Tolkien Gateway

Letter 190

Revision as of 06:28, 3 June 2011 by Gamling (Talk | contribs)
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 190
RecipientRayner Unwin
DateJuly 3, 1956
Subject(s)Translations

Letter 190 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Summary

Tolkien had been sent a list of translations to the nomenclature for the first translation of The Lord of the Rings, into Dutch by Max Schuchart. Tolkien wrote that he objected to translations of personal nomenclature; the Shire was based on (or, as he called it himself, "a parody of") rural England; plus, the toponymy of the Shire was wholly different from that of the Netherlands.

Concerning the map "A Part of the Shire", Tolkien thought translating it to "Een deel von (sic) 'The Shire'" sufficient. By not translating the Appendices, the Translator (this word was capitalized throughout the letter) got himself into problems; Anglo-Saxon was not like Dutch, as Schuchart had translated, it was related to English.

Tolkien sent back a letter containing a detailed commentary, and suggested leaving the maps untranslated, and leave personal nomenclature alone as much as possible. He could provide a list of etymologies that could be included.

Tolkien's most important demand was that the word hobbit stayed unaltered; no more "Hompen".

He closed this letter with an apology for his rigidity, but translations into French of Beatrix Potter had turned out not so well. For example, Mrs. Tiggywinkle became Poupette à l'épingle.

Notes

  • Schuchart did translate the placenames.
  • Poupette à l'épingle means as much as "Puppet on a pin".
  • To show that translating Shirenames was not necessary, Tolkien translated several Dutch cities into English. There are two puzzling forms: Hedge, a translation of 's Gravenhage, instead of *Count's Hedge (this city is commonly known as The Hague), and Applethorn, a literal translation of Apeldoorn, where *Appledores would be more correct.