From etymology section:
"[Beorn] sometimes was indeed used as a name. It is related to the Norse name Bjorn which, in turn, may suggest a connection to berserkers."
I haven't found any usage of Beorn as a personal name (some quick searches on google), and neither about the proposed connection between bjorn and "berserkers". --Morgan 22:36, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
- Beorn Nijenhuis. Other than the meaning, "Bear", it has no obvious connection to berserkers. -- Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 13:45, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
- Didn't Beorn als mean "Warior" in Old English. --Amroth
- Under the entry for bee-hunter (which is given as the meaning of the name "Beowulf"), it says this:
Chambers also points out that the Old Norse word for 'bear', björn (which is ultimately related to 'bear') seems to have an exact cognate in the Old English word beorn. In Old English, this word meant not 'bear', but 'a warrior, a hero, a man of valour', and it has a long history of use in alliterative poetry down to the early 16th century (OED: berne). Beorn of course, is the name of the 'great strong black-haired man' with whom Bilbo and the dwarves find shelter in chapter vii of The Hobbit. The etymological ambivalence of Beorn's name is translated by Tolkien into narrative, for at night Beorn the mighty man changes his shape from human to that of a huge black bear. Another allusion to the legendary background lies in the beehives which surround Beorn's hall and the honey which he mostly lives on. Furthermore, the hall itself is imagined as looking much like the halls described in Beowulf and other ancient Germanic poetry, a wooden building with a steep roof supported by two lines of pillars and a central fireplace. (As W.G. Hammond & C. Scull point out in J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (1995), the picture drawn by Tolkien for The Hobbit may be compared with the plan and drawing of a Norse hall included in the Introduction to Old Norse (1927) by his friend and colleague at Leeds University, E.V. Gordon.) The tension in Beorn's character, between courteous, generous host and dangerous, savage fighter, itself reflects the contrasts in the character of Beowulf, portrayed by the poet as a polite, modest, self-controlled visitor to the Danish hall, and yet capable of superhuman feats such as tearing off Grendel's arm, fightin off sea-monsters underwater, and swimming home with thirty sets of battle-gear.
The linguistic duality of Beorn's name reflects what he is: a skin-changer. This term is defined by the OED as 'one supposedly able to metamorphose himself or herself', and is illustrated by a quotation from The Hobbit (chapter vi), where Gandalf explains that Beorn 'is a skin-changer: sometimes he is a huge black bear, sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man'. The OED records one earlier quotation for the compound, which (significantly) comes from Gordon's Introduction to Old Norse (mentioned above). In the extract, Gordon explain the origin of the Old Norse word berserkr (from which English berserk is derived): 'Berserks were probably named "bear-shirts" from a superstition that they were "skin-changers".' Gordon also says that a berserkr was 'a wild warrior on whom fighting-rage descended like madness' and that is was probably believed that 'they got their superhuman strength from their animal nature'. This accords very well with Beorn's spectacular wrath at the Battle of Five Armies (Hobbit, ch. xviii).
—Peter Gilliver, Edmund Weiner and Jeremy Marshall, The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary, pp. 95-6
- Interesting quote (I ordered The Ring of Words today - it's been on my wish list too long...)! Some thoughts:
- The connection to bersekr, as far as I understand, seems thus rather to be related to "skin-changers" - perhaps a text/reference to RoW would fit as an "Inspiration" in our article on skin-changers?
- How about Bëor and Beren? I'm suspecting that these name have some relation to the etymology of Beorn. --Morgan 16:03, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
--Morgan 16:03, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
As is stated in the article on Beornings, it seems to be unknown if Beorn was one of the Beornings or if the "race" was named after him. Can we safely say that Beorn was a Beorning, or would that be too much fanon? --Morgan 23:32, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
- He definitely was a Beorning in later life, but info is scarce on those people. We don't know anything other than that they lived with him. -- Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 13:45, 3 January 2011 (UTC)