Farked over Elvish

I like to think that sophisticated readers like you come to my site for the sparkling prose and pointed insights, but when I look at my logs, it’s plain that Elvish pays the bills. My little page Write your name in Elvish in ten minutes has tickled some kind of popular resonance. It’s been around for a while, but recently it got posted on a site called Fark.com which gave it a lot more visibility.

Look at this plot and see if you can spot when this site was farked. My Elvish page has been on StumbleUpon for a while, but the day I got farked my traffic took a huge leap and I got posted to several other popular sites like Digg (385 diggs)and the Del.icio.us popular list (404 bookmarks). I’ve even been listed as a reference page from the Wikipedia.

It’s fun to have so much traffic because of a geeky skill I learned in seventh grade, but I know popularity is easy-come-easy-go on the web. Tomorrow I’ll be old news. At least I managed to put some Google ads up before the crowds came to visit. If you have a popular page on your site, I’m here to tell you that Google ads pay real money (taxable income, naturally). I won’t be quitting my job anytime soon, but at least it covers my web hosting expenses. This month anyway.

Doubled vowels and Elvish ASCII

My Write Your Name in Elvish in Ten Minutes continues to be the leading traffic generator for my site. Since that’s where the crowd is, I spent some time tonight freshening things up a bit. In particular I’m providing more examples that treat doubled vowels, something I get asked about a lot in email.

I’m also unveiling my new text notation (which I modestly call “Gulley’s Practical Method for Elvish Text Notation”) that should help me communicate with people who seek me out for electronically moderated Elvish consultation questions. Read the article and you too can learn why AMELIE is rendered as

     A E I
   _ : M L _

Twilight of the Elves

The dramatic explosion of interest in Elvish tattoos seems to have faded. The Oscars are safely over, Elijah Wood hardly appears in People magazine anymore, and babies are being named “Frodo” far less often than in months past. For those sturdy souls out there who are still interested in learning how to write Elvish (and partly to decrease the load on me for bespoke Tengwar calligraphy) I created the page Write Your Name in Elvish in Ten Minutes. I’ve looked at a lot of Elvish language web sites and they all seem to talk about how “real Elves” might write rather than providing a simple usable solution for people who just want to write their names. For the record, though, the best site I’ve come across for a credible and scholarly approach to the problem is Tolkien Script Publishing.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve written out something like a hundred names and phrases for people over the past few months, and I have discovered that if you send someone something first and then ask them to pay for it, they are actually quite unlikely to pay for it (even if they are a “SUPER HUGE LOTR FAN”). Still, it’s been a fun experiment… something like running a lemonade stand in cyberspace. My shingle is still up, but traffic is down.

Elvish fonts

I was a serious Tolkien geek as a boy. Around sixth grade I taught myself the Elvish writing that Tolkien invented for the Lord of the Rings. In fact, he created both a language and a character set; these characters, you may recall, decorate the One Ring.

If you don’t mess with the actual Elvish language, you can just use the beautiful characters to spell out English words. It’s not that hard, but there are a few tricky bits to work out, so if you’re a sixth grade Tolkien geek you can feel pretty darn self-satisfied. It’s also turned out to be a useful life skill to have a private code in which to take notes. I never forgot my Elvish writing skills (that’s my name to the left) and still use them to this day. My graduate school notebooks, for example, were littered with sloppily lettered Elvish declarations like “I am so sleepy,” and “please let this class end soon.” Top secret stuff like that. Also, chicks dig it when you write their name in Elvish.

Given all this, I was pleased to see that someone has gone to the trouble of making an Elvish font called Tengwar. Now if you’re itching to write your own powerful ring inscriptions, you know where to start.