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A E-1641Tolkien as Translator: Language, Culture, and Society in Middle-Earth

Fall 2013 Dr. Marc Zender (mzender@tulane.edu) Friday night schedule


Course website: http://isites.harvard.edu/k97551

Online only This course re-broadcasts lectures filmed in Spring 2011. As such, you can
choose either to work ahead or follow along at a more leisurely pace, tuning in on Fridays (or
thereabouts) and completing assignments according to the schedule on the following pages.
Please note, however, that the due dates given for all work is fixed. That is, while you may work
ahead of this schedule, turning in work early, you may not under any circumstances submit
materials after these dates. Any late/misfiled work will not be graded and will be worth zero
credit. There will be no exceptions. I am available for course-related questions on the online
forum and, for more personal matters, via the email address above.

ICourse Rationale: While many have enjoyed JRR Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings as
an epic novel, few readers are aware of the fundamentally linguistic and anthropological
nature of Tolkiens writing. As Oxford Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Tolkien was intimately
familiar with the Germanic languages, their history, and their epic literatures. Because of
his background, he went far beyond the invention of a few strange-sounding names for
the characters and places of his world, instead developing a detailed proto-language
(Common Eldarin) and following its development into two distinct but related Elvish
tongues, Quenya and Sindarin. He also invented Khuzdul (Dwarvish), the Black Speech,
Adnaic (Nmenrean) and Sval Phr (The Common Speech). Importantly, he
assumed the role of translator of The Lord of the Rings, employing English archaisms and
dialects to reflect the varying speech styles of his characters, their relative social status,
and their complex interrelationships. Old English, Old Norse and Gothic were all
employed to accurately reflect the degree of kinship characters, places and languages had
to the Common Speech.
In this course, we study the role of language in The Lord of the Rings, applying
concepts and perspectives from linguistic anthropology to shed light on Tolkiens
methods and purpose as the translator of Middle-earth. Students are introduced to
Tolkien's invented languages (and their real-world inspirations) and two of his invented
alphabets. An appreciation of the linguistic foundations of Middle-earth greatly increases
one's understanding of Tolkiens achievement, and provides insights into one linguists
view of the intricate and interdependent relationships of language, culture, and society.

IIPrerequisites: All students in this course are expected to have a fluent command of
English. Additionally, prior exposure to a linguistics course or introductory reading in
foreign languages and/or linguistics is recommended, but not required.

IIICourse Requirements: All students are required to read the textbook (see IV
below), to participate actively in the online forum The Prancing Pony (worth 20% of
your grade), to hand in weekly summaries of the readings (20%), to complete two take-
home assignments (20%) and to write a take-home midterm (20%), and a take-home final
exam (20%). (In addition to the above, graduate students are asked to take on a
leadership role at the Prancing Pony, and to provide longer and more detailed weekly
summaries, assignments, and exams.)
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IVReadings: The sole required textbook is JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (in
the one-volume 50th-anniversary edition), but there are also three assigned articles and/or
book sections per class meeting (with the exception of the first week's class, see below
for details). All of these additional assigned readings are available as pdf downloads
from the course website. Students are expected to have read The Lord of the Rings before
class begins (see the course website for details of what to make note of as you read).

SCHEDULE OF READINGS, TESTS & ASSIGNMENTS

Please remember that the lectures are "rebroadcast" from Spring 2011. This means that all of
the due dates mentioned in the lecture videos will conflict with this year's schedule. For this
reason, please refer to the schedule below for any and all questions about the course schedule.
Please also assimilate the assigned readings before watching the associated lectures, and try not
to tackle the associated exercises until after you've done the readings and watched the lecture.

Important: students are required to do all assigned readings, and to prepare critical summaries
(500 words for undergraduates, 1000 words for graduates) of the main points addressed in each
of the weekly readings for the dates indicated. Apart from the first week, there are only four
other weeks during which you will not write summaries but rather consider the assigned readings
even more deeply in written assignments and takehome exams (see the Assignments and Exams
Handout for more details). All course materials are to be uploaded on a weekly basis, to the
appropriate drop box, in a single Word file, with the filename YourLastName_class#.doc (e.g.,
Doe_class2.doc), before midnight EST on the dates indicated. Remember: there are no
exceptions for late work, so please be sure to plan ahead and to upload to the correct drop box.

(1) Sept 6. Introduction to Course Themes and Objectives


Readings: Note that there are no official readings assigned for the first week of class, though if you
have not yet completed The Lord of the Rings then you are urged to do so now. The weekly
readings for this course are substantial, so it would probably be wise to work a bit ahead
as a precaution against falling behind.

(2) Sept 13. Tolkiens Invented Languages and the Linguistic Roots of Middle-Earth
Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., 1983, A Secret Vice. In C. Tolkien, ed., The Monsters and the Critics
and Other Essays, pp. 198-223.
(2) Shippey, T.A., 1979, Creation from Philology in The Lord of the Rings. In M. Salu and
R.T. Farrell, eds., J.R.R.Tolkien: Scholar and Storyteller, pp. 286-316.
(3) Hostetter, C.F., 2007, Tolkienian Linguistics: The First Fifty Years. Tolkien Studies
4: 1-46.

(3) Sept 20. Tolkien as Translator: The Common Speech, Old English and Old Norse
Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, Parts I and II, pp. 1127-1138.
(2) Tolkien, J.R.R., 2005, Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings. In W.G. Hammond
and C. Scull, eds., The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 750-782.
[Focus on the section titled Persons, Peoples, Creatures (pp. 753-765).]
(3) Tinkler, J., 1968, Old English in Rohan. In N.D. Isaacs and R.A. Zimbardo, eds.,
Tolkien and the Critics: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, pp. 164-169.

Sept 27. No scheduled class (read ahead for your first assignment, due Oct 4th)
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(4) Oct 4. The Role of Language in Defining Cultures and Individuals


Readings: (1) Hyde, P.N., 1987, Gandalf, Please Should Not Sputter. Mythlore 49: 20-28.
(2) Irwin, B.J., 1987, Archaic Pronouns in The Lord of the Rings. Mythlore 51: 46-47.
(3) Johannesson, N., 2004, The Speech of the Individual and of the Community in The
Lord of the Rings. In News From the Shire and Beyond, second edition, pp. 13-57.
Assignment #1 due, in WORD (.doc) format, in the online drop-box by midnight, Oct 4th.
(Please save your assignment as YourLastName_Assign1.doc.)

Oct 11. No scheduled class (read ahead for the following weeks)

(5) Oct 18. Proverbiality: Renovation and Innovation in Tolkien's Gnomic Epigrams
Readings: (1) Lobdell, J., 1978, A Medieval Proverb in The Lord of the Rings. American Notes
& Queries, supplement 1, pp. 330-331.
(2) Stanton, M.N., 1996, Advice is a Dangerous Gift: (Pseudo-)Proverbs in The
Lord of the Rings. Proverbium 13: 331-345.
(3) Shippey, T.A., 2008, A Fund of Wise Sayings: Proverbiality in Tolkien. In S. Wells,
ed., Proceedings of the Tolkien 2005 Conference, vol. 2, pp. 279-286.

(6) Oct 25. Place Names: The Translated Landscapes of Middle-Earth


Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., 2005, Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings. In W.G. Hammond
and C. Scull, eds., The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 750-782.
[Focus on the Places section (pp. 765-779).]
(2) Algeo, J., 1985, The Toponymy of Middle-Earth. Names 33(1): 80-95.
(3) Hostetter, C.F. and P. Wynne, 1993, Stone Towers. Mythlore 74: 47-55, 65.
Takehome Midterm due, in WORD (.doc) format, in the online drop-box by midnight, Oct 25th.
(Please save your assignment as YourLastName_Midterm.doc.)

(7) Nov 1. Tolkien's Invented Alphabets: the Tengwar/Tw and Certar/Cirth


Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, pp. 1113-1126.
(2) Smith, A.R., 2000, Certhas, Skirditaila, Futhark: A Feigned History of Runic Origins.
In V. Flieger and C.F. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien's Legendarium, pp. 105-111.
(3) Smith, A.R., 1993, The Tengwar Versions of the King's Letter: An Analysis. Vinyar
Tengwar 29: 7-20. [Focus on the writing system for now; Sindarin comes later.]

(8) Nov 8. Quenya (High-Elvish), and its inspiration in Finnish


Readings: (1) Hostetter, C.F., 2007, Languages Invented by Tolkien. In M.C. Drout, ed., The
J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, pp. 332-344.
(2) Tolkien, J.R.R., 1967, Notes on Namri. In The Road Goes Ever On, pp. 58-62.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin. [Compare with the lament in LotR, pp. 377-378.]
(3) Gilson, C., 2009, Essence of Elvish: The Basic Vocabulary of Quenya. Tolkien
Studies 6: 213-239.

(9) Nov 15. Guest Lecture (McNab): Celtic Languages, Literature and Mythology
Readings: (1) Fife, J., 1993, Introduction. In M. J. Ball and G. E. Jones, eds., The Celtic
Languages, pp. 3-25.
(2) MacAulay, D., 1992, The Celtic Languages: An Overview. In D. MacAulay, ed.,
The Celtic Languages, pp. 1-8.
TolkienasTranslatorCourseSyllabusFall2013p.4of4

(3) Mac Cana, P., 1995, Mythology and the oral tradition: Ireland and Davies, S.,
Mythology and the oral tradition: Wales, both in M.J. Aldhouse-Green, ed., The
Celtic World, pp. 779-791.
Note to students: The readings and summaries for the April 6th guest lecture are not
compulsory, but they are worth 10 extra credit points if you decide to undertake them.
This can make up for some lower scores on previous summaries/assignments (or even
another week's missed summaries).

(10) Nov 22. Sindarin (Grey-Elvish), and its inspiration in Welsh


Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., 1967, Notes on A Elbereth Gilthoniel. In The Road Goes Ever On,
pp. 64-67. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. [Compare with the song in LotR, p.238.]
(2) Tolkien, J.R.R., 1993, The Epilogue. In C. Tolkien, ed., Sauron Defeated, 114-135.
[Enjoy the original epilogue to The Lord of the Rings, but focus on Tolkien's
English translation of King Elessar's Sindarin letter to Samwise Gamgee, pp.128-129.]
(3) Gilson, C., 2000, Gnomish is Sindarin: The Conceptual Evolution of an Elvish
Language. In V. Flieger and C.F. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on
The History of Middle-Earth, pp. 95-104. London.
Assignment #2 due, in WORD (.doc) format, in the online drop-box by midnight, Nov 22nd.
(Please save your assignment as YourLastName_Assign2.doc.)

Nov 29. No scheduled class (read ahead for the following weeks)

(11) Dec 6. Khuzdul (Secret Language of the Dwarves), and its Semitic inspiration
Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Part III, Durin's Folk,
pp. 1071-1081.
(2) Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, Dwarves, pp. 1132-1133.
(3) berg, M., 2007, An Analysis of Dwarvish. Arda Philology 1: 42-65. Proceedings
of the First International Conference on J.R.R. Tolkien's Invented Languages,
Omentielva Minya, Stockholm, 2005.

(12) Dec 13. The Black Speech and Orcish (light reading, prepare for final exam)
Readings: (1) Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, Orcs and the Black Speech,
pp. 1131-1132.
(2) Hostetter, C.F., 1992, Uglk to the Dung-pit. Vinyar Tengwar 26: 16.
(3) Zender, M., 2008, Revisiting the Curse of the Mordor-Orc. 9 pp.

(13) Dec 20. Linguistic History, Language Myths, and Lmatyve


Readings: (1) Dawson, D., 2005, English, Welsh, and Elvish: Language, Loss, and Cultural Recovery
in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In J. Chance and A. K. Sievers, ed., Tolkien's
Modern Middle Ages, pp. 105-120. New York.
(2) Hostetter, C.F., 2006, Elvish as She Is Spoke. In W.G. Hammond and C. Scull, eds.,
The Lord of the Rings: 1954-2004, Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder,
pp. 231-255.
(3) Podhorodecka, J., 2007, Is lmatyve a linguistic heresy? Iconicity in J.R.R. Tolkien's
invented languages. In E. Tabakowska et al., eds., Insistent Images, pp. 103-110.
Takehome Final Exam due, in WORD (.doc) format, in the online drop-box by midnight, Dec 20th.
(Please save your assignment as YourLastName_Final.doc.)