Rohanese

From Tolkien Gateway

Rohanese was a Mannish language that was spoken by the Rohirrim of Rohan.

History

"That, I guess, is the language of the Rohirrim, for it is like to this land itself; rich and rolling in part, and else hard and stern as the mountains. But I cannot guess what it means, save that it is laden with the sadness of Mortal Men."
Legolas[1]

The Rohan language is derived from the language of the Éothéod, who were among the Northmen and was related to other Northmen languages, such as those of Rhovanion, Esgaroth, and Dale.

The Hobbits before their Wandering Days in the Vales of Anduin had contact with that people and their languages had many words in common. For example the Rohirrim had retained the legend of the being known as kûd-dûkan (translated as hol-bytla), a term which became kuduk by the Hobbits, the name they had for themselves.

Many archaic Hobbit names bear similarities to Rohan's, since the ancestors of The Shire hobbits lived on the upper reaches of the Anduin, close to the ancestors of the Rohirrim, and there was apparently a good deal of linguistic cross-fertilisation.

Despite its relation to Westron, the Rohan language was not intelligible to its speakers. Legolas was unable to understand the songs, however he noted that the language is like the land itself: rich and rolling in part, and else hard and stern as the mountains.

Structure

Rohan names often have the element lô-/loh-, which means "horse". Lōgrad means "Rohan" or "Horse-mark"; Lohtûr means "Horse-people".

The latter shows the element tûr also seen in the name Tûrac "People-king".

Name

J.R.R. Tolkien consistently, with only one exception, used the name Rohan for the name of the language of the Rohirrim in his notes on the Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings that he made to assist translators in translating the book into other languages, which he had almost completed on 2 January 1967.[2] J.R.R. Tolkien also used the name Rohan for the name of the language of the Rohirrim in a manuscript for an earlier draft version of Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings.[3] Also Christopher Tolkien, in one instance, refers to the language of Rohan as "Rohan".[4]

J.R.R. Tolkien used the adjective Rohanese once in an essay about the names of rivers, which he wrote after 23 June 1969[5] but it is not clear by the context if the word is the name of a language, or simply an adjective. He used the word Rohanese twice, in the essay about the Eldarin bases related to light and darkness, which was written on Allen & Unwin scrap paper dating from the late 1960s.[6] and once in his Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings.[7]

Robert Foster in The Complete Guide to Middle-earth uses the name Rohirric, which has stuck among the students of Tolkien's languages. Perhaps it was modelled on "Rohirrim" and the ending -ic of "Adûnaic". Christopher Gilson uses "Rohirric" in the List of Abbreviations to "Words, Phrases & Passages in The Lord of the Rings",[8] as well as Helge Fauskanger in Ardalambion.[9]

Lisa Star in Tyalië Tyelelliéva 17 claimed that she saw the name Rohirian written in a small note at the bottom of a draft of The Lord of the Rings appendix on languages in Marquette University.[10]

Inspiration

Main article: Old English

Tolkien turned names in the Rohan language into modernized Old English names.[11] Even modernized names show a strong Anglo-Saxon influence. Old English was supposed to render an archaic form of Westron, which was supposedly rendered by Modern English. This solution occurred to Tolkien in 1942, when he was searching for an explanation of the Eddaic name of the dwarves already published in The Hobbit.[12]

Some words show the plural ending "-as", as were Old English nouns of the strong-masculine declension.

The Rohirrim used the Germanic patronymic "-ing". They called themselves the Eorlingas, and Beorn's people were the Beornings, Scyld's people were the Scyldingas in Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology.

Théoden was referred to as "Théoden King", rather than "King Théoden", just as Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon kings had the word "konungr"/"cyning" ("king") added after their names, e.g. Hervarðar konungr, rather than before.

Some Old English names that render Rohirric words include:

  • Éothéod: from "eoh" ("war-horse") and "þeod" ("folk", "people", "nation")
  • Gríma: possibly from "grima" ("mask", "helmet", "ghost")
  • Eorl: from "eorl" ("nobleman")
  • Théodred: from "þeod" ("folk", "people", "nation") and "ræd" ("counsel")
  • Elfwine: from Ælfwine ("Elf-friend")

Translation

As Westron is rendered in the novels with English, Rohan language is always translated through Old English. This is because Tolkien tried to reproduce for English readers its archaic flavour in relationship to the Common Speech. Westron is an amalgamated language which, although deriving from Adûnaic, was formed from the languages of the Middle Men, much like the English language with many influences from Celtic and Norman.[13]

However, the relationship between the two pairs of languages is not identical: Old English is the direct ancestor of modern English, but Rohan was not the direct ancestor of Westron, since the latter derives from Adûnaic.

In some cases, Tolkien did not provide genuine Old English words, but rather modernizations. Such names are:

The reason for the use of modernized forms of those names by speakers of Westron was that they were said to be intelligible for them; Gondorians were familiar with the place-names of Rohan (like Entwade),[24] while Hobbits recognized some common elements with their dialect[29].

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The King of the Golden Hall"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, "Abbreviations R. = Rohan: the language used in Rohan", p. 752; "Dunlendings. [...] It represents Rohan dun(n)lending", p. 755; "Rohan greg-hama", p. 758; "Rohan (= OE) Sceadu-faex", p. 762; "Rohan name", "proper Rohan form", p. 763; "Rohan wyrm-tunge", "the Rohan word", "genuine Rohan word", p. 764; "Rohan dunhaerg", "the genuine Rohan form", p. 769; "Fenmarch. Rohan name:, "as a Rohan name", "Folde. A Rohan name", p. 770; "Halifirien. Rohan [name].", p. 771; "a Rohan word", p. 773; "the actual Rohan (i.e. OE) snawburna" and "Rohan Staning-(land)", p. 776; "its proper Rohan form Upburnan" and "Rohan: emnet 'flat land, plain'", p. 778; "translation of Rohan simbelmyne", p. 780; "a Rohan name", p. 782
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", manuscript F2 The Languages at the end of the Third Age, $48. "Hobbit. [...] The primitive form represented by Rohan cugbagu"; $49. "Personal names. corresponded closely in meaning to Rohan maur"; $54 "corresponding to Rohan turac-"; $56 "relation of Rohan cugbagu [...] relation to Rohan (that is Old English) mathum [...] compared with Rohan castu"; "Rohan smygel [...] genuine Rohan trahan"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 153
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, "Adorn [...] any name in the region not of Rohanese origin", p. 8
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: I. Dark and Light", "Limlight, modernized from Rohanese Limliht", p. 284 and note 9 "[?Older] Rohanese had a voiceless initial lh"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, Greyhame. [...] Modernized 'Rohanese', p. 762
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 8 and p. 220
  9. Helge Fauskanger, "Various Mannish Tongues - the sadness of Mortal Men?", Ardalambion (accessed 10 February 2013)
  10. Lisa Star (ed.), Tyalië Tyelelliéva 17, "Languages of Rohan and Dale by Lisa Star"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144, (dated 25 April 1954), "Since the Rohirrim [...], I have turned their names into forms like (but not identical with) Old English"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", manuscript F2 The Languages at the end of the Third Age, Commentary §58
  13. "Middle English creole hypothesis" dated 29 October 2012, Wikipedia (accessed 10 February 2013)
  14. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, "(modernized) peg(e)n", p. 369
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Firien, "has been altered to", p. 770
  16. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, "Halifirien (modernized in spelling for Haligfirgen", p. 511
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", "modernized spelling for", note 33, p. 314
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Elf-friend, p. 756
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Gamling (the Old), "slightly anglicized and modernized", p. 758
  20. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Greyhame, "Modernized 'Rohanese'", p. 758
  21. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Wormtongue, "'Modernized' form of ", p. 764
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Woses, "(modernized) the Rohan word for", p. 764
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Dunharrow, "modernization of", p. 769
  24. 24.0 24.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Entwade, Entwash, Entwood, "'modernized' names in Rohan language", p. 769
  25. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 247
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion}, entry Snowbourn, "Modernized [form of] the actual Rohan (i.e. OE)", p. 776
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion}, entry Stoningland, "this has been 'modernized'", p. 776
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Upbourn, "in modernized E. form", p. 778
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation", p. 1136
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