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Parallel news bundles.

N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 10, 5:22am

Post #1 of 5 (377 views)
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Parallel news bundles. Can't Post

Something I never noticed before tonight, when I wanted to use a quote by Treebeard in a different setting and found that he says it twice:

From "Treebeard":

Quote
'Hm, hoom!' said Treebeard, when at last their story had wound and wandered down to the battle of the Orcs and the Riders of Rohan. 'Well, well! That is a bundle of news and no mistake. You have not told me all, no indeed, not by a long way. But I do not doubt that you are doing as Gandalf would wish. There is something very big going on, that I can see, and what it is maybe I shall learn in good time, or in bad time. By root and twig, but it is a strange business: up sprout a little folk that are not in the old lists, and behold! the Nine forgotten Riders reappear to hunt them, and Gandalf takes them on a long journey, and Galadriel harbours them in Caras Galadhon, and Orcs pursue them down all the leagues of Wilderland: indeed they seem to be caught up in a great storm. I hope they weather it!'


From "Flotsam and Jetsam":

Quote
'Treebeard was very thoughtful after Gandalf had gone. He had evidently learnt a lot in a short time and was digesting it. He looked at us and said: "Hm, well, I find you are not such hasty folk as I thought. You said much less than you might, and no more than you should. Hm, this is a bundle of news and no mistake! Well, now Treebeard must get busy again."'


In a Reading Room discussion of "Treebeard" some time back, FarFromHome noted that several characters use "no mistake", but no one here (at least not since the new forums launched in 2007) seems to have pointed out this particular repetition before.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jul 10, 3:00pm

Post #2 of 5 (328 views)
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I love it :D [In reply to] Can't Post

I love how Treebeard.... who likes to get his info slow and steady... refers to it at "a bundle of news". Like a bundle of sticks gathered (and p'raps tied) together. I also love how Butterbur, Maggot and Sam (several times) use "no mistake" as part of their slang or speech pattern as Treebeard does. Any historic overlap of languages there? I mean, the 3 are from the same region near the Old Forest. Who knows?


The use of [and] no mistake as a slang/speech pattern:

1. Chapter 4: A Shortcut to Mushrooms [Maggot]
"He backed the waggon into the lane and turned it. 'Well, good night to you all,' he [Maggot] said. 'It's been a queer day, and no mistake.'"

2. Chapter 10: Strider [Butterbur]
"'Well, you do want looking after and no mistake: your party might be on a holiday!' said Butterbur. 'I must go and bar the doors quick, but I'll see your friend is let in when he comes.'"

3. Chapter 8: Fog On the Barrow-Down [Sam]
"'I am sorry to take leave of Master Bombadil,' said Sam. 'He's a caution and no mistake. I reckon we may go a good deal further and see naught better, nor queerer.'"

4. Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark [Sam]
"'What did I tell you, Mr. Pippin?' said Sam, sheathing his sword. 'Wolves won't get him. That was an eye-opener and no mistake! Nearly singed the hair off my head!'"

5. BOOK IV : Chapter 1:The Taming of Sméagol [Sam]
"'Well, master, we're in a fix and no mistake,' said Sam Gamgee. He stood despondently with hunched shoulders beside Frodo, and peered out with puckered eyes into the gloom."

6. Chapter 8: The Stairs of Cirith Ungol [Sam] Twist to use as slang/speech pattern?
[Frodo re: gollum] "… it will be some little private trick of his own that he thinks is quite secret.'
'Well, I suppose you're right, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam. 'Not that it comforts me mightily. I don't make no mistake: I don't doubt he'd hand me over to Orcs as gladly as kiss his hand.'


Treebeard's use of "[and] no mistake" with "A bundle of news"

7. Chapter 4: Many Partings
"'Hm, hoom!' said Treebeard when at last their story had wound and wandered down to the battle of the Orcs and the Riders of Rohan. 'Well, well! That is a bundle of news and no mistake.'"

8. Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam
"'Hm, well, I find you are not such hasty folk as I thought. You said much less than you might, and no more than you should. Hm, this is a bundle of news and no mistake! Well, now Treebeard must get busy again.'"


It doesn't show up in "The Hobbit" at all... that I could find ;)




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“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength." – Theodore Roosevelt

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(This post was edited by grammaboodawg on Jul 10, 3:12pm)


squire
Half-elven


Jul 10, 6:03pm

Post #3 of 5 (321 views)
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Make no mistake about it [In reply to] Can't Post

Gramma's accounting for the usage "and no mistake", conveying a more rustic speech pattern (Sam, Farmer Maggot, Butterbur) must accord with Tolkien's own experience of how country folk spoke in the semi-rural England of his childhood.

Looking up Partridge's 'Dictionary of Catch Phrases' on Google Books, I found a listing for it. The general description says, "dating from c. 1810 and meaning 'undoubtedly' ... very general until c. 1920 but not yet obsolete (as of 1976). Adopted in the US: M records it in 1891."

It's interesting that Treebeard is lumped among the country bumpkins (if I may say so) in at least some of his expressions!

As for 'bundle of news', I haven't had as much success finding its origins and usage patterns, but what little searching I've done indicates that it typically refers to a a tied-up bundle of newspapers, or of news dispatches like letters, etc. It gets mention in correspondence when one finally gets a series of letters or newspapers from distant parts, all tied up or gathered together, which must be read through all at once to catch up on weeks or months of events.

Again, it connotes country life, when people were far from the metropolis and news traveled slowly - but it also connotes a literate society which gets its news in written form. Treebeard of course uses the phrase to describe two information-packed oral debriefings that he gets from the hobbits and Gandalf respectively. But the phrase itself seems wrong for him in its origins: surely the news has never come to Fangorn Forest as a packet of dispatches, letters, and/or journals!

One can only forgive Tolkien for working with what he had - English speech in all its varieties of class and setting, if modern enough, is actually heavily influenced by modern developments such as industrialism, technology, mass literacy, and a sophisticated market economy, that reaches even to the farmers and such far from the actual cities. Middle-earth has none of these influences, but we encounter them repeatedly in careless appropriations by Tolkien when he is just trying for the right tone or variation.

As for the repetition by Treebeard of the same extended phrase, newly discovered by NEB, I do wonder if Tolkien was aware of the re-use - so making it a 'tic' of Treebeard's - or whether it was an unconscious slip. The fact that both speeches are about the Ent's learning more about the War of the Ring suggests that the re-use is conscious, so the second time (at Isengard) refers back to the first time (at the edge of Fangorn). That it's a 'tic', i.e. that Treebeard often uses the phrase, seems unlikely, as the point of the story is that the he and the other Ents have been cut off from intercourse with the rest of the world for some time. How often has he had occasion to muse about a vast amount of new information from outside, written or spoken?

But wait - perhaps? Perhaps this was Treebeard's go-to expression for "News from Bree", as a similar phrase is described elsewhere in the book! Only it would be "News from Orthanc", which is where Treebeard had been accustomed to keeping up when he and Saruman were on better terms. One can imagine him standing by Orthanc, and booming "Well! That is a bundle of news and no mistake!" for the fifteenth time, and Saruman thinking "shut up, shut up, stop saying that, you walking pile of cordwood!"



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grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jul 11, 12:51pm

Post #4 of 5 (242 views)
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That was fun! :D [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for this great bundle of news! :D I was smiling from ear-to-ear reading through your investigation!


Quote
Perhaps this was Treebeard's go-to expression for "News from Bree", as a similar phrase is described elsewhere in the book! Only it would be "News from Orthanc", which is where Treebeard had been accustomed to keeping up when he and Saruman were on better terms.


I was thinking about Saruman's influence on Treebeard, too. I'll bet that was part of Treebeard's anger when he realized what Saruman was up to. There was a trust and a sharing (as neighbours will do) that was betrayed. No one likes to be manipulated and made to be a fool.


Quote
I used to talk to him. There was a time when he was always walking about my woods. He was polite in those days, always asking my leave (at least when he met me); and always eager to listen. I told him many things that he would never have found out by himself; but he never repaid me in like kind. I cannot remember that he ever told me anything. And he got more and more like that; his face, as I remember it--I have not seen it for many a day--became like windows in a stone wall: windows with shutters inside.


Considering the intensity of the news he got from the hobbits and Gandalf, Treebeard really did process the info and respond at incredible speed! And I love Treebeard's connection to this use of "no mistake" with the children of the kindly West :)

Thanks again. I'll think of this in my reads and enjoy them all the more :D




sample

We have been there and back again.



“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength." – Theodore Roosevelt

TIME Google Calendar


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 12, 1:10am

Post #5 of 5 (222 views)
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And when not on better terms [In reply to] Can't Post

Treebeard dished it back to Saruman. "Weary of Orthanc? Very weary at last; but not so weary of his tower as he was weary of my voice. Hoom! I gave him some long tales, or at least what might be thought long in your speech.’"

But sadly I doubt we'd ever see Saruman turning to Wormtongue and saying, "That's a bundle of news and no mistake!". He may have thought it...

(Calling the Ent a "walking pile of cordwood", however: that definitely suits someone who considers trees as best used for burning!)


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"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

 
 

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