[gothic-l] Re: Tolkien's orcs (and elves and ents)
- tim o'neill <scath-@...> wrote:
> Thanks Neil, I'd forgotten all about 'enta geworc' (Beowulf ll. 2717,Now in one of thoses references it describes Beowulf's sword, no? Of
> 2774 and 1679).
course Roman swords were pathetically smallish, hardly the work of
> But isn't 'eotenas' related to the ON for giant (as in Jotunheim)?Are
Yes, of course. SOmeone once told me this word was cognate with "eat",
but I can't quite get it to work. Was he wrong?
> there any other Germanic cognates for 'ent'? I also wonder if thereOf course they are ;) Elves after all are depicted in different sizes
> were any differences in the mind of the average Anglo-Saxon between
> 'ent' giants and 'eoten' giants, in the way that my nephew can explain
> to me with great authority that pixies are smaller than elves.
in different sources, but pixies are almost always depicted at the
scale of insects, living in flowers and such.
[Incidentally, in the mythos of Dungeons and Dragons, an etten is a
two-headed orc-like giant]
> And if we work out the Gothic words for ent, elf, etten and orc (we
> hobbit already) we can then undertake a full translation of 'The Lordof
> the Rings'.Speaking of which, here's some notes I typed up:
> Just kidding.
OK, these are from Guide to Names in The Lord of the Rings, by
Tolkien himself, published in A Tolkien Compass, which was edited by
Jared Lobdell (Id like to thank Carl Hostetter for sending me a copy
of this book). The purpose of this essay is to give translators a
better idea of how to render difficult words and proper nouns used in
LotR, so often it deals more with translation than etymology, but
Tolkien being Tolkien, he always makes a point to at least touch on the
word origins. Another important point is that he repeatedly refers to
his conlangs, stating that the Common Speech should be rendered into
the language of translation. Other times he suggests dialectical or
Any typoes are, of course, mine. I hope this message isnt too long
and off-topic, but I thought it might be of interest since the subject
Ent. Retain this, alone or in compounds, such as Entwives. It is
supposed to be a name in the language of the vale of Anduin, including
Rohan, for these creatures. It is actually an Old English word for
giant, which is thus right according to the system attributed to
Rohan, but Ents of this tale are not in form or character derived from
Germanic mythology. Entings children of Ents (II 78) should also be
unchanged except in the plural enging. The Grey-elven (Sindarin) name
wasOnodrim (II 45)
Ettendales. This is meant to be a Common Speech (not Elvish) name,
though it contains an obsolete element eten troll, ogre. This should
be retained, except in a language which preserves a form of the same
word, as Danish jaette, Swedisj jätte, Icelandic jötunn, = Old English
eoten, Middle English eten, English dialect eten, yetên.
Similarly Ettenmoors;moor here has the northern sense of high barren
Hobbit. Do not translate, since the name is supposed no longer to have
had a recognixed meaning in the Shire, and not to have been derived
from the Common Speech (= English, or the language of translation).
Orc. This is supposed to be the Common Speech name of these creatures
at that time; it should therefore according to the system be translated
into Egnlish or the language of translation. It was translated Goblin
in The Hobbit, except in one place; but this word, and other words of
similar sense in other European languages (as far as I know), are not
really suitable. The orc in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion
though of course partly made out of traditional features is not really
comparable in supposed origin, functions, and relation to the Elves. In
any case orc seemed to me, and seems, in sound a good name for these
creatures. It should be retained.
It should be spelt ork (so in the Dutch translation) in a Germanic
language, but I had used the spelling orcin so many places that I have
hesitated to change it in the English text, though the adjective is
necessarily spelt orkish. The Grey-elven form is orch, plural yrch.
I originally took the word from Old English orc [Beowulf 112 orc-nass
and the gloss orc = pyrs (ogre), heldeofol (hell-devil)]. This is
supposed not to be connected with modern English orc, ork, a name
applied to various sea-beasts of the dolphin order.
The notes on Elves are quite extensive:
Elven-smiths.Translate. The archaic adjectival or composition form
elvenused in The Lord of the Rings should on no account be equated with
the debased English word elfin, which has entirely wrong associations.
Use either the word elf in the language of translation, or a first
element in a compound, or divide into elvish + smiths, using an
equivalent in the language of translation for the correct adjective
With regard to German: I would suggest with diffidence that Elf, elfen
are perhaps to be avoided as equivalents of elf, elven. Elf is, I
believe, borrowed from English, and may retain some of the associations
of a kind that I should particularly desire not to be present (if
possible): for example thos of Drayton or of A Midsummer Nights
Dream(in the translation of which, I believe, Elf was first used in
German). That is, the pretty, fanciful reduction of elf to a
butterfly-like creature inhabiting the flowers.
I wonder whether the word Alp(or better still the form Alb, still
given in modern dictionaries as a variant, which is historically the
more normal form) could not be used. It is historically the more normal
form) could not be used. It is the true cognate of English elf;and if
it has senses nearer to English oaf, referring to puckish and malicious
sprites, or to idiots regarded as changelings, that is true also of
English elf. I find these debased rustic associations less damaging
than the pretty literary fancies. The Elves of the mythology of The
Lord of the Ringsare not actually equatable with the folklore
traditions about fairies, and as I have said (III 415) I should
prefer the oldest availible form of the name be used, and left to
acquire its own associations for readers of my tale. In Scandinavian
languages alf is available.
>Tolkien's 'orc' comes directly from Old English - 'orcneas' in BeowulfFreeish sort of translation of 111-113:
>l. 112 where they share a line with 'ylfe' (elves) and 'eotenas' (a word
>Tolkien took as the name for his ents).
>In Gothic I'm guessing they'd be 'Albos', 'Aurkanaus' (? or is it
>'Iutinos'? Someone help me out here.
Þaþro unhulþans allai uswokun
Itunos jah albeis jah aurkunaweis
Swaleikai gigans þaiei wiþra Guþ wunnun...
!ituns < *etunaz, cf. OE eoten, ON jötunn; the jö in jötunn shows that we
have an original e, broken by a following u
!albs, pl. albeis or albos < *albiz or *albaz: OE ielfe, ylfe, shows the
i-stem plural ending; ON álfar shows the a-stem plural
!aurkunaus, pl. aurkunaweis: "hell-corpses"? The second element of the
compound is pretty clearly OE né, Go naus "corpse"; I assume !aurkus <
Latin Orcus "hell". There are a lot of problems with the meaning of OE
"orc" -- starting with the fact that the normal, most common meaning of
this word is "large cup" = Go aurkeis -- and I have not been able to track
everything relevant down yet.
!gigas < Greek , which I have declined as a weak masculine (i.e. as if
+giga), like Andraias.
"ent" is used repeatedly in Old English poetry, with reference to an
extinct race that made remarkable works; I do not know its origin. If it
is from gigas, gigant-, something rather strange has happened to the word
in its wanderings. Eotenas are also sometimes credited with ancient works:
cf. ll. 2977-2979: Let se hearda Higelaces þegn bradne mece, þa his broþor
læg, eald sweord eotonisc, entiscne helm brecan ofer bordweal:
Lailot sa hardja Hugilaikis þigns
Braidana meki þan broþar is lag
Alþi swaird itunisk antiskana(?) hilm
Brikan ufar baurdawaddju...
Eofor, son of Wonred, after his brother Wulf has been cut down by
the Swedish king Ongenþéow, strikes the king's "entisc helm" with his "eald
/\ WISTR LAG WIGS RAIHTS
\/ WRAIQS NU IST <> David Salo
- The Hobbit in Gothic, would be interesting to say the least. What other lingos
has the Hobbit been translated into? Other than the standard
Spanish/French/German/Russian. But like Esperanto and other lingos.
- From what I have read, Master Tolkien was "translating" the original lingo into a
more recognizible form, such as Rohan is Nordic/Germanic and more. I know Hobbit,
supposedly came form the original lingo of the Rohan (before modern translation)
and is a short form (no pun) of a Rohanic word for "hole dweller", alluding to the
hobbits (especially one or more of the three original types) habit of living in
hills/holes, ie: bags end.
Especially since the Hobbits originally lived near the Rohan or related peoples in
the ancient past.
> From jdm314@... Wed Sep 29 01:49:55 1999We have to remember that "giant" in this context is merely
> tim o'neill <scath-@...> wrote:
> original article:http://www.egroups.com/group/gothic-l/?start=1009
> > Thanks Neil, I'd forgotten all about 'enta geworc' (Beowulf ll. 2717,
> > 2774 and 1679).
> Now in one of thoses references it describes Beowulf's sword, no? Of
> course Roman swords were pathetically smallish, hardly the work of
> giants ;)
the conventional, and probably not very good, translation of
a word whose exact connotations in OE are unknown to us. As
David has pointed out, it refers to the extinct race that
left various traces of themselves in the world, and that
doesn't necessarily imply anything about size; it might be
better to translate it in a way that emphasises antiquity
and mystic power.
(That's naturally distinct from the question of etymology -
the only cognate I can find is Ger. "Enz", which Grimm's
dictionary says is a Bavarian word for "Riesen, Ungeheuer",
so it's very plausible that the etymon referred to some-
thing pretty big and nasty.)
One interesting parallel that occurred to me while typing
all of this is from Greek: Mycenean period fortifications
were described as "cyclopean" walls because it was said
they had been constructed by the Cyclopes. But the Cyclopes
were also the servants of Hephaistos, who made the armour
of Achilles. So a mythic race that vanishes, but leaves
walls and arms behind, isn't absolutely unheard-of.
> > But isn't 'eotenas' related to the ON for giant (as in Jotunheim)?Dunno. De Vries traces "eoten" back to *etuna-, which he
> Yes, of course. SOmeone once told me this word was cognate with "eat",
> but I can't quite get it to work. Was he wrong?
reports may be either the source of or borrowed from Finnish
"etona/etana", a wormlet or evil person. It may well be in
some way related to the "eat" root, but the only other form
that might suggest some kind of extension/suffix in -u- is
Latin "edulis", edible, and that isn't enough to carry much
- Noted, interesting that the last syllyble of "Titen" is similar to Ent. I know a
stretch. But I know the Norse had
Alf - Svart and other
Greek has the Titans and the Gods
Celts (Irish) had the Fomor, Firbolg and the Tuatha de Danaan and others/Sidhe
unseelie and seelie.
I know it is comparible religion and all, but many of the IE myths have
similarities. So I expect the Goths to have had before the became christian
atleast two or more groups of dieties/powers.
- On Wed, 29 Sep 1999, Neil Fulton wrote:
> > > But isn't 'eotenas' related to the ON for giant (as in Jotunheim)?Concerning Jo:tunn and the verb 'to eat':
> > Yes, of course. SOmeone once told me this word was cognate with "eat",
> > but I can't quite get it to work. Was he wrong?
> Dunno. De Vries traces "eoten" back to *etuna-, which he
> reports may be either the source of or borrowed from Finnish
> "etona/etana", a wormlet or evil person. It may well be in
> some way related to the "eat" root, but the only other form
> that might suggest some kind of extension/suffix in -u- is
> Latin "edulis", edible, and that isn't enough to carry much
My Icelandic etymological dictionary, which I'm starting to mistrust,
has this listed under the entry for Jo:tunn:
Jo:tunn 'giant; large-grown man' Faeroese joetun, Nynorsk joetul, jutul,
jeten, Mod.-Swedish jaette, Old Swedish iaetun, Mod.-Danish jaette, Old
Danish iaetaen, Old English eoten, Old Low German eteninne 'galdranorn'.
Borrowed in Finnish as etana, etona 'snail, worm, evil person'.
jo:tunn < *etuna meaning 'man-eater' or 'glutton'. See (among others) a't
(=eating), (j)eta (=to eat, restricted to animals in modern Icelandic)
I have seen a reconstruction to a modern English form 'etin' from the OE
'eoten' used among the Asatru community carrying the meaning 'giant'
As far as a -u- extension/suffix, the dictionary also lists the
following cognates under the listing for (j)eta:
Greek edomai 'will eat', Lithuanian edu (no gloss)
- According to "Languages of Middle Earth"
The name of orc is derived from Latin ORCUS unlike the other names which
Tolkien mostly derived from Old English and Old Norse. The author also
lists the character called Vidugavia as being derived from Gothic
But they spell it Vidugauja. I presume that the V- should be more
properly transliterated as W-.
Einar Haugen did an excellent structural analysis of Norse Deities.
Georges Dumezil did another great study of Norse mythology. Edgar
Polome, a retired professor at Univerity of Texas did several excellent
studies of Germanic myth and preChristian religion.
Aesir (OE Os as in Osborne,Osgood,Oswald) the gods of the first and
second function of the Indo-European Dumezilian scheme.
Apparently cognate with Vedic asuras (PIE *ansu-, Germ. *ansuz).
Vanir -- gods of the third function in the Indo-European Dumezilian
scheme. Apparently a cognate of Latin Venus.
alfar or elves -- male household spirits and ancestors of the dead.
similar to the Roman lares and penates.
Apparently a cognate of Celtic Albios, also Latin albus and alpine from
PIE *albh- "white, clear"
disir -- female household spirits of the dead and ancestral spirits.
The female equivalent of the alfar/elves.
Jotnar or Etins -- the divinities in opposition to the gods.
here is a remnant of an inherent Indo-European dualism:
Greek -- Olympians versus Titans
Zeus versus Kronos.
Aryan(Vedic Indian) -- Devas and Asuras.
Indra versus Vrtra
Irish Celtic -- Tuatha De Danann versus Fomoire (and the historicized
Lugh versus Breas in the Second Battle of Maigh Tuiredh.
A Sovereign God who is King, Warlord and Magician
Woden, Varuna, Zeus, Lugh, Jupiter
A Priestly God who is an advisor and judge
Tyr, Mitra, Hades, Nuadu, Dius Fidius
A Warrior God who is champion and also possesses secondary fertility
Thor, Indra, Ares, Ogme, Mars
A Herder God -- who bestows fecundity
Freyr, Asvins, Daghda (Eochu Ollathair),Quirinus (deified Romulus)
A Cultivator Goddess who bestows fertility and sovereignty
Freyja, Asvins, Demeter or Persephone, Brigit or Morrigu, Ops (from
Of course, this system is breaks down as myths floated further away from
the original Indo-European ideology but the tradition can be found inthe
various mythic texts.
Germanic myth survives mainly in the Eddas which were written down long
after the majority of Germanic peoples were converted to Christianity.
The Irish myths were heavily historicized by those who transmitted the
storis to the writers.
Greek myths mainly come from Hesiod's versions in Theogony. Slavonic and
Baltic myths are fragmented because the sources are very late and from
oral traditions long after Christianity brought in literacy.
Indo-European preChristian mythology seems to have never been unified
into a "canon" but instead was fragmented by various tribes. To
reconstruct Gothic mythical tradition would take reconstucting from the
Norse/Icelandic sources and first moving backwards to Common Germanic
then forward to Gothic.