Thread: Westron+Khuzdul Names
mmmm I could be wrong, however I think all characters names, at least those we are familiar with are indeed in Westron. Those who used Westron as there Mother tongue still called other races by there actual names, sometimes with small changes.
Example Legolas is called Legolas by Gimli, Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn even though his name is Sindarin. Would not Gimli be called Gimli by his Father Gloin when speaking Khuzdul.
Brego wrote: '(...) Would not Gimli be called Gimli by his Father Gloin when speaking Khuzdul.'
No, as Gimli is an Old Norse name, and thus a 'modern' translation. Gimli's actual mannish name, which was in a northern language, is unknown to the reader, like other Dwarf-names.
Madame Tortilla wrote: '(...) I would ask if you could tell me the names of the dwarves in the Company of Thorin Oakenshield in both Westron and Khuzdul, plus Gandalf and Bilbo's name.'
We don't know Gandalf's name in Westron, but Tharkûn seems to be an actual Dwarvish name for him.
With respect to 'Bilba Labingi' I would just caution that while Bilba is Bilbo's real Westron name, 'Labingi' comes from a draft text and wasn't used for the final, published account appearing in The Return of the King.
We know Tolkien felt a bit rushed with the Appendices, but it's hard to say if something from the drafts was left out for reasons other than being simply rejected.
If you mean just in The Hobbit, many names are modern translations, yes; although the names Elrond and Galion are not, for two examples anyway.
LotR, RotK, Appendix F, I, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age",
I, Of Other Races, Dwarves:
"...in secret ... they used their own strange tongue ... they tended it and guarded it as a treasure of the past. Few of other race have succeeded in learning it. ... it appears only in such place-names as Gimli revealed to his companions; and in the battle cry which he uttered...
...Gimli's own name, however, and the names of all his kin, are of Northern (Mannish) origin. Their own secret and 'inner' names, their true names, the Dwarves have never revealed to an one of alien race. Not even on their tombs to they inscribe them."
II, "On Translation":
In presenting the matter ... as a history for people of today to read, the whole of the linguistic setting has been translated as far as possible into terms of our own times. Only the languages alien to the Common Speech have been left in their original form; but these appear mainly in the names of persons and places.
The Common Speech, as the language of the Hobbits and theair narratives, has inevitably been turned into modern English.
In other words, using the Appendix F, it seems that
A) we'll never know the Khuzdul names of Gimli and friends;
B) Westron is NOT English
Brego wrote: ' (...)Therefore the names we know and read are indeed Westron. As you say Tolkien never states that Westron isnt English, so why think anything else'.
But I didn't say this Brego, and Westron is not English as Elanorraine has already posted. This is not only clear from the Appendices for example, but makes sense from a historical perspective.
As Elanorraine also correctly stated, we do not know the actual Dwarvish names of Thorin's company for example, nor Gimli's Dwarvish name. Some names in The Silmarillion might be actual Dwarvish in form [if not a 'secret' name perhaps], like Azaghâl for instance.
On a pedantic note, if we are going to include The Lord of the Rings and consider all the Hobbit names that appear even in the appendices, in this context anyway, some of them are not translations, while some are. It's a bit confusing admittedly, but Tolkien 'as translator' has not substituted translations for all of these names.
Samwise is a modern translation ['modern' from the perspective of the Hobbits anyway] for what the Hobbits really called him: Banazîr, or Ban for short. We also know his Elvish name: Perhael.
And as Glorfindel already noted, generally speaking the Elvish names are the actual names of the characters: Olórin, Mithrandir were actual names, for two examples, but not 'Gandalf' [another Old Norse name].
By the way there are some examples where Tolkien himself arguably 'tripped' with respect to his own translation conceit; or possibly just couldn't help himself [having his fun] in any case.
But we won't look at those... too closely
Not so Brego, as we do have some actual examples of Westron, including names of characters, one of which I just posted for Samwise. Samwise is a modernization of ancient English samwís [and even ancient English is still a 'modern' translation from the perspective of the Hobbits].
In Westron Sam was called Banazîr, or Ban for short. And...
'Meriadoc was chosen to fit the fact that this character's shortened name, Kali, meant in the Westron 'jolly, gay', though it was actually an abbreviation of the now unmeaning Buckland name Kalimac.'
JRRT, Appendix F
Westron kali 'jolly, gay' substituted by the translator [Tolkien] with 'Merry'.
Or Westron Hlothran translated by 'Cotton' for a different example. And Madame Tortilla began with Bilba. This one wasn't translated, but we are basically told the translator altered the name to Bilbo.
Plus we don't necessarily need the Westron version: 'Rose' is obviously English for example, and: 'To their maid-children Hobbits commonly gave the names of flowers or jewels'
In the draft version Tolkien goes into more detail:
'Where the flower is certainly to be identified I have naturally translated the name into English (or botanical latin) ( ...) In cases of doubt I have done the best I could. I have translated Hamanullas by Lobelia, because although I do not know precisely what flower is intended hamanullas appears to have been usually small and blue and cultivated in gardens, and the word seems to have been a gardener's rather than a popular name.'
The discussion is about names Brego, yes, but in the context of Tolkien's translation conceit. If I met someone from another culture named Kali and I knew the name meant the equivalent of English 'merry', I would still call this person Kali not Merry. That said however...
... the point has always been that Tolkien, as the fictive translator of The Lord of the Rings, actually did translate Westron Kali with 'Merry' in his book [an illustration of the point, of course].
Your first two examples are Elvish in any case [although Elessar means 'Elfstone' not 'High Hope' as you suggest here]. But with respect to your third example: we do call a kuduk [a dialectal Westron name] a 'Hobbit', with hobbit being an invented English word, again invented by Tolkien as the fictive translator.
Westron kuduk English 'Hobbit'.
I think its safe to say that at least names in Westron would remain the same in Modern English
Are you suggesting that 'Rose' is both Westron and English for example?
Sorry, I don't see your point here with respect to the context of the books, as Tolkien has altered or translated plenty of Westron names, and other types of names as well.
To add: Westron is a very very ancient tongue from our perspective. Never mind preceding ancient English, Latin or Greek, Tolkien language expert Christopher Gilson looks at the question of whether Westron can be thought of as the ancestor of Proto-Indo-European!
See Vinyar Tengwar 33 for Christopher Gilson's look at the possible fictive role of Elvish influenced Westron in the history of Primary World languages, in his essay: 'Elvish and Mannish I. The Role of Westron'.
Which is probably not for folks easily bored by 'linguistic chat' or languages, however.
Brego your argument does not stand as far as Tolkien's translation conceit is concerned.
Not only have I given examples of actual Westron names and their translations, with the Westron name Kali being obviously different from the translation 'Merry' for example, but Tolkien explains...
'Translation of this kind [translating the language of the Hobbits and their narratives] is, of course, usual because inevitable in any narrative dealing with the past. It seldom proceeds any further. But I have gone beyond it. I have also translated all Westron names according to their senses. When English names or titles appear in this book it is an indication that names in the Common Speech were current at this time, beside, or instead of, those in alien (usually Elvish) languages.'
JRRT, Appendix F
It is a fact that Tolkien translated Westron Names (which includes various Hobbit names), as well as names in the language of the Rohirrim (for instance Old English Theoden, Eowyn are not the imagined real names of these characters), as well as names in Northern Mannish languages (Old Norse Thorin, Gimli, for two examples).
See Appendix F 'II On Translation'.
By the way, for some confusion about naming in the Primary World, note the history of the Native Americans for instance [very generally speaking], both before and after the Europeans arrived.
An interesting thing about Westron is the Elvish influence, or arguable Elvish influence anyway. An example with respect to names might hail from the drafts to Appendix F, where Westron Raspûta ‘Hornblower’ appears to contain ras- ‘horn'...
... noting Sindarin -ras in Caradhras ‘Redhorn’.
This is the sort of stuff that, for me at least, puts Tolkien on such an amazing level as a Secondary World builder.
Sorry for not being able to reply sooner. You have all been wonderful and helpful, though I'm still confused about a few things.
First, I believe a found a reference on tolkien gateway regarding Gandalf's possible Westron name, which would be "Incánus". It is also stated in said wiki, that Tolkien changed in mind several times about its meaning. I'll provide the link here.
Second and final piece of my confused logic: so, the names Thorin, Bofur, Fili, Kili, etc are translated to modern English or are they in the original Westron?
Thank you for all the help so far!
Madame Tortilla, according to Tolkien's Words, Phrases and Passages [WPP] Incánus is Quenya, meaning 'mind mastership'. Also, in 1967 Tolkien imagined Incánus as a Quenya name devised for 'Gandalf' well before the War of the Ring, although the name later became obsolete and was remembered only by the learned.
In the link you gave, it currently says that one of Tolkien's ideas [from Unfinished Tales] with respect to the name Incánus was:
A possible Westron invention meaning Greymantle
Hmm. I can see why one might interpret things this way, but in my opinion [so far, as I'm still thinking about it] this section from The Istari rather explains that there was a 'popular' Westron name meaning 'Greymantle', but having been devised long before it was now archaic, and '... maybe represented by the Greyhame used by Eomer in Rohan.'
I do not think this necessarily refers to a translation of Incánus however, which name is treated in the next paragraph, although again I can see how one might interpret things differently here. I think maybe I'll bring it up at other forums too, and see how others interpret this...
... but in any case the text moves on and Tolkien imagines the possibility of Incánus being Quenya and gives an Elvish etymology. Unless there is something later than 1967 that I'm currently unaware of, or have forgotten maybe, this seems to be his latest idea about the name.
Basically the Gateway writer seems to think Tolkien was changing his mind by moving from Westron to Quenya, whereas I rather think Tolkien was digressing about Greyhame before he 'again' [noting what he had written earlier in WPP] suggested a Quenya explanation.
Second and final piece of my confused logic: so, the names Thorin, Bofur, Fili, Kili, etc are translated to modern English or are they in the original Westron?
These are Old Norse and not original names, and are translations of names in a Northern Mannish tongue. Here is part of the scenario, in general:
Westron -- translated with English [again generally speaking]. And...
'Having gone so far in my attempt to modernize and make familiar the language and names of Hobbits, I found myself involved in a further process. The Mannish languages that were related to the Westron should, it seemed to me, be turned into forms related to English.'
JRRT, Appendix F
Thus the language of the Rohirrim, and names, are translated with Old English. And [also remembering Elanorraine's citation above]...
'The still more northerly language of Dale is in this book seen only in the names of the Dwarves that came from that region and so used the language of the Men there, taking their 'outer' names in that tongue.' [Appendix F] 'The 'outer' or Mannish names of the Dwarves have been given Northern forms, but the letter values are those described. [Appendix E].
'Thorin, Bofur, Fili, Kili' are Old Norse, and thus translations. They had names in a Mannish language, which probably meant something similar to what the O. N. names mean, but we don't know what these were in actual form and sound.
'Gandalf' is also Old Norse, but in my opinion Tolkien wanted Gandalf to be considered a translation of a Westron name, and did not want readers to pronounce the name 'Gandalv', which they might if the reader followed his statement here from Appendix E: 'but the letter values are those described'
Tolkien writes in Unfinished Tales:
'Since the name is attributed to 'the North' in general, Gandalf must be supposed to represent a Westron name, but one made up of elements not derived from Elvish tongues.'
For The Hobbit JRRT had lifted names from the Voluspá, one of the poems of the collection of Norse poetry known as the Elder Edda, and he later tried to explain them within his translation conceit.
Perhaps the emphasis there is the North 'in general' [and Gandalf is not a Dwarf of course, in any case], although this name can be explained well enough within the conceit I think.
Brego wrote: I guess all the rest of JTTRs books are English translations of Westron too and the names if translated into modern English would be entirely different. What a bore that would be. By the way, I guess that the ancient hero Beowulf should be called from now something else. Galin over to you.
Brego, you essentially continued to post that your interpretation makes sense in general while making no comments about plenty of examples from the books about Middle-earth that contradict your argument.
Why bring up Beowulf? For Old English we can look at names of the Rohirrim in The Lord of the Rings: there was no one named 'Eowyn' in Middle-earth for instance, although one might expect that her real name means something similar to what this Old English name means.
And for a Primary World example: the Native American called 'Red Cloud' by English speakers was not named 'Red Cloud' in his native tongue of course. I'm sure you can think of Real World examples that you think support your argument [that names are names and so on], but...
... 'Hornblower' is obviously English for instance, and is a translation of Westron Raspûta.
You didn't comment on this example, nor about certain other Westron names and their translations.
Maybe you can comment on some of the examples or citations from Appendix F.
I think we can bring in Primary World examples here, but they won't necessarily illustrate what Tolkien did in any case [not that you said otherwise Glorfindel].
Brego's argument included Elvish names in effort to prove or suggest that, in general, the Westron names were also not translated, but the Elvish examples, as well as any Primary World examples, don't necessarily mean much, given Appendix F.
My Native American example doesn't prove anything about Tolkien's fiction either, it's just an example where we do, often enough, see English translations of names from different Native American languages, in the Real World.
Anyway, the citations and names from Appendix F are the compelling things here.
I did a bit of digging to try and provide some true names of the Fellowship and the reasons behind certain translations.
Sources include Appendix F [and its drafts], Unfinished Tales, Letters of JRR Tolkien, a note on ’Gimli’ from Tolkien language expert Carl Hostetter, and a conversation I had with Roman Rausch (author of Sindanórie on the web) about the name Boromir. Anyway, here goes, for anyone interested.
Mithrandir [Sindarin] ‘Grey Wanderer’. Mithrandir’s actual Westron name is unknown, but it means something like ‘Elvish wight with a magic staff’ in consideration of Old Norse Gandalf. It is also noted that the actual Westron name is one ‘… made up of elements not derived from Elvish tongues’
Aragorn [Sindarin, and see note below] Although Tolkien interpreted this name at various times I’m not sure he ever landed on something he liked for certain. Some sites are posting a meaning ‘Revered King’ but I think it’s a bit more complicated than this.*
Boromir [Elvish, a mixed form]. Tolkien perhaps characterized this [in the Appendices] as a mixed name as in Sindarin -m- between vowels usually became -v-. This might mean that -mir is to be considered the High-elven word for ‘jewel’ [conversation with R.R.]
Legolas [Elvish, a Silvan dialectal form] ‘Greenleaves’. The Grey-elven form is Laegolas.
We do not know Gimli’s outer Mannish name nor his Dwarvish name.
According to Carl Hostetter Gimli is Old Norse for the site of the hall in which the righteous will dwell after the final conflagration, with a possible meaning 'Fire-lee'. In letter 297 Tolkien notes that: ‘Actually the poetic word gim in archaic O. N. verse is probably not related to gimm […] ‘gem’, though possibly it was later associated with it: its meaning seems to have been ‘fire’.
Gimli’s outer Mannish name probably means something similar.
Banazîr Galbasi Ban for short [Westron] Banazîr means ‘Half-wise’ as does the modernized form Samwise. Reduced form Galpsi ‘Gamgee’ [see Appendix F for a more detailed explanation of this surname]
Maura Labingi [Westron]. There was no word maur- in contemporary Westron, but in the archaic language of the Rohirrim it meant ‘wise, experienced’, thus ‘Frodo’ a Germanic name of similar sense. I note that Maura appears to match Bilba with respect to the masculine ending -a. Westron laban ‘bag’ Labingi ‘Baggins’.
Kalimac Brandagamba Kali for short [Westron] Kali, ‘jolly, gay’ translated by ‘Merry’ with full name translated with ‘Meriadoc Brandybuck,’ although Tolkien notes that ‘Marchbuck’ would have been nearer.
Kalimac, though its meaning is 'now' unknown, was seemingly also 'translated' with Meriadoc in consideration of the ‘Celtic feel’ noted in Appendix F: 'The folk of the Marish and their offshoot across the Brandywine were in many ways peculiar (...) it was from the former language of the southern stoors that they inherited many of their odd names (...) These I have usually left unaltered (...) They had a style that we should perhaps feel vaguely to be 'Celtic'.
Razanur Tûk Razar for short [Westron] raza ‘stranger’ razan ‘foreign'. But also the word razar referred to a small red apple, and Razar ‘Pippin’ was associated with the apple-word but was actually short for Razanur. ‘Took’ is an Anglicization.
*Aragorn: in a note associated with the Appendices Tolkien appears to explain this name as meaning 'Kingly Valour', but later in Words, Phrases And Passages he notes 'Ara(n)gorn = 'revered king' with the second element connected to a base NGOR 'dread' used in sense of reverence, majesty.
But yet in another note (same source) Tolkien asks himself: 'What is gorn in Aragorn, Celegorn. kurna- ... Aragorn is [?simply modeled (on)? ending] of Arathorn, Celegorn etc. ... for [?pure] Argorn.'
And yet again in a very late source, a letter dated 1972 (letter 347): '5. Aragorn etc. This cannot contain a 'tree' word (see note).* 'Tree-King' would have no special fitness for him, and it was already used of an ancestor. The names in the line of Arthedain are peculiar in several ways; and several, though S. in form, are not readily interpretable. But it would need more historical records and linguistic records of S. than exist (sc. than I have found time or need to invent!) to explain them.'
Tolkien goes on to generally explain ara- as probably derived from cases where aran 'king' lost its n phonetically (as Arathorn), ara- then being used in other cases; but in the end, and perhaps notably, he does not specifically explain Aragorn's full name here.
**Labingi, Razanur, and Maura all hail from the drafts for Appendix F, rather than its final form as published. As already noted, it’s hard to say if Tolkien merely contracted this material for the final version, or if some of it was ‘rejected’ for other reasons.
The general idea that Tolkien translated Westron names in not an opinion, although hopefully above, with respect to certain details related to the translation conceit, I have made it clear enough when I am adding my opinion [or Carl's or Roman's] about a given name specifically.
My thanks to Carl and Roman!
Thank you everyone, you have been most helpful. Galin, I'm tempted to give you a virtual hug.
One more question regarding Gandalf: if he were to introduce himself to a wanderer, would Gandalf give his Westron or Sindarin name?
i guess the fact that everyone in the books call themselves by their native names means nothing.....
Way to confusion Galin....
Brego, it's a fact that Tolkien translated some Westron names, as well as other kinds of names. Whatever you think of the translation conceit explained in Appendix F, it's Tolkien's idea not mine.
So with respect to your 'Way to confusion Galin'... well, I don't know why you write this.
I stand by all of my comments previously here regarding names.
Brego wrote: I wrote it because you over think things sometimes. And seem to love revelling in it.
So you wrote 'way to confusion Galin' because you think I'm over-thinking things. Do you think I'm wrong about something, and if so what? And if I'm not wrong, how exactly am I confusing things?
Brego wrote: I stand by all of my comments previously here regarding names.
Yet your initial idea (using an easy example to illustrate) is that Merry is Merry's real Westron name, which is demonstrably wrong according to Appendix F...
... and if you stand by points that you made that pertain to examples outside of Tolkien's work, these don't necessarily illustrate what Tolkien did in the books in any case.
Do you still think Merry is this character's real Westron name Brego?
Even a simple yes or no will do, if you like.
No Galin its Meriadoc......
Brego wrote: No Galin its Meriadoc......
That's incorrect Brego, as it's Kalimac rather, as Tolkien himself published in the Appendices.
'Meriadoc was chosen to fit the fact that this character's shortened name kali, meant in the Westron 'jolly, gay', though it was actually an abbreviation of the now unmeaning name Kalimac.'
JRRT, Appendix F
And if you think Meriadoc is this character's real Westron name, I wonder what you think Kalimac is supposed to be, or Banazîr and Razanur.
Or on the flip side of this coin, what about names like Rose: is this her true Westron name as spoken in Tolkien's legendary past, a past imagined to exist before English even existed as a language?
This is a well accepted aspect of The Lord of the Rings.
'(...) Merry's real name, in genuine Hobbitish, was Kalimac, which was usually abbreviated to Kali, which meant 'jolly, gay' in genuine Westron.'
Robert Foster's Complete Guide to Middle-Earth
What's odd here is that Tolkien notes that substituting Kalimac with 'Meriadoc' is an exception, meaning other names in the Buckland family tree are intended to be actual names.
Saradoc is related to Merimac for example [Appendix C]. Saradoc's son is named Kalimac, and these three names are apparently the real names of these characters, as Tolkien notes they have been unaltered -- but again, it's Kalimac son of Saradoc not 'Meriadoc' son of Saradoc, as Tolkien notes this exception.
Just to let you know, I haven't forgotten about the Incanus matter. I found the interpretation you raised [from the Tolkien Gateway page] in the thread interesting, and have found the same interpretation since at another site, the Encyclopedia of Arda.
Today I posted the passage, and now that people don't have to get out Unfinished Tales to comment on it, maybe I'll get some more opinions and repeat them here.
I'm certainly wondering about the Incanus question now, in any case
Galin I go by what is published. Not some strange underworld in which you dwell.
Lighten up a little will you.
Brego wrote: Galin I go by what is published. Not some strange underworld in which you dwell. Lighten up a little will you.
Well since Tolkien published that Kalimac is this character's real name, it puzzles me why you post that Meriadoc is his real name.
Do you think Robert Foster dwells in a strange underworld too (although I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean exactly, in any event)? Or check the Westron list at Ardalambion for example, which contains the real names of the Hobbits.
Madame Tortilla's first post illustrates that she understands and accepts the notion that Tolkien has translated names (she posted Labingi for 'Baggins' in her very first post), she just wanted a bit of clarification on some details.
Appendix F 'On translation' is not some strange text that JRRT never published, but represents a fascinating aspect of Tolkien's work that I like very much.
I received a response regarding Incanus and the text in question. It's from the language forum moderator over at the Tolkien Fanatics Plaza in response to the passage from Unfinished Tales:
'I think you're right - I can't see any justification for taking 'Greymantle' as the meaning of Incánus, nor of taking it as a Westron name. It's interesting in that PE17, Tolkien's first instinct was to gloss the name as 'Latin' [meaning 'grey-haired'], which makes me wonder what he meant by it when he wrote that passage. He routinely appropriate historical languages for use in Middle-earth [at that point, under the guise of the 'translation theory'], so Incánus might not have properly been meant as a name of the Third Age at all, but a rendering of some other name of presumably similar meaning. And I'd assume that his original impulse was to have that be a translation of something Haradric (if I can use that word), as that seems both the most natural reading of Faramir's quote, and what Tolkien went with until he decided for some reason that Gandalf can't have spent enough time in Harad. (A poor decision, I think - it strains what he'd written, since he otherwise only sets one of the names aside as 'was', and seems rather a less interesting story than his earlier notes about trying to recruit people from northern Harad into the resistance.)'
He at least agrees with me that the text in question does not necessarily mean Incanus was considered an actual Westron name, despite what is noted (currently) at the Encyclopedia of Arda, and in the Tolkien Gateway article.
Not than anyone here disagreed with that much about this question, but I was hoping for this person's opinion particularly.
Incidentally Dwarf-names in the constructed Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin are a somewhat different kettle of fish -- or at least we are looking at a very early time here with respect to actual languages in use in Middle-earth, and various Dwarf-kingdoms.
Tolkien arguably had some explaining to do here, although after reading a bit on the web I see that some fans have already indulged in certain explanations.
What is Mim's name?
I would say nobody (yet) knows for sure, but it could be Mîm
In chapter 20 of the Silmarillion, we are given one Dwarvish name, Azaghâl, the name of the Dwarf-lord of Belegost. Perhaps it is a title or nickname rather than his true 'inner name'. (...) There is also the name Gamil Zirak, the name of a dwarf-smith, master of Telchar of Nogrod (...). Perhaps it is just another nickname, or his name may have leaked to non-dwarves by accident, to his great and lasting regret.
On the other hand, the Petty-Dwarves evidently did not attempt to hide their Khuzdul names. In chapter 21 of the Silmarillion, the Petty-Dwarf Mîm readily tells Túrin not only his own name, but also the names of his sons Khîm and Ibun. Perhaps such shocking indiscretion was one of the things the normal Dwarves hated the Petty-Dwarves for.
Ardalambion, on the web.
This person appears to think Mîm, Khîm and Ibun are actual Dwarvish names, but in any case I don't recall Tolkien writing that the Petty-Dwarves let their true Dwarvish names be known. We also have the names Azaghâl and Gamil Zirak to wonder about.
But that said I note the use of 'perhaps' more than once in this quoted passage. Others point to the character Mime of Wagner's Ring Cycle, or the name Mímir in the Poetic Edda for two examples, but why single out Mîm if it's supposed to be some sort of translation?
As I noted, with the Silmarillion Tolkien arguably had some explaining to do -- I mean, not that he 'needed' to explain these things necessarily, but I'm guessing he might have if given more time.
If he didn't explain things fully in some already written but yet to be published text, perhaps.