Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
‘Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to:’ Tolkien’s use of language in The Lord of the Rings

‘Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to:’ Tolkien’s use of language in The Lord of the Rings

Ratings: (0)|Views: 443|Likes:
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Eileen Coughlan. Originally submitted for Arts (English and German) with Creative Writing at National University of Ireland Galway, with lecturer Elizabeth Tilley in the category of English Literature
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Eileen Coughlan. Originally submitted for Arts (English and German) with Creative Writing at National University of Ireland Galway, with lecturer Elizabeth Tilley in the category of English Literature

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

05/13/2014

 
EN399
„Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to:‟ Tolkien‟s use of 
language in
The Lord of the Rings 
 
 
 Abstract:
 When Merry and Pippin first encounter Treebeard, an Ent who has lived through much of thehistory of Middle-
Earth, he explains to them that “real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language.” This statement, more than any other in the book, encapsulates Tolkien‟s attitude to language.
 A professor of philology, he claimed that The Lord of the Rings
 was “primarily linguistic in inspiration and was begun in order to provide the necessary background of „history‟ for Elvish tongues.” Any alert reader will also notice that the
categorisation of characters according to their races also plays a huge role in this novel. Thisessay will explore how these two aspects of 
The Lord of the Rings 
, which make it so much morethan a novel and yet never turn a moving story into a treatise on philology or anthropology,
interact. Tolkien‟s highly 
-racialised characterisation of the peoples of Middle-Earth, his concept
of „linguistic aesthetics‟ and of „native language‟ and the links evident between environment and
language in Middle-Earth may not be immediately obvious to the casual reader, and may be of no interest to him or her, but together these concepts define the very coherent universe of 
The Lord of the Rings 
. This world was a sort of laboratory in which Tolkien could explore his theorieson language and race, rather than a mere backdrop to his story. Indeed, on close inspection, theplot seems secondary to this thought experiment. On paper, it is incredibly unlikely that such anessentially philosophical, linguistic and anthropological work could become a blockbuster, butthen it seems as though these important influences and ideas are very often neglected by 
academics and „serious thinkers‟ who have no time for stories of elves and dwarves. In this essay,
I explore the four above-mentioned ideas that inf 
luence Tolkien‟s work, focusing largely on theElves, Tolkien‟s most beloved creations, but considering also various other languages and
cultures of Middle Earth.
 
 When Merry and Pippin first encounter Treebeard, an Ent who has lived through much of thehistory of Middle-Earth, he explains to them that
“real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language.”
1
This statement, more than any other in the book, encapsulates
 Tolkien‟s attitude to language. A professor of philology, he claimed
that The Lord of the Rings
 was “primarily linguistic in inspiration and was begun in order to provide the necessary background of „history‟ for Elvish tongues”
LOTR 
, 7) Any alert reader will also have noticedthat the categorisation of characters according to their races also plays a huge role in this novel.In this essay I wish to explore how these two aspects of 
The Lord of the Rings 
, which make it somuch more than a novel and yet never turn a moving story into a treatise on philology oranthropology, interact. I will first investigate the highly-racialised characterisation of the peoplesof Middle-Earth. Then I will discuss
 Tolkien‟s concept of
linguistic aesthetics,
which wascrucial in the shaping of the languages of Middle-Earth and which indeed has left its mark on the works of other fantasy authors
 – 
Tolkien showed us what good and evil sound like. The
 Tolkienian concept of “native language” also played a crucial
 
role in characterising the “good”race of the Elves and the “bad”
races that serve Sauron, the Dark Lord, although its effect onthe reader may not have been as spiritual or atavistic as Tolkien believed. Lastly I will explore thelinks between language and environment, and how this led to the essentialisation of many of theraces in Middle-Earth.
In Tolkien‟s universe, the inherent morality of an individual or race is always reflected in their
physicality and culture. Although his characters are often multifaceted and realistic, showing bothhuman fallibility and virtue, as is the case with most of his human and some hobbit characters,they are not always so. Perhaps because many of his characters are not human, and because Tolkien felt the need to make them different in every aspect from humans and to make the
1
 
Tolkien, J.R.R.
The Lord of the Rings 
. (Referred to hereafter as
LOTR 
) London: Allen and Unwin,1968. 486.
 

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->