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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Who were the Children of Húrin?
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Oct 26 2013, 10:27pm

Post #26 of 32 (208 views)
For me the title refers to all three children. [In reply to] Can't Post

I would argue that Turin's relationship with Lalaith was actually more formative than his relationship with Nienor although the latter was the more dramatic.
Turin actually spent time with Lalaith and he appreciated qualities in her that he did not have, whereas he and Nienor never met until they were both adults and when they did finally meet, didn't interact as "siblings" until it was revealed to them who they really were.


Oct 28 2013, 12:10pm

Post #27 of 32 (196 views)
Prepositions have purpose [In reply to] Can't Post

"I go to store. I go from store." You need them to convey meaning. Articles are waste of space. Not extravagant to drive Humvee; how else do I get around? I I like plastic bags too.


Oct 28 2013, 5:41pm

Post #28 of 32 (185 views)
Articles convey definiteness or indefiniteness [In reply to] Can't Post

That may not be the most important thing about a sentence compared to the fundamentals of nouns, predicates, and modifiers, and we might think that we can use context or other cues to figure out what someone is saying who refuses to use articles. But the reason they exist is they make meaning clearer with a minimum of guessing or additional verbiage.

"Give me a book."

is really not the same thing as

"Give me the book."

and either is more clear than

"Give me book."

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'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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


Oct 28 2013, 6:11pm

Post #29 of 32 (185 views)
Actually.... [In reply to] Can't Post

... "Give me book" conveys quite a bit of information.Wink

Three meals for the Elven-kings high on the sky flet,
Three for the Dwarf-lords meat ripe off the bone,
Three for Mortal Men doomed to diet,
Seven for the Halflings of Hobbiton,
In the Land of the Shire where the taters fry.

Seven meals to rule them all,
Seven meals to find them,
Seven meals to bring them all
And at the Party bind them
In the Land of the Shire where the taters fry.


Oct 28 2013, 6:20pm

Post #30 of 32 (201 views)
Yes, and the whole thing is partly to be humorous [In reply to] Can't Post

and partly to point out that there are other languages where people communicate quite effectively without articles. When they learn English as a second language, they wonder why we bother with them since they clutter up a sentence.


Oct 29 2013, 3:52pm

Post #31 of 32 (169 views)
Articles and pronouns are crucial... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in a language like English that has no other word markers to help you understand what's going on in the sentence. But other languages have other solutions. Latin had no articles, for example, and pronouns were often omitted too. But Latin had a highly evolved set of word endings that provided all the necessary information for understanding. As Latin morphed into modern European languages, like French or Italian, all those complex word endings gradually disappeared and in their place articles evolved to help restore lost grammatical cues. The Latin word 'ille' ('this one') was pressed into service to make a definite article ('il' in Italian, 'le' in French - don't know why they each picked different halves of the Latin word Tongue). For an indefinite article, they just used the word for 'one' (you get that in German too, and English 'a', 'an' is derived from the Old English word for 'one').

In general I'd say that articles are mostly necessary in languages that have lost their word endings (like English), and that speakers of languages that don't use articles don't suffer any loss of meaning - they have other ways of getting their ideas across. If 'give me book' isn't specific enough in a given situation, they can just say "give me that book", or "give me any one book" or something like that. The difference is that they aren't obliged by their language to specify that distinction if it doesn't matter. But their language may oblige them to make other distinctions - such as the one between two or more than two mentioned in MerlinEngine's original question. All languages have their quirks in terms of what's "built in" and what's optional - it's certainly one of the challenges of translation.

Thinking of translation, I wonder whether Tolkien might have chosen the English title 'The Lay of the Children of Húrin' because it's a literal translation of the much more beautiful-sounding 'Narn I Hîn Húrin', with its poetic assonances. Did he think up the Elvish title first, maybe? And did he perhaps even want the English to sound like a 'second best', translated title, "hard to render in our common speech", as Aragorn says of the tale of Tinúviel?

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings


Oct 29 2013, 4:09pm

Post #32 of 32 (214 views)
The main point of language is to communicate. [In reply to] Can't Post

So the more nuances the better.

However, if instead you're looking for maximum efficiency of language, the best example of such is "The Principles of Newspeak" by George Orwell.

That hobbit has a pleasant face,
His private life is a disgrace.
I really could not tell to you,
The awful things that hobbits do.

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