Tolkien Gateway

North Germanic languages

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The North Germanic languages, Norse or Scandinavian languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages like Gothic.

In a letter to Naomi Mitchison, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that:

"The language of Dale and the Long Lake would, if it appeared, be represented as more or less Scandinavian in character; but it is only represented by a few names, especially those of the Dwarves that came from that region. These are all Old Norse Dwarf-names."
J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)

Most of the non-English names in The Hobbit are Norse (mostly from a list of Dwarves found in Voluspa and the Gylfaginning)[1] although anglicized, such as Gandalfr, Durinn, Dvalinn, Þrór, Eikinskjaldi, Jarknasteinn, Beorn, Bard, Smaug and Golfimbul.

In the backstory developed for The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien explained that Durin's Folk, after migrating to Erebor, adopted the language of Dale for their names when interacting with Men because their secretive nature prevented them from using Khuzdul[2][3]. Names in LotR like Gimli, Narvi and Forn are also Norse.

Tolkien never gives the "original" Dalish forms, however the Norse translations fit conveniently their meaning; for example Dwarf relations - like father-son or brothers- have rhyming or similar names (cf. Glóin-Gróin-Óin, Thrór-Frór-Grór, Fili-Kili etc)[1] possibly reflecting a similar relationship in their original forms.

Norse used Runes for a writing system, however Tolkien in The Hobbit used Old English runes.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 An Introduction to Elvish
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth p.304

External links