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Topic: The Black Speech

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
Status: Offline
Posts: 2
Date: Jul 25, 2009
The Black Speech

No, we are not supposed to utter it in polite company... but Tolkien was quite the wordsmith in any of his languages.

Sauron is a VERY close word meaning lizard.


Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
Status: Offline
Posts: 564
Date: Jul 26, 2009

Hello Hobbit Sherriff, and welcome!

The name Sauron is Elvish, and Tolkien himself once commented on it and the word saura, in a letter. The part of interest goes: '(...) To take a frequent case: there is no linguistic connexion, and therefore no connexion in significance, between Sauron a contemporary form of an older *thaurond- -- derivative of an adjectival *thaurá (from a base THAW) 'detestable' and the Greek saura 'a lizard'.

(incidentally, the idea above was not Tolkien's first idea concerning the name Sauron) 

As I'm sure you know with respect to the Black Speech, we have the famous example of the words written on the One: ash nazg... (and etc), but the names Mairon, Sauron and Gorthaur are all Elvish.

-- Edited by Galin on Sunday 26th of July 2009 08:20:46 PM

Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
Status: Offline
Posts: 2960
Date: Jul 27, 2009
Hobbit Sherriff,
Isn't it amazing what depth exists here.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, (tyrant lizard king?) could be a dragon.  But by looking at the internal and external scholarship we can see that Tolkien was driven by his academic expertise in medieval languages and their Germanic, Norse, Celtic, "Old English", Anglo-Saxon roots and their various sagas, myths, and fairy tales.  So he is moved towards the Northern tribes and away from the Greek which floods so many other academic disciplines.

His son, Christopher's, recent release of his father's own version of two Northern legends, The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún , shows his interest and the influence of  these tales on his other works.
One doesn't have to stretch too far to see that the great hero Sigurd, slayer of the dragon Fafnir, husband of the Valkyrie, Brynhild, slips right into the mythos of The Silmarillion. Is Bard the slayer of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit modeled after Sigurd.  And while Sigurd joins a blood-brotherhood with a court of princes' and  enchantresses, masters of dark magic including shape-shifting (like Beorn in The Hobbit) and potions of forgetfulness (like the effects of the river in Mirkwood on the dwarf Bombur also in The Hobbit) there is a blending of Tolkien's own creative genius which evolves into works like The Lord of the Rings..

The point is; You are so right.  Tolkien is a wordsmith of incredible depth and infinite variety. 
I believe there is a lifetime of scholarly work in the study of his many invented languages alone.
And your simple comment,
"No, we are not supposed to utter it in polite company... but Tolkien was quite the wordsmith in any of his languages" is an excellent example of how we all gain when comments or questions are posted on the Forums..
Again welcome.
What made you a fan of Tolkien so long ago?


Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit
Called or uncalled, God is present

Soldier of Beleriand - Rank 3
Status: Offline
Posts: 129
Date: Jul 28, 2009
Bear, you sound like you have done research into the classical works that influenced Tolkien's writings.  I have a love of mythology and classical works as Tolkien did, but I definitely lack his amazing aptitude for languages and linguistics. I have done some research of my own and made myself a list of many works that Tolkien has drawn directly from or was influenced by that I have read or want to read.

Tolkien was nearly obsessed with Beowulf, but also was influenced by or references Faust by Goethe, the tales of King Arthur and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Norse myths such as that of Odin and his eight legged steed Sleipnir (Gandalf and Shadowfax are vaguely paralleled with Odin and Sleipnir), the story of Atlantis by Plato (seen in the Akallabeth or Downfall of Numenor), the Finnish epic Kalevala, the epic Volsunga of Iceland, and the Greek epic the Aeneid as well as the entirety of Greek mythology in bits and pieces throughout his work.  He also references countless ancient European tales, especially pre-Shakespearian tales of elves, who were at first depicted as Tolkien's elves were:  tall, fair, and wise, instead of comical and small like they are depicted in most modern media.  He even references his favorite books from when he was a child.  He borrowed from and was influenced by what must be hundreds of sources, which is why his tales have such depth, history, and credibility - he wove many differnt historical and mythological threads into a luxurious tapestry.

In addition, Tolkien was a world reknowned expert on the Anglo-Saxon language and drew much inspiration from Anglo-Saxon and Old English stories and poetry.  The entire tale of Eärendil was drawn from his obsession with two lines of a poem written in Old English:

Eala Earendel engla beorhtast
Ofer middangeard monnum sended

Which translates to:

Hail Earendel, brightest of angels
Above middle-earth sent unto men

I believe that the immense depth of scholarly knowledge behind Tolkien's works are the reason that I have been fascinated with them for many years and have never grown bored with them.  There is always something new to discover. 

-- Edited by The Secret Fire on Tuesday 28th of July 2009 12:43:17 AM

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