Public Domain Elvish
October 8, 2019 8:33 AM Subscribe
Dublin-based writer Orla ní Dhúill examines the appropriation of the Irish language and folklore in fantasy literature, from lines of dialogue cribbed from books of Irish proverbs to problematic tropes coloured through an English colonial perception of wild/savage Ireland, to the oddly disconcerting sensation for Irish speakers of seeing mundane words from their language badly translated and imbued with arcane significance by fantasy writers from abroad. (Apparently Tolkien was not to blame—his Elvish draws more on Finnish—though lazier or less linguistically adept successors tended to look to the Emerald Isle whenever they needed to crib something a bit fey, mystical and distinct from the mundane modern world.) Ní Dhúill also appears on an episode of the Motherfocloir podcast to discuss this phenomenon in more detail; mentioning, among other things, Warhammer space-elves, the cringeworthy elf-IRA in Shadowrun and the grimoire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer whose text was an announcement of a new bus lane in Dublin.
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