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May 10 2018, 11:08am

Post #1 of 9 (2081 views)
Weird Can't Post

The word 'weird' doesn't appear in LOTR according to my eBook reader (and I have no intention of confirming this manually).

That seems a bit weird. There are plenty of weird things in Middle-earth in the modern senses ('suggesting something supernatural; uncanny; 'the weird crying of a seal'). There are other things that are weird in the informal modern sense - 'very strange; bizarre'.

Of course it could be a co-incidence - Tolkien might just have preferred synonyms. I wonder though whether Tolkien shuns the word because of its older sense:

The adjective (late Middle English) originally meant 'having the power to control destiny' and was used especially in the Weird Sisters , originally referring to the Fates, later the witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth; the latter use gave rise to the sense unearthly (early 19th cent.)

The New Oxford Dictionary of English, OUP 1998

So perhaps, although we meet many things unearthly, supernatural and strange in Middle-earth, we don't meat anyone or anything that has the power to control someone else's destiny?


The other thing that is weird about 'weird' is that its spelling ('weird') just looks weird to me . I write it and then look at it wondering whether it is actually spelled 'wierd'. But then that looks weird too.

Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


May 10 2018, 3:33pm

Post #2 of 9 (2023 views)
The old adage 'I before E except after C' has sooo many exceptions - Now THAT's weird! / [In reply to] Can't Post


‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor

Petty Dwarf

May 10 2018, 7:22pm

Post #3 of 9 (2011 views)
Tolkien generally uses the word "queer" [In reply to] Can't Post

which, of course, just meant "strange" back in the '40s.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."


May 11 2018, 11:46am

Post #4 of 9 (1987 views)
I was thinking the same thing: he preferred “queer” [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder what that meant in Old English, and maybe it didn’t have any baggage like “weird” so weirdly does?

Wiz, you can spell it “weard” or “weerd” if you want to and we’ll just make a note that that’s Wizard-speak. :) But no “wyyrd”, please: that’s going too far.


May 11 2018, 4:24pm

Post #5 of 9 (1964 views)
No one knows [In reply to] Can't Post

I looked "queer" up in the OED but it doesn't go back as far as Old English and the etymology is a mystery.

Apparently, "A member of Bradley’s editorial staff between 1919 and 1920, Tolkien’s contribution to the OED was in the range waggle-warlock." so he wouldn't have worked on either word, though he would have worked on "weird" if he had kept going!

Etymology: Origin uncertain; perhaps < (or perhaps even cognate with) German quer transverse, oblique, crosswise, at right angles, obstructive, (of things) going wrong (now rare), (of a person) peculiar (now obsolete in this sense), (of a glance) directed sideways, especially in a surreptitious or hostile manner (now rare), (of opinion and behaviour) at odds with others (see thwart adv.), but the semantic correspondence is not exact, and the figurative senses in German are apparently much later developments than the English word. a. Strange, odd, peculiar, eccentric. Also: of questionable character; suspicious, dubious. &#9656; ?a1513 W. Dunbar Flyting in Poems (1998) I. 207 Heir cumis our awin queir clerk.1513 G. Douglas in tr. Virgil Æneid viii. Prol. 43 The cadgear..Calland the col&#541;ear ane knaif and culroun full queyr.1551 J. Bale Actes Eng. Votaryes: 2nd Pt. f. xxi Ye Chronycles..contayne muche more truthe than their quere legendes...


May 11 2018, 4:51pm

Post #6 of 9 (1958 views)
Tolkien at the OED [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a good book which is partly about Tolkien's stint at the OED, but mostly about some of the words Tolkien either invented (or didn't) or brought into greater popularity
The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
edited by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner
Oxford University Press
Reviewed here:

In hindsight, it would have been satisfying if they'd assigned him to work on 'There' and 'Back again'.

Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


May 12 2018, 5:58pm

Post #7 of 9 (1920 views)
Perhaps he ignored the word based on its Anglo-Saxon origin... [In reply to] Can't Post

"Old English wyrd ‘destiny,’ of Germanic origin. The adjective (late Middle English) originally meant ‘having the power to control destiny."

'Wyrd', in the A-S sense, is synonymous to 'fate', or as Tolkien preferred 'doom'. As an A-S professor and philologist, he may not have cared to equate 'queer' happenings with the more modern 'weird' synonym, which would not be applicable, given Tolkien's background.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.

(This post was edited by Morthoron on May 12 2018, 5:59pm)


May 12 2018, 11:10pm

Post #8 of 9 (1900 views)
I would have thought he would enjoy using it in the original sense [In reply to] Can't Post

Just to give people a buzz.

But he always has a good sense about usages, and may have decided that an unusual use of a well-known word would simply draw attention to itself. I've seen some works of modern fantasy that make a fetish of using unusual or antiquated vocabulary, and it comes off as silly or affected.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


May 18 2018, 9:52pm

Post #9 of 9 (1638 views)
It is said that Mandos does not come to Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

because he once had a premonition in which he saw himself being caught at unawares in Ithilien while minding the business of others as usual, and having to run scared from a beautiful blonde girl trying to behead him with a sword while calling him a dwimmerwyrd.

But isn't Vairë the Tolkien equivalent of the Fates? Though Vairë would use threads of life not to dictate fate, but to weave images from the history their owners took part in, and so cover the Halls of Mandos with every single knot an incoming elven fëa had to confront in the process of its rekindling for rebirth in Arda? Vairë looks wyrder enough to me.


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