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Re: [mythsoc] Hobbit names

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  • Elizabeth Hardy
    As a Kentuckian myself, I have never encountered any individuals with Hobbit names, but as a scholar of Appalachian culture as well as an Inkling scholar, I
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 15, 2006
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      As a Kentuckian myself, I have never encountered any individuals with Hobbit names, but as a scholar of Appalachian culture as well as an Inkling scholar, I have long been intrigued by the connections between Appalachian people and Hobbits (we keep to ourselves, are wary of strangers, have strong ties to the land, are family-oriented, enjoy both alcohol and tobacco, pratice cooking and eating as arts, are highly traditional, resist change, etc.), but these are likely the result of the historicial connections with the early settlers of Appalachia and their cousins back in Britain. Appalachian people are like hobbits because the people who inspired the hobbits were the kin of the first Appalachian settlers. We have also had a long and unpleasant relationship with industrialists whom many of us regard as characters as shady as Saruman!
      (Our terrain is, of course, more rugged than the Shire. I now live in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain, which could easily harbor orcs.)
      Elizabeth
      David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
      At 03:51 PM 12/1/2006 -0800, Jason Fisher wrote:

      >And BTW, there are rumors that some of the surnames of the sort you
      >mentioned above may have come from a Kentucky telephone book or something
      >like that.

      Mis-memory of a statement that's probably not true in the first place. Guy
      Davenport, who wrote a couple articles in the 1970s, was the person who
      claimed to have found all the hobbit surnames in a pair of Kentucky
      telephone books. (He couldn't have in any Kentucky phone directories I've
      checked.) This he offered in support of his thesis that hobbits were
      inspired by tales of Kentucky country folk that Tolkien heard from his
      college aquaintance, Allen Barnett, a Rhodes scholar from Kentucky.

      Who can say what ingredients might have gone into the Cauldron of Story,
      but Barnett was far less important in Tolkien's life than Davenport (or
      Daniel Grotta, following him) assumed, and as for the suggestion that there
      actually is anything specifically Kentuckyesque about hobbits, that was
      addressed in the title of my paper that Merlin just cited:

      At 01:26 AM 12/2/2006 +0000, not_thou wrote:

      >Regarding Hobbit last names, David Bratman presented a very
      >entertaining paper at Birmingham in 2005 called "Hobbit Names Aren't
      >from Kentucky", noting the last names were generally English but
      >sometimes used more for sound than for sense, if I recall correctly.
      >Has / will that paper be published?

      What I said specifically was that Tolkien sometimes chose names more
      because of what meaning they suggested to the ear rather than on the basis
      of their actual etymology. For instance, as he observes in the
      Nomenclature, Chubb sounds like chubby, though it's actually apparently
      derived from the name of a fish.

      Some hobbit names exist in America, some don't, but none are particularly
      associated with Kentucky. There's more evidence, though scanty enough,
      that Tolkien chose some names because of the part of England that they're
      associated with, e.g. some of the Hobbiton-area names are Midlands names;
      names from farther off are from SE England or sometimes Yorkshire.

      If there is a Birmingham Proceedings, this paper should be in it. They
      have a copy.

      David Bratman





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