Robin wrote: ↑
Thu Jul 15, 2021 1:49 am
I found this rather interesting and it took me down a short rabbit hole.
We share same interests and like to explore the same rabbit worlds, I presume
I'm glad to read your researches.
Just two points that might complete them:
Robin wrote: ↑
Thu Jul 15, 2021 1:49 am
There's no mention of the word in The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
, although it does mention the Old English and its variants.
The "classical" Oxford English Dictionary
however knows and quotes the spelling "dwarrows", with two r
and one s
Oxford English Dictionary wrote:"dwarf, n. and a.
(dwɔːf) Pl. -fs; Forms: α. 1 duerg, dweorg, dweorh, 2 dwæruh, 4 dweruȝ, 4–5 dwerȝ(e, 5 dwergh, dwargh(e, duergh, dwerk, 5– 6 Sc. duerch(e, dorche, droich. β. 4 dweruf, 4–5 dwerf(e, dwerff(e, (dwrfe), 5–7 dwarfe, 6–7 dwarff(e, 7 dwearf, 5– dwarf. γ. 4 duerwe, durwe, dwarw, 5 dwerwh(e, dwerwe, dwerowe, duorow. δ. 5 dwery, duery, dueri. [Comm. Teut.: OE. dweorg, dweorh (:—dwerg), = OFris. dwirg, OLG. *dwerg (MDu. dwerch, Du. dwerg, MLG. dwerch, dwarch, LG. dwark, dwarf (Brem. Wbch.), dorf), OHG. twerg (MHG. twerc, Ger. zwerg), ON. dvergr, (Sw., Da. dverg):—OTeut. *dwergo-z:—Aryan type *dhwérgwhos, represented phonetically in Gr. by σέρϕος (:—*τϝέρϕος) ‘midge’. In English the word shows interesting phonetic processes: (1) the original guttural and vowel came down in Sc. duerch, duergh (whence dorch, and by metathesis droich). (2) In Eng. dweorg became regularly dwarf (eor—: ar as in bark; g—: f as in enough, draft). But (3) the pl. dweorgas became dwerwhes, dwerwes, dwerows, dwarrows; and (4) the inflected form dweorge- gave dwerȝhe, dweryhe, dwerye, dwery. From these, by ‘levelling’, arose corresponding forms of the nom. sing. Parallel forms appear in bargh, barf, barrow, burrow, berry, from OE. beorg (:—berg) hill, and burgh, borough, burrow, bury, Brough, (bʊrf, brʊf), from OE. burg town.]" (Oxford English Dictionary, "dwarf".)
Robin wrote: ↑
Thu Jul 15, 2021 1:49 am
However, I went to the provided reference for this claim, and while it does say that the "Old English plural dweorgas became Middle English dwarrows", it does not say that Tolkien himself made this claim.
Tolkien wrote being "afraid" the plural "dwarves" "is just a piece of private bad grammar, rather shocking in a philologist" and that "[t]he real 'historical' plural of dwarf
[...] is dwarrows
, anyway" in the following letters:
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:"No reviewer (that I have seen), although all have carefully used the correct dwarfs themselves, has commented on the fact (which I only became conscious of through reviews) that I use throughout the 'incorrect' plural dwarves. I am afraid it is just a piece of private bad grammar, rather shocking in a philologist; but I shall have to go on with it. Perhaps my dwarf – since he and the Gnome are only translations into approximate equivalents of creatures with different names and rather different functions in their own world – may be allowed a peculiar plural. The real 'historical' plural of dwarf (like teeth of tooth) is dwarrows, anyway: rather a nice word, but a bit too archaic. Still I rather wish I had used the word dwarrow." (The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter # 17 To Stanley Unwin, Chairman of Allen and Unwin)
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:“And why dwarves? Grammar prescribes dwarfs; philology suggests that dwarrows would be the historical form. The real answer is that I knew no better. But dwarves goes well with elves; and, in any case, elf, gnome, goblin, dwarf are only approximate translations of the Old Elvish names for beings of not quite the same kinds and functions.
These dwarves are not quite the dwarfs of better known lore. They have been given Scandinavian names, it is true; but that is an editorial concession. Too many names in the tongues proper to the period might have been alarming. Dwarvish was both complicated and cacophonous. Even early elvish philologists avoided it, and the dwarves were obliged to use other languages, except for entirely private conversations. The language of hobbits was remarkably like English, as one would expect: they only lived on the borders of The Wild, and were mostly unaware of it. Their family names remain for the most part as well known and justly respected in this island as they were in Hobbiton and Bywater.” (The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter # 25 To the editor of the Observer)
And in this appendix of The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:"It may be observed that in this book as in The Hobbit the form dwarves is used, although the dictionaries tell us that the plural of dwarf is dwarfs. It should be dwarrows (or dwerrows), if singular and plural had each gone its own way down the years, as have man and men, or goose and geese. But we no longer speak of a dwarf as often as we do of a man, or even of a goose, and memories have not been fresh enough among Men to keep hold of a special plural for a race now abandoned to folk-tales, where at least a shadow of truth is preserved, or at last to nonsense stories in which they have become mere figures of fun. But in the Third Age something of their old character and power is still glimpsed, if already a little dimmed; these are the descendents of the Naugrim of the Elder Days, in whose hearts still burns ancient fire of Aule the Smith, and the embers smolder of their long grudge against the Elves; and in whose hands still lives the skill in work of stone that none have surpassed.
It is to mark this that I have ventured to use the form dwarves, and remove them perhaps, from the sillier tales of these latter days. dwarrows would have been better; but I have used that form only in the name Dwarrowdelf, to represent the name of Moria in the Common Speech: Phurunargian. For that meant 'Dwarf-delving' and yet was already a word of antique form." (J.R.R. TOLKIEN, "Appendix F", Return of the King.)
Totsuzenheni Yukimi wrote: ↑
Thu Jul 15, 2021 7:52 am
Capitaneus Fractus wrote: ↑
Wed Jul 14, 2021 4:38 pm
The use of "dwarves", as a plural of dwarf, is "a piece of private bad grammar", to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, that is paradoxically more commonly used for the Middle Earth (in imitation to the plural of elf in elves).
From what i read, J.R.R. Tolkien was referring to his own use of the plural 'dwarves' and the adjective 'dwarvish' in The Hobbit, so there's nothing paradoxical about that plural and that adjective being used either in reference to, or in J.R.R. Tolkien's works.
When Tolkien (hence his δόξα, id est
his opinion) state that the plural "dwarves" "is just a piece of private bad grammar, rather shocking in a philologist" and that "dwarrows would have been better" because "philology suggests that dwarrows would be the historical form", then the use of "dwarves" for the Middle Earth appears to me to be, by definition, paradoxical: that is to say, aside (παρά) the said opinion (δόξα).
This paradox is, retrospectively, justified by Tolkien in this letter:
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:"I am under the difficulty of finding English names for mythological creatures with other names, since people would not 'take' astring of Elvish names, and I would rather they took my legendary creatures even with the false associations of the 'translation' than not at all. Even the dwarfs are not really Germanic 'dwarfs' (Zwerge, dweorgas, dvergar), and I call them 'dwarves' to mark that. They are not naturally evil, not necessarily hostile, and not a kind of maggot-folk bred in stone; but a variety of incarnate rational creature. The istari are translated 'wizards' because of the connexion of 'wizard' with wise and so with 'witting' and knowing. They are actually emissaries from the True West, and so mediately from God, sent precisely to strengthen the resistance of the 'good', when the Valar become aware that the shadow of Sauron is taking shape again." (The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter # 156, draft to Robert Murray, SJ.)