The Ring of Words

From Tolkien Gateway
The Ring of Words:
Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
Publication Information
AuthorPeter Gilliver, Edmund Weiner, Jeremy Marshall
PublisherOxford University Press
Released19 May 2006
FormatHardcover; paperback
Pages256
ISBN978-0198610694

The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary is a scholar book published in 2006, by three editors of the Oxford English Dictionary: Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner.

The book first examines J.R.R. Tolkien's brief period working as a lexicographer with the OED after World War I, then traces how Tolkien's philology shaped and nourished both his academic and his literary work. The last part, which occupies more than half of the book, looks at over 100 individual words used or invented by Tolkien, arranged alphabetically, and discusses their origins, potential sources, Tolkien's use of them, and changes he made to their meanings.

The title is taken from some verses by R.L. Stevenson, quoted on the title page:

Bright is the ring of words
  When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs
  When the singer sings them.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Part I: Tolkien as Lexicographer
  • Part II: Tolkien as Wordwright
  • Part III: Word Studies
  • Epilogue: Tolkien's influence on the English language
  • Bibliography
  • Index

From the publisher

The Ring of Words describes the powerful and unique relationship between Tolkien's creative use of the English language in his fictional works and his professional work on the Oxford English Dictionary. Tolkien's earliest employment was as an assistant on the staff of the OED, and he later said that he had 'learned more in those two years than in any other equal period of [his] life'.

Here three authors, themselves senior editors of the OED, engage directly with Tolkien's language and his fictional world. Two discursive sections explore Tolkien as a lexicographer and his creativity as a word user and creator. The main section of the book is made up of individual 'word studies' which explore over 100 words found in Tolkien's fiction in terms of their origins, development, and significance in his fictional world. Words such as 'hobbit', 'attercop', 'precious', 'Smeagol', and 'waybread' are explored in fascinating detail.

The Ring of Words offers a new and unexplored angle on the creative world of one of our most famous and well-loved writers, presenting new archive material for the first time.

Publication history and gallery

2006 hardcover
2006 hardcover  
2009 paperback
2009 paperback  

External links


A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not on Arda Short stories
and others
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
Other
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
Books by other authors
Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.