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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
A Linguistic Analysis Of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

News from Bree

Jan 16 2013, 2:23am

Post #1 of 6 (1488 views)
A Linguistic Analysis Of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Can't Post

Gwaith-i-PhethdainThe Gwaith-i-Phethdain, or theáFellowship of the Word-smiths, is a part of the Polish website Elendilion.pl, run by our friend and Tolkien geek Richard "Galadhorn"áDerdzinski.áSince the early days of the internet when information was hard to come by and to share, he has led the effort in analyzing the languages in the Lord of the Rings films from 2001 through 2004, and beginning last year, he's once again embarked on analyzing the languages in The Hobbit films.

To quote Richard:
The way to find the texts in the languages of Middle-earth was difficult.áFirst of course was the careful and watchful hearing in the cinemas. Richard traveled far from Poland to Ireland to watch the movie 2 weeks before the Polish premiere. The first results were published thanks to the work of Miriam "Niranare" Simon of the German forum Mellyn Lammath and Cerebrum of the Hungarian website Parf-en-Ereglas.áThen the international community of the Tolkien linguists with Helge K. Fauskanger (of Norse Ardalambion) and Andrew Higgins (of Elfling list) helped to find the detailed explanation of David Salo's conlang forms.

The dialogues, together with lyrics and inscriptions, in the languages of Tolkien were created for the movies by David Salo, an American linguist.áRichard's analysis is a work in progress, continually updated based on suggestions from fans contributed via comments to his blog-style posts, and theáresults of his work on The Hobbit thus far can be found as follows:

The analyses of the dialogues, lyrics and inscriptions in the Lord of the Rings films can be found at Elvish.org.

Elendilion.pl is also famous for the investigation of the oldest ancestry of the Tolkien family. This family name emerges for the first time in the mediaeval sources of the German Order in Prussia, in small village in today's Poland, Tołkiny, cf. http://www.elendilion.pl/2010/02/02/tokiny-in-warmia-a-nest-of-the-tolkien-family-ii/

(This post was edited by Earl on Jan 16 2013, 7:56am)


Jan 16 2013, 3:18pm

Post #2 of 6 (810 views)
Nifty [In reply to] Can't Post

I was waiting for something like this. One of the great things about the ensemble work in both LOTR and now the Hobbit films will be the subtle incorporation of the languages of Tolkien as Salo interpreted them. Whether or not you like subtitling etc. it allows you to say otherwise corny lines in a beautiful way. The little romantic scene with Aragorn and Arwen in elvish worked because it wasn't in English. Similarly, the dwarvish language makes them stand out.


Jan 16 2013, 4:19pm

Post #3 of 6 (811 views)
Also the case with Azog [In reply to] Can't Post

I know there are mixed opinions on Azog, but I felt that he was more frightening and just overall more horrifying because of the language he spoke in and the way the words sounded. If I'd heard the subtitled words spoken in English, I don't think I would have felt anywhere near the same impact.


Jan 16 2013, 4:36pm

Post #4 of 6 (801 views)
Yes, absolutely. [In reply to] Can't Post

Azog was better in Mordor speech. Wherever they can add depth to these films like that makes them more than just a simple fantasy epic.People study and get university degrees in these languages now, it's a shame not to use them as much as possible.

I don't think they will get into sub-dialects like Sindarin, but it would be interesting to see the elves speaking to one another when the dwarves are brought before Thranduil. That's another way to irritate people is speak in your own language in front of someone. There was a little bit of that in the FOTR EE with Gimli and Haldir.


Jan 16 2013, 9:11pm

Post #5 of 6 (759 views)
Agreed. [In reply to] Can't Post

Hopefully there will be more Elvish and Dwarvish in the next two films.

It mildly annoys me that there is 'token' elvish i.e. the characters begin speaking or greet each other in what should be their native tongue before transitioning rapidly back to the common tongue (or English for we Western audiences).

Example: whenever Gandalf and Elrond speak to each other, I am sure they would stick in Elvish for the whole conversation. As it is, it's like two native German speakers exchanging a 'Guten Tag - wie gehts du?' before continuing the rest of their conversation in English. Slightly bizarre, no?

The other main example is the White Council. With two high elves and two Maiar, I would have thought the whole conversation would have been in Sindarin, if not Quenya.

I appreciate the practical realities of translating so much dialogue and the actors having to recite it, but with $500 million to play with, surely they could have managed for the sake of deepening the immersion?

Please tell me this sort of lack of attention to detail (where they are otherwise fastidious, it seems) is not solely due to American's perceived inability or desire to deal with subtitles.

Examples of where language immersion has been accomplished more consistently are:
a) Game of Thrones, with the Dothraki and;
b) Those Mel Gibson movies in Aramaic and Latin (the Passion of the Christ) and Yacatec Mayan (Apocalypto).

For me and mine, language represents a significant immersion factor.

(This post was edited by sharku on Jan 16 2013, 9:16pm)


Jan 16 2013, 9:56pm

Post #6 of 6 (776 views)
I disagree but like the idea all the same [In reply to] Can't Post

While I think it would be cool to watch a version of these films where the various tongues are used impressively throughout, I believe it would detract from the performance of some of the actors. The intonation with which Ian McKellen gives his English lines is one of the reasons he makes such a good Gandalf, in my opinion. His Sindarin seems to lack this, which is appropriate given that various intonations mean completely different things when applied to different languages. I loved Radagast's Quenya spell, but seeing as how he leans toward the comical in most scenes, I don't think I'd like to see him conversing with Gandalf in that.

Then again, because Sindarin and Quenya sound so different, full language immersion would allow the audience to distinguish between the real powers of Middle Earth from elves who haven't seen Valinor.

Have there been any fan attempts to dub certain dialogues of the original film yet?

"After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear." Professor Tolkien, 1951


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