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Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Why Tolkien’s Beowulf translation is one of the best things to happen to literature

Beowulf There’s a lot of excitement floating round academic communities for J.R.R. Tolkien’s forthcoming Beowulf translation (which you can pre-order here) where the prevailing buzz seems to be “best thing since slices bread”. Here, writer Mabel Slattery outlines why.

EDIT: There is an error of fact within the article. Michael Drout did not actually re-discover Tolkien’s Beowulf translation.

I did not “discover” the Beowulf translation, not even in the sense that I found it in the Bodleian Library. This claim is a conflation of a story about one manuscript with information about a totally different text.

The real story is not quite as exciting.

You can read Drout’s explanation in full here.

Don’t forget to click the link to read the full article. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

JRR Tolkien’s Beowulf translation: bring on the monsters

Beowulf Tolkien scholar John Garth previews the forthcoming publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf and outlines why the Professor’s expertise with the Anglo-Saxon epic means this new book is to be highly anticipated. Click through the read more link at the bottom to access the complete essay.

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Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Green Books, Headlines, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate

Tolkien’s Beowulf translation to be published in May

beowulfopening


“Ac se wonna hrefin | But the black raven
fus ofer fægum | eager over the doomed
fela reordian, | speaking many things
earne secgan | telling the eagle
hu him æt æte speow, | how he is succeeding in eating,
þenden he wið wulf | when he with the wolf
wæl reafode.” | despoiled the slain.
Thus reads a section of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, or at least, thus reads my translation of the section from my university studies. The epic is written in Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, the language of the invaders of Britain. Modern English (and German) is a direct descendant of this language because a people speak the language of their conquerors.
(more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Uncategorized

HuffPost: Ten facts only Rings ‘super fans’ know

balrog2335 Ten facts you probably know about Middle-earth. I’m not entirely sure they make one a “super fan” (which is, frankly, the sort of exclusionary title wielded to make others feel that they’re not real fans). Enjoying Tolkien is surely not some sort of contest to prove one is the biggest fan.

Still it is a nice little list with plenty of nods to some lesser-known but important characters from Tolkien such as Celebrimbor, Feanor, Gothmog and Oropher. So read and enjoy! Minor nitpick: there are more than two Elvish languages (at least conceptually), but Sindarin and Quenya were probably the best developed. (more…)

Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Two Towers, Tolkien

Sam Gamgee and Tolkien’s batmen

Sam battles Shelob Readers are undoubtedly aware of the five-page handwritten letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to H. Cotton Minchin that recently went on auction. If you missed it, The Guardian picks the eyes out of it, while Tolkien Library has assembled a transcript of the entire contents.

However, Tolkien scholar John Garth has also recently blogged about what the letter reveals about the Great War inspiration behind Sam Gamgee. Read on to learn more!

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Posted in Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Lord of the Rings, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, Tolkien

Are Tolkien’s dwarves an allegory for the Jewish people?

DoSBilboAndDwarves01 In this piece, Matt Lebovic of The Times of Israel explores the eternally fascinating question of the parallels between Tolkien’s dwarves and the Jewish people. Allegory is almost certainly too strong a word for the relationship, the quotes that Lebovic draws from Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and various interviews make clear Tolkien’s dislike of the allegorical style (although Leaf by Niggle makes one wonder and Letters #241 and #153 provide conflicting evidence there), and his sincere admiration of the Jewish people.

Edit to quote from Letter #153:

…I might say in my myth I have used ‘subcreation’ in a special way (not the same as ‘subcreation’ as a term in criticism in art, though I tried allegorically [emphasis mine] how that might come to be taken up into Creation in some plane in my ‘purgatorial’ story Leaf by Niggle (Dublin Review 1945))…

Couple of quick points of nit-picking: the Company has 13 dwarves, not 12, it’s Middle-earth not Middle Earth, and arguably Khazad-dûm (Moria) is more accurately the spiritual home of the Dwarves (especially of the Longbeards of Durin’s line) rather than Erebor. As a point of trivia, the Dwarves eventually reclaim Khazad-dum under Durin VII sometime in the Fourth Age. As for the Arkenstone, some people hold that, within the Legendarium, it might have been a Silmaril, but that seems unlikely to this writer. (more…)

Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Two Towers, Tolkien

Journey There and Back Again with the Official Yiddish Translation of ‘The Hobbit’

 

The Yiddish Hobbit Cover“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”

One of the great joys of these words is that they are available in so many different languages, as are the countless sentences that follow. They are accessible to so many different cultures and nationalities. Now, for the very first time, Professor Tolkien’s brilliant classic “The Hobbit” is available in the official Yiddish translation, approved by the Tolkien Estate – through Harvard Book Store. (more…)

Posted in Books Publications, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Merchandise, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate

Listen! Beowulf opening line misinterpreted for 200 years?

beowulf.large The opening line ‘Listen!’ is not a proclamation and should not have an exclamation mark, according to new research by an academic at the University of Manchester.


It is perhaps the most important word in one of the greatest and most famous sentences in the history of the English language.

Yet for more than two centuries “hwæt” has been misrepresented as an attention-grabbing latter-day “yo!” designed to capture the interest of its intended Anglo-Saxon audience urging them to sit down and listen up to the exploits of the heroic monster-slayer Beowulf.

According to an academic at the University of Manchester, however, the accepted definition of the opening line of the epic poem – including the most recent translation by the late Seamus Heaney – has been subtly wide of the mark. (more…)

Posted in Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

The 10 most unlikely things that were influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien

J  R  R Tolkien You might have seen this article when io9 debuted it last year, or you might not have. I missed it but it’s an interesting read. I spent a bit of time researching the Jeffrey Inaba artwork, which is called Skylight. The comparison to the Eye of Sauron (either book, or movie) seems inflated, but there are just a few parallels with the glow of the One Ring.


The author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings casts a massive, sweeping shadow over fantasy literature and entertainment. But J.R.R. Tolkien’s influence spreads much further than that. Everywhere you look, you can see Tolkien’s legacy: in science, in art, in language.

Here are 10 fairly unlikely things that have been influenced or generated by the love of J.R.R. Tolkien. Some of these, you probably know about. Others might surprise you. (more…)

Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Tolkien

BBC Radio 4 to air Seamus Heaney reading Beowulf

BeowulfGrendelsMom-port One for Anglo-saxonists and lovers of poetry: BBC Radio 4 is set to air a recording of the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney reading his translation of Beowulf next week in 10 separate 15-minute installments. The first episode of 10 is set to air on BBC Radio 4 on Monday at 09:45 BST.

Heaney was an internationally recognised Nobel Prize-winning poet. He died earlier this month at the age of 74. Professor Michael Drout, noted Anglo-saxonist and author of Beowulf and the Critics by J.R.R. Tolkien has described Heaney’s translation as “the most poetic”. A publication of Tolkien’s own translation of has been in limbo for more than a decade. (more…)

Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Other Tolkien books, Tolkien

Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na’vi real languages?

Constructed languages Ted talk What do Game of Thrones’ Dothraki, Avatar’s Na’vi, Star Trek’s Klingon and LOTR’s Elvish have in common? They are all fantasy constructed languages, or conlangs.

Conlangs have all the delicious complexities of real languages: a high volume of words, grammar rules, and room for messiness and evolution. In this TED Talk, John McWhorter explains why these invented languages captivate fans long past the rolling credits. (more…)

Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Lord of the Rings, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, Tolkien

On Tolkien’s two paths of wisdom

Gandalf and Saruman In this new TORn Library piece, our newest feature writer Gibbelins examines the difference between skill and knowledge and whether the former has an unjustly sullied reputation in Middle-earth as a result of the rash and self-seeking acts of craftsmen such as Saruman and Fëanor.

Two paths of Wisdom

by Gibbelins

The concepts I wish to discuss are best expressed with the Quenya roots ‘curu-’ and ‘nolo-’, but I will try not to subject you to the Elvish for the entire essay. Both of these roots have at times been translated as ‘wisdom’, and yet they represent different sides of wisdom and different inclinations. I’ll use the English glosses ‘skill’ and ‘knowledge’ as reasonable approximations. The contrast between the two ideas is, I think, fundamental to Tolkien’s understanding of how to live righteously. (more…)

Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, J.R.R. Tolkien, Languages, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Two Towers, Tolkien