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Author Topic: Hobbit Language
Durin's Bane
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Before using the common tounge, did hobbits have their own language?
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Banazîr
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Well, there is no documentation of any 'Hobbit' language. Yet, Hobbits of the Shire have been using Westron, in their own way, for quite a long period of time.

Before that, I guess they used deviations of the languages of other races around their living, but I cannot be sure about that.

Khalid

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White Gold Wielder
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This is a borderline call, but I don't this this is a Library topic.

For lack of a better place for now, moving to LotR...

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Halion
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From Appendix F (read those Appendices, it's really worth it [] ):
quote:
The Hobbits of the Shire and of Bree had at this time, for probably a thousand years, adopted the Common Speech. They used it in their own manner freely and carelessly; though the more learned among them had still at their command a more formal language when occasion required.
There is no record of any language peculiar to Hobbits. In ancient days they seem always to have used the languages of Men near whom, or among whom, they lived. Thus they quickly adopted the Common Speech after they entered Eriador, and by the time of their settlement at Bree they had already begun to forget their former tongue. This was evidently a Mannish language of the upper Anduin, akin to that of the Rohirrim; though the southern Stoors appear to have adopted a language related to Dunlendish before they came north to the Shire.


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Wetwang
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The very last page of Appendix F is entitled Note on three names: Hobbit, Gamgee, and Brandywine .
There is far too much for me to type at this time of the evening but there are some Hobbit words discussed there.
It seems that the Hobbit lanquage was akin to that of the Rohirrim, as we see when Merry and Pippin are in the company of the men of the Mark. The Rohan word for hobbit is holbytla , meaning hole-dweller. The actual word used by King Théoden was kûd-dûkan which means the same thing as above. At this time Hobbits called themselves kuduk .
I think that this shows that Hobbits did indeed have their own lanquage before adopting Westron and still retained many of their own words after adopting the Common Speech []

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Keep the earth under your feet, & clay on your fingers; wisdom in your bones, & have both eyes open!
That's Mr Wang™ to you!
This place would be a paradise tomorrow if every department had a supervisor with a submachine gun.

This bog is thick and easy...

From: West Sussex UK, well on the seafront in Bognor Regis actually! | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Halion
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quote:
The very last page of Appendix F is entitled Note on three names: Hobbit, Gamgee, and Brandywine .
There is far too much for me to type at this time of the evening but there are some Hobbit words discussed there.

Then let me “type” it for you. []
quote:
Hobbit is an invention. In the Westron the word used, when this people was referred to at all, was banakil ‘halfling’. But at this date the folk of the Shire and of Bree used the word kuduk, which was not found elsewhere. Meriadoc, however, actually records that the King of Rohan used the word kûd-dûkan ‘hole-dweller’. Since, as has been noted, the Hobbits had once spoken a language closely related to that of the Rohirrim, it seems likely that kuduk was a worn-down form of kûd-dûkan. The latter I have translated, for reasons explained, by holbytla; and hobbit provides a word that might well be a worn-down form of holbytla, it that name had occurred in our own ancient language.

Gamgee. According to family tradition, set out in the Red Book, the surname Galbasi, or in reduced form Galpsi, came from the village of Galabas, popularly supposed to be derived from galab- ‘game’ and an old element bas-, more or less equivalent to our wick, wich. Gamwich (pronounced Gammidge) seemed therefore a very fair rendering. However, in reducing Gammidgy to Gamgee, to represent Galpsi, no reference was intended to the connexion of Samwise with the family of Cotton, though a jest of that kind would have been hobbit-like enough, had there been any warrant in their language.
Cotton, in fact, represents Hlothran a fairly common village-name in the Shire, derived from hloth- ‘a two-roomed dwelling or hole’, and ran(u) a small group of such dwellings on a hillside. As a surname it may be an alteration of hlothram(a) ‘cottager’. Hlothram, which I have rendered Cotman, was the name of Farmer Cotton’s grandfather.

Brandywine. The hobbit-names of this river were alterations of the Elvish Baranduin (accented on and), derived from baran ‘golden brown’ and duin ‘(large) river’. Of Baranduin Brandywine seemed a natural corruption in modern times. Actually the older hobbit-name was Branda-nîn ‘border-water’, which would have been more closely rendered by Marchbourn; but by a jest that had become habitual, referring again to its colour, at this time the river was usually called Bralda-hîm ‘heady ale’.
It must be observed, however, that when the Oldbucks (Zaragamba) changed their name to Brandybuck (Brandagamba), the first element meant ‘borderland’, and Marchbuck would have been nearer. Only a very bold hobbit would have ventured to call the Master of Buckland Braldagamba in his hearing.



[ 04-25-2003, 05:55 PM: Message edited by: Maerbenn ]

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Wetwang
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I thank you Maerbenn []

You have saved me much time and others from looking for themselves []

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
Keep the earth under your feet, & clay on your fingers; wisdom in your bones, & have both eyes open!
That's Mr Wang™ to you!
This place would be a paradise tomorrow if every department had a supervisor with a submachine gun.

This bog is thick and easy...

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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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I was pleased to find this thread so I didn't have to start a new one.

I was looking through the "Appendix on Languages" in Peoples of Middle-earth (HoME vol. 12) to find some sort of meaning behind the Westron (?) name, "Tom". You know, as in Tom Bombadil and Tom Cotton.

This is what I discovered (p. 51)
quote:
Other abbreviations like Tom and Mat I have also often left unchanged. Many such monosyllables were current in the Shire, but were the shortenings of genuine Hobbit names. For instance Tom of Tomacca, Tomburan; Mat of Mattalic; Bill (Bil) of Bildad (Bildat), Bilcuzal, or any of the numerous names ending in -bil, -mil, as Arambil. Farmer Cotton's full name was in fact Tomacca Lothran.
All well and good, but I can't find any meaning behind the name Tomacca or Tomburan. [] Unless it's posted somewhere else? []

[ 02-28-2006, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: Silmahtar ]

From: Vinya-Tárilos | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Galin
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To their man-children Hobbits usually gave names that had no meaning at all in their daily language (like Bilba, Bunga). Well 'usually' doesn't mean always of course...

The names you bring up seem like they might be otherwise, but in Appendix F 'Tom, Tim, Mat' were said to be short for examples like Tomba, Tolma, Matta -- which might be like Bilba, Bunga maybe.

Galin

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Peter_20
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I always thought words like "smial", "mathom" and "mickel" had a characteristic hobbit sound.

[ 08-11-2007, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: Peter_20 ]

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Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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I believe they are all archaic English words. "Mickle" definitely is. It means "mighty".
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Galin
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In the matter of translation Tolkien noted something about all these words...

'But some were derived, as already noted, from old hobbit-words no longer in use, and these have been represented by similar English things, such as wich, or botle 'dwelling', or michel 'great'. Appendix F

Mathom is meant to recall ancient English máthm, the actual Hobbit word being kast. According to the books smial is a likely form for a descendant of smygel, representing the relationship of Hobbit trân to trahan in language of the Rohirrim.

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Ederchil
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Silmahtar:
quote:
All well and good, but I can't find any meaning behind the name Tomacca or Tomburan. Unless it's posted somewhere else?
No meaning is given for any of these names. There's a third option for Tom, btw: since Farmer Cotton's full name is Tolman in English, the name Tolma can be it's original (Tolman was apparently written down later than Tomacca). But Tolkien left us no proper meaning. The only name in this list I can more or less make sense of is Arambil. Aran is, via Adûnaic, from Sindarin (TT17). In this sense, -bil seems to be from Adûnaic -bel (in Azrubel), and this name seems to refer to Love of the King (perhaps the difference between zîr and bel was lost in Westron?).
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Galin
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But let's make a distinction here in any case: Tolman, Tolma, Tomba are attested examples chosen for publication in The Lord of the Rings.

But 'Tomacca' or 'Tomburan' are from drafts -- now I didn't check, but unless these forms appear somewhere in the final text it's hard to say they are even in the mix.

I'm willing to maybe 'accept' Maura as Frodo's possible real name, for example, even though this is from draft text as well, but the example Tomacca looks like a rejected form -- or at least for Farmer Cotton. Maybe it appears as a name for 'someone', though I don't think Tomacca or Tomburan are cited in Foster's work anyway.

[ 11-17-2007, 02:50 PM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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