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Lord of The Rings
Transcript of Lord of The Rings
Faith, Andrew, Alex and Demetria
The Elven Language of Middle Earth
Lord of the Rings
What are the Languages of Middle Earth?
Many languages of varying dialects:
The Black Speech
– The language of Mordor, created by Sauron
Orc Languages –
Orcs, Uruk-hai, diverse
Used by the Ents of the forests
Dwarven Languages –
Secret language of Khuzdul and a sign language of Iglishmêk
Elven Languages –
Usually referred to as the ‘common tongue’ before the Third Age
The languages of Men –
The ‘common tongue’ once Gondor gained power. Primary reasons are economic; however, it has been noted that there were still men who spoke Sindarin because it was passed down through family lines
Why pick Sindarin?
Because it was Tolkien’s baby. He worked on the language alone longer than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, longer than it took to write all of the appendixes, and longer than his career as a writer. He even used it in daily life, sometimes drawing “exotic plants with names in…Sindarin” (247 bio). THIS is Tolkien’s greatest achievement. THIS was his gift to the world.
The University of Wisconsin offers a course in Elvish, covering the early ancestor of Sindarin: Quenya.
Sindarin’s phonology and word structure helped Tolkien creat many of the names of places in Middle Earth (199 bio), such as Moria in the ‘Mines of Moria.’
The Black Speech and Sindarin
The Inscription on the One Ring:
Why? (À deux)
Why create a language if he was simply going to use Westron (English)?
For the same reason as described: linguistic relativity. In creating a language (even in going so far as to describe pockets of isolation in Elven history, thereby creating dialects) he created a culture. He created a world, not simply a story.
The war of the ring takes place in 3018 through 3019 in the Third Age. That’s it, right there: the entire epic of Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien had many influences both in the creation of the lore of his world, as well as the creation of the language of Sindarin
Quenya – Sindarin’s ancestral language – is derived from Finnish (Carpenter 101)
As the language became more sophisticated, Tolkien called it Sindarin, in which he appropriated Welsh phonology, “the language that after Finnish was closest to his personal linguistic taste” (Carpenter 101)
It is quite easy to see the Welsh influence, particularly involving the elongation of both vowels and consonants
The use of the double length tengwar, in which the actual form is stretched to symbolize a greater length, comes from Welsh, which, rather than change the nature of the letter to accommodate this sound, simply doubles the letter in a word, such as in Cardiff and the name of the town
The Sindarin language was developed throughout Tolkien’s life, from when he started constructing the basic words and sounds in 1910 up until his death in 1973 (Salo XIII)
Early Sindarin, starting as Primitive Quendian, resembled the runes of early Old English, circa 700 CE. Tolkien’s runic system was called the Certhas Daeron (Salo 26)
Old English Runes
There are many similarities between the written forms of Sindarin and the International Phonetic Alphabet, so it is believed that – wanting to create a phonological language – he borrowed both pronunciation and form (see I and z)
The official name of the letters of Sindarin are the ‘tengwar;’ this contains both vowels and consonants.
The similarity between the script of the written Sindarin and the written Black Speech reflects personal stylistic passions (swooping, conjoining, circles and dips) which are also parts of the roman alphabet and its cursive form
Two Written ‘Forms’
‘Full’ Form of Written Sindarin
This utilizes a tengwar for each individual vowel sound, which provides for a full-voiced word. Simple, very much like English and other languages (“Mode Origin”).
‘Full’ Form of Written Sindarin
Sindarin was not created to have a 1:1 translation; as a phonetic language, it offers unique forms of fluid consonants (“Mode Origin”).
The ‘tehtar’ form relies on symbols called ‘tehtar,’ which represent not the vowels themselves but the sounds that they make. They are placed above the consonant that either precedes or follows the vowel, depending on the letters surrounding it (“Mode Origin”).
The tehtar, as linguistic units, act very much like accent marks in French (such as e to é) in that they modify the word above which they are placed.
However, they carry more weight because they still retain their position as a vowel.
The vowels, however, end up as: a, e, i, o, u, and y
Interesting phenomena because these are the same vowels (for the most part) as other Germanic languages. Shows that one can’t leave behind their linguistic heritage, even Tolkien. It all relies on similar sounds, not ones like the ‘ng’ of the Korean name ‘Nguyen’
Sindarin relies on the International Phonetic Alphabet to be able to teach how to pronounce a specific sound. The tengwar are then compounded from those sounds, in conjunction with the tehtar, to create a working language.
All of the sounds are from Germanic languages, and thus there is no difficulty in pronouncing the sounds as a whole for they should be very familiar to speakers of English, French, German, and other descendants of Germanic languages.
(Salo 20 – 21)
The most difficult part of speaking Sindarin is the syllabic structure. The reason for this is that each syllable must contain at least a single vowel. A syllable could be just a vowel by itself. However, it could also be many consonants and a single tehtar.
Pronunciation of the first line:
Sindarin as a whole is a living language; it is an analytic language, relying on word order to convey meaning, and yet some instances of case still exist. In this way, it is very much like English.
Tolkien created an entire language in very much the same way English was created. He structured grammar, verbs, and nouns from all different sources and he gave to us this example of what it is like to create a world through creating a language. He was both a talented linguist and a phenomenal writer, and Sindarin is his greatest achievement as both.
Sindarin as a Whole
Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.
Salo, David. A Gateway to Sindarin. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah, 2004. Print.
Renk, Thorston. “Mode Origin.” duke.edu. Duke University, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.
"J(ohn) R(onald) R(euel) Tolkien." St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers. Ed. David Pringle. New York: St. James Press, 1996. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter, London, Allen and Unwin, and Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1977
Tolkien, J. R. R., Humphrey Carpenter, and Christopher Tolkien. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: A Selection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.
Geographic, National. INFLUENCES ON THE LORD OF THE RINGS. n.d. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngbeyond/rings/influences.html. April 2014.
Williams, Stan. 20 Ways “The Lord of the Rings” Is Both Christian and Catholic. 2003. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/arts/al0160.html.
Baldur Dead. Prose Edda. 1760. 1760 Edda Manuscript. n.d. 20 April 2014.
Brothershildebrandt. Balrog. 2008. Deviantart. 2008. Web. 20 April 2014.
Burns, Marjorie. Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, 2005. Print.
DanielGovar. Smaug. 2009. Deviantart. 2009. Web. 20 April 2014.
Das Rheingold. Dir. Otto Schenk. The Metropolitan Opera, 1990. Bifrost. n.d. Web. 20 April
Del Piombo, Sebastiano. Scylla Cutting Nisus’s Lock. 1512. Villa della Lungara, Rome.
Samson’s Women: Delilah in the Past. n.d. Web. 20 April 2014.
Johansson, Emil. Visual Timeline of the One Ring. 2013. LOTRProject. Web. 20 April 2014.
Lee, Alan. The Mabinogion. 1997. Welsh Myths Painted by Alan Lee. n.d. Web. 20 April 2014.
Monteagle, Paul. The Bridge of Khazad-dûm. n.d. The One Ring. 2012. Web. 20 April 2014.
Noel, Ruth. The Mythology of Middle-earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977. Print.
Odin. Prose Edda. 1760. Odin; God of Wisdom. n.d Web. 20 April 2014.
Raphael. The School of Athens. 1510. Stanza della Segnatura, The Vatican. The Platonist on
Sunset Blvd. Kimberly Nichols. n.d. Web. 20 April 2014.
Scandinavian Mythology. Jenny Heidewald. n.d. Web. 20 April 2014.
Stassen, Franz. Wotan, Loge, and Andvari. 1914. Der Ring des Nibelungen. Web. 20 April 2014.
Tuccinardi, Ryan. “Andvaranaut.” Encyclopedia Mythica. n.p. 1998. Web. 20 April 2014.
Wynahiros. Gollum – LOTR.2004. Deviantart. 2004.Web. 20 April 2014.
Born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on January 3rd, 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State
Although Tolkien does not have an actual memory of the event, as a child he was bitten by a large baboon spider, which some scholars speculate echoed in his stories.
He moved back to England at the age of three with his mother and younger brother, only intending it to be a long visit. However, his father passed away while still in South Africa, and left without any source of income the family was forced to remain in England with relatives
They moved to various villages exposing him to beautiful scenery, which inspired scenes in the novels.
Alvechurch, Bromsgrove, and Worcestershire
His Aunt Jane’s farm was Bag End, the name that he used for a smial (Hobbit-hole)
Tolkien Christmas Card 1892
Mabel Tolkien converted to the Roman Catholic Church four years before her death
She passed away from acute diabetes when Tolkien was 12
Guardianship of Tolkien and his brother was left to Father Francis Xavier Morgan
His mother taught him Latin as a young boy
Mary and Marjorie Incledon, Tolkien’s cousins, invented the language
. He soon joined Mary to invent Nevbosh, and later on his own he created
While still at school he became fascinated by both Welsh and Finnish, neither of which he could understand at the time.
When he went to Oxford he started to study Latin and Greek, but took Comparative Philology as a special subject, and then moved from Classics to English, so that he could study Germanic philology.
The elvish languages he would later develop, Quenya and Sindarin, are based off of Finnish and Welsh.
Youth and Language
• Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt when he was 16 and was forbidden by Father Morgan to have any interaction with her until he was 21.
• He wrote her an engagement letter, but she had already agreed to marry another man.
Instead of immediately volunteering for the British Army, Tolkien entered a program that delayed enlisting until he completed his degree.
He fought at the Somme.
Tolkien invented a secret code that he would send to Edith so she could track her husband’s movements across the Western Front.
Came down with trench fever and spent the remainder of the war medically unfit for general service.
He was asked to serve as a cryptographic in the department of the Foreign Office
Was told his services were not needed at the time and never ended up serving as a code breaker.
World War I
World War II
In 1911 he began studying at Exeter College, Oxford.
As an undergraduate he became fascinated by the Anglo-Saxon poem by Cynewulf that spoke of an angel called "Earendel."
Inspired by this poem, Tolkien wrote a poem about a star-mariner, "The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star.” It was the beginning of his mythology of Middle-Earth.
Informal literary discussion group associated with Oxford that encouraged the writing of fantasy.
Tolkien read the unfinished The Lord of the Rings to the Inklings.
As fan attention increasingly grew, Tolkien missed the company of his fellow Inklings.
The Eagle and Child, where the Inklings met
Tolkien is among the most cited medievalists of the twentieth century.
“Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”
Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds
Returned to Oxford in 1925 as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
During his Fellowship at Pembroke College he wrote The Hobbit and first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings
Became the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford
"I am in fact a hobbit, in all but size," (Biography)
He liked gardens, plain food, and home, and he had a simple sense of humor. The hobbits' homeland, the Shire, was the West Midlands in which Tolkien had grown up, threatened by the creeping industrialization and despoiling of the countryside that Tolkien despised.
Hobbits were not only like himself, but also like those ordinary Englishmen whom Tolkien met in the trenches in WWI.
They were removed from their ordinary lives against their will, yet responding to danger with decency and unexpected courage.
Work Reflecting the Author
In a letter to his son Michael, Tolkien reveals that Bilbo’s journey across the mountains is directly based a summer holiday to Switzerland.
“The hobbit’s (Bilbo’s) journey from Rivendell to the other side of the Misty Mountains, including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods, is based on my adventures in 1911.
Work Reflecting the Author continued
Tolkien's first published fantasy was an extension of the stories he devised specifically for his own children.
The author adorded his children and each year sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas
Tolkien at first was animated over the books popularity and promptly answered readers’ inquiries.
However, the enthusiasm faded and he became upset with becoming a cult figure. In a letter to Sir Patrick Browne on May 23rd, 1972 he wrote:
“Being a cult figure in one’s own lifetime I am afraid is not at all pleasant… it make me feel extremely small and inadequate.”
Passed away at the age of 82 on November 29th, 1971.
Queen Elizabeth II appointed him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971.
Received the insignia of the Order at Buckingham Palace
The Lord of the Rings was not written as a Christian allegory, but instead it is a myth which holds Christian and Catholic truths.
“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.” – J.R.R.Tolkien
“There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” – Gandalf speaking to Frodo
Evil is real
Evil is very big
Knowing the difference between good and evil is easy
Knowledge is not always good
Evil defeats evil
Battle between Good and Evil:
1. Gandalf - Prophet
2. Frodo - Priest
3. Aragorn – King
Middle Earth is saved through three Christ-like Characters
The shining light of Minas Morgul, as seen from the higher levels of Minas Tirith.
Evil consumes and corrupts
Sam is the ultimate Savior – Lowliest, resists temptation, not liable to corruption (unlike those in power), and is ultimately able to complete the task. It is a Biblical theme for the least to become the greatest.
Concern for Nature – Industrial Revolution
Sauron and Sarumon – Hitler and Stalin
Tolkien wrote, "By 1918, all but one of my close friends were dead."
Dead Marshes of Mordor = WWI’s Western Front
However, Tolkien denied Lord of the Rings being an allegory for World War I or II
Political Symbolism (speculation)
Mordor = Germany
• Center to kill
Gondor = France
• Location lies West of Mordor
• Contains the White City = City of Kings
Shire = England
• Land of freedom and simple life
Political Symbolism (speculation)
Midgard, the home of mortals in Norse Mythology, literally translates to Middle Earth. This is a very practical name as it lies in between Asgard, the home of the Gods, and Niflheim, the world of the dead
All the dwarves in The Hobbit are named after characters in the
, an Epic of Norse mythology written in the 12th century in Iceland
Gandalf’s name also comes from this work, from “Ganndàlf” which means sorcerer-elf
Frodo comes from the Teutonic tradition. Frô is a form of the Scandinavian fertility god: Frey, meaning wise or fruitful. Beowulf includes a Danish King named Froda.
The One Ring:
Makes wearer invisible
Gives wearer power of manipulation over others
Contains much of Sauron himself (he cannot live if ring is destroyed)
Brings misfortune to its bearers
Invisibility: the Ring of Gyges
Written about in Book II of Plato’s Republic. The way it’s talked about makes it sound like it was part of a popular myth, but the Republic is the first place it is mentioned on record. The Ring of Gyges makes its wearer invisible. This presents the moral question of what one would do if they knew they could get away with it. Gyges seduces the queen, kills the king, takes power and takes the throne.
, a prose saga of Welsh mythology, Owain is trapped in enemy territory. A handmaiden of the castle gives him a ring and stone that, if worn and held together, make its bearer invisible. Thus he is able to escape unseen.
Soul, Body, Object: Sauron and the One Ring
When forging the One Ring, Sauron put so much of himself into the ring that he is unable to live if it is destroyed. This is also why his body is reduced to a fiery eye when the ring is separated from him.
Parallels in Greek Mythology:
King Nisus’s life and throne depended upon a lock of purple or golden hair that grew out of the center of his scalp.
Meleager’s fate hung on the existence of a firebrand.
Draupnir: Odin’s Ring
Draupnir (meaning drip) is a ring belonging to the Norse God Odin. Every nine nights, Draupnir creates eight rings in equal weight and size. This is similar to the One Ring in that it has lesser rings that are under its power and it produces wealth. However, there is no curse associated with Draupnir. When Odin’s son, Baldr, dies, Odin places the ring on his funeral pyre. Later Odin goes to Hell to retrieve the ring. It eventually winds up in Frey’s hands.
Andvaranaut: the Ring of Andvari
In Nordic mythology, Andvari was a dwarf who lived under a waterfall where he had a hoard of treasure. Loki came one day to take his treasure from him in order to pay off a blood debt to the Dwarf King, Hreidmar. Andvari tried to hide his favorite piece of treasure, a golden ring. When Loki discovered it, he demanded it. Before handing it over, Andvari cursed the ring so that it would bring tragedy to whoever owned it.
Hreidmar’s son, Fafnir, consumed with greed and jealousy, killed his father and stole his gold—including the ring. Fafnir’s uncontrollable greed turned him into a dragon; he used this form to guard his treasure hoard. Fafnir’s brother, Regin, wanted the gold for himself, so he sent his adopted son, Sigurd, to kill Fafnir for him. Regin planned to kill Sigurd after Fafnir was dead and claim the gold and the ring for himself. Later, Sigurd dies in battle and the Valkyrie, Brynhild, throws herself on his funeral pyre along with the ring in order to end its curse.
The One Ring:
Like Fafnir, Regin, and Sigmund, Gollum kills his relative, Déagol, in a fit of greed and jealousy brought on by the Ring. Gollum also fulfills Brynhild’s role by destroying the ring in a fire. However, this act is not out of nobility like Brynhild’s was, but rather out of greed, obsession over the ring, and the knowledge that he cannot live without it.
Neither Andvaranaut nor the One Ring are coveted just for being monetarily valuable, but they have curses that make their bearers uncharacteristically evil. This adds to the theme of universal corruptibility of even the most noble heroes of Nordic mythology and Tolkien’s work.
Bifröst and the Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Underground in Moria
Stretches over pit of fire
Narrow and worn
Only crossed by brave warriors
Connects Asgard to Midgard
Described both as a rainbow and fire bridge
Narrow—not intended for frequent use
Can only be crossed by gods
At the end of the world, the gods are matched up with their antitheses who equal them in power. Their battle, signaling the end of the world, will destroy Bifröst and engulf the world in the flames of Muspelheim. Odin will battle Fenrir, Thor will fight Jormungand, and Frey will contest Surt.
Surt is the leader of Muspelheim, the fire realm, which lies below Niflheim.
Gandalf, the bearer of the fire ring, Narya, is the “servant of the Secret Fire” who battles his antithesis, a balrog, “worker of dark fire.” Their struggle ends in the destruction of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm and their plunge into the depths of the pit.
This is one of many pivotal clashes of good and evil in Tolkien’s work.
Ragnarök and the Balrog
"But here again Tolkien’s tempering falls mostly on Éowyn. The debilitation which follows the battle lasts longer for her, and far more is made of it. This too helps reestablish her femininity, a device common in Victorian literature, where the heroine, if she acts with physical courage and on her own, typically collapses after the crisis is past, as Miss Halcombe does in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White or as Margaret Hale does in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. And too, Merry and the other hobbits receive recognition for what they achieve, but Éowyn – within the text of The Lord of the Rings – is never publicly praised." (Burns 146)