_Huorn_ and _huine_ ?
Is there a linguistic reason why the _hu-_ in _Huorn_ might not be semantically connected
to that in _huine_ 'gloom, darkness' (S 358)? Searching the archives to this list, I see that
all discussion about _hu-_ in the context of _Huorn_ deals with the quality of speech or at
Although the ability to speak was a defining characteristic of Huorns in early drafts (VIII
47-55), and this ability is still mentioned in the final text of LR (LR 551), the ability to
speak is hardly relevant in the narrative context of the final text. In the final text, Huorns
are defined by their ambiguity (second only perhaps to their ability to uproot and travel).
They move in shadow, vaguely heard or sensed but not seen (no one actually sees them
move, except perhaps the Ents: LR 551, 539; Merry says "they seem to be able to wrap
themselves in shadow" [LR 551]). In the only scene where readers get a good look at
Huorns (standing still), "the great aisles of the wood were already wrapped in dusk,
stretching away into impenetrable shadows" (LR 533).
Another aspect of the Huorns' ambiguity is that no one seems to know quite what they are
(Ents that have become like trees? Trees that have become like Ents?); early drafts
demonstrate that Tolkien himself vacillated on the issue (VIII 47-55). Even the final text is
not definitive. Merry and Treebeard, each speaking with considerable uncertainty,
contradict one another: Merry thinks that Huorns "are Ents that have become almost like
trees" (LR 551), yet Treebeard speaks of trees "getting Entish" (LR 457).
A further semantic connection to _huine_ may lie in the suggestion that Huorns are "queer
and wild. Dangerous" (LR 551, per Merry). Treebeard explains that, when a tree gets
Entish, "you find that some have bad hearts," alluding to "some very black patches" around
Fangorn (LR 457). Treebeard connects these negative points to "some shadow of the Great
Darkness" which still lingers in the area.
I am aware that Tolkien glosses the earlier names for Huorns as "Talking Trees" (VIII 47,
50), but I wonder whether the intended meaning of the name may have changed as the
Huorns' role in the narrative evolved. Given the narrative context in the final text of LR,
there seems to be good reason to gloss the _hu_ in _Huorn_ with some suggestion of
'gloom, darkness' or perhaps 'shadow.'
I am a Tolkien scholar but not a linguist by any means, so please forgive me if I am
making a linguistically ridiculous suggestion. One potential obstacle I see is that _Huorn_
is a Sindarin word (per Jim Allen 1978) and _huine_ is Quenya (S 358); can a justification
be found in the way in which the Ents use both forms of Elvish (LR 1105)? If the mixing of
languages in this instance is permissible, I wonder whether "ui" treated as a dipthong
might be a problem?
Your input is much appreciated.
- Cynthia Cohen
- A late answer, but nevertheless:
>Although the ability to speak was a defining characteristic of HuornsThat very paragraph actually contains a clear explanation of the name:
>in early drafts (VIII 47-55), and this ability is still mentioned in
>the final text of LR (LR 551), the ability to speak is hardly relevant
>in the narrative context of the final text. In the final text, Huorns
>are defined by their ambiguity (second only perhaps to their ability
>to uproot and travel). They move in shadow, vaguely heard or sensed
>but not seen (no one actually sees them move, except perhaps the Ents:
>LR 551, 539; Merry says "they seem to be able to wrap themselves
>in shadow" [LR 551]).
'They still have voices, and can speak with the Ents that is why
they are called Huorns, Treebeard says'
>One potential obstacle I see is that _Huorn_Yes, that'a point. Original aspirated PH becomes _h_ before _u_ in
>is a Sindarin word (per Jim Allen 1978) and _huine_ is Quenya (S 358)
Quenya only. PHUY- yields Q. _Fui_, _Hui_ 'Night' as well as _fuine_,
_huine_ 'deep shadow', but N. _fuin_ only (V:382).
>If the mixing of languages in this instance is permissible, I wonderOh yes, it is, there is no known mechanism to simplify a diphthong
>whether "ui" treated as a dipthong might be a problem?
like that. Examples of hybrid Quenya/Sindarin words do exist, e.g. Q.
_Ondohir_ which substitutes _-hir_ 'lord' from S. _hîr_, pure Quenya
would be _Ondoher_ (XII:210). But also given _#hu-_ instead of _*hui_
the possibility of a derivation from PHUY- just doesn't appear likely
by Occam's razor.
Still, your guess was not unreasonable. Tolkien apparently considered
an element _hô_ 'spirit, shadow' (PE17:86) > *S. _hû_ as a possibility
among others, although the translation is not very readable. Look here
for a quick discussion (use the browser search to get to _Huorns_):
But one should note that Tolkien wrote down almost every possible
retrospective interpretation for a lot of LR names and it's seldom
clear in favour of which possibility he decided (if he did at all). In
any case, earlier variants are a helpful means of analysis, often
showing the original intention for the meaning of a name. In this case
it's clearly 'talking trees'.