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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Who were the Children of Húrin?

MerlinEngine
Registered User

Oct 21 2013, 9:52pm


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Who were the Children of Húrin? Can't Post

Dear fellow Tolkien fans,

I have come here in hope that your extensive knowledge and experience with the works of Tolkien will provide some closure to a problem that I have been pondering about for a long time: Who were the Children of Húrin? Or better, who does the phrase 'the children of Húrin' refer to? While contemplating a couple possibilities that it refers to the human race or the entire possible descendants of Húrin, I think it makes most sense if we understand it literally. I shall entertain this last possibility: it certainly refers to Turin and Niënor, both of whom have an important role in the narrative. However, Urwen was just as much a child of Húrin as they were, but she has a minor (symbolically important) role in the story. Most summaries and reviews of the book suggest that it is a story about Turin and Niënor, while omitting or barely mentioning Urwen (depending on the length of the meta text), thus suggesting that she is not one of the children of Húrin from the title. Therefore, I would like to know if you have any knowledge of John Ronald or Christopher ever having explained who the title refers to. What is your opinion?

Before you make any conclusions, allow me to explain where I am coming from (figuratively and literally). I am from Slovenia (a small country in Central Europe) and my mother tongue is Slovene. Slovene has a very odd and unusual grammatical category of number. Like English (and most other languages) we know singular and plural but unlike most Indo-European languages we also know dual number. This means that we use different expressions for talking about one subject (singular), two subjects (dual) and three or more subjects (plural). Here is an example relevant to the topic: the Slovene translation of The Two Towers is simply 'Stolpa' - there is no need to add the cardinal number 'dva' (two) as it is perfectly clear from the form of the word (the inflectional morpheme -a) that the number of the towers is two.

I think you can see what that has to do with The Children of Húrin. The translator of the book, Branko Gradi¹nik (who also translated the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in the previous decade, as well as having written an encyclopaedia of all names from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings - the man has to be given credit for his work) has chosen to use dual in the title: 'Húrinova Otroka' (literal translation: The Two Children of Húrin). This has always bothered me, because there were three children, as short as the life of Urwen may have been. Mr Gradi¹nik's explanation on the use of dual is that Urwen is barely mentioned and most of the story covers the lives of the other two children. While this may be true, would you not agree that had Urwen not died at a young age, Turin's life would have been different, for we all know how much he loved his little sister? Having said that, does that not make the Children of Húrin the story of the lives of Turin and Niënor AND the story of the tragic death of Urwen?

I would greatly appreciate an input of anyone who speaks another language which uses dual and into which the story has been translated. I am interested in what the translators have chosen to do in these cases.

Best regards,
MerlinEngine

Subject User Time
Who were the Children of Húrin? MerlinEngine Send a private message to MerlinEngine Oct 21 2013, 9:52pm
    Non-expert opinion CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 21 2013, 10:23pm
    Hello, Welcome to the Reading Room!! Hope you stick around!! Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Oct 22 2013, 1:42pm
    mae govannen : ) Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Oct 22 2013, 2:09pm
        Good to know MerlinEngine Send a private message to MerlinEngine Oct 24 2013, 12:06pm
            Articles--phooey CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 24 2013, 2:18pm
                linguistics and meaning Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Oct 24 2013, 2:28pm
                    The linguistics and a meaning. Now I understand you. // CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 25 2013, 6:04pm
                        cheeky ice cream monkey // Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Oct 25 2013, 6:05pm
                            Am I CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 25 2013, 6:12pm
                                i think... Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Oct 25 2013, 6:29pm
                                    Articles --> Climate change CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 25 2013, 7:45pm
                                        Hmmm - a world without articles? Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Oct 26 2013, 1:11am
                                            *sits down next to Brethil and waits patiently, quietly for CG's reply*// Dame Ioreth Send a private message to Dame Ioreth Oct 26 2013, 1:35am
                                                I all political crusades, one must make concessions to gain allies. CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 26 2013, 1:45am
                                                    Oh Hooray! I like concessions! Brethil Send a private message to Brethil Oct 26 2013, 3:10am
                                                    speaking of language and the apocalypse Maciliel Send a private message to Maciliel Oct 26 2013, 4:56am
                                                        Prepositions have purpose CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 28 2013, 12:10pm
                                                            Articles convey definiteness or indefiniteness squire Send a private message to squire Oct 28 2013, 5:41pm
                                                                Actually.... Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Oct 28 2013, 6:11pm
                                                                    Yes, and the whole thing is partly to be humorous CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 28 2013, 6:20pm
                                                                        Articles and pronouns are crucial... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Oct 29 2013, 3:52pm
                                                                        The main point of language is to communicate. Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Oct 29 2013, 4:09pm
            Two or three Elthir Send a private message to Elthir Oct 24 2013, 5:41pm
    Dual Elthir Send a private message to Elthir Oct 22 2013, 2:59pm
    If the dual expressions universal, or just for pairs? sador Send a private message to sador Oct 22 2013, 3:15pm
        I am away from my books.... Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Oct 22 2013, 4:26pm
            After. // sador Send a private message to sador Oct 22 2013, 4:27pm
                Much thanks!! Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Oct 22 2013, 4:45pm
                    Now I wonder CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Oct 22 2013, 6:50pm
                        Bwahaha!!! Rembrethil Send a private message to Rembrethil Oct 22 2013, 6:56pm
    For me the title refers to all three children. Bladerunner Send a private message to Bladerunner Oct 26 2013, 10:27pm

 
 
 

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