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Robert E. Howard and The Picts


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#21 deuce

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 02:26 PM

Howard's use of K suggests a Q-Celtic, which would fit in with his own study of Goidelic languages. Perhaps the original Proto-Celtic would be more suitable?



What part of this statement from REH (quoted just a few posts back) are you misunderstanding?

"So while Bran Mac Morn is Gaelic for "The Raven, Son of Morn", Bran Mak Morn has no Gaelic significance, but has a meaning of its own, purely Pictish and ancient, with roots in the dim mazes of antiquity; the similarity in sound to the Gaelic term is purely coincidence!"

The term "mak" (in his Pictish context), according to REH, has no Gaelic/Goidelic/Celtic/Indo-European significance.

HTS, I know you fancy yourself some sort of linguist, but when discussing Howard's sub-creations, a minimum of familiarity with his concepts is required. Robert E. Howard set the rules for this game. There are threads specifically about the historical (ie, "Celtic") Picts on this board. There is also a "Celts" thread. If you can't accept Robert E. Howard's concepts, feel free to pontificate where such is perfectly acceptable.

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#22 deuce

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 02:57 PM

We shouldn't forget the brochs, which at one time were believed to be the work of the Picts.


Quite right. Here we are in more Howardian territory. Farley Mowat, IMO, makes one of the most plausible (if not rigorous) "REH Pictish" arguments in his Farfarers/Alban Quest book. This thread wasn't created with the intent of disproving what REH believed and/or propounded in his Pictish yarns (there are several other threads for that, if you're not too lazy to look them up), rather it was to discuss how he viewed the Picts and also where, if at all, his vision intersected with what we know of history/pre-history.

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#23 Ho there Semiramis!

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 07:50 PM

HTS, I know you fancy yourself some sort of linguist

Do I detect some hostility here?
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#24 Ho there Semiramis!

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 10:06 PM

My first post was moved to this forum from the Hyborian Age Linguistics one. I agree they are on the wrong forum, and I should have put them on my own topic thread. Which was set up by a supposed linguist as a forum for people with an interest in languages to have some fun with the languages portrayed in the works of Howard.

rather it was to discuss how he viewed the Picts and also where, if at all, his vision intersected with what we know of history/pre-history.

There are two approaches to this: From how his vision intersected with our current understanding of them, and how it intersected with how they were viewed at the time of Howard. The second is more significant to how his own vision came about, but both are interesting.

Edited by Ho there Semiramis!, 04 March 2010 - 10:28 PM.

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#25 deuce

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 11:53 PM

HTS, I know you fancy yourself some sort of linguist

Do I detect some hostility here?


Nothing more than slight irritation that despite REH's direct statement to the contrary being quoted a few posts before, you suggested constructing a Pictish conlang based on P-Celtic. I love linguistics and philology and have studied them all my life, both in and out of academic settings.

Robert E. Howard made an explicit connection between his Picts and the Basques, not Celts of the P- or Q- persuasion. If you want to have fun playing the game of constructing a Howardian Pictish language, then do so. Just keep in mind that REH set the rules of the game, and what is said in a textbook doesn't take precedence. Otherwise, you're just trying to "correct" Howard and thereby invalidating whatever conlang you've cobbled together.

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#26 deuce

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 12:15 AM

My first post was moved to this forum from the Hyborian Age Linguistics one. I agree they are on the wrong forum, and I should have put them on my own topic thread. Which was set up by a supposed linguist as a forum for people with an interest in languages to have some fun with the languages portrayed in the works of Howard.

rather it was to discuss how he viewed the Picts and also where, if at all, his vision intersected with what we know of history/pre-history.

There are two approaches to this: From how his vision intersected with our current understanding of them, and how it intersected with how they were viewed at the time of Howard. The second is more significant to how his own vision came about, but both are interesting.



There's absolutely nothing wrong with looking at the academic views of the Picts current during Howard's time (though REH tended to lean toward pre-20th century views on the Picts). Such researches can be quite instructive. Data such as those have their place on a thread like this. I was simply trying to head off a debacle of a type we had a while back. A historian from Europe came on the Forum and basically announced that he had determined the time-frame of the Cormac Mac Art yarns was around the time of Charlemagne. This was in spite the fact that REH had plainly stated that the stories took place sometime in the late 5th century. Our helpful historian's reasoning was that since we now "know" that 5th century Danish Vikings are an "impossibility", then REH's intent as stated in the stories should just be swept aside.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence anyway.

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#27 Kortoso

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 12:30 AM

Whatever we know "think" we know about the Picts today, can certainly be addressed, but it really doesn't explain Howard's vision as much as whatever he thought the Picts were back in his time.

It may even be that there was more accurate material available to him, but that he chose to ignore that and use earlier, less scientific, but more interesting material for his stories.

At any rate, the material that he used to inform his stories, I think, should be front and center.

By the way, proto-Celtic would be best used for Cimmerian, since this is the most ancient root of Gaelic.

To "reconstruct" Pictish in a faithful manner, would probably be better off using as many of the given Pictish names from the stories as possible: whatever other vocabulary words you come up with after that, should rightly agree with the canon as much as possible.

Then, since REH seemed to connect the Picts with the Basques, add this in as much as possible.

Maybe you would find yourself with a Iroquoian/Euskara pidgin. Posted Image



#28 Ho there Semiramis!

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 01:48 AM

Ah, I found it. Just didn't use the "Wayback Machine" site to its fullest. The book is titled The Romance of Early British Life: From the Earliest Times to the Coming of the Danes by G. F. Scott Elliot. I've been thinking about tracking down a copy to read you see...


REH to H.P. Lovecraft, ca. January 1932: "Then when I was about twelve I spent a short time in New Orleans and found in a Canal Street library, a book detailing the pageant of British history, from prehistoric times up to -- I believe -- the Norman conquest. It was written for school-boys and told in an interesting and romantic style, probably with many historical inaccuracies. But there I first learned of the small dark people which first settled Britain, and they were referred to as Picts.... The writer painted the aborigines in no more admirable light than had other historians whose works I had read. His Picts were made to be sly, furtive, unwarlike, and altogether inferior to the races which followed -- which was doubtless true."

According to Rusty Burke "One strong possibility is G.F. Scott Elliott, The Romance of Early British Life, From the earliest times to the coming of the Danes"

A copy of Scott Elliot's Prehistoric man and his story; a sketch of the history of mankind from the earliest times is available here:

http://www.archive.o...u31924029912486

It may give you some idea of the style of the aforementioned book. The index mentions the Celts, but no Picts. There is an advertisement for The Romance of Early British Life in the back. It covers Piltdown Man as well.
The above quote from Howard's letter also gives us strong evidence of how he viewed the historical Picts: "His Picts were made to be sly, furtive, unwarlike, and altogether inferior to the races which followed -- which was doubtless true."
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#29 Ho there Semiramis!

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:17 PM

Just keep in mind that REH set the rules of the game, and what is said in a textbook doesn't take precedence. Otherwise, you're just trying to "correct" Howard and thereby invalidating whatever conlang you've cobbled together.


I'm not as hardcore as you, whilst basing it on Howard my aim is to have fun with it, which should be the main purpose. If I felt constrained then it would no longer be enjoyable, and be too much like real life, and work. When a hobby becomes a chore then it no longer serves its purpose. If other people find what I'm doing interesting, then all well and good, if not, they don't have to read it.
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#30 deuce

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 11:51 PM

Here are some excerpts from a paper that REH wrote (according to the perspicacious Patrice Louinet) sometime between 1920 and 1923. In other words, early to middle teens. An initial page or pages is/are obviously missing.

"...which has characterized them [the Picts] through all the ages. [My note: I think that REH may have been referring to Pictish ferocity in the missing part of the sentence, but maybe it was "shrewdness"] The cavemen that were left took refuge in deep forests and mountainous wilds..."

These "cavemen" are later called "red-haired Reindeer People" in Howard's yarns. There is some evidence to suggest a very early Scandinavian presence in northern Scotland.


(...)

"The Picts scattered all over Europe. Some are still found in the mountains of the Pyrennees. But they made their longest stand in the British Isles and it is there that we are interested in them."


That "Pyrennees" reference? Basques.


"The Picts could not stand before the race of warriors [the Celts] skilled in the work of metals and the make and usage of weapons, but vastly inferior to the Picts in artizanship.

So they fled to the northern mountains. Many descendants of the cavemen lurked in the mountains and Pictish cunning conceived of a plan utilizing the great strength and brute courage of the aboriginals with the shrewdness of the Picts, to the discomfort of the Celtic invaders."

(...)

"Living close together and fighting as one nation, naturally lessened the mutual contempt and hate and the Picts and aboriginals began to intermarry."

What I love about these early "Pictish Chronicles" from Howard is that SO much of his early teenage vision persisted right up through his mature yarns of the '20s and '30s. The story unfolded above could be paraphrased from Worms of the Earth or Kings of the Night.

Robert E. Howard's concept of the Picts was notably consistent throughout his writing career.

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#31 deuce

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 06:59 PM

REH to H.P. Lovecraft, ca. January 1932: "Then when I was about twelve I spent a short time in New Orleans and found in a Canal Street library, a book detailing the pageant of British history, from prehistoric times up to -- I believe -- the Norman conquest. It was written for school-boys and told in an interesting and romantic style, probably with many historical inaccuracies. But there I first learned of the small dark people which first settled Britain, and they were referred to as Picts.... The writer painted the aborigines in no more admirable light than had other historians whose works I had read. His Picts were made to be sly, furtive, unwarlike, and altogether inferior to the races which followed -- which was doubtless true."

According to Rusty Burke "One strong possibility is G.F. Scott Elliott, The Romance of Early British Life, From the earliest times to the coming of the Danes"

A copy of Scott Elliot's Prehistoric man and his story; a sketch of the history of mankind from the earliest times is available here:

http://www.archive.o...u31924029912486


A cool article about the library on Canal Street where Robert E. Howard discovered the Picts:

http://rehtwogunraconteur.com/?p=16126

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#32 deuce

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 02:17 AM

An essay by Prof. Roderick T. Long (Auburn):

http://aaeblog.com/2...icts-to-depict/

I don't agree with all his points (and he makes some outright errors) but Long has obviously deeply studied and thought about REH's Picts. Worth reading. B)

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#33 Albannach

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 10:45 PM

I wonder what Howard thought of the outcome of the Picts was? It was still a very popular myth that the Picts where wiped out by the house of Alpin, The Gaelic king. But we now know that all that changed was their culture. Most Scots still are descendants from the those Picts, And so Scots descendants.

What I find confusing with the Picts is than the ones of Mak Morn's time where savage and ape-like due to interbreeding with less evolved races but Bran was a pure Pict thus more advanced but the Picts of hyboria where savage as was Brule. So did they evolve first?

Also I read an interesting article in a Scottish newspaper about an actual physical appearance which may be related to the Picts. During the 2nd world war and before many Scottish soldiers complained that their boots hurt. Also in hospitals something was noted but never investigated. This was that a lot of Scottish soldiers had a long middle toe, so that the big toe well wasn't the biggest. The Germans, English etc all had neat feet perfectly in sequence from the biggest toe to the smallest. The scientists believed this may have been caused by their Celtic ancestors hunting without shoes for a far longer time.

Sigh, this includes me.

Edited by Albannach, 05 February 2013 - 10:54 PM.


#34 Pictish Scout

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:24 AM

I think there's at least one REH story about "Picts" in the XX century.

A very short story of the Pictish race :P :

The Picts of Brule migrated to the Thurian Continent. Became even more savage after wars with Cimmerians. The wars went really bad for the Cimmerians who lost everything but their lives and became ape men. Picts were savage caveman, not ape men. These Picts evolved technologically into the Hyborian Age and put an end to the Aquilonian Empire aka Western Hyborian civilization.

Later, these Picts interbred with a Nordic (Germanic?) race (if I remember well) and became the apish Picts of Caledonia. The royal line remained pure from the times of Brule.

I think it was more or less like this...

Edited by deuce, 07 February 2013 - 08:28 AM.
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