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Suite101 Nov. 29, 2002 article: Real orcs don't do windows

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  • Michael Martinez
    Real orcs don t do windows While doing some research on the Uruk-hai, I came across an interesting fact: there were no Uruk-hai when Tolkien first wrote the
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 29, 2002
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      Real orcs don't do windows

      While doing some research on the Uruk-hai, I came across an
      interesting fact: there were no Uruk-hai when Tolkien first wrote the
      chapter which introduced them. He hadn't conceived of them by that
      point. The original title for the chapter was "An Orc-raid".
      Well, that doesn't sound very exciting, does it? In fact, by the time
      Tolkien had reached this point in the story, Uruks (much less Uruk-
      hai) had yet to appear.

      Hang on, as Harry Potter might say. Let's back up a bit, and start
      over.

      While most people know that "orc" rarely occurs in The Hobbit
      (Christopher Tolkien was able to find only one occurrence, for
      example, in the first edition of the book), you can still find a
      few "orc" passages in the second and third editions. What is
      significant about the rarity of "orc" in The Hobbit (and the near-
      rarity of "goblin" in The Lord of the Rings) is that the frequencies
      of these words represent a fundamental transition in Tolkien's
      thinking about the creatures which menaced Hobbits.

      Goblins haunted Tolkien's imagination as far back as his school days.
      The oldest extant example of Tolkien's use of goblins in literature
      is the poem "Goblin feet", which was published in the 1915 Oxford
      Poetry:

      Read the rest here
      http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/tolkien/96689
    • LARRY SWAIN
      Michael, Delighted to find that you post to this list too. Perhaps we can begin our aborted discussion on Tolkien s career and related matters recently cut off
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 2, 2002
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        Michael,

        Delighted to find that you post to this list too.
        Perhaps we can begin our aborted discussion on
        Tolkien's career and related matters recently cut off
        elsewhere.

        But I have a few comments of a minor sort on your
        recent article. First the word "goblin" first appears
        in the LATIN text of Orderic Vitellus, yes he's
        speaking about those bogies in northern France, but
        the word is Latin in the 12th century. It is not
        recorded in French until the 15th century, and in
        English in the 14th. Given the early entrance into
        Med. Latin and the lateness into Norman French and
        Middle ENglish, one can not be dogmatic about this
        word being "French", particularly with the high degree
        of movement back and forth between the 3 languages in
        Norman England. The possible relation to Medieval
        Latin cobalus should not be dismissed too early or
        quickly though Onions did so.

        Orc may come from "orcneas", but I doubt it.
        "Orcneas" appears ONLY at Beowulf 112, and probably
        comes from Latin orca, possibly orcus. Several Old
        English glossaries (containing Latin words and their
        Old English equivalents) have as an Old English word,
        "orc" defined as a demon clearly coming from Latin
        "orcus" very early.

        Re: "eotenas" in Beowulf 112, you might have mentioned
        the obvious connection to the Ettinmoors.

        Elves are not necessarily evil in Old English
        tradition and it is impossible to try and describe
        just what they are and how they were conceived. In
        some Old English texts they appear as evil or as bad,
        in other texts as positive. Christian heroes are
        sometimes ascribed with elfen characteristics, Judith
        for example is "elf-shining", beautiful as an elf.

        There was a very good article in Mythlore back in the
        late '80, very early '90s that dealt with the issue of
        the words hobbit, goblin etc.

        Regards,
        Larry Swain
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