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

Re: [mythsoc] A dummy question for any Tolkienists out there

Expand Messages
  • David S Bratman
    Avie - Alas, confusion between Tolkien s creation and Jackson s re-creation is inherent in your question. First, orc and goblin are essentially synonyms.
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 27, 2002
      Avie -

      Alas, confusion between Tolkien's creation and Jackson's re-creation is
      inherent in your question.

      First, "orc" and "goblin" are essentially synonyms. In the preface to _The
      Hobbit_, Tolkien writes "Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or
      two places [in _The Hobbit_] but is usually translated goblin ... Orc is
      the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
      creatures." Thus, the sword-name Orcrist is translated as
      Goblin-cleaver. In one spot, near the end of chapter 5, Tolkien defines
      orcs as big goblins, but in the preface he says the term for bigger goblins
      is hobgoblins. At the end of chapter 7, Gandalf refers to "goblins,
      hobgoblins, and orcs" as if they're three different things. But
      essentially they're synonyms. Tolkien used goblin in _The Hobbit_ but
      switched to orc in LOTR to try to get away from the George Macdonald/German
      fairy tale feel of the other word.

      Now, uruks and the Uruk-hai. This seems to be confusing people
      terribly. They're the same thing. "Uruk-hai" means "the race (or people,
      or army) of the uruks." Uruks is the English plural. They first appeared
      from Mordor some centuries earlier (you found the reference in Appendix
      A). It does rather appear from Book 3 Chapter 3 that Saruman's orcs in
      this expedition are uruks while the other orcs are not, but Sauron had them
      first.

      The breeding of orcs and men is nothing but a vague speculation in
      Tolkien. Jackson, as is typical of him, takes an ominous rumor and makes
      it drearily concrete. The only evidence I can think of that the uruks have
      man-blood is based on the fact that they can tolerate sunlight (which the
      Moria orcs dislike), and is a speculation made by Treebeard in chapter 4
      (in the discussion of Saruman, not long before he sings the song of the Ent
      and Entwife). Treebeard says, "These Isengarders are more like wicked Men.
      It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they
      cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate
      it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
      blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!"

      Others may have further evidence or other ideas, but Foster's Guide clearly
      distinguishes the uruks from the half-orcs, which would make Treebeard's
      guess wrong. (One of the richnesses of Tolkien's creation is that not
      every rumor is true.) There is evidence elsewhere that there are
      half-orcs. But they're not super-orcs, they're men who look orc-like, and
      they're primarily found among the Chief's Men in "The Scouring of the
      Shire." When the hobbits return to Bywater, "they were disturbed to see
      half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the inn-wall; they
      were squint-eyed and sallow-faced. 'Like that friend of Bill Ferny's at
      Bree,' said Sam. 'Like many that I saw at Isengard,' muttered Merry." A
      couple pages later Pippin refers to "ruffians and half-orcs," but it's
      unclear if he means this literally. In the battle, Merry "slew the leader,
      a great squint-eyed brute like a huge orc," note the word "like." Bill
      Ferny's friend had been referred to at the time (Book 1, chapter 9) as "a
      squint-eyed ill-favoured fellow," but he's never compared to an orc.

      And that's it, I think. It's a rumor. It's never supposed to be clear
      exactly what Saruman did.

      As for the origin of Orcs, Treebeard says (end of Book 3 chapter 4) that
      they were bred by Morgoth in mockery of Elves, but he calls them
      "counterfeits" and the implication is strong that they're not bred _from_
      Elves. Yet it is said elsewhere that the Enemy cannot create, only debase,
      and _The Silmarillion_ is clear that elf-stock was used. But Tolkien was
      unhappy with that, and after LotR was published he reconsidered this, and
      changed the stock to Men, but this change never got into anything he
      published, and I would not consider it final.

      - David Bratman



      At 02:20 PM 11/28/2002 +1100, you wrote:
      >I have a question about orcs if anyone out there will humour me a little.
      >
      >I have some people confusing Jackson version orcs with Tolkien orcs, but I
      >cannot for the life of me find suitable page references that will solve the
      >problem. Bascially, I'm trying to find a good 'definition' for the
      >differences between orcs and goblins (if there is one) - and particularly
      >the differences between Moria orcs and Saruman's Uruk Hai creations. I
      >know in Appendix A (IV) that Tolkien talks about the uruks who "first
      >appeared out of Mordor" at the end of Denethor I's reign. These orc
      >versions were largish and strong from what I read, and I am wondering if it
      >is these that Saruman blends with men to make up his Uruk Hai force. For
      >that matter, does anyone know which men Saruman fiddles with? I have a
      >vague recollection that they were Dunlendings or maybe the Wild Men from
      >around the Druadan Forest, but again, I cannot find a reference so I may be
      >mistaken here.
      >
      >On a final note, I have always thought that all orcs are descended from
      >those first elves that were twisted and tortured by Morgoth(?) and that the
      >versions we see in LOTR are their descendents - have I been wrong about this?
      >
      >Any help is appreciated (especially with page references!)
      >
      >Avie.
      >
      >
      >
      >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >
      >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    • JP Massar
      ... While some consider this a statement of fact, others consider it heresy. There is a raging, flaming, all-out war going on at this moment on this very topic
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 27, 2002
        >Now, uruks and the Uruk-hai. This seems to be confusing people
        >terribly. They're the same thing.

        While some consider this a statement of fact, others consider it
        heresy.

        There is a raging, flaming, all-out war going on at this moment on
        this very topic (whether uruks == Uruk-Hai) on the Tolkien newsgroup.

        (I have no opinion on the issue; just want you to be aware that many
        people believe the opposite, or believe it to be ambiguous, or just like
        to argue, or whatever...)
      • JP Massar
        ... IIRC, Morgoth s Ring contains Tolkien s later musings on the origins of Orcs. Sorry, no page numbers handy.
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 27, 2002
          >
          > >
          > >On a final note, I have always thought that all orcs are descended from
          > >those first elves that were twisted and tortured by Morgoth(?) and that the
          > >versions we see in LOTR are their descendents - have I been wrong about
          > this?
          > >
          > >Any help is appreciated (especially with page references!)
          > >

          IIRC, 'Morgoth's Ring' contains Tolkien's later musings on the origins
          of Orcs.

          Sorry, no page numbers handy.
        • David S Bratman
          ... They can argue that: they can be, and are, wrong. - David Bratman
          Message 4 of 6 , Nov 28, 2002
            At 11:31 PM 11/27/2002 -0800, JP Massar wrote:

            > >Now, uruks and the Uruk-hai. This seems to be confusing people
            > >terribly. They're the same thing.
            >
            >While some consider this a statement of fact, others consider it
            >heresy.

            They can argue that: they can be, and are, wrong.

            - David Bratman
          • Michael Martinez
            ... Saruman s Uruks are the only Uruks identified as Uruk-hai in the book. This is a matter of great debate (and some flammage) right now, but there are no
            Message 5 of 6 , Nov 29, 2002
              --- In mythsoc@y..., David S Bratman <dbratman@s...> wrote:
              > Now, uruks and the Uruk-hai. This seems to be confusing people
              > terribly. They're the same thing. "Uruk-hai" means "the race (or
              > people, or army) of the uruks." Uruks is the English plural. They
              > first appeared from Mordor some centuries earlier (you found the
              > reference in Appendix A). It does rather appear from Book 3
              > Chapter 3 that Saruman's orcs in this expedition are uruks while
              > the other orcs are not, but Sauron had them first.

              Saruman's Uruks are the only Uruks identified as "Uruk-hai" in the
              book. This is a matter of great debate (and some flammage) right
              now, but there are no passages where Tolkien uses "Uruk-hai" to refer
              to all Uruks.

              Two passages are currently being argued over elsewhere. The first is
              from Appendix F in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It is the first paragraph
              in "Orcs and the Black Speech", where Tolkien stipulates that
              though "Uruk" is the Black Speech word for "Orc" ("Related, no
              doubt, ..."). He goes on to say that (at the time of the story,
              i.e., the end of the Third Age) the word has become narrowed in
              usage, and refers only to "the great soldier-orcs that issued at this
              time from Mordor and Isengard".

              He concludes the paragraph by saying that lesser Orcs were
              called "snaga" (slave), ESPECIALLY BY THE URUK-HAI.

              The people who have been arguing that URUK-HAI = URUKS have been
              unable (so far) to show how the paragraph makes any sense, since
              Tolkien is clearly distinguishing the Uruk-hai from all other Uruks.

              The other passage being argued over is the index entry in UNFINISHED
              TALES for "Uruks", where (presumably Christopher Tolkien says) "Uruks
              is an anglicization of Black Speech Uruk-hai" (I am actually
              paraphrasing from memory -- I'm at work and have to limit how many
              sites I look at through the corporate proxy server). A secondary
              clause of "a race of orcs of great strength and size" (or something
              to that effect) follows the initial description.

              This passage has been erroneously cited as a "translation", but no
              translation is offered. That is, in all the index entries where
              translations are provided, the translated meaning either follows the
              word in quotation (such as, "AGARWAEN 'Bloodstained'") or a
              translation is offered in the text of the entry ("translated as ...").

              This particular index entry ONLY applies to the story "The Battles of
              the Fords of Isen", which Tolkien wrote after THE LORD OF THE RINGS
              had been published. It has been suggested that, since Christopher
              modelled the UNFINISHED TALES index upon an index his father had
              created for THE LORD OF THE RINGS, that the "URUKS" entry came from
              JRRT himself. However, there is no indication in UNFINISHED TALES
              that this is so. Furthermore, the only Uruks mentioned in "The
              Battles of the Fords of Isen" are Isengard's Uruk-hai.

              Hence, there is no textual basis for saying that all Uruks were
              called Uruk-hai at the end of the Third Age (or that the name was
              ever applied to them as a group). While linguists generally agree
              that "hai" probably means "folk" or "people" in Black Speech (also
              used in Olog-hai, Oghor-hai), that alone does not support the
              assertion that Uruk-hai MUST apply to all Uruks.

              For example, "Eldar" is a variation of Orome's original name for all
              Elves. And "Quendi", the Elves' original name for themselves,
              evolved into tribal names with the same literal meaning for various
              groups of Avari (as stipulated in Author's Note 9, attached
              to "Quendi and Eldar" in THE WAR OF THE JEWELS).

              What that leaves us with is clear evidence that Tolkien provided for
              evolution in word meanings; that is, he allowed some racial names to
              become tribal or national names (for lack of a better term) among the
              Elves. There is evidence that similar narrowing occurred among
              Edainic peoples ("Dunedain", for example, came to refer to only to
              those people of Numenorean descent who lived in Arnor and Gondor, but
              excluding the Black Numenoreans).

              Hence, if Tolkien did this for both Elves and Men, there is no basis
              for saying he did not, could not, or would not do it for Orcs.
              Therefore, in order to show that URUK-HAI = URUKS, it has to be shown
              that Tolkien used the terms interchangeably, or that such linguistic
              evolution would not occur among the Orcs. And yet, Tolkien
              stipulates that Orc languages evolved very rapidly (probably even
              more so than other races' languages).

              Finally, Tolkien used the terms "Uruk" or "Uruks" in various chapters
              to refer to non-Isengarder Uruks, and he only used "Uruk-hai" to
              refer to Isengarders (both through characters and the narrative
              voice). He also named an entire chapter for the Isengarders ("The
              Uruk-hai"). In Mordor, the only self-applying reference from an Uruk
              is Gorbag's "poor Uruks" sentence (when he is talking to Shagrat in
              the tunnel). Another Uruk, in the third book, speculates on what he
              and a tracker (Snaga) may be hunting, and mentions "rebel Uruk-hai".
              Some people insist that must refer to Gorbag's Orcs, but so far as
              the reader knows they are all dead except for one or two archers (who
              are no longer mentioned) AND there is no passage where they are
              explicitly identified as Uruk-hai.

              So, one must conclude that Tolkien did not intend URUK-HAI to be used
              interchangeably with URUKS. He certainly refrained from doing so.
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.