfD, so I'm inclined to say we focus on what can be merged, but if you feel discussion should take place first, we can certainly do that. It's honestly seems to me to be a WP:SNOWBALL issue, but we can make a filing.
Adding: As to the Google scholar-derived sources, someone will have to vet them as to exactly what they say on the topic before they can be forwarded as proof of notability. Snow talk 16:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I don't understand your objection to monographs. Is it possible that you are interpreting this word to mean something other than what it usually means (i.e., a book-length work of research)? Patrick Jemmer had no involvement in the creation of the lapine language, so any monograph by him would be both independent and secondary. Graduate-level theses are usually considered reliable, provided they've achieved influence in the field. We'd have to examine things like citation counts to see whether this is the case. —Psychonaut (talk) 17:21, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Forgive the ambiguity in my wording; my objection to them was that they are (as yet) speculative sources; we have no indication of when (or if) they were published or what they had to say on the subject. As to whether they will prove usable once we have those details, that will depend largely on the nature of the work. If it's some sort of extended grammar, then it remains a primary source. What is really wanting here is a [[WP:N|source which treats it in a critical, analytical fashion. If the linguistic journals Thibbs references bear-out, that would be a start, but, again, I'm dubious. But now that people are keen to search out what may be out there, we'll see what turns up and what can be made of the article itself. Still leaning towards merge at this point myself though. Snow talk 17:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
  • I'd be opposed to a merge or deletion based on a claim that the topic lacks notability. It's discussed in depth in numerous reliable sources (typically linguistic journals or encyclopedic books of invented languages). Given the fact that Tolkien's literature also deals heavily in invented languages (or roots anyway), I wouldn't be quick to dismiss the Tolkien Society publications either. I've been meaning to give this article some attention and I've collected a decent handful of reliable sources to add. Sadly some of them I collected while attending a university whose databases I no longer have access to so those would have to be retrieved by someone else (if usable - I forget exactly what they covered...). Anyway this would make a good collaboration project if there is sufficient interest. -Thibbs (talk) 17:06, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
As someone with a background in linguistics, I'd be pretty surprised to see this in a journal; even more robust examples of constructed languages only get a limited amount of treatment by academics in the formal field of linguistics, and those who do study it are more likely to be in cognitive science or machine learning than in linguistics per say, which focuses more towards natural language. In any event, there really is no language to speak of in this case -- that is, no syntax and no formal grammar, just a very limited vocabulary of about two-dozen words, if we consider the original material of note. Any reference to a broader constructed language made by someone claiming to have worked with Adams (but without any kind of genuine sourcing) is problematic on many obvious levels. There's also the significant WWIN issues and the various other content arguments for why this isn't really a stand-alone topic and for why various bits of the content here are not really appropriate to the project. Look, how do I say this...I love this story like the first memory of a piece of music that I have, but I just don't see how the fact that "tharn" means "gripped by terror" in the constructed language of rabbits in this story can be considered broadly valuable encyclopedic content. All of that said, if you're convinced you have good sources and want to take a crack at improving the article, I'll reserve my opinion (and any action I might have recommended to invite broad editorial scrutiny here) until after you've had some time to work on it. Good luck, but I'm dubious!Snow talk 17:36, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
That sounds good. A background in linguistics will be ideal to help vet the materials then. I don't have time now, but I'll post what I have as far as sources are concerned tomorrow. Certainly it's enough to meet GNG, and the addition of these sources would make the article much stronger. If after the improvements have taken place it seems like a merge should be made for practical reasons (readability, inter-article consistency, or some other reason) then I'd entertain that argument but I reject the view that the topic isn't sufficiently notable on its own. I'll post sources as soon as I get a moment. It might also be a good idea to explain the significant WWIN issues, though, before any major improvements get under way. -Thibbs (talk) 04:16, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Thibbs No rush, in my opinion. As I've said, I'm strongly inclined that a merger would be ideal here, but this isn't a pressing issue and (as no one else is pressing the issue here), as far as I'm concerned you can take weeks to get the sources in order and it wouldn't be excessive for this manner of issue. Please don't feel harried to do this in a hurry just because I implied that I might eventually seek some broader input; I'd honestly like to see what you can do here before forming a more concrete opinion, especially if your new sources speak as well to notability as you feel they do. I know I spoke ardently at first, but that's just because the case seemed very cut and dry with the facts as they were at the time; by all means, take your time without fear that I'm going to launch forward with an AfD because I grow impatient. :)
As to the WWIN issues, it's kind of a nebulous case. Mostly the issues align along the lines of WP:NOTDICT and WP:INDISCRIMINATE. With regard to NOTDICT, on this particular project, we don't include extended lists on the definitions of words even for real-life languages that are of central importance to our readers, and I believe it's even more drastically inconsistent with policy to do so for a fictional language that is really only of niche interest to a handful of enthusiasts, especially when the "language" in question is just a handful of random words peppered throughout a couple of novels; I'm all for Watership Down getting due and significant coverage, but spinning out these kinds of details strikes me as venturing into fancruft territory. It doesn't seem markedly different from having a "Cosmology in Watership Down" article; yes that subject exists within the novel, but does it have sufficient coverage by outside sources supporting it's relevance. Even if so, is it really likely to be information that will be broadly useful to our readers in understanding the parent and connected topics? Anyone who is likely to be interested in this incredibly niche topic probably already knows those words and the few paltry details of context they have; I'm not sure I see the value of including the full details of the novels own glossary here (this is where WP:INDISCRIMINATE comes. Even if we take the (I think rather dubious) leap in assuming an affirmative answer to the last two questions, there's still the matter of whether this info is still not better off as a part of the article for the parent topic; there it is arguably better located for navigation purposes, it is better contextualized and the material will get the oversight it needs to stay within the bounds of a reasonable summarization of the topic and its relevance (per WP:SUMMARYSTYLE).
But, again, certainly I think you deserve a shot at establishing the topic and the content on its own ground. Though I'd honestly hate to see you go through a lot of effort to develop the article if a lot of that material is going to just end up getting trimmed out in a merge. But that investment of time is your call, not mine, so give it your best shot -- I'll keep tabs and offer what perspective I can on the above issues. Good luck. Snow talk 05:46, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I guess I just wanted you to know I'm not ignoring the problem. Today is actually rather busy for me so I may not get to too much content-work, but I will at a minimum identify the sources I had gathered. -Thibbs (talk) 11:18, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

A handful of sources[edit]

OK here are the sources I had written down:

It's only 8 sources, but it was only from a quick skim a few years ago (I think it was in late 2012 or early 2013 when I last looked). I assume there are more if one looks more deeply. Of these I can't recall exactly what the contents were and I neglected to save them for my files so we'll have to get some assistance for the less accessible ones. In particular I have great difficulty remembering what the connection to Lapine was for the James and Valdman sources. Any help in that area would be appreciated. The topic is treated in some depth in the Battista, Cain, Henning, Murray, and Rogers sources, though. The Corder article also covers Lapine as it is used in the novel to communicate with the character of Kehaar the gull. So with in-depth coverage by multiple ostensibly reliable sources I'm pretty confident the topic meets the GNG and shouldn't be deleted. It would be helpful if we could discuss whether any of these are in fact unreliable. -Thibbs (talk) 02:25, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Thibbs, these do indeed seem to make a decent case for notability. I would avoid using James and Valdman at present time for exactly the reasons you cite; we don't know what they say and I'm kind of skeptical, given their subjects as suggested by their titles, that they would treat Lapine in more than a tangential manner (I'm just guessing from context here, but I suspect Valdman references Watership Down in comparing Kehaar's speech patterns to topics in second language acquisition, and thus probably has little to say about Lapine itself). But the remaining sources themselves would be sufficient to pass GNG and other relevant notability guidelines on their own (or at least, that is my impression so far, not having looked at what they say about the subject).
I remain skeptical, on account of other issues raised previously, as to whether this information is best served by an independent article, but...well, I didn't expect you'd pass notability by such a bar either, so I'll just keep silent for now and see what you can do for the page content as well. But before then, if I can offer one piece of advice, I would remove the "selected" vocabulary and "selected" names section (in reality it seems to be a comprehensive list of every Lapine word and name that features in those books), as they just aren't in any sense general encyclopedic content, and are in conflict with WP:NOTDICT, WP:INDISCRIMINATE, and WP:USEPROSE and are possibly a copyvio issue as well. Replace those fancruft sections with referenced independent and secondary analysis drawn from the above sources and the argument for an independent article will be much stronger. (And I may have to eat some crow for being so gung-ho to merge from the start.) Snow talk 00:25, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not really against a merge if it makes practical sense for the Watership Down article, I'm only against such an action resting on notability concerns. The parent topic seems to be much more manageable than the articles on e.g. the Tolkien oeuvre which are so huge that they look for excuses to split off child articles like Elvish for readability. Comparatively, our Watership Down article falls well below the WP:SIZESPLIT threshold so a merge shouldn't cause readability issues. In addition, I think "Lapine" is specific to the Watership Down books while Elvish is used in multiple non-Tolkien works. It's not as if this article covers the rabbit dialects from the Redwall or other series, and I'm not sure there are sources to justify such an expansion. I'll rely on your greater familiarity with linguistic articles in assuming that the selected glossary is unhelpful as well. I've written to friends to see if they can obtain copies of these articles and I'll start the content edits once they come in. In the meantime feel free to modify things where you think it would help (especially for more serious problems like a copyvio.) -Thibbs (talk) 11:37, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
That's pretty much my thinking in a nutshell too. But it only makes sense to wait until after you're done adding content in before we say for sure; no sense in merging if we might have to split it off again, as unlikely as that seems. I'll take a pass at the page soon and try to collapse the glossary into a few conservatively-sized statements of prose, if possible. The problem is that while I can list the classes of term (time keeping, terms for other rabits, terms for predators, lore figures), as those are self-evident, I can't say much more without veering off into synthesis. For example, while the form of some words does suggest a certain language typology (polysynthetic or agglutinative), A) there's no source that says as much, B) the sample size is to small to say anything even if WP:OR standards were not holding me back, and C) the whole thing kind of doesn't make sense, which is understandable when you consider we are talking about a language using human typography to represent human phonetics/phonology (that is, pronunciation) that could never be pronounced by rabbit mouths... So, clearly the implication is that the communication is translated from rabbit code (whatever that's like) to human language (if one stops to think about it at all, which I don't recommend; it doesn't help the appreciation of the story), but then, why are only some words "translated" as English and some as "Lapine"? Why are some thoughts and concepts we recognize by words -- and which rabbits would express who knows how, if they had human-like minds -- brought over in the regular language we use and others are given a foreign-sounding word that needs to be looked up in a glossary?
Honestly, I'm not bothered by these logical inconsistencies in the reading of the book, where they just add colour. But it does raise complications for us in editorial terms. Because as the above point illustrate's, Lapine isn't really a language, it's just a random selection of contextually isolated terms that give a bit of exotic/fantastical window dressing, so that the shared history and culture of the rabbits feels a little more natural. But it'a impractical to try to parse it on linguistic terms, because the parts don't add up to a real language (or even a real linguistic context). Snow talk 13:36, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Update: I just got copies of the articles in my email right now. A quick scan shows that the James article is essentially useless (a single sentence or two referring to the Corder article). The Valdman article holds more promise with close to 4 pages of discussion of language in Watership Down. I'll have some time to dig deeper in the next day or two and then I'll work toward expanding/reffing the article content. -Thibbs (talk) 05:05, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Update 2: Sorry for the delay. It took me longer than I expected to track down a copy of the Battista source which ultimately proved to be too trivial to use... Anyway I've made a sourced expansion now that accomplishes the bulk of the work I intend to do here. The Cain source is still semi-eluding me. I'm working from the Google Books version and although I've seen the whole thing before, my present "limited view" is preventing me from seeing the first-half of the entry in this book. So there is potential for a little bit of further expansion there depending on what that source says. Now the question becomes whether or not this article should remain as a stand-alone article or whether it should be merged into Watership Down. I can see arguments either way. Regarding the glossary of terms, I'm not sure what would be best. All things considered, there are so few words presented that I don't see the list as being overly burdensome to the reader, but I'm not really sure how much it adds to an understanding of the topic either. So that would be a good thing for the community to decide. -Thibbs (talk) 15:50, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
    • I've looked over the glossary more closely now. I'm not sure what the intention was, but it's a very close paraphrasing of the "Lapine Glossary" included at the end of Watership Down and Tales from Watership Down. The article currently does not attribute this glossary to its source so that is a problem. The question is whether we should tweak the list to match the glossary from the book, whether (and how) we should make an actual selection of only some of the terms, or whether we should just axe the list. Any thoughts? -Thibbs (talk) 01:05, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Sorry for the delay in response, Thibbs. My strong inclination is to lose the list altogether (per not WP:NOTDICT and other policy concerns) and just work a few of the words into the prose. So, for example, having a few sentences mentioning that the limited glossary contains reference to both bound and unbound morphemes (-rah vs. thlay) and that it has both content and function words (u vs. elil), probably doesn't hurt, but we have to be careful about going too far into synthesis in deconstructing the language, so we can probably only get a few sentences in this regard -- especially given we don't have a syntax for the language. Once the glossary is gone and we've seen just how much prose it leaves behind, we'll be in a better position to decide on the issue of whether an independent article or merger is the better way to go. Snow I take all complaints in the form of epic rap battles 04:16, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
        • No worries, Snow Rise. Deletion of the glossary and working in a section on grammar/construction sounds like a good idea. I particularly dislike the list in its current form (a series of very close and in some cases imprecise paraphrases of the original glossary). Compare for example Wikipedia's definition of "embleer" (Stinking, the word for the smell of a fox.) with the original definition (Stinking, e.g. the smell of a fox.) In my view the incorporation of the "exempli gratia" into the substance of the definiens gives readers an imprecise understanding of the word as one gets the sense that "embleer" may be somehow derived from the word for fox (i.e. "homba"). The only reason I can imagine to reword it like this is in a misguided attempt to dodge plagiarism and copyright concerns. For reference a proper (99% accurate, but missing footnote directions) copy of the original glossary can be found here. Do you have any thoughts on this matter or on the recent changes to the article, Psychonaut? -Thibbs (talk) 15:45, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
          • Many thanks for having tracked down these sources and updated the article. I agree that the sources point toward the topic being independently notable. I favour User:Snow Rise's suggestion of removing the glossary and working some examples into the article prose; the list is already longer than it needs to be to give readers a taste of the vocabulary, and in this form is pretty hard to avoid copyright infringement. —Psychonaut (talk) 16:00, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
  • OK, it is done. Given your linguistic background, Snow Rise, you might be the best to add some non-SYNTHy basic claims to the body in place of the glossary. Do you want to take a crack at it? -Thibbs (talk) 16:26, 2 March 2015 (UTC)