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Oct 1 2012, 11:53am

Views: 1503
Hurricanes [In reply to] Can't Post

4. How does a dragon know about hurricanes? Hes hundreds of miles from the Sea of Belegaer. When was the last time Smaug would have seen a hurricane at sea?

Interesting word, "hurricane". It really refers only to storms that form in the Caribbean, so I suppose by rights Tolkien shouldn't have used this word at all, since its origins are in the so-far-undiscovered New World! (According to the OED, it was originally a Carib word, brought to Europe via Spanish and Portuguese.) But it is also used in English, according to the dictionary, to refer to any violent windstorm, so I suppose by that definition it passes muster as a modern-English "translation" of whatever Smaug originally said!

But it's not just Smaug, Thorin is the one who first uses the word when he's describing to Bilbo what the coming of Smaug was like:
"The first we heard of it was a noise like a hurricane coming from the North, and the pine-trees on the Mountain creaking and cracking in the wind." (An Unexpected Party)
Thorin's choice of this word seems particularly appropriate because this is a rapidly-moving windstorm, just as "real" hurricanes are. Smaug uses the word when he's revelling in the idea of how he seems to his victims - he clearly knows and understands how he appears to them, and he's seeing himself through their eyes. So I don't think he even needs to have experienced a hurricane, whether at sea or not, to come up with this comparison for himself. I think he's channelling what he knows his victims think of him.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

Subject User Time
** Inside Information ** Part III Interview with a Dragon Morthoron Send a private message to Morthoron Sep 26 2012, 4:03am
    One thing I find interesting Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Sep 26 2012, 11:00pm
        Bard did. sador Send a private message to sador Sep 27 2012, 2:17pm
    "...for you are crunchy and good with ketchup." dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Oct 1 2012, 2:08am
        burying my friends alive and drowning them titanium_hobbit Send a private message to titanium_hobbit Oct 1 2012, 2:47am
    Hurricanes FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Oct 1 2012, 11:53am
    Late answers sador Send a private message to sador Oct 9 2012, 7:53am
    Careful speaking to strangers (and dragons) CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 11 2012, 12:21am


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