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Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien

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  • David Bratman
    There is definitely no consistency, but the impression I have is that Tolkien s general practice is exactly the opposite of what you suggest. That is, he
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 7, 2008
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      There is definitely no consistency, but the impression I have is that Tolkien's general practice is exactly the opposite of what you suggest. That is, he usually capitalizes the term if referring to the entire race, but uncapitalizes it if referring to individuals. "Bilbo the Hobbit" would be an exception: here "Hobbit" is an epithet and therefore capitalized, as you would say "Durin the Deathless".

      -----Original Message-----
      >From: John Davis <john@...>
      >Sent: Dec 5, 2008 7:28 AM
      >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien
      >
      >Hi,
      >
      >I've been banging my head against this one for a while, and would appreciate any advice...
      >
      >Should one capitalise fantasy races?
      >
      >Now the obvious answer would seem to be no, no more than we capitalise real species. So fox, rabbit, hobbit, elf.
      >
      >But Tolkien frequently - and frequently inconsistently, so far as I can see - does capitalise. Not so much in the Hobbit, sometimes in LotR and his letters, always in CoH (making it Christopher I suppose, but he should know!). Shippey doesn't capitalise, other writers do. Some people claim that the inconsistency is due to Tolkien's editors and proofreaders not being up to the task, but this doesn't seem to excuse the Letters (or does it?). It would be nice to say that Tolkien used lower case if referring to the species (a noun: 'the elven race is immortal', or 'an elven sword'), and capitalised if referring to a specific individual or group of individuals (a proper noun: 'Bilbo the Hobbit', or 'the Hobbits in the boat'. But this doesn't seem to be the case, certainly not by CoH.
      >
      >Online, some people advocate always capitalising fantasy races (saying that they are really more a people), others advocate never capitalising. Most seem unsure.
      >
      >Help!
      >
      >John
      >
      >
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    • Wayne G. Hammond
      ... We discussed this issue briefly in our note in the 50th anniversary edition of _The Lord of the Rings_, pp. xx-xxi, and in _The Lord of the Rings: A
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 7, 2008
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        John (Davis) wrote:

        >Should one capitalise fantasy races?
        >
        >Now the obvious answer would seem to be no, no more than we capitalise
        >real species. So fox, rabbit, hobbit, elf.
        >
        >But Tolkien frequently - and frequently inconsistently, so far as I can
        >see - does capitalise. Not so much in the Hobbit, sometimes in LotR and
        >his letters, always in CoH (making it Christopher I suppose, but he should
        >know!).

        We discussed this issue briefly in our note in the 50th anniversary edition
        of _The Lord of the Rings_, pp. xx-xxi, and in _The Lord of the Rings: A
        Reader's Companion_, pp. 25-26.

        Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • John Davis
        Hi David, John; Which kind of illustrates the problem! Perhaps what is more important is to be consistent oneself? John ... From: David Bratman To:
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 8, 2008
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          Hi David, John;

          Which kind of illustrates the problem!

          Perhaps what is more important is to be consistent oneself?

          John



          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David Bratman
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 3:27 AM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien


          There is definitely no consistency, but the impression I have is that Tolkien's general practice is exactly the opposite of what you suggest. That is, he usually capitalizes the term if referring to the entire race, but uncapitalizes it if referring to individuals. "Bilbo the Hobbit" would be an exception: here "Hobbit" is an epithet and therefore capitalized, as you would say "Durin the Deathless".
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        • John Davis
          Hi Wayne, Can you tell me what conclusions you reached? John ... From: Wayne G. Hammond To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 4:07 AM
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 8, 2008
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            Hi Wayne,

            Can you tell me what conclusions you reached?

            John


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Wayne G. Hammond
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 4:07 AM
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien


            John (Davis) wrote:

            >Should one capitalise fantasy races?
            >
            >Now the obvious answer would seem to be no, no more than we capitalise
            >real species. So fox, rabbit, hobbit, elf.
            >
            >But Tolkien frequently - and frequently inconsistently, so far as I can
            >see - does capitalise. Not so much in the Hobbit, sometimes in LotR and
            >his letters, always in CoH (making it Christopher I suppose, but he should
            >know!).

            We discussed this issue briefly in our note in the 50th anniversary edition
            of _The Lord of the Rings_, pp. xx-xxi, and in _The Lord of the Rings: A
            Reader's Companion_, pp. 25-26.

            Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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          • Diane Joy
            An Urik-hai, I think? ... From: John D Rateliff To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 2:15 PM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in
            Message 5 of 13 , Dec 8, 2008
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              An Urik-hai, I think?

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: John D Rateliff
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 2:15 PM
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien


              Hi John
              As you say, Tolkien's not consistent on this point. But then
              again, given how long a span of time his legendarium materials cover,
              and the various states he left them in, complete consistency would
              have been hard to achieve. I personally don't feel that imposing a
              standardization onto his works is necessary or desirable.
              Re. the general question, "Should one capitalise fantasy races?",
              the standard at TSR was to leave the name of a race in lower-case but
              to capitalize a sub-race -- for example, "that orc is a Uruk-hai";
              "the elf turned out to be a Drow"; "Fallohides are the rarest of the
              three types of hobbit"; &c. I think here they were working on the
              model of ethnicities (e.g., asian vs. Mung). That at any rate was the
              rule they'd extrapolated, which worked pretty well.
              I hope this helps.
              --John R.

              On Dec 5, 2008, at 4:28 AM, John Davis wrote:
              > Hi,
              >
              > I've been banging my head against this one for a while, and would
              > appreciate any advice...
              >
              > Should one capitalise fantasy races?
              >
              > Now the obvious answer would seem to be no, no more than we
              > capitalise real species. So fox, rabbit, hobbit, elf.
              >
              > But Tolkien frequently - and frequently inconsistently, so far as I
              > can see - does capitalise. Not so much in the Hobbit, sometimes in
              > LotR and his letters, always in CoH (making it Christopher I
              > suppose, but he should know!). Shippey doesn't capitalise, other
              > writers do. Some people claim that the inconsistency is due to
              > Tolkien's editors and proofreaders not being up to the task, but
              > this doesn't seem to excuse the Letters (or does it?). It would be
              > nice to say that Tolkien used lower case if referring to the
              > species (a noun: 'the elven race is immortal', or 'an elven
              > sword'), and capitalised if referring to a specific individual or
              > group of individuals (a proper noun: 'Bilbo the Hobbit', or 'the
              > Hobbits in the boat'. But this doesn't seem to be the case,
              > certainly not by CoH.
              >
              > Online, some people advocate always capitalising fantasy races
              > (saying that they are really more a people), others advocate never
              > capitalising. Most seem unsure.
              >
              > Help!
              >
              > John





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            • Carl F. Hostetter
              No, it s Uruk-hai. And note that _-hai_ is a race-collective, meaning folk , so an individual can t be an Uruk-hai ; rather, one is of the Uruk-hai . Carl
              Message 6 of 13 , Dec 8, 2008
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                No, it's Uruk-hai. And note that _-hai_ is a race-collective, meaning
                "folk", so an individual can't be "an Uruk-hai"; rather, one is "of
                the Uruk-hai".

                Carl

                On Dec 9, 2008, at 1:11 AM, Diane Joy wrote:

                > An Urik-hai, I think?
                >
                >
              • Diane Joy
                I bow to greater knowledge. ... From: Carl F. Hostetter To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 2:55 AM Subject: [mythsoc] _Uruk-hai_ (was
                Message 7 of 13 , Dec 9, 2008
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                  I bow to greater knowledge.
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: Carl F. Hostetter
                  To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 2:55 AM
                  Subject: [mythsoc] _Uruk-hai_ (was Re: Capitalization in Tolkien)


                  No, it's Uruk-hai. And note that _-hai_ is a race-collective, meaning
                  "folk", so an individual can't be "an Uruk-hai"; rather, one is "of
                  the Uruk-hai".

                  Carl

                  On Dec 9, 2008, at 1:11 AM, Diane Joy wrote:

                  > An Urik-hai, I think?
                  >
                  >






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                • Wayne G. Hammond
                  ... Our editorial brief for The Lord of the Rings was that we should follow Tolkien s intentions, when known or perceived with sufficient confidence.
                  Message 8 of 13 , Dec 13, 2008
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                    John Davis wrote:

                    >Can you tell me what conclusions you reached?

                    Our editorial brief for The Lord of the Rings was that we should follow
                    Tolkien's intentions, when known or perceived with sufficient confidence.
                    Unfortunately, there were too many ambiguous or uncertain instances of
                    hobbits/Hobbits and other variously capitalized names of peoples (also of
                    sun/Sun, moon/Moon) in The Lord of the Rings to impose a general rule, so
                    we left things as they stood in our copy-text. Although we were able to
                    make a case for selected regularizations in other respects, Christopher
                    Tolkien agreed that it was best not to do so for the names of races. We
                    did, however, capitalize names of races, when used as such, in our added
                    commentary. Again, see The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion,
                    especially pp. 25-26. There was also a related issue with elvish/Elvish,
                    though there we had explicit JRRT direction: see Reader's Companion p. 173.

                    Wayne & Christina






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                  • John D Rateliff
                    I ve now finished up the Wilcox book, which turns out (like most of his works) to not be a book at all but an audiobook original -- essentialLY an extended
                    Message 9 of 13 , Dec 22, 2008
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                      I've now finished up the Wilcox book, which turns out (like most of
                      his works) to not be a book at all but an audiobook original --
                      essentialLY an extended lecture or sermon. I wouldn't rank it as
                      essential but rather as for completists. I liked the second of the
                      two cds better, since there was less about Narnia on it. Despite its
                      presumptive focus, it really doesn't delve much into specifics about
                      how Lewis's ideas interact with Morman beliefs, which could have been
                      rather interesting, but rather holds him up as a champion for all
                      Xians. I'd hoped for an examination of THE GREAT DIVORCE (which
                      Wilcox describes as a favorite of his) in the light of Morman
                      afterlife/prejudgment teachings, but no such luck. A missed
                      opportunity, I'd say.
                      --JDR
                    • John Davis
                      Hi Wayne, Interesting - thanks for that. John ... From: Wayne G. Hammond To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:03 AM Subject: Re:
                      Message 10 of 13 , Dec 23, 2008
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                        Hi Wayne,

                        Interesting - thanks for that.

                        John

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Wayne G. Hammond
                        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:03 AM
                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Capitalization in Tolkien


                        John Davis wrote:

                        >Can you tell me what conclusions you reached?

                        Our editorial brief for The Lord of the Rings was that we should follow
                        Tolkien's intentions, when known or perceived with sufficient confidence.
                        Unfortunately, there were too many ambiguous or uncertain instances of
                        hobbits/Hobbits and other variously capitalized names of peoples (also of
                        sun/Sun, moon/Moon) in The Lord of the Rings to impose a general rule, so
                        we left things as they stood in our copy-text. Although we were able to
                        make a case for selected regularizations in other respects, Christopher
                        Tolkien agreed that it was best not to do so for the names of races. We
                        did, however, capitalize names of races, when used as such, in our added
                        commentary. Again, see The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion,
                        especially pp. 25-26. There was also a related issue with elvish/Elvish,
                        though there we had explicit JRRT direction: see Reader's Companion p. 173.

                        Wayne & Christina

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