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Various Mannish Tongues - the sadness of Mortal
SomeMannish tongues are mentioned in Tolkien's works, but except in the case of Ad\u00fbnaic, our knowledge
is fragmentary. Concerning the early linguistic history of Men, see the opening paragraphs in the article about
Ad\u00fbnaic. Many Mannish languages were influenced by Elvish. When Felagund so quickly deciphered the

language of B\u00ebor and his men, it was partly because "these Men had long had dealings with the Dark Elves
east of the mountains, and from them had learned much of their speech; and since all the languages of the
Quendi were of one origin, the language of B\u00ebor and his folk resembled the Elven-tongue in many words and
devices" (Silmarillion chapter 17).


In LotR2/III ch. 6, when Aragorn and Legolas were approaching the Golden Hall of Rohan, Aragorn recited a poem in an alien tongue. "That, I guess, is the language of the Rohirrim," the Elf commented, "for it is like to this land itself; rich and rolling in part, and else hard and stern as the mountains. But I cannot guess what it means, save that it is laden with the sadness of Mortal Men."

We don't know much genuine Rohirric, for in LotR, Tolkien rendered it by Old English: He tried to reproduce
for English readers its archaic flavour in relationship to the Common Speech (itself represented by modern
English - but it must be understood that Rohirric was not the ancestor of the Common Speech the way Old
English is of modern English). Thus, names like\u00c9omer and phrases like ferthu Th\u00e9oden h\u00e1l are not
transcriptions of the actual words used back in the Third Age. Nonetheless, a few words of genuine Rohirric
have been published. Appendix F informs us thattrahan means "burrow", corresponding to genuine Hobbit

tr\u00e2n "smial"; the language of the Hobbits had at some point in the past been influenced by Rohirric or a
closely related language. Another example is Hobbitkast "mathom", corresponding to Rohirrickastu. The
wordhobbit itself represents the actual Third Age wordkuduk, a worn-down Hobbitic form of Rohirric
k\u00fbd-d\u00fbkan, "hole-dweller" - itself represented by Old Englishholbytla in LotR.

After the publication of The Peoples of Middle-earth we have a few more words. According to PM:53, the
frequent element\u00e9o- "horse" (in\u00c9owyn,\u00c9omer etc.) represents genuine Rohirricloho-,l\u00f4-, evidently a
cognate of the Elvish words for "horse" (cf. Quenyarocco, Sindarinroch) - demonstrating the influence of
Elvish on the Mannish tongues.\u00c9oth\u00e9od, "Horse-folk" or "Horse-land", is a translation of genuine Rohirric

Loht\u00fbr. The Sindarin nameRohan corresponds to the native L\u00f4grad (in Old English version\u00c9o-marc, the
"Horse-mark").Th\u00e9oden representst\u00fbrac-, an old word for "king" (cf. the Elvish stemTUR- referring to
power and mastery; LR:395).

According to UT:387, the actual Rohirric word for "wose" (wild man) wasr\u00f3g pl.r\u00f3gin. (The plural ending -in is also known fromDoriathrin, so this may be yet another testimony of Elvish influence on the Mannish tongues.) Cf. alsoN\u00f3m pl.N\u00f3min in the language of B\u00ebor's people (Silmarillion ch. 17; see below).


In the text of LotR, the given names of Gollum and his friend appear asSm\u00e9agol andD\u00e9agol. According to a footnote in LotR Appendix F, these are "names in the Mannish language of the region near the Gladden". But later in this Appendix, it is explained that these were not their real names, "but equivalents made up in the same way for the namesTrahald 'burrowing, worming in' andNahald 'secret' in the Northern tongues". The

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phrase "in the same way" refers to Tolkien's substituting Old English forms for the actual Rohirric forms; the
namesSm\u00e9agol andD\u00e9agol are likewise made up from Old English elements to serve as "equivalents" of the
actual archaic Middle-earth namesTrahald andNahald. In Tolkien's draft for Appendix F (where the "real"
names appeared asTrahand andNahand), they were translated "apt to creep into a hole" and "apt to hide,
secretive", respectively (PM:54). In the same source, Tolkien added that "Smaug, the Dragon's name, is a
representation in similar terms, in this case of a more Scandinavian character, of the Dale nameTr\u00e2gu, which
was probably related to thetrah- stem in the Mark and Shire". Thus, the made-up namesSm\u00e9agol
(pseudo-Old English) andSmaug (pseudo-Scandinavian) involve the same original stem, representing the
relationship between the actual Middle-earth namesTrahald andTr\u00e2gu. SinceTrahald is said to mean
"burrowing, worming in" or "apt to creep into a hole", it is interesting to notice that Tolkien stated that the
nameSmaug (representingTr\u00e2gu) is "the past tense of the primitive Germanic verbSmugan, to squeeze
through a hole" (Letters:31).


When defending the Hornburg, \u00c9omer could not understand what the attackers were crying. Gamling
explained that "there are many that cry in the Dunland tongue... I know that tongue. It is an ancient speech of
men, and once was spoken in many western valleys of the Mark....they cry[:] 'Death to the Forgoil! Death to
the Strawheads!...' Such names they have for us." (LotR2/III ch. 7). Appendix F mentionsforgoil
"Strawheads" as the one Dunlending word that occurs in LotR: perhapsfor-go-il "straw-head-plural"? The
ending -il could be taken from Elvish, ultimately a cognate of the Quenya partitive plural ending-li (LR:399).


Of the language of the Haradrim far down in the south there is not much we can say. A certain wizard once
stated that "many are my names in many countries: Mithrandir among the Elves, Thark\u00fbn to the Dwarves;
Ol\u00f3rin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Inc\u00e1nus, in the North Gandalf; to the East
I go not" (LotR2/IV ch. 5). According to UT:399/402, Inc\u00e1nus orInk\u00e2-nus,Ink\u00e2-nush is a word from the
tongue of the Haradrim meaning "North-spy". But Tolkien was not quite sure about this; he wondered if

Inc\u00e1nus might not be Quenya for "Mind-leader" instead. - According to PM:79, Tolkien stated that the names
Khand (the land south-east of Mordor) and Variag (the Variags being the people who lived in Khand) were

samples of "the speech of Men of the East and allies of Sauron". Another Khandian word ism\u00fbmak
"elephant", pl.m\u00fbmakil. Is the plural ending -il related to the one that possibly occurs inForgoil, or is it an
independent borrowing from Elvish?


The wild men of the Dr\u00faadan Forest used a tongue wholly alien to the Common Speech. In ancient times,
their race was calledDr\u00fbg by the people of Haleth, "this being a word of their own language" (UT:377). Its
actual form in Dr\u00faedainic is quoted in UT:385 asDrughu ("in which thegh represents a spirantal sound").
Their voices were "deep and guttural" (UT:378); indeed Gh\u00e2n-buri-Gh\u00e2n's voice is so described even when he
spoke Westron (LotR3/V ch. 5). He repeatedly used the wordgorg\u00fbn, evidently meaning "Orcs" (see


An early Mannish tongue calledTaliska is mentioned in LR:179; this was the language of B\u00ebor's people, the ancestor of Ad\u00fbnaic. It was influenced by Green-elven (Nandorin). "An historical grammar ofTaliska is in existence," Christopher Tolkien informs us (LR:192, footnote). Years ago, Vinyar Tengwar reported that one

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