Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

"Britishism" question

Expand Messages
  • Croft, Janet B.
    I ve noticed that in The Lord of the Rings, there are several instance of the construction right name where one might say real name or true name -
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 9, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      I’ve noticed that in The Lord of the Rings, there are several instance of the construction “right name” where one might say “real name” or “true name” – Butterbur says he doesn’t know Strider’s right name, for example, and Éomer asks for Aragorn’s right name when they meet.  Before I go attributing any interesting significance to this word choice, does anyone happen to know if this phrase is a Britishism that Tolkien might have been using simply to indicate a particular accent or speech pattern? (Being Tolkien, I think he chose it very consciously, but it may ALSO be a British idiom.)
       
      Tak! (my one word of Icelandic!)
      Janet
       
      Janet Brennan Croft
      Associate Professor
      Head of Access Services
      University of Oklahoma Libraries
      Bizzell 104NW
      Norman OK 73019
      405-325-1918
      Fax 405-325-7618
      jbcroft@...
      http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/C/Janet.B.Croft-1/
      http://libraries.ou.edu/
      Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html
      Book Review Editor of Oklahoma Librarian
      http://www.oklibs.org/oklibrarian/current/index.html
      "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett
       
       
       
    • David Bratman
      Briefly, yes. Common usages of right for real : He s a right hero or She s a right friend. The useful _British English A to Zed_ by Norman W. Schur
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 9, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        Briefly, yes. Common usages of "right" for "real": "He's a right hero" or
        "She's a right friend." The useful _British English A to Zed_ by Norman W.
        Schur (from which also these examples) says "Usually humorous, sometimes
        ironical." "Proper", it says, is usually used as an intensifier, e.g. "I
        told him off good and proper." In _Life of Brian_, when Brian is vending
        things like wolf nibble chips at the arena, Judith asks, "Why don't you sell
        proper food?"


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Croft, Janet B." <jbcroft@...>
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 12:50 PM
        Subject: [mythsoc] "Britishism" question


        I've noticed that in The Lord of the Rings, there are several instance of
        the construction "right name" where one might say "real name" or "true
        name" - Butterbur says he doesn't know Strider's right name, for example,
        and Éomer asks for Aragorn's right name when they meet. Before I go
        attributing any interesting significance to this word choice, does anyone
        happen to know if this phrase is a Britishism that Tolkien might have been
        using simply to indicate a particular accent or speech pattern? (Being
        Tolkien, I think he chose it very consciously, but it may ALSO be a British
        idiom.)

        Tak! (my one word of Icelandic!)
        Janet

        Janet Brennan Croft
        Associate Professor
        Head of Access Services
        University of Oklahoma Libraries
        Bizzell 104NW
        Norman OK 73019
        405-325-1918
        Fax 405-325-7618
        jbcroft@... <mailto:jbcroft@...>
        http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/C/Janet.B.Croft-1/
        http://libraries.ou.edu/
        Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html
        Book Review Editor of Oklahoma Librarian
        http://www.oklibs.org/oklibrarian/current/index.html
        "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets
        the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett
      • John Davis
        It isn t found in that context in standard English usage in the UK, where, as you say, real or true would probably the used. But it is used in that manner in a
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 10, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          It isn't found in that context in standard English usage in the UK, where, as you say, real or true would probably the used. But it is used in that manner in a number of regional dialects, such as North England, Valley's Welsh, and perhaps most pertinently in rural Midlands, which is of course where Tolkien grew up.
           
          So not a standard British idiom, but yes, Tolkien was almost certainly using it to suggest an appropriate accent.
           
          To the extent that David suggests it is used in humourous or ironical fashion, I believe that derives from a tendency to mock - sometimes kindly, sometimes not so much - rural accents. To put on a Northern or rural accent was - and sadly still is - often a 'comic' short-hand for suggesting stupidity. (Think Pythons.) On the other hand, the use of the word proper in the Life of Brian ('why don't you sell proper  food?' is, as far as I'm aware, normal usage for the word, with the humour deriving from, um, comparison with contemporary life, perhaps).
           
          John
          (The Midlands, UK!)
           
           
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 8:50 PM
          Subject: [mythsoc] "Britishism" question

           

          I’ve noticed that in The Lord of the Rings, there are several instance of the construction “right name” where one might say “real name” or “true name” – Butterbur says he doesn’t know Strider’s right name, for example, and Éomer asks for Aragorn’s right name when they meet.  Before I go attributing any interesting significance to this word choice, does anyone happen to know if this phrase is a Britishism that Tolkien might have been using simply to indicate a particular accent or speech pattern? (Being Tolkien, I think he chose it very consciously, but it may ALSO be a British idiom.)
           
          Tak! (my one word of Icelandic!)
          Janet
           
          Janet Brennan Croft
          Associate Professor
          Head of Access Services
          University of Oklahoma Libraries
          Bizzell 104NW
          Norman OK 73019
          405-325-1918
          Fax 405-325-7618
          jbcroft@...
          http://faculty- staff.ou. edu/C/Janet. B.Croft-1/
          http://libraries. ou.edu/
          Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc. org/mythlore. html
          Book Review Editor of Oklahoma Librarian
          http://www.oklibs. org/oklibrarian/ current/index. html
          "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett
           
           
           

        • lynnmaudlin
          Though I dare say JRRT wasn t suggesting *stupidity* although perhaps a lack of sophistication (in Butterbur s case?). I suspect within the context of LOTR,
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 10, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            Though I dare say JRRT wasn't suggesting *stupidity* although perhaps a lack of sophistication (in Butterbur's case?). I suspect within the context of LOTR, "true name" would be far too powerful a thing to allow the general populace to know. And "real name" probably resonates too much with "true name"; "proper name" might imply someone traveling incognito, with overtones of deception - when one considers it, the choice is pretty significant, eh?!

            -- Lynn --



            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "John Davis" <john@...> wrote:
            >
            > It isn't found in that context in standard English usage in the UK, where, as you say, real or true would probably the used. But it is used in that manner in a number of regional dialects, such as North England, Valley's Welsh, and perhaps most pertinently in rural Midlands, which is of course where Tolkien grew up.
            >
            > So not a standard British idiom, but yes, Tolkien was almost certainly using it to suggest an appropriate accent.
            >
            > To the extent that David suggests it is used in humourous or ironical fashion, I believe that derives from a tendency to mock - sometimes kindly, sometimes not so much - rural accents. To put on a Northern or rural accent was - and sadly still is - often a 'comic' short-hand for suggesting stupidity. (Think Pythons.) On the other hand, the use of the word proper in the Life of Brian ('why don't you sell proper food?' is, as far as I'm aware, normal usage for the word, with the humour deriving from, um, comparison with contemporary life, perhaps).
            >
            > John
            > (The Midlands, UK!)
            >
            >
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: Croft, Janet B.
            > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            > Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 8:50 PM
            > Subject: [mythsoc] "Britishism" question
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > I've noticed that in The Lord of the Rings, there are several instance of the construction "right name" where one might say "real name" or "true name" - Butterbur says he doesn't know Strider's right name, for example, and Éomer asks for Aragorn's right name when they meet. Before I go attributing any interesting significance to this word choice, does anyone happen to know if this phrase is a Britishism that Tolkien might have been using simply to indicate a particular accent or speech pattern? (Being Tolkien, I think he chose it very consciously, but it may ALSO be a British idiom.)
            >
            > Tak! (my one word of Icelandic!)
            > Janet
            >
            > Janet Brennan Croft
            > Associate Professor
            > Head of Access Services
            > University of Oklahoma Libraries
            > Bizzell 104NW
            > Norman OK 73019
            > 405-325-1918
            > Fax 405-325-7618
            > jbcroft@...
            > http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/C/Janet.B.Croft-1/
            > http://libraries.ou.edu/
            > Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html
            > Book Review Editor of Oklahoma Librarian
            > http://www.oklibs.org/oklibrarian/current/index.html
            > "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett
            >
          • Jason Fisher
            I agree that the usage is probably meant to reflect Butterbur s less sophisticated dialect. Expressions like this often serve as cues to a character s home or
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 11, 2009
            • 0 Attachment
              I agree that the usage is probably meant to reflect Butterbur's less sophisticated dialect. Expressions like this often serve as cues to a character's home or stature. The choice would resonate with John's comment (below Lynn's, below) about the occurrence of the expression in rural/regional dialect. To place the colloquialism, ask yourself this: (1) could you hear Samwise using the same expression (yes); (2) would you expect to hear Boromir or Denethor using it (probably not). Gandalf and Aragorn use the expression, but in both cases I can think of, they're speaking to people who would use themselves use it (Barliman and Gimli, respectively). Aragorn and Gandlaf tend to adjust their speaking patterns, up or down, to fit the interlocutors.
               
              Jason


              From: lynnmaudlin <lynnmaudlin@...>
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Thu, December 10, 2009 5:24:16 PM
              Subject: [mythsoc] Re: "Britishism" question

               

              Though I dare say JRRT wasn't suggesting *stupidity* although perhaps a lack of sophistication (in Butterbur's case?). I suspect within the context of LOTR, "true name" would be far too powerful a thing to allow the general populace to know. And "real name" probably resonates too much with "true name"; "proper name" might imply someone traveling incognito, with overtones of deception - when one considers it, the choice is pretty significant, eh?!

              -- Lynn --

              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups .com, "John Davis" <john@...> wrote:
              >
              > It isn't found in that context in standard English usage in the UK, where, as you say, real or true would probably the used. But it is used in that manner in a number of regional dialects, such as North England, Valley's Welsh, and perhaps most pertinently in rural Midlands, which is of course where Tolkien grew up.
              >
              > So not a standard British idiom, but yes, Tolkien was almost certainly using it to suggest an appropriate accent.
              >
              > To the extent that David suggests it is used in humourous or ironical fashion, I believe that derives from a tendency to mock - sometimes kindly, sometimes not so much - rural accents. To put on a Northern or rural accent was - and sadly still is - often a 'comic' short-hand for suggesting stupidity. (Think Pythons.) On the other hand, the use of the word proper in the Life of Brian ('why don't you sell proper food?' is, as far as I'm aware, normal usage for the word, with the humour deriving from, um, comparison with contemporary life, perhaps).
              >
              > John
              > (The Midlands, UK!)
              >
              >
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: Croft, Janet B.
              > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups .com
              > Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 8:50 PM
              > Subject: [mythsoc] "Britishism" question
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > I've noticed that in The Lord of the Rings, there are several instance of the construction "right name" where one might say "real name" or "true name" - Butterbur says he doesn't know Strider's right name, for example, and Éomer asks for Aragorn's right name when they meet. Before I go attributing any interesting significance to this word choice, does anyone happen to know if this phrase is a Britishism that Tolkien might have been using simply to indicate a particular accent or speech pattern? (Being Tolkien, I think he chose it very consciously, but it may ALSO be a British idiom.)
              >
              > Tak! (my one word of Icelandic!)
              > Janet
              >
              > Janet Brennan Croft
              > Associate Professor
              > Head of Access Services
              > University of Oklahoma Libraries
              > Bizzell 104NW
              > Norman OK 73019
              > 405-325-1918
              > Fax 405-325-7618
              > jbcroft@...
              > http://faculty- staff.ou. edu/C/Janet. B.Croft-1/
              > http://libraries. ou.edu/
              > Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc. org/mythlore. html
              > Book Review Editor of Oklahoma Librarian
              > http://www.oklibs. org/oklibrarian/ current/index. html
              > "Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the rising ape meets the falling angel." -Terry Pratchett
              >

            • ernestsdavis
              ... I m not sure these examples, or Sue s examples right British , right idiot are quite the same thing. These mean truly a hero , truly British etc.,
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 11, 2009
              • 0 Attachment
                David <dbratman@...> wrote:
                >
                > Briefly, yes. Common usages of "right" for "real": "He's a right hero" or
                > "She's a right friend."

                I'm not sure these examples, or Sue's examples "right British", "right idiot" are quite the same thing. These mean "truly a hero", "truly
                British" etc., whereas "right name" does not mean "truly a name" but
                rather "rightful name".

                The fact that, as Janet points out, Eomer uses the phrase "right name" argues against the reading that Tolkien intends this as unsophisticated or rural; Eomer generally speaks in the same elevated diction as Aragorn.

                -- Ernie
              • ernestsdavis
                The OED has a couple of comparable quotes with right name (under right, a. Defn. 11 ) Properly pertaining or attached to a person or thing c1250 Gen. &
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 11, 2009
                • 0 Attachment
                  The OED has a couple of comparable quotes with "right name" (under
                  "right, a. Defn. 11") "Properly pertaining or attached to a person or thing"


                  c1250 Gen. & Ex. 2539 Pharao kinges righte name.
                  1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. v. 226 Rose the regratere was hir righte name.
                  c1475 Rauf Coilghear 239 Wymond of the Wardrop is my richt Name.

                  The examples that David and Sue mention seem closer to Defn.
                  17. Justly entitled to the name; having the true character of; true, real, veritable. a. Of persons, their character or position.
                  with examples like
                  1727 SWIFT Gulliver IV. iii, The Houyhnhnms..could hardly believe me to be a right Yahoo, because my Body had a different Covering from others of my Kind.
                  1813 SCOTT Rokeby I. xii, Right English all, they rush'd to blows.

                  -- Ernie
                • Croft, Janet B.
                  This has been an interesting discussion! Tolkien being Tolkien, I think he would be well aware of all the implications of such a word choice - that it might
                  Message 8 of 9 , Dec 11, 2009
                  • 0 Attachment

                    This has been an interesting discussion!  Tolkien being Tolkien, I think he would be well aware of all the implications of such a word choice – that it might indicate the speaker’s accent, or the speaker adopting the accent of the person being spoken to, while at the very same time having an underlying nuance slightly different from “true” or “real” used in the same phrase, as indicated in the OED examples below. (John Rateliff’s article in the recent Tolkien Studies is a great study of Tolkien as the sort of meticulous artist with words who would make such a choice very deliberately.)

                     

                    Thanks, especially to John and Sue for first-hand experience!

                     

                    Janet Brennan Croft

                     

                    From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of ernestsdavis
                    Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 4:05 PM
                    To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: [mythsoc] Re: "Britishism" question

                     

                     


                    The OED has a couple of comparable quotes with "right name" (under
                    "right, a. Defn. 11") "Properly pertaining or attached to a person or thing"

                    c1250 Gen. & Ex. 2539 Pharao kinges righte name.
                    1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. v. 226 Rose the regratere was hir righte name.
                    c1475 Rauf Coilghear 239 Wymond of the Wardrop is my richt Name.

                    The examples that David and Sue mention seem closer to Defn.
                    17. Justly entitled to the name; having the true character of; true, real, veritable. a. Of persons, their character or position.
                    with examples like
                    1727 SWIFT Gulliver IV. iii, The Houyhnhnms..could hardly believe me to be a right Yahoo, because my Body had a different Covering from others of my Kind.
                    1813 SCOTT Rokeby I. xii, Right English all, they rush'd to blows.

                    -- Ernie

                  • icelofangeln
                    ... But that s not necessarily a contradiction: rural speech often preserves archaic elements, things that were once part of formal speech, for example in the
                    Message 9 of 9 , Dec 12, 2009
                    • 0 Attachment
                      >
                      > The fact that, as Janet points out, Eomer uses the phrase "right name" argues against the reading that Tolkien intends this as unsophisticated or rural; Eomer generally speaks in the same elevated diction as Aragorn.
                      >

                      But that's not necessarily a contradiction: rural speech often preserves archaic elements, things that were once part of formal speech, for example in the way some communities continued to use 'thee' and 'thou.' "Right X" is perfectly good Elizabethan English, as in Antony's plaint that Cleopatra "like a right gipsy hath at fast and loose/beguil'd me to the very heart of loss."

                      (And what about the phrase "right now"? - just a living fossil, really. And "Right Honourable.")
                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.