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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Treebeard — 4. ‘Teaching them to speak and learning their tree-talk’
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visualweasel
Rohan


May 1 2008, 3:22pm

Post #1 of 36 (2024 views)
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Treebeard — 4. ‘Teaching them to speak and learning their tree-talk’ Can't Post

I feel I may be on thin ice with some of you (not interested in languages indeed!), but I am going to push my luck with a little discussion of Entish today. I will try to keep my comments and questions a bit shorter as well. (I can hear you laughing at that claim, even now).

In Appendix F, Tolkien describes Entish:


Quote
The language that they had made was unlike all others: slow, sonorous, agglomerated, repetitive, indeed longwinded; formed of a multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity which even the loremasters of the Eldar had not attempted to represent in writing. They used it only among themselves; but they had no need to keep it secret, for no others could learn it.



1. Is this manner of speech suitable for the Ents? They must have a pretty advanced vocal apparatus for producing that “multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity”, eh?

2. The reference to writing here is interesting. Ents do not seem to have a culture of writing, do they? And how could they, considering that paper and parchment are made of living things! Might they not cut letters into stone like the Dwarves?

3. Or is their culture an oral one, resembling, but of much greater antiquity than that of Rohan, their neighbor. Could Fangorn itself be termed a living library or repository of knowledge? Their language seems to bear this out, with its “words” growing longer all the time. As Ents go “tree-ish”, is that the equivalent of losing books, losing knowledge, like the Ashburnam House fire which destroyed much of the Cotton collection?

4. Leaves are important to Tolkien. Athelas. The leaf-wrappings for lembas. Even Pipeweed, simply called “Leaf.” A page in a book is also a leaf. If Fangorn is a kind of living library, is the reverse true, too, that the ‘leaves’ of the Red Book of Westmarch are a kind of ‘forest’ – again, cf. my comments and questions on Tuesday about the phrase galadhremmin ennorath “tree-woven lands of Middle-earth”. How far can we take this metaphor? The Irish alphabet, for example, gives all its letters tree-names. Again, the connection between writing and trees is reasserted.

Tolkien goes on in Appendix F:


Quote
Ents were, however, themselves skilled in tongues, learning them swiftly and never forgetting them.



5. Can we reconcile this statement with Treebeard’s forgetting the word for a hill or rock-shelf? He seems to grasp for the name, rumbling a long Entish equivalent, and finally admitting, “I do not know what the word is in the outside languages.” This seems to contradict Tolkien’s later statement.

And continuing:


Quote
But they preferred the languages of the Eldar, and loved best the ancient High-elven tongue. The strange words and names that the Hobbits record as used by Treebeard and other Ents are thus Elvish, or fragments of Elf-speech strung together in Ent-fashion.



6. Indeed, most of the ‘Entish’ given in the chapter is really Elvish, mainly Quenya. Just how much of it is Elvish? And why isn’t more of it genuine Entish? What effect does Tolkien achieve by inserting untranslated passages of ‘Entish’? Like this one:


Quote
‘Still: Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómëanor, that is what they used to say. Things have changed, but it is still true in places.’



Curious wrote earlier in the discussion, “The ents are probably like Tolkien; always composing, never finished.” I like this. They were clearly like Tolkien in the sense of being the philologists of Middle-earth (a point noted by scholars), but this comparison, too, strikes me as very apt. Reminding me of this memorable passage:


Quote
‘[..] my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.’



7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?

8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?

9. Does anyone here know Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books? In Earthsea, the knowledge of people’s or things’ true names can give a mage total power over them. These are, therefore, closely guarded secrets. Has anyone (other than me) ever connected Treebeard’s comments with Le Guin? Might she have gotten the idea from Tolkien? There is also the character of the Master Namer, whose own name, Kurremkarmerruk, was said to mean absolutely nothing in any language. Kind of the antithesis of Treebeard’s “my name is like a story”, isn’ it? Likewise, in draft (Treason of Isengard), Treebeard tells the hobbits: “Oh, [Tom Bombadil] has got a very long name.”

Finally:


Quote
Treebeard rumbled for a moment, as if he were pronouncing some deep, subterranean Entish malediction. […] ‘Wizards ought to know better: they do know better. There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men bad enough for such treachery. Down with Saruman!’



10. Considering the long-windedness of Entish, would a malediction delivered in it be especially potent (like a potion with many ingredients and a long brewing time)? Or perhaps the opposite, and the Ent might never finish delivering it, leaving the target to go on misbehaving indefinitely?



Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish

The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3


palantiriel
The Shire


May 1 2008, 6:50pm

Post #2 of 36 (591 views)
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Dwarvish names.... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Dwarves are another race who seem to believe in the power of names. It'd be interesting to see their views on language, although we know that, unlike the Ents, they prefer to keep their language secret. Is it because they believe that their language, and especially their names, have some power over them? Of course, being a generally secretive, mistrusting race is probably the reason, but their language means a lot to them.


Likewise, in draft (Treason of Isengard), Treebeard tells the hobbits: “Oh, [Tom Bombadil] has got a very long name.”
Makes me think of Goldberry's question to Frodo about names "who are you, alone and nameless?" (or roughly like that anyway). Tom has a very long name as far as Treebeard is concerned, but how important is his name in defining him? Perhaps is Frodo had heard (and understood) his full Entish name (although I'm sure it would run for at least half the book!) he might have understood who Tom Bombadil is a little better. Or perhaps the enigmatic "Old Tom is the Master" suits him better, simple and confusing as it is.

I'm sure there's something to be said there, but I'm afraid I'm not the best at saying it.


visualweasel
Rohan


May 1 2008, 7:06pm

Post #3 of 36 (526 views)
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Very good observations! [In reply to] Can't Post

And this isn't the only similarity between the Ents and Dwarves — there's a bit on that in the previous few days' discussions as well. The Goldberry quote is right-on too. Thanks for sharing both of those thoughts.

Wink

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish

The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4


Dreamdeer
Valinor


May 1 2008, 7:53pm

Post #4 of 36 (514 views)
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You don't know all my secret names [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Quote
1. Is this manner of speech suitable for the Ents? They must have a pretty advanced vocal apparatus for producing that “multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity”, eh?


Not necessarily. Mockingbirds can achieve amazing variety with inflexible beaks. I imagine that an ent can achieve at least as much subtlety as a well-played wooden instrument. While we can write down notes, we can only specify the subtleties of tone and quality imperfectly by throwing in Italian adjectives here and there, and nobody can write down the effects improvised by a master musician.


Quote
2. The reference to writing here is interesting. Ents do not seem to have a culture of writing, do they? And how could they, considering that paper and parchment are made of living things! Might they not cut letters into stone like the Dwarves?



I suppose they could if they wanted to. But why should they? They would consider nothing worth recording unless it was worth listening to.


Quote
3. Or is their culture an oral one, resembling, but of much greater antiquity than that of Rohan, their neighbor. Could Fangorn itself be termed a living library or repository of knowledge? Their language seems to bear this out, with its “words” growing longer all the time. As Ents go “tree-ish”, is that the equivalent of losing books, losing knowledge, like the Ashburnam House fire which destroyed much of the Cotton collection?



I think this is the more likely conclusion.


Quote
4. Leaves are important to Tolkien. Athelas. The leaf-wrappings for lembas. Even Pipeweed, simply called “Leaf.” A page in a book is also a leaf. If Fangorn is a kind of living library, is the reverse true, too, that the ‘leaves’ of the Red Book of Westmarch are a kind of ‘forest’ – again, cf. my comments and questions on Tuesday about the phrase galadhremmin ennorath “tree-woven lands of Middle-earth”. How far can we take this metaphor? The Irish alphabet, for example, gives all its letters tree-names. Again, the connection between writing and trees is reasserted.



I believe that Tolkien's love of trees would make tree metaphors pop up in every conceivable corner of his work.


Quote
5. Can we reconcile this statement with Treebeard’s forgetting the word for a hill or rock-shelf? He seems to grasp for the name, rumbling a long Entish equivalent, and finally admitting, “I do not know what the word is in the outside languages.” This seems to contradict Tolkien’s later statement.



The more one knows, the more one can forget. That's part of the price of growing old.


Quote
6. Indeed, most of the ‘Entish’ given in the chapter is really Elvish, mainly Quenya. Just how much of it is Elvish? And why isn’t more of it genuine Entish? What effect does Tolkien achieve by inserting untranslated passages of ‘Entish’? Like this one:


Because the books were quite long enough as is,without taking a whole chapter to say, "Yes, we agree that these are not orcs, and we need to add a new line to the teaching verses, even though they are now useless, anyway, with no entings to teach.


Quote
7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?


Ringorific?


Quote
8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?




This is one of those archetypal things that crop up here and there. My husband belongs to a religion that keeps secret names, for instance. And this survives into fairytales, such as "Rumpelstiltskin." Indeed, the myths and legends have become true in Cyberspace, where giving you my secret passwords would convey upon you way too much power over my life! Please also note how many TORnsibs decline to list their real names in their profiles.


Quote
9. Does anyone here know Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books? In Earthsea, the knowledge of people’s or things’ true names can give a mage total power over them. These are, therefore, closely guarded secrets. Has anyone (other than me) ever connected Treebeard’s comments with Le Guin? Might she have gotten the idea from Tolkien? There is also the character of the Master Namer, whose own name, Kurremkarmerruk, was said to mean absolutely nothing in any language. Kind of the antithesis of Treebeard’s “my name is like a story”, isn’ it? Likewise, in draft (Treason of Isengard), Treebeard tells the hobbits: “Oh, [Tom Bombadil] has got a very long name.”




I know the Earthsea books, but Ms. Le Guin can look to many sources for inspiration besides Tolkien (although she does appreciate Tolkien very much.) The Elfquest Graphic Novels make a big deal about the power of knowing somebody's secret name.

I suppose it goes back psychologically to the fear of revealing too much of oneself. "If you know who I really am, what would you do with that knowledge?"


Quote
10. Considering the long-windedness of Entish, would a malediction delivered in it be especially potent (like a potion with many ingredients and a long brewing time)? Or perhaps the opposite, and the Ent might never finish delivering it, leaving the target to go on misbehaving indefinitely?



Oh you bet it would pack a wallop! I wonder how much of that Entish chanting actually called down curses on Saruman?


My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


Elenedhel
Rivendell


May 1 2008, 9:27pm

Post #5 of 36 (509 views)
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I'm no good at language questions :( [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?

"Walking."

8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?

In the book Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, each character has a public name and a secret name. The secret name is only to be told to those that the character trusts: family and close friends.They believe that if the secret name is told to someone who is untrustworthy, the character is no longer protected. Maybe the Ents have similar beliefs.





"O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas."




Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


May 1 2008, 10:23pm

Post #6 of 36 (502 views)
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Venturing a couple of thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?

"Star". One word is pretty difficult, but I've always thought the scene where Sam looks up and sees the star in Mordor and realizes that there's hope and goodness and beauty and light that evil can't touch is the very heart of LotR.


Quote
8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?


This reminds me a lot of the culture of the ancient Hebrews. The prohibition against taking the Lord's name in vain wasn't just a matter of respect, but the fear that the name had a power, and that using it in an unauthorized way could be dangerous.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Laerasëa
Tol Eressea


May 1 2008, 10:33pm

Post #7 of 36 (500 views)
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I remember that book!! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been pretty much forever since I read it, though....but I do remember that she had a name that she told everybody, and a name that only she and her family knew...and I also remember that it really startles her when her father gives his secret name to a stranger; the stranger ends up killing a lot of the people in tribe of the girl and her father a few pages later- that the girl is not too surprised, because she had known that the fact that her father had given away his secret name would bring bad luck.
Interesting connection- I had not thought of that before!


visualweasel
Rohan


May 1 2008, 11:56pm

Post #8 of 36 (520 views)
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Wasn't Island of the Blue Dolphins around 1960 or so? [In reply to] Can't Post

O'Dell could very well have read The Lord of the Rings. Not that I'm suggesting any definite connection; I don't know anything about that book and have never read it myself, though I've known of it since childhood. I think A Wizard of Earthsea was just a few years after that too, and Le Guin definitely did read Tolkien. Of course, as someone has already said, there are other possible sources for the ‘secret’ name motif. In addition to the Hebrew antecedent already mentioned, the Old Norse eddas and sagas have some similar elements (as in the Fáfnismál, with the idea that it's a bad idea to tell a dragon your real name – which Tolkien incorporates into The Hobbit).

I'm planning to dig into some sources and background on the Ents tomorrow ...

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish

The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4


a.s.
Valinor


May 2 2008, 12:10am

Post #9 of 36 (502 views)
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**throws wease a wet-suit and life-preserver [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I feel I may be on thin ice with some of you (not interested in languages indeed!), but I am going to push my luck with a little discussion of Entish today. I will try to keep my comments and questions a bit shorter as well. (I can hear you laughing at that claim, even now).



Just in case you crack through that ice!!

But no need to apologize; one of the best things about these discussions is the many ways in which the discussion leaders approach the chapters. Some of us are a little longer-winded than others, but the readers have a way of just picking and choosing what parts they will want to answer/discuss. And just ignore the rest or wait for other comments.

Besides, I learn stuff from some of the hints you (and other, um, longer-winded leaders) throw out in your questions and the introductory stuff you have leading up to your questions. So, that's good!

Anyway. Talk about long-winded. Cough.



Quote
7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?




Loss.



Quote

In Appendix F, Tolkien describes Entish:


Quote
The language that they had made was unlike all others: slow, sonorous, agglomerated, repetitive, indeed longwinded; formed of a multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity which even the loremasters of the Eldar had not attempted to represent in writing. They used it only among themselves; but they had no need to keep it secret, for no others could learn it.



1. Is this manner of speech suitable for the Ents? They must have a pretty advanced vocal apparatus for producing that “multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity”, eh?




I think this goes back to the totally alien being an Ent really is. What would a trees vocal apparatus be made of and modelled after? But of course it would be long-winded, as Ents are made to communicate with trees, and trees do everything slowly (as compared to animate forms of life) and it seems natural that a tree language would be very long and slow.



Quote
9. Does anyone here know Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books? In Earthsea, the knowledge of people’s or things’ true names can give a mage total power over them. These are, therefore, closely guarded secrets. Has anyone (other than me) ever connected Treebeard’s comments with Le Guin? Might she have gotten the idea from Tolkien? There is also the character of the Master Namer, whose own name, Kurremkarmerruk, was said to mean absolutely nothing in any language. Kind of the antithesis of Treebeard’s “my name is like a story”, isn’ it? Likewise, in draft (Treason of Isengard), Treebeard tells the hobbits: “Oh, [Tom Bombadil] has got a very long name.”




I'm sure someone has connected these two (maybe Le Guin herself?) but more importantly they probably both have a common influence. The power of names (and in "naming") is as ancient as myth, I think. Rumpelstiltskin must have been folklore based on some older version of the power of knowing someone's "real" name. Adam's dominion over the animals is shown by his being allowed to name them. Stuff like that.

a.s.

"an seileachan"



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.



Canto
Bree


May 2 2008, 12:43am

Post #10 of 36 (479 views)
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Some thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
In Appendix F, Tolkien describes Entish:


Quote
The language that they had made was unlike all others: slow, sonorous, agglomerated, repetitive, indeed longwinded; formed of a multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity which even the loremasters of the Eldar had not attempted to represent in writing. They used it only among themselves; but they had no need to keep it secret, for no others could learn it.



1. Is this manner of speech suitable for the Ents? They must have a pretty advanced vocal apparatus for producing that “multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity”, eh?

I'm not terribly surprised by the multiplicity of vowel-shades (even though the rounded vowels are telling as to how the Ents' mouth is structured). I'm actually more surprised by the fact that Ents have the ability to pronounce any sort of plosive consonant. Why? I've just always imagined Treebeard, and for that matter anything so distinctly related to trees, as producing sounds equivalent to droning sounds - which is why the multiplicity of vowel-shades never phased me much. I simply don't see Ents have that much structure for some reason. And dental consonants? Oh, no way!



In Reply To
2. The reference to writing here is interesting. Ents do not seem to have a culture of writing, do they? And how could they, considering that paper and parchment are made of living things! Might they not cut letters into stone like the Dwarves?

3. Or is their culture an oral one, resembling, but of much greater antiquity than that of Rohan, their neighbor. Could Fangorn itself be termed a living library or repository of knowledge? Their language seems to bear this out, with its “words” growing longer all the time. As Ents go “tree-ish”, is that the equivalent of losing books, losing knowledge, like the Ashburnam House fire which destroyed much of the Cotton collection?

Ents seem to have an extraordinary memory, aside from Treebeard forgetting one word in another language...



In Reply To
Tolkien goes on in Appendix F:


Quote
Ents were, however, themselves skilled in tongues, learning them swiftly and never forgetting them.



5. Can we reconcile this statement with Treebeard’s forgetting the word for a hill or rock-shelf? He seems to grasp for the name, rumbling a long Entish equivalent, and finally admitting, “I do not know what the word is in the outside languages.” This seems to contradict Tolkien’s later statement.

I don't think there's any contradiction. In fact, I'd almost expect an ancient creature like an Ent to forget certain words while nonetheless being able to retain the know-how concerning various language structures. Many bi-lingual people who I know, who are completely fluent in the English tongue, nonetheless have difficulty remembering certain (not even difficult) words and will resort to their native tongue for the word.



In Reply To
7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?

Green. Not Nader Green. But Shire green.


In Reply To
8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?

I'm instantly reminded of Odysseus and Polyphemus.



In Reply To
Finally:

10. Considering the long-windedness of Entish, would a malediction delivered in it be especially potent (like a potion with many ingredients and a long brewing time)? Or perhaps the opposite, and the Ent might never finish delivering it, leaving the target to go on misbehaving indefinitely?


Wouldn't a malediction be a bit....well, ya know.....hasty? Tongue


Curious
Half-elven


May 2 2008, 1:04am

Post #11 of 36 (482 views)
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Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Is this manner of speech suitable for the Ents? They must have a pretty advanced vocal apparatus for producing that “multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity”, eh?

If you are going to make trees into sentient creatures, the vocal apparatus is the least of your worries. This manner of speech is suitable for Ents because Tolkien says it is, and he invented them. What else did you have in mind?

2. The reference to writing here is interesting. Ents do not seem to have a culture of writing, do they? And how could they, considering that paper and parchment are made of living things! Might they not cut letters into stone like the Dwarves?

Treebeard seems to shape stone into bowls and steps, so I would think carving stone would be doable, but the length of the words would make it difficult to write anything.

3. Or is their culture an oral one, resembling, but of much greater antiquity than that of Rohan, their neighbor. Could Fangorn itself be termed a living library or repository of knowledge? Their language seems to bear this out, with its “words” growing longer all the time. As Ents go “tree-ish”, is that the equivalent of losing books, losing knowledge, like the Ashburnam House fire which destroyed much of the Cotton collection?


Yes, I would say it is an oral culture, and losing ents means losing a wealth of knowledge -- although their knowledge might not be considered "useful" by anyone not interested in trees.

4. Leaves are important to Tolkien. Athelas. The leaf-wrappings for lembas. Even Pipeweed, simply called “Leaf.” A page in a book is also a leaf. If Fangorn is a kind of living library, is the reverse true, too, that the ‘leaves’ of the Red Book of Westmarch are a kind of ‘forest’ – again, cf. my comments and questions on Tuesday about the phrase galadhremmin ennorath “tree-woven lands of Middle-earth”. How far can we take this metaphor?

About half as far as you have taken it, in my humble opinion. No offense intended.

5. Can we reconcile this statement [(Ents were, however, themselves skilled in tongues, learning them swiftly and never forgetting them)] with Treebeard’s forgetting the word for a hill or rock-shelf? He seems to grasp for the name, rumbling a long Entish equivalent, and finally admitting, “I do not know what the word is in the outside languages.” This seems to contradict Tolkien’s later statement.

Maybe Treebeard never learned that word in another tongue. It's not clear that he ever knew it.

6. Indeed, most of the ‘Entish’ given in the chapter is really Elvish, mainly Quenya. Just how much of it is Elvish? And why isn’t more of it genuine Entish? What effect does Tolkien achieve by inserting untranslated passages of ‘Entish’?

Even Elvish tongues are quick compared to Entish, apparently. Let's just consider the entire text of LotR Entish for "Frodo."

7. If names and stories are equivalent, in some sense, as Treebeard says (and one would think Tolkien would agree): what single word might The Lord of the Rings be — for you?

Names and stories are equivalent in Entish. I'm not sure that's true in any other language.

8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?

Considering that Treebeard's true name is also his autobiograpy, it seems rather personal and private.

9. Does anyone here know Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books? In Earthsea, the knowledge of people’s or things’ true names can give a mage total power over them. These are, therefore, closely guarded secrets. Has anyone (other than me) ever connected Treebeard’s comments with Le Guin? Might she have gotten the idea from Tolkien? There is also the character of the Master Namer, whose own name, Kurremkarmerruk, was said to mean absolutely nothing in any language. Kind of the antithesis of Treebeard’s “my name is like a story”, isn’ it? Likewise, in draft (Treason of Isengard), Treebeard tells the hobbits: “Oh, [Tom Bombadil] has got a very long name.”

No, Le Guin is using a more common notion of magic found in folklore. Treebeard is simply suggesting that it isn't wise to reveal too much information to strangers. And considering the nature of Treebeard's name, it would contain quite a bit of information.

10. Considering the long-windedness of Entish, would a malediction delivered in it be especially potent (like a potion with many ingredients and a long brewing time)? Or perhaps the opposite, and the Ent might never finish delivering it, leaving the target to go on misbehaving indefinitely?

I can see both possibilities.


a.s.
Valinor


May 2 2008, 1:44am

Post #12 of 36 (505 views)
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shamelessly interrupts program to announce: I made it to Tol Eressea! [In reply to] Can't Post

So I believe I speak with authority on the topic of "long-winded". Or maybe just frequently-winded.

Cool Say, the view is pretty nice in good old T. E.

a.s.

"an seileachan"



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.



Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


May 2 2008, 5:45am

Post #13 of 36 (480 views)
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Congrats, a.s.! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll see you there in a couple of years!Crazy

Where's Frodo?


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


May 2 2008, 5:53am

Post #14 of 36 (459 views)
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Hill [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
5. Can we reconcile this statement with Treebeard’s forgetting the word for a hill or rock-shelf? He seems to grasp for the name, rumbling a long Entish equivalent, and finally admitting, “I do not know what the word is in the outside languages.” This seems to contradict Tolkien’s later statement.



I never thought about it before, but maybe Treebeard was just trying to recall what word the hobbits used, and they couldn't remember either. But maybe I'm just projecting my own forgetfulness onto the characters.Blush

Where's Frodo?


sador
Half-elven

May 2 2008, 9:19am

Post #15 of 36 (497 views)
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Names, Languages, and similar (un)interesting subjects [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I feel I may be on thin ice with some of you (not interested in languages indeed!), but I am going to push my luck with a little discussion of Entish today. I will try to keep my comments and questions a bit shorter as well. (I can hear you laughing at that claim, even now).

I am interested in languages (in an amateur way), but there is a limit to the number of intelligent comments one can bring to a philological discussion about a language which isn't his mother's-tongue. Combine that with a chronical severe lack of time - and you'll see why I only skim over the discussions here.
By the way, I do enjoy your humour (even the crass joke bout the hyperbole).
1. Is this manner of speech suitable for the Ents? They must have a pretty advanced vocal apparatus for producing that “multiplicity of vowel-shades and distinctions of tone and quantity”, eh?
The rustle of leaves in a forest, depending on the climate, density, wind etc. As you may have noticed, Tolkien describes their eyes and beards, but never their mouths.
Perhaps I should recant my answer to question 25 on your first discussion; I have to think of it again.
2. The reference to writing here is interesting. Ents do not seem to have a culture of writing, do they? And how could they, considering that paper and parchment are made of living things! Might they not cut letters into stone like the Dwarves?
No need for it; they have portable memory-drives, which explains why Saruman was spying upon them.
But seriously - an immortal who doesn't forget, has no need for writing. Which makes the growing tree-ish so sad (answering question 3).
4. How far can we take this metaphor?
Wisdom (meaning knowledge of God) is called 'a Tree of Life' in Proverbs 3, 18.
5. Can we reconcile this statement with Treebeard’s forgetting the word for a hill or rock-shelf?
'Hill' isn't Elvish. And Westron is a very 'young' language - as opposed to the antiquity of the hill itself, which treebeard notes.
6. Indeed, most of the ‘Entish’ given in the chapter is really Elvish, mainly Quenya. Just how much of it is Elvish? And why isn’t more of it genuine Entish? What effect does Tolkien achieve by inserting untranslated passages of ‘Entish’?
I've always wondered, whether Entish was really a separate language in it vocabulary, or just in its phrasology, syntax and grammar. I'm not sure.
8. Why is Treebeard so reluctant to give out his “real name”, anyway? Why is he so surprised at the cavalier attitude toward names evinced by Merry and Pippin? What’s the danger in knowing somebody or something’s real name?
Even Bilbo knew not to reveal his true name to Smaug, and Tolkien commends him for it. Names, and knowledge of them, are power.
10. Considering the long-windedness of Entish, would a malediction delivered in it be especially potent (like a potion with many ingredients and a long brewing time)? Or perhaps the opposite, and the Ent might never finish delivering it, leaving the target to go on misbehaving indefinitely?
I really enjoyed this question! Just your type of humor.
But in your first thread, you've mentioned Pippin's high style, and suggested (or was it someone else?) that it was influenced by the Ents. Did the Hobbit influence Treebeard, and provoked him to a hasty sentence?

"I'm not going to do anything with you: not if by that you mean 'do something to you' without your leave. We might do some things together" - Treebeard


Starling
Half-elven


May 2 2008, 9:21am

Post #16 of 36 (456 views)
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I would recommend re-reading it [In reply to] Can't Post

I picked it up second hand not long ago as my childhood copy is long gone, and it was one of my favourites. I still found it very moving to read as an adult.
There is interesting information on Wikipedia about the real story that inspired the novel. I had a quick read (people who are particularly interested in languages may want to follow it up, as 'The lost woman of San Nicolas' was thought to be the last speaker of her tribe's language) but couldn't find anything on whether the 'secret name' idea was fact or fiction in Island of the Blue Dolphins.

It was depressing to note that the woman died only weeks after being 'rescued'.


sador
Half-elven

May 2 2008, 9:26am

Post #17 of 36 (465 views)
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Good for you! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was intending to congragulate you on your recovery and return to the RR, but "one thing after another drove it out of my mind. I'm a busy man." (Butterbur)
And in the meantime, you've made it to Tol Eressea - while I'm still dawdling in Rivendell! Quite a shame.

Perhaps, if I was less long-winded, I might have gone farther...


P.S. I am refraining from making a bad joke here. Visualweasal might probably guess it.

"I'm not going to do anything with you: not if by that you mean 'do something to you' without your leave. We might do some things together" - Treebeard


Curious
Half-elven


May 2 2008, 12:31pm

Post #18 of 36 (447 views)
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Welcome!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


May 2 2008, 8:54pm

Post #19 of 36 (431 views)
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Welcome, O "frequently winded" one :-D // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



a.s.
Valinor


May 2 2008, 11:33pm

Post #20 of 36 (424 views)
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neither of us will ever catch up to gramma, anyways! [In reply to] Can't Post

LOL. No matter how far we get, she's always way far ahead.

a.s.

"an seileachan"



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.



a.s.
Valinor


May 2 2008, 11:37pm

Post #21 of 36 (419 views)
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no, it's the journey that counts and not the destination [In reply to] Can't Post

(she says magnanimously).


Quote

P.S. I am refraining from making a bad joke here. Visualweasal might probably guess it.



Hey, we like bad jokes as much as any other group. Just remember to use big words. And keep in mind we're a family board.

LOL

a.s.

"an seileachan"



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.



a.s.
Valinor


May 2 2008, 11:38pm

Post #22 of 36 (396 views)
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I see you kept the bench warm for me!! Thanks. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"an seileachan"



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.



a.s.
Valinor


May 2 2008, 11:39pm

Post #23 of 36 (430 views)
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I'm in a rarified group, ain't I? [In reply to] Can't Post

You too!! LOL

a.s.

"an seileachan"



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.



Elenedhel
Rivendell


May 3 2008, 12:21am

Post #24 of 36 (418 views)
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It's too bad... [In reply to] Can't Post

I actually knew Scott O'Dell's wife, who died in recently. I could have asked her if her husband had ever read Lord of the Rings.

"O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas."




dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 3 2008, 3:44am

Post #25 of 36 (420 views)
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Well, welcome! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, the view is grand, over here in the West Wink!

Looks like we'll be getting a fair number of people joining us soon enough; I wonder if the Admins might see fit, to send us all on a Hobbit's journey, next...? Smile


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915

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