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907Translations of _orthanc_

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  • varavilindo
    Apr 22, 2006
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      It is said that _orthanc_ has two major meanings (in two different
      tounges): in "elvish" (Sindarin) "stony heart, [?tormented] Hills"
      (VIII:35), "Stone Fangs" (VIII:35) and lastly "forked-Height" (RC:
      234); in Rohirric it is "cunning craft, invention" (VIII:35).

      The underlying etymology of the compound _or-thanc_ with translation
      "forked-Height" may be as follows:

      _or_: derived from base ORO- (V:379) giving N. _or_ prep. above;
      prefix _or-_ as in _orchall, orchel_ "superior, eminent"
      _thanc_: derived from Stem STAK- (V:388) giving N. _thanc_ and Q.
      _sanka_ meaning "cleft, split" here in adjectival form _thanc_ "forked".

      But in light of the different translations (mentioned above)
      thought of Tolkien by the time of writing _The Lord of the Rings_, we
      can easily observe many other hints how Tolkien first constructed
      _orthanc_.

      One could argue that Tolkien sometimes translated his own creations
      inexactly and non-literally, but in this instance I think that Tolkien toyed
      with various etymological explanations for his word – interesting enough
      to pull out a little analysis of _orthanc_ for each translation:

      "stony heart":

      _or_: possibly the Sindarin cognate of Q. _óre_ (XII:337) meaning "heart"
      _thanc_: certainly not derived from STAK-, but from base TAK-
      (V:389) giving N. _tanc_ "firm", which we could take (with enough
      imagination) as "stony". _tanc_ would undergo a liquid mutation when
      combined with _or_.

      "[?tormented] hills":

      _or_: may be derived from base ORO-(V:389) but unattested with the
      meaning of hill, although we can find _orod_ (under base ÒROT-
      (V:389)) "mountain", which could well be connected to *_or_ "hill".
      _thanc_: with the meaning of "torment" is nowhere else mentioned or
      reconstructable from bases. It's very possible that "tormented" is a
      misreading due to illegibility (as hinted by Chistopher Tolkien).

      "Stone Fang":

      _or_: can only mean "stone" in the context of the translation, but can
      hardly be derived from ORO-. I can not shed any further light on
      this matter.
      _thanc_: derived from abse STAK-, could fit in this context of the
      meaning _thanc_ "split, cleft".

      As we can see, Tolkien experimented with the many possibilities of
      translating _orthanc_. Whether we could add the new word meanings (e. g.
      *_or_ "heart") to our Sindarin vocabulary is questionable.

      Philipp Marquart
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