Lilith's Conlang

From FrathWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Lilith's Conlang consists of a short snippet of text, one short sentence only, and some descriptive if cryptic dialogue adapted for cinema from the novel Lilith, written by J.R. Salamanca in 1961. The movie was made in 1964, though her text was not translated on screen. It goes without saying that there is no grammatical apparatus or lexical information available.

From the movie script:

You have the gift of tongues.
That's a great gift.
But it's nothing compared to you.
I've studied them. I know the grammar, but you've invented one of your own.
That's the greatest gift.

- I didn't invent it.
- It was taught to me by my people.

You actually hear it, then?
I mean, you actually hear them speaking it?
Oh, I'd love to hear it. I'm fascinated by languages, you know.
Do you think they would speak it to me?
Perhaps you would teach me.

- I wouldn't be allowed to teach you without approval.
- It's a language very few are permitted to speak.

But what would I have to do?
I'm sure I could persuade them.

- You would have to demonstrate great courage and a great capacity for joy.

But I can. But I can.

- You don't understand me.

[Written on the wall of Lilith's room: "hiara pirlu resh kavawn"]

It is never translated in the movie. In the novel, it is translated as "If you can read this, you will know I love you."

From TIME Magazine, 2 October 1964:

Lilith, in ancient Babylonian mythology, was a female embodiment of evil. In J. R. Salamanca's gaudy, gothic 1961 novel she was a wildly desirable schizophrenic whose corruptive beauty disrupted the routine of a private sanitarium. In Director Robert Rossen's movie version of the book, she is Jean Seberg, who enjoys an unholy liaison with a young therapist-in-training, lures an inmate toward destruction, steals away with a lesbian patient, and occasionally whispers improprieties into the ears of small boys.

Director Rossen renders all this with just enough art-film panache to have won Lilith a place among far worthier movies in the recent New York Film Festival. Certainly, the techniques of modern moviemaking are much in evidence. Sound and images overlap. During long silent passages, the characters narrow their eyes at one another, conveying reams of censorable prose in each perfervid glance. The photography is often eerily beautiful—a subaqueous twilight world where everyone's torment finally condenses into eddying streams, stagnant pools and rushing rapids, an unsettling suggestion that the machinery of despair is water-driven.

On the wall of her room, Lilith scrawls hiara pirlu resh kavawn, a phrase from a secret language she has devised. It is never translated. By contrast, the lush spoken dialogue works little strain on the imagination. Lilith wants "to leave the mark of her desire on every living creature in the world." Warren Beatty, studiously guttural as the overzealous therapist who notes that his patient looks just like his mother, has difficulty explaining his dilemma to the chief psychiatrist. "Do you think she's trying to seduce you?" asks the doctor. "Um . . . you can't put it like that," mumbles Warren. The doctor puts it another way: "It isn't unknown for patients to seduce personnel, and vice versa." And he gamely adds, "I think all of us here are concerned with rapture in some way." That may be. But it does seem silly to deliver the same old Hollywood sexology in a fancy wrapper marked resh kavawn.