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Westron

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The '''Westron''' or '''Common Speech''' is the closest thing to a universal [[language]], at least at the time during which ''[[The Lord of the Rings]]'' is set. ''Westron'' is an English word, derived from ''West'', not a word from the language itself.
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The '''Westron''' was the [[languages|language]] of the [[Dunedain]] of [[Middle-earth]]. By the end of the [[Third Age]] it was more or less a universal language spoken throughout the [[Westlands]]. For this, it was also known as the '''Common Speech''' as it was adopted by [[Men]], [[Hobbits]], [[Elves]], [[Dwarves]] and even [[Orcs]].<ref>{{FR|Hobbits}}</ref>
  
The Westron speech is derived from the [[Ad&ucirc;naic]] tongue of [[N&uacute;menor]], and originated as a [[creole language]] on the western coastlands of the continent of Middle-earth, when the Númenorians established trade outposts and forts there. From there, it spread to most of the lands through which the action of ''[[The Hobbit]]'' and ''The Lord of the Rings'' passes, with the notable exception of [[Mordor]].
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==History==
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The Westron speech is derived from the [[Adûnaic]] tongue of [[Númenor]],<ref name="L144">{{L|144}}</ref> and originated as a creole language on the western coastlands of the continent of Middle-earth, when the Númenoreans established trade outposts and forts there. From there, it spread to most of the westlands, with the notable exception of [[Mordor]].
  
Westron is a translation of the original name '''Adûni''', and "Common Speech" translates the Westron term '''Sôval Phârë''', of identical meaning. In [[Sindarin]] the language was called '''Annúnaid''' (Westron), or '''Falathren''' (Shore-language).
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After the [[Downfall of Númenor]], the [[Faithful]] Númenoreans neglected their 'unfaithful' language in favor to [[Elvish]], allowing Adûnaic as spoken in [[Middle-earth]] to change and evolve chaotically among the [[Middle Men]]. But later it was enriched and softened under Elvish influence.  It became the ''lingua franca'' of most explored regions of (north-west) Middle-earth, known at least as far east as [[Lake-town|Esgaroth]], as the language of trade and diplomacy.  For example, under King [[Thengel]] of Rohan (who had lived in Gondor for many years before taking the throne), the Common Speech began to be used as the language of the court instead of their native [[Rohirric]] (thus [[Théoden]], [[Éomer]], and [[Éowyn]] are all functionally bilingual in Rohirric and Common Speech) "though not all thought this a good thing..."
  
In ''The Hobbit'' and ''The Lord of the Rings'', Westron was presented as having been completely translated by English.  This had certain important implications: first of all, proper names with derivations somewhat evident to speakers of Westron had been translated, to preserve the effect. Thus, names like ''Baggins'', ''Bagshot Row'', ''Peregrin'', ''Rivendell'' etc., are presented as not the ''actual'' names.  (For example, [[Meriadoc Brandybuck]]'s actual name is supposed to have been ''Kalimac Brandagamba'', short ''Kali'' (meaning jolly, gay). 'Meriadoc', short 'Merry', is designed to maintain the reference to merriness contained in the original name. Likewise [[Peregrin Took]]'s actual name was ''Razanur Tuc'', short ''Razar'' (name of a small apple). 'Peregrin', short 'Pippin' contained both the actual meaning of the full name (traveler, stranger) and the reference to an apple). Sam Gamgee was actually named ''Ban Galpsi'', short for ''Banazir Galbassi''. The ending of the 'true' Hobbit name [[Bilbo Baggins|Bilbo]] was also changed: in Westron it was Bilba, but Tolkien changed this to -o because -a is usually a female ending in English.  
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==Grammar==
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Westron has both "deferential" pronouns, and "familiar" pronouns, but Hobbitish no longer possesses a [[wikipedia:T-V distinction|deferential pronoun]]. Westron had deferential pronouns for the second person (and sometimes the third person) but this had fallen out of use in [[Hobbitish]].
  
Placenames and other features were also presented as having been translated from an original form: [[Rivendell]] ([[Sindarin]] Imladris, "cloven valley") was actually called ''Karningul'', and [[Bag End]] was actually called ''Labin-nec'', after ''Labingi'', the real form of [[Baggins]].  In some cases the explanations became quite involved, such as the river Brandywine (Sindarin [[Baranduin]], "golden-brown river") was actually called ''Branda-nîn'', a punning Westron name meaning "border-water", which was later punned again as ''Bralda-hîm'' meaning "heady ale".
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This lack of a deferential pronoun and universal use of the familiar pronoun is what [[Gondorians|Gondorian]]s are referring to when they repeatedly remark that Hobbit-speech sounds strange.<ref>{{App|Translation}}</ref>
  
The translation went one step further by also changing all languages akin to Westron.  [[Rohirric]], the language of the [[Rohirrim]] was translated by [[Old English language|Anglo-Saxon]], as Rohirric is an archaic relative of Westron (since the Edain from whose speech Westron is derived were related to the ancestors of the Rohirrim) much as Anglo-Saxon is an archaic relative of English.  Similarly, the tongue of [[Dale (Middle-earth)|Dale]], from which came the names of the [[Dwarves (Middle-earth)|Dwarves]] of [[Durin]]'s house, was translated by [[Old Norse]], a language related to Anglo-Saxon and modern English as Dalish was related to Rohirric and Westron.
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==Etymology and names==
  
This utter translation of Westron by English was taken so far that some sources that should give actual Westron have been turned to English too. For instance, in Moria, an illustration of the runic text on Balin's gravestone is given. the text is said to mean "Balin Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria" in both Khuzdûl and Westron... but while the first part of the inscription seems to really be a bit of Khuzdûl (Moria is rendered as "Khazad Dûm"), the second part is actually plain English, just written in [[Cirth| certar]].
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Westron is a translation of the original name '''''Adûni'''''<ref>{{PM|X}}, p. 316</ref> (cf. [[Adûnaic]] ''[[Adûn]]'' ("west")), and "Common Speech" translates the Westron term '''[[Sôval]] [[Phârë]]''',<ref>{{PM|Languages}}, note 6, p. 55</ref> of identical meaning. In [[Sindarin]] the language was called '''[[Annúnaid]]''' (Westron), or '''[[Falathren]]''' (Shore-language).
  
Outside the context of the story, it is clear that most of the "original" forms in Westron or other languages were devised by Tolkien long after the English "translations" were chosen. Several of the Westron forms given above were not published in Tolkien's lifetime. Tolkien never worked out Westron to the same extent as [[Quenya]] and [[Sindarin]] or even Adûnaic.
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==Translation==
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According to Tolkien's fiction, Westron was the language spoken and understood by the protagonists of ''The Hobbit'' and ''The Lord of the Rings''.<ref name="L144" /> Many names of characters and places, in the book's "reality", were in Westron.
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However, Tolkien mentions that Westron was presented as having been completely replaced by English in the text. This had certain important implications: first of all, proper names with derivations understandable or evident to speakers of Westron had been translated, to preserve the effect to the English reader. Thus, names like ''Baggins'', ''Bagshot Row'', ''Peregrin'', ''Rivendell'' et cetera, are not the ''actual'' names as spoken by the characters but are presented as ''translations''.
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 +
Of course, outside the fictional context of the story, it is clear that there was no such "translation": the English names came first and the "original" forms in Westron or other languages were devised by Tolkien later. 
 +
 +
[[Rivendell]] ("cloven valley") was actually called ''[[Rivendell#Etymology|Karningul]]'', and [[Bag End]] was actually called ''[[Labin-nec]]'', after ''[[Baggins Family|Labingi]]'', the real form of [[Baggins Family|Baggins]].  In some cases the explanations became quite involved, such as the river Brandywine (Sindarin [[Baranduin]], "golden-brown river") was actually called ''[[Branda]]-[[nîn]]'', a punning Westron name meaning "border-water", which was later punned again as ''[[Bralda]]-[[hîm]]'' meaning "heady ale".
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 +
This logic went one step further by also presenting all [[Mannish]] languages akin to Westron in languages related to English, so that their "understandability" by the protagonists be simulated to the English reader.<ref name="L144" />
 +
 
 +
This utter replacement of Westron by English was taken so far that some sources that should give actual Westron have been turned to English too. For instance, in Moria, an illustration of the runic text on Balin's gravestone is given. The text is said to be written in both Khuzdûl and Westron. But while the first part of the inscription seems to really be a bit of Khuzdûl, the second part is actually plain English, just written in [[cirth]].
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==Corpus==
 +
The corpus of Westron is small; several of the Westron forms given above were not published in Tolkien's lifetime. Tolkien never worked out Westron to the same extent as [[Quenya]] and [[Sindarin]] or even Adûnaic.
 +
 
 +
Many words come from [[Appendix F]] and the creation of it in ''[[The Peoples of Middle-earth]]''. Additional information was published in Tyalië Tyelelliéva 17, in [[2001]]. Even now, the corpus is very small.
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==See also==
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*[[:Category:Westron words|Category:Westron words]]
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==External links==
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*[http://www.uib.no/people/hnohf/westron.htm Analysis of Westron] at [[Ardalambion]]
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*[http://docs.google.com/View?id=dc25cq9n_7hnn4g7n8 Westron wordlist] - contains all the attested Westron words plus extrapolations and reconstructions
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{{references}}
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[[Category:Westron| ]]
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[[de:Westron]]
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[[fi:Westron]]
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[[fr:encyclo/langues/westron]]

Revision as of 06:22, 28 May 2012

The Westron was the language of the Dunedain of Middle-earth. By the end of the Third Age it was more or less a universal language spoken throughout the Westlands. For this, it was also known as the Common Speech as it was adopted by Men, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and even Orcs.[1]

Contents

History

The Westron speech is derived from the Adûnaic tongue of Númenor,[2] and originated as a creole language on the western coastlands of the continent of Middle-earth, when the Númenoreans established trade outposts and forts there. From there, it spread to most of the westlands, with the notable exception of Mordor.

After the Downfall of Númenor, the Faithful Númenoreans neglected their 'unfaithful' language in favor to Elvish, allowing Adûnaic as spoken in Middle-earth to change and evolve chaotically among the Middle Men. But later it was enriched and softened under Elvish influence. It became the lingua franca of most explored regions of (north-west) Middle-earth, known at least as far east as Esgaroth, as the language of trade and diplomacy. For example, under King Thengel of Rohan (who had lived in Gondor for many years before taking the throne), the Common Speech began to be used as the language of the court instead of their native Rohirric (thus Théoden, Éomer, and Éowyn are all functionally bilingual in Rohirric and Common Speech) "though not all thought this a good thing..."

Grammar

Westron has both "deferential" pronouns, and "familiar" pronouns, but Hobbitish no longer possesses a deferential pronoun. Westron had deferential pronouns for the second person (and sometimes the third person) but this had fallen out of use in Hobbitish.

This lack of a deferential pronoun and universal use of the familiar pronoun is what Gondorians are referring to when they repeatedly remark that Hobbit-speech sounds strange.[3]

Etymology and names

Westron is a translation of the original name Adûni[4] (cf. Adûnaic Adûn ("west")), and "Common Speech" translates the Westron term Sôval Phârë,[5] of identical meaning. In Sindarin the language was called Annúnaid (Westron), or Falathren (Shore-language).

Translation

According to Tolkien's fiction, Westron was the language spoken and understood by the protagonists of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.[2] Many names of characters and places, in the book's "reality", were in Westron.

However, Tolkien mentions that Westron was presented as having been completely replaced by English in the text. This had certain important implications: first of all, proper names with derivations understandable or evident to speakers of Westron had been translated, to preserve the effect to the English reader. Thus, names like Baggins, Bagshot Row, Peregrin, Rivendell et cetera, are not the actual names as spoken by the characters but are presented as translations.

Of course, outside the fictional context of the story, it is clear that there was no such "translation": the English names came first and the "original" forms in Westron or other languages were devised by Tolkien later.

Rivendell ("cloven valley") was actually called Karningul, and Bag End was actually called Labin-nec, after Labingi, the real form of Baggins. In some cases the explanations became quite involved, such as the river Brandywine (Sindarin Baranduin, "golden-brown river") was actually called Branda-nîn, a punning Westron name meaning "border-water", which was later punned again as Bralda-hîm meaning "heady ale".

This logic went one step further by also presenting all Mannish languages akin to Westron in languages related to English, so that their "understandability" by the protagonists be simulated to the English reader.[2]

This utter replacement of Westron by English was taken so far that some sources that should give actual Westron have been turned to English too. For instance, in Moria, an illustration of the runic text on Balin's gravestone is given. The text is said to be written in both Khuzdûl and Westron. But while the first part of the inscription seems to really be a bit of Khuzdûl, the second part is actually plain English, just written in cirth.

Corpus

The corpus of Westron is small; several of the Westron forms given above were not published in Tolkien's lifetime. Tolkien never worked out Westron to the same extent as Quenya and Sindarin or even Adûnaic.

Many words come from Appendix F and the creation of it in The Peoples of Middle-earth. Additional information was published in Tyalië Tyelelliéva 17, in 2001. Even now, the corpus is very small.

See also

External links

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Hobbits"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men", p. 316
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Appendix on Languages", note 6, p. 55