Dwarves as Jews

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eruvatar

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May 22, 2012, 1:58:41 PM5/22/12
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Did Professor equate the Dwarves in " The Hobbit " as being Jewish
like? All the elements seem to be in place. Exiled from their
homeland.Living in seperated communities. Great craftsmen. Is Erobor
supposed to represent Jerusalem? I know that Professor Tolkien despised
allegory but it seems that you can make the connection without much
difficulty. Anyone agree or disagree. This is not intended to be
insulting to those of the Jewish faith and that was not my intention.My
apologies if anyone is offended.

Eruvatar middleearthblog.blogspot.com

John W Kennedy

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May 22, 2012, 6:41:29 PM5/22/12
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No doubt the Dwarves are somewhat informed by the Jews -- the
connections you point out are fairly obvious to anyone in the West, and
that would include Tolkien, himself. But Tolkien carefully wrote his
legendarium to fit in neatly with traditional Christian myth, and there
can be no Jews when Abraham has not yet been born. (You might also
remember that he intentionally excluded Hebraic roots from names.)

--
John W Kennedy
Read the remains of Shakespeare's lost play, now annotated!
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Stan Brown

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May 22, 2012, 8:34:42 PM5/22/12
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On Tue, 22 May 2012 17:58:41 GMT, eruvatar wrote:
>
> Did Professor equate the Dwarves in " The Hobbit " as being Jewish
> like?

Yes, and he was explicit about it in /Letters/ number 176:

"I do think of the ?Dwarves? like Jews: at once native and alien in
their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an
accent due to their own private tongue. ...."

Let there be no misunderstanding: "Jew" wish him was not an insult.
He reacted with scorn to a German publisher's demand that he prove he
did not have any Jewish ancestors in /Letters/ number 29:

"I do not regard the (probable) absence of all Jewish blood as
necessarily honourable; and I have many Jewish friends, and should
regret giving any colour to the notion that I subscribed to the
wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

--
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http://OakRoadSystems.com
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pmhi...@myfairpoint.net

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May 23, 2012, 5:51:03 AM5/23/12
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On May 22, 6:41 pm, John W Kennedy <jwke...@attglobal.net> wrote:

[Tolkien] intentionally excluded Hebraic roots from names.)

Then you have quasi-Hebraic plurals as in Rohirrim.

PMH

Paul S. Person

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May 23, 2012, 12:03:13 PM5/23/12
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Since reading the early volumes of /HOME/, I have believed that JRRT
used the Jews as a model for the Dwarves as a shortcut.

That is, he wanted a people who were different and apart from the
others (indeed, who were created independently, albeit animated by
Eru) and so modeled them on a people who were (and, in varying
degrees, are today) different and apart from others.

Just as, needing a bunch of villain cannon fodder, he modeled the Orcs
on the Mongolian Hordes of European legend.

These associations were much clearer in the earlier writings; as he
reworked the legendarium, he developed and extended the characters and
descriptions of the Dwarves and the Orcs, making each their own people
and not a copy of some other people.
--
"Nature must be explained in
her own terms through
the experience of our senses."
Message has been deleted

Thomas Koenig

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May 26, 2012, 3:08:56 PM5/26/12
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Paul S Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> schrieb:

> Just as, needing a bunch of villain cannon fodder, he modeled the Orcs
> on the Mongolian Hordes of European legend.

The Mongols rode horses, Orcs usually don't (except ride Wargs). This
is an important difference.

John W Kennedy

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May 26, 2012, 7:10:10 PM5/26/12
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Why the Mongols and not the Huns? Why not the Visigoths or the
Ostrogoths, or the Vandals?

But, frankly, I don't see it as being any of them, however much sense
it might make a-priori. The orcs we actually see have far more in
common with simple street thugs -- the sort that even orgaized crime
despises, though employing them. And that is indeed consonant with
Tolkien's leading notion (but not uniquely his) that Evil has no
imagination. "And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did
not comprehend it."

Troels Forchhammer

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May 26, 2012, 7:20:02 PM5/26/12
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In message <news:qtQur.9619$br3....@newsfe10.iad>
"eruvatar" <m...@thatplace.com> spoke these staves:
>
> Did Professor equate the Dwarves in " The Hobbit " as being
> Jewish like?

No. Tolkien did /not/ in any way equate the Dwarves in /The Hobbit/
with Jews.

Nor is there any evidence that he did, in any way, shape or form,
think at all of any Jewish or other Aramaic people when he wrote
about the Dwarves in /The Hobbit/ -- these Dwarves draw mainly on
Tolkien's own Silmarillion mythology and on Old Norse mythology.

/After/ Tolkien had written /The Hobbit/, he made some comments
(quoted by Stan in another follow-up) that equated the specifically
/linguistic/ situation of the Dwarves to that of the Jews, and, as
noticed by Raven, he also used an Aramaic inspiration for the
language of the Dwarves (Khuzdul). The first occurences of this is
considerably earlier than the 1955 letter Stan quotes, but still
/after/ writing /The Hobbit/.

Tolkien also made another comparison to Jews -- to the Númenóreans:
The Númenóreans thus began a great new good, and as
monotheists; but like the Jews (only more so) with only one
physical centre of 'worship': the summit of the mountain
Meneltarma
/Letters/ no. 156 to Robert Murray, November 1954

I am sorry if I am coming down very strongly on this, but I have
recently seen someone suggest that Tolkien was anti-Semitic because
of his description of the Dwarves, and I think that suggestion is
utter nonsense.[#] There is, in my opinion, nothing to suggest that
Tolkien's comparison is meant as anything but a linguistic and
philological comparison:
I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native and
alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the
country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue
/Letters/ no. 176 to Naomi Mitchison, December 1955

The statement of 'at once native and alien in their habitations'
should also, in my opinion, be understood primarily lingustically --
it leads up to the next part about their speech marking them as
native speakers (in terms of vocabulary, grammar and idiom) and yet
alien speakers (in terms of accent).

Finally Tolkien also made a comparison between Dwarves and Jews in
1971 in an interview with Denys Geroult for BBC:
The dwarves of course are quite obviously, couldn't you say
that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? All their
words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic.
But again Tolkien narrows the 'many ways' to the specifically
linguistic ways by his following comment (this, too, is in 1971 when
Tolkien's views of his stories was in many ways different from what
it had been when he wrote them) with his confirmation of the
specifically Semitic derivation of Khuzdul.

> All the elements seem to be in place.

Albeit with very different roots.

> Exiled from their homeland. Living in seperated communities.

I am not sure what you mean by referring to separated communities --
this also applies to Tolkien's Elves (even in Beleriand) and his Men,
and seems more a result of inhabiting a world that is made up mostly
of wilderness and filled with enemies. As far as /The Hobbit/ goes,
the apparent gathering of all Hobbits in the Shire appears to be the
exception rather than the norm.

The exilation came up as a necessity of the particular story of /The
Hobbit/, and as stated above, there is nothing to suggest that
Tolkien was in any way inspired by the Jewish people in any of this.
Later, as Tolkien was working with his legendarium after finishing
/The Hobbit/ and he 'discovered' the secret language of the Dwarves
he needed to explain the names of the Dwarves in /The Hobbit/ (which
are all, except for Balin, as you probably know, taken from the Old
Norse poem /Völuspá/, from the section 'dvergatal' -- the tally of
the Dwarves) which were clearly not in their inner language. It is, I
suppose, possible that these this accident with 'inner' and 'outer'
languages informed his choice of Aramaic as the inspiration for
Khuzdul.

> Great craftsmen.

This is a feature of the Dwarves that also marked the earliest
Dwarves in Tolkien's legendarium, although in the earlier tales (pre-
LotR) the Dwarves were in general allied with Morgoth in the wars,
and even when not, they were seen as conspicious and suspect. The
trait of being great craftsmen -- and particularly as smiths -- is
certainly derived from the Dwarves of Old Norse myth, who were also
consummate craftsmen, and who made the most famous of the items used
by the gods (the Aesir) such as Thor's hammer, Sif's hair, Odin's
spear, Odin's ring Draupnir, Aegir's ship and other that I can't
recall off the top of my head ;)

> Is Erobor supposed to represent Jerusalem?

No.

Though of course I realize that such a question in theory cannot be
answered with absolute certainty, I do nonetheless not hesitate to
reject this theory as being too unlikely to consider. Apart from the
obvious mention of Tolkien's dislike for allegory, I'd first of all
mention that the conscious parallel between the Dwarves and the Jews
(which I insist was meant purely as a linguistic parallel) was not in
existence when the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) was invented, and
secondly, that when Tolkien finally became aware of this parallel,
the 'lost homeland' of the Dwarves had shifted to Moria, which in
many ways fits even worse as an allegory for Jerusalem.



[#] I don't mind criticism of Tolkien for the problems that really
are in his books -- both of the literary kind and of the ethical kind
(I shall refrain from adding a list here), but I will argue
persistently against the accusation of anti-Semitism, as there is no
actual basis for this in Tolkien's writings -- it seems to me rather
a deliberate attempt to see offensiveness where there was none from
the author, neither consciously nor sub-consciously.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

Scientific reasoning works only with measurements: only
when we have a number and a unit. Thus, topics for which
we have no measurements, scientific investigation is not
useful. No math, no science. When we do have
measurements, scientific reasoning cannot be ignored.
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Troels Forchhammer

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May 27, 2012, 5:21:52 AM5/27/12
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In message <news:4fc162d1$0$14804$607e...@cv.net>
John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> spoke these staves:
>
> On 2012-05-26 19:08:56 +0000, Thomas Koenig said:
>>
>> Paul S Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> schrieb:
>>>
>>> Just as, needing a bunch of villain cannon fodder, he modeled
>>> the Orcs on the Mongolian Hordes of European legend.
>>
>> The Mongols rode horses, Orcs usually don't (except ride Wargs).
>> This is an important difference.
>
> Why the Mongols and not the Huns?

I presume because of Tolkien's own statement that
The Orcs are definitely stated to be corruptions of the
'human' form seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were)
squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths
and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of
the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.
/Letters/ no. 210 to Forrest J. Ackerman, June 1958

I think this comparison is made post-facto -- entirely in retrospect.
It is a result of a specific need to characterize the appearance of
the Orcs to the people behind the proposed film, and I very much
doubt that he at any point had, consciously or sub-consciously, set
out to use any Mongol type to inform the Orcs. In short, I don't
think there is any causal connection from these '(to Europeans) least
lovely Mongol-types' to the appearance of the Orcs.

However, Tolkien's statements /do/ relate them, and despite his
mention of 'degraded and repulsive' and his recognition of his own
ethno-centric aesthetics, I think it is not without hint of a degree
of an unfortunate ethnicism or chauvinism (at least as viewed by
contemporary ethics).

> Why not the Visigoths or the Ostrogoths, or the Vandals?

There's an interesting contribution by Miryam Librán-Moreno in Jason
Fisher's /Tolkien and the Study of His Sources/ in which she casts
the Rohirrim in the role of the Goths (at least in terms of their
relation to the history of Gondor / Byzantium). The peoples that
come from the East, in the history of Gondor the Wainriders and the
Easterlings, are compared to the peoples that came from the East to
Byzantium.

> But, frankly, I don't see it as being any of them, however much
> sense it might make a-priori.

I think it is important to understand that Tolkien didn't do the one-
to-one kind of relationships suggested by a simplistic 'Orcs =
Mongols' -- he may have compared the /appearance/ of Orcs to that of
Mongols, but that does /not/ mean that he would have extended that
comparison to any other aspect of his Orcs.

> The orcs we actually see have far more in common with simple
> street thugs -- the sort that even orgaized crime despises, though
> employing them.

Indeed. But of course there are other aspects of the Orcs that may
invite other parallels -- the demonic Orcs of the pre-LotR
Silmarillion (and of most of book III) are actually fairly suitable
as a kind of asterisk-reality for the Anglo-Saxon 'orc' encountered
in e.g. /Beowulf/. And of course the goblins in /The Hobbit/ have a
lot in common with George MacDonald's goblins in his Princess and
Curdie books.

Again, as most other aspects of Tolkien's sub-created world, the Orcs
come about as a mixture of elements, some original and some borrowed
from earlier sources, but in particular the Orcs as they evolved from
/The Lord of the Rings/ (where the crossing of the demonic breeds
from the earlier Silmarillion writings with the MacDonaldesque
goblins from /The Hobbit/ at times clashes[#] and at all times
demands a rethinking of the creatures) are a multi-faceted mix of
elements from many sources including Tolkien's own fantasy.

> And that is indeed consonant with Tolkien's leading notion (but not
> uniquely his) that Evil has no imagination. "And the light shineth
> in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

Which of course doesn't fit very well with the inventiveness
attributed to them in /The Hobbit/ . . . ;-)

Overall I think this inability to understand the light is more
clearly exemplified in Tolkien by the higher representatives of Evil
-- from Melkor the Morgoth through Sauron to the dragons, balrogs and
ringwraiths -- than it is in the Orcs (though of course the
imagination displayed by, and attributed to, the goblins in /The
Hobbit/ isn't of the sort that enables them to understand good).


[#] The game of counting Orc-heads that Gimli and Legolas play
during the Battle of the Hornburg is, in my eyes, Entirely
inappropriate to the more MacDonaldesque Orcs we meet close-up,
though it was of course entirely appropriate to the demonic
pre-LotR Orcs described by Treebeard as 'made by the Enemy in
the Great Darkness, in mockery' of the Elves.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

"What're quantum mechanics?"
"I don't know. People who repair quantums, I suppose."
- /Eric/ (Terry Pratchett)

Stan Brown

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May 27, 2012, 8:00:07 AM5/27/12
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On Sun, 27 May 2012 01:20:02 +0200, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> I am sorry if I am coming down very strongly on this, but I have
> recently seen someone suggest that Tolkien was anti-Semitic because
> of his description of the Dwarves, and I think that suggestion is
> utter nonsense.[#]

I agree with you, and it's a pity this canard keeps re-surfacing.
From his letters to his English and German publishers there's no
question that he abhorred anti-Semitism in general and Nazi anti-
Semitism in particular.

Steve Hayes

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May 27, 2012, 8:46:22 AM5/27/12
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On Wed, 23 May 2012 09:03:13 -0700, Paul S. Person
<pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> wrote:

>Just as, needing a bunch of villain cannon fodder, he modeled the Orcs
>on the Mongolian Hordes of European legend.
>
>These associations were much clearer in the earlier writings; as he
>reworked the legendarium, he developed and extended the characters and
>descriptions of the Dwarves and the Orcs, making each their own people
>and not a copy of some other people.

I doubt it.

He modelled them on the goblins or kobbolds of European folklore.


--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/LITMAIN.HTM
http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius

Paul S. Person

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May 27, 2012, 12:44:03 PM5/27/12
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On Sat, 26 May 2012 19:10:10 -0400, John W Kennedy
<jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:

>On 2012-05-26 19:08:56 +0000, Thomas Koenig said:
>
>> Paul S Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> schrieb:
>>
>>> Just as, needing a bunch of villain cannon fodder, he modeled the Orcs
>>> on the Mongolian Hordes of European legend.
>>
>> The Mongols rode horses, Orcs usually don't (except ride Wargs). This
>> is an important difference.
>
>Why the Mongols and not the Huns? Why not the Visigoths or the
>Ostrogoths, or the Vandals?

Because, as Troels has quoted, Tolkien said so.

Unlike Troels, I accept this as an indication of their origin in the
earliest mythology. Perhaps I should have said clearly that this was a
short-cut taken to avoid delaying the writing of the legendarium, just
as using the Jews as a model for the Dwarves was a short-cut.

>But, frankly, I don't see it as being any of them, however much sense
>it might make a-priori. The orcs we actually see have far more in
>common with simple street thugs -- the sort that even orgaized crime
>despises, though employing them. And that is indeed consonant with
>Tolkien's leading notion (but not uniquely his) that Evil has no
>imagination. "And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did
>not comprehend it."

You are talking about what the original Orcs were developed into. I
clearly stated that they became something quite different from their
original form as the legendarium developed (as did the Dwarves).

I don't dispute your view of Tolkien's view of evil and imagination,
but that must be a pretty strange definition of "imagination", since
Tolkien was quite clear that Orcs were fascinated by mechanical
devices.

Most of us, I suspect, would consider the invention and development of
mechanical devices to indicate some degree of imagination. Indeed, one
of the signs of Saruman's fall is that he is messing about with
mechanical devices. And taking things apart to figure out how they
work, as if anything worth knowing could be learned that way.

Incidentally, while reading Conrad (I forget which novel) I ran across
a description of a person of Chinese ancestry which included the term
"fangs". You may recall that this term is used in regard to an Orc in
/LOTR/. An investigation of Oriental stereotypes in England before and
during the Great War (Sax Rohm, The Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu, and so
on) might be relevant here.

Troels Forchhammer

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May 29, 2012, 7:23:58 AM5/29/12
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In message <news:trl4s7d2j56fj7c5m...@4ax.com>
Paul S. Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

Orcs and Mongols . . .

> Unlike Troels, I accept this as an indication of their origin in
> the earliest mythology.

Just out of curiosity -- based on what aspect of the earliest Orcs
(the Orqui, the Glamhoth, Melko's goblins) do you think was modelled
on Mongols?

There is, I think, not much known about these Orcs, except that they
were bred in subterranean slimes and had rocks for hearts;
essentially the race was /created/ by Melko/Morgoth as 'demonic
brood' in a way that recalls the Anglo-Saxon /orc/ as a demon -- the
thing about mocking the Elves didn't occur until after he had
finished writing /The Hobbit/, though there is an indication in the
very first tale, /The Fall of Gondolin/ that there had been a
confusion between goblins (Orcs) and Gnomes (the later Noldor).

In essence I find nothing in the early (pre-Hobbit) descriptions of
Orcs that remind me in any way of Mongols -- words such as 'slanted'
or 'squint' are not used to describe their eyes until /LotR/, nor is
the word 'sallow' used about Orcs before that. The word 'squat' is
often used for the Dwarves and at least once for Orcs in the early
parts (in 'Turambar and the Foalókë'), but this hardly qualifies (I
daresay that the goblins of British folklore could also, with full
justification, be described as 'squat').

The evidence, such as it is, in my view, points clearly to the
earliest Orcs as being modelled on the goblins of British folklore
combined with the Anglo-Saxon demonic orcs, and I see no suggestion
of any influence from Asiatic types (unless, of course, the goblins
of British folklore were somehow informed by some far Eastern
peoples).

> Perhaps I should have said clearly that this was a short-cut taken
> to avoid delaying the writing of the legendarium,

;-)

One of the main problems is, I think, that we have rather little in
the way of actual description of the early Orcs -- their physique is
not described in sufficient detail for us to say whether they have
any similarities with any actual group of humans. Presumably Tolkien
nonetheless did have a vivid mental image of them (this appears to
have been generally the case), but we cannot know what this was. We
do know, however, that the concept of the Orcs changed quite
dramatically over time -- Morgoth's early demonic creations survived
in the Silmarillion writings until Tolkien started on /LotR/, but
these were blended, by way of /The Hobbit/, with the more
MacDonaldesque goblins. The result of that is partly indicision in
/The Lord of the Rings/ of how to deal with the Orcs. From this
evolved the idea of the Orcs as corrupted Eruhíni and eventually the
speculative / philosophical writings in the 'Myths Transformed' texts
of /Morgoth's Ring/. So, to say that Tolkien in 1958 must
necessarily have had the same mental visualisation of the Orcs as in
1917 (or even in 1937) is, I would say, too unsure.

> just as using the Jews as a model for the Dwarves was a short-cut.

I think the only aspects of the Dwarves for which the Jews stood
model were the idea of speaking the tongue of the region in which the
lived with an accent because of their having a private 'inner'
tongue, and then of course the modelling of Khuzdul upon the Semitic
language of the Jews. As for any other possible derivation we have,
in my opinion, far more likely sources for the Dwarves (mainly the
Dwarves of Old Norse legend).


<snip>

> Incidentally, while reading Conrad (I forget which novel) I ran
> across a description of a person of Chinese ancestry which
> included the term "fangs". You may recall that this term is used
> in regard to an Orc in /LOTR/.

The earliest association of Orcs with fangs that a quick search has
unearthed for me is in /The Lay of Leithian/:

Then Felagund a spell did sing 2009
of changing and of shifting shape; 2010
their ears grew hideous, and agape
their mouths did start, and like a /fang/
each tooth became, as slow he sang.
Their Gnomish raiment then they hid,
and one by one behind him slid, 2015
behind a foul and goblin thing
that once was elven-fair and king.
/The Lays of Beleriand/

This was written in early April 1928 (thank God that Tolkien actually
dated this composition -- he reached line 1161 on March 28th and line
2929 on the 6th of April).

This description of mouths that are agape and hideous ears is also
some of the earliest details of Orkish appearance that I recall --
details that, if derived from some image of 'degraded and repulsive
versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types,' would
suggest an horrible level of racial stereotyping that I would be
hesitant to attribute to Tolkien.

> An investigation of Oriental stereotypes in England before and
> during the Great War (Sax Rohm, The Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu, and
> so on) might be relevant here.

That would indeed be interesting -- even if, as I suspect, it would
turn out to be inconclusive with respect to the present discussion :)


--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot ++
- /Hogfather/ (Terry Pratchett)

Paul S. Person

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May 29, 2012, 12:27:08 PM5/29/12
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On Tue, 29 May 2012 13:23:58 +0200, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>In message <news:trl4s7d2j56fj7c5m...@4ax.com>
>Paul S. Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> spoke these staves:
>>
>
><snip>
>
>Orcs and Mongols . . .
>
>> Unlike Troels, I accept this as an indication of their origin in
>> the earliest mythology.
>
>Just out of curiosity -- based on what aspect of the earliest Orcs
>(the Orqui, the Glamhoth, Melko's goblins) do you think was modelled
>on Mongols?

I don't have time to get into a detailed discussion.

I'm probably basing it on logic and the passage you quoted.

<snippo>

>> Perhaps I should have said clearly that this was a short-cut taken
>> to avoid delaying the writing of the legendarium,
>
>;-)
>

<snippo>

>> just as using the Jews as a model for the Dwarves was a short-cut.
>
>I think the only aspects of the Dwarves for which the Jews stood
>model were the idea of speaking the tongue of the region in which the
>lived with an accent because of their having a private 'inner'
>tongue, and then of course the modelling of Khuzdul upon the Semitic
>language of the Jews. As for any other possible derivation we have,
>in my opinion, far more likely sources for the Dwarves (mainly the
>Dwarves of Old Norse legend).

Consider the Petty-Dwarf that plays a large role: his son dies. He is
avaricious, secretive, and unremittingly vengeful. These are all
Jewish stereotypes.

What I am saying is that, sitting up in bed convalescing and writing
his "Matter of Britain" in pencil in notebooks, JRRT used common
stereotypes of Jews and Mongols to characterize Dwarves and Orcs
(respectively).

This is why people who read even /LOTR/ end up asking if Dwarves are
modeled on Jews -- because they still retain characteristics which
match, not the reality, but the stereotypes of Jews.
People are the products of their time. JRRT grew up in the 1900s &
1910s in a class-based society which was governed by stereotypes.
Stereotypes were a shorthand used to govern how members of various
groups were treated.

Just be happy he didn't model anything on Sub-Saharan Africans.
Conrad's casual and frequent use of the n-word gives some idea of what
JRRT might have ended up doing if he had.

And, FWIW, I purchased some years back a large hardbound (and
therefore excessively expensive) book /The Complete Annotated Gilbert
& Sullivan/ where I found that, in discussing one of the plays, a
perfectly legitimate reference was made to the original Christy
Minstrels -- who performed with banjos in blackface. This led to a
more general discussion of what, today, would be called "black musical
bands", and so quotations from letters of Gilbert and/or Sullivan, all
relevant to the topic, using the n-word -- not surprising, given that
they were written in, say, the 1890s. What /was/ shocking was that the
author of this book, first published in 1996, then proceded to use the
n-word himself.

So either standards were rather looser in Britain in the 1990s than
they were in the USA or he felt that he could use the n-word himself
because he was quoting so many instances.

Cultures change very slowly. The individuals who comprise them change
at different rates. And people can revert to what was common decades
ago, but which is impermissible in polite company now, from time to
time.

>> An investigation of Oriental stereotypes in England before and
>> during the Great War (Sax Rohm, The Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu, and
>> so on) might be relevant here.
>
>That would indeed be interesting -- even if, as I suspect, it would
>turn out to be inconclusive with respect to the present discussion :)

It might support the theory that JRRT based his Orcs on those
stereotypes, initially, just to save some time.

Troels Forchhammer

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May 30, 2012, 4:09:01 AM5/30/12
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In message <news:k3t9s7pt4bn47mcun...@4ax.com>
Paul S. Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> spoke these staves:
>
> On Tue, 29 May 2012 13:23:58 +0200, Troels Forchhammer
> <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>
>> In message <news:trl4s7d2j56fj7c5m...@4ax.com>
>> Paul S. Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> spoke these
>> staves:
>>>
>>
>> Just out of curiosity -- based on what aspect of the earliest Orcs
>> (the Orqui, the Glamhoth, Melko's goblins) do you think was
>> modelled on Mongols?
>
> I don't have time to get into a detailed discussion.

Yeah, I'm sorry -- I didn't mean to argue so much in the previous post
as I was mainly just curious to investigate your position.

<snip>

>> I think the only aspects of the Dwarves for which the Jews stood
>> model were the idea of speaking the tongue of the region in which
>> the lived with an accent because of their having a private 'inner'
>> tongue, and then of course the modelling of Khuzdul upon the
>> Semitic language of the Jews. As for any other possible
>> derivation we have, in my opinion, far more likely sources for the
>> Dwarves (mainly the Dwarves of Old Norse legend).
>
> Consider the Petty-Dwarf that plays a large role: his son dies.

Actually the petty-dwarves and this whole story didn't exist prior to
writing /The Lord of the Rings/, but the characteristics that you
mention also apply to all the Dwarves in the early Silmarillion
tradition -- the only began to change a little after Tolkien had
written /The Hobbit/ and the main change to the Silmarillion stories
came after /LotR/ had forced the good Dwarves into the Silmarillion.
In the early versions, in particular in /The Book of Lost Tales/, the
Dwarves are generally siding with Morgoth against the Elves.

> He is avaricious, secretive, and unremittingly vengeful. These are
> all Jewish stereotypes.

They are, however, also strongly associated with the Dwarves of Old
Norse mythology, who are also great craftsmen -- in particular as
smiths and masons. Since we already know that Tolkien's Dwarves are
heavily informed by the Dwarves of Old Norse legend, the suggestion
that these traits, which are characteristic of the Norse Dwarves,
should come from elsewhere is superfluous.

It is, of course, unfortunate that this set of stereotypes should also
apply to the Jews upon whom Tolkien modeled some linguistic details of
the Dwarves, but I think there is more or less the same set of
stereotypes going around for Scots, Sicilians, Jutes and many other
peoples as well -- certainly the first two fit the stereotype of the
Swiss quite well and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are
also thought to be vindictive -- in many ways these three (avarice,
secretiveness and vindictiveness) seem to go together as stereotypes
come.

> What I am saying is that, sitting up in bed convalescing and
> writing his "Matter of Britain" in pencil in notebooks, JRRT used
> common stereotypes of Jews and Mongols to characterize Dwarves and
> Orcs (respectively).

The problem is that this doesn't match the available evidence. We
/know/ that Tolkien got his Orcs/Goblins and his Dwarves from
elsewhere, and lo and behold: this elsewhere can also sufficiently
explain the traits that you list. This is what I meant when I said
that 'for any other possible derivation we have, in my opinion, far
more likely sources for the Dwarves'.

> This is why people who read even /LOTR/ end up asking if Dwarves
> are modeled on Jews -- because they still retain characteristics
> which match, not the reality, but the stereotypes of Jews.

Well, by the time of /LotR/ there actually is such a connection since
the linguistic situation of the Dwarves is, by then, partially modeled
on the Jewish people in Europe.

But what people ask is a matter of applicability -- and though we might
wish that Tolkien had been more conscious about what people might
think, I should say that we have plenty of evidence that he often
overlooked what others found obvious (Teleporno, indeed . . .). Lewis'
character Ransome is ostentatiously based on Tolkien, and there's a
nice description of him sudden realizing that his name actually means
something in ordinary English, which at least prof. Corey Olsen
believes is closely modeled on Tolkien (again, think Teleporno, Tuna
and many other cases).

Just because we might think something is obvious, that doesn't mean
that Tolkien saw it at all -- when dealing particularly with linguistic
matters he seems to have been able to blind himself to other
interpretations, and I think that is what happened in the case of the
Dwarves: he never realized that they had some other characteristics
that fit a popular stereotype of the Jews when he made a strictly
linguistic comparison.

<snip>

>> This description of mouths that are agape and hideous ears is also
>> some of the earliest details of Orkish appearance that I recall --
>> details that, if derived from some image of 'degraded and
>> repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely
>> Mongol-types,' would suggest an horrible level of racial
>> stereotyping that I would be hesitant to attribute to Tolkien.
>
> People are the products of their time. JRRT grew up in the 1900s &
> 1910s in a class-based society which was governed by stereotypes.
> Stereotypes were a shorthand used to govern how members of various
> groups were treated.

I'm sorry, but I've seen this 'product of their time' argument too much
lately, and I don't buy it -- it is as much a stereotype of people of a
century ago as the 'Jews are avaricious, secretive and vindictive' --
and, I'd think, no more true. That we are all 'a product of our time'
is incontrovertible, but /not/ in the sense that this is usually used:
that because we are born in a certain place in time and space, we
/must/ necessarily subscribe to, or even know about, some set of
beliefs that posterity decides were popular in our time.

Why is it that we are so bent on portraying the peoples of earlier
times as raving bigots? Is it because it makes us feel better about our
own bigotry? Let's at least allow our ancestors the same level of
intelligence and intellectual freedom as we allow ourselves -- every
age has its more popular stereotypes, but that does not mean that any
stereotype is universally believed, nor even believed by a majority of
the population, and it doesn't even mean that everybody know /about/
such stereotypes.

Tolkien has elsewhere shown that he was remarkably free of some of the
unpleasant stereotypes that were perhaps popular in his age: he
defended Germans in general during WWII (while forcefully rejecting the
Nazi doctrines), he defended Jews in the face of an opportunity for
very welcome economic gain (the Tolkien family wasn't exactly wealthy
in the years up to WWII) and so on.

The evidence points to Tolkien being less influenced by such bigotry or
stereotypes than most people, and while this, of course, doesn't mean
that he was unaware of the existence of such stereotypes and as such
might nonetheless have used them for literary effect, I do think that
it makes such a scenario a lot less likely.

This doesn't mean that Tolkien didn't use popular stereotypes in the
creation of his legendarium -- of course he did, but in general they
were the stereotypes of a thousand years ago, not of a mere hundred
years ago: stereotypes about Dwarves, Elves, warriors, dragons,
merchants and other matters of myth and legend figure prominently in
Tolkien's work.

<snip>

>>> An investigation of Oriental stereotypes in England before and
>>> during the Great War (Sax Rohm, The Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu, and
>>> so on) might be relevant here.
>>
>> That would indeed be interesting -- even if, as I suspect, it
>> would turn out to be inconclusive with respect to the present
>> discussion :)
>
> It might support the theory that JRRT based his Orcs on those
> stereotypes, initially, just to save some time.

Obviously I doubt that very much ;-)

However, without further enquiries into other possible sources it
would, in terms of this particular discussion, contribute nothing
regardless of what it might show. In order to be useful for this
particular discussion, we would have to investigate not only Oriental
stereotypes in England, but also a lot of other possible sources,
including, of course, the Anglo-Saxon /Orc/ and English folktales about
/goblins/. In order to make a case in support of your theory, you
would have to be able to show that the early Orcs had characteristics
that could not come from the Orcs and goblins that gave them their
names, and which would, as a group, be more likely to come from
Oriental stereotypes than from any other set of stereotypes. Since
there is actually so little known about the early (pre-Hobbit) Orcs
(the vast majority of which fits the Orc/goblin derivation), I think
such an endeavour to be extremely unlikely to succeed.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

Love while you've got
love to give.
Live while you've got
life to live.
- Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/

tenworld

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May 30, 2012, 7:25:35 PM5/30/12
to
On May 29, 4:23 am, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

>
> I think the only aspects of the Dwarves for which the Jews stood
> model were the idea of speaking the tongue of the region in which the
> lived with an accent because of their having a private 'inner'
> tongue, and then of course the modelling of Khuzdul upon the Semitic
> language of the Jews.  As for any other possible derivation we have,
> in my opinion, far more likely sources for the Dwarves (mainly the
> Dwarves of Old Norse legend).

But the stererotype that I grew up with (in the US midwest in a german
culture heavy city) was Jews as controlling the money, the jewels, and
wearing strange mostly black clothes and beards, and keeping to
themselves, even going to 'church' on the wrong day. So they could
sound like a group that would accept evil rings that gave them even
more treasure. That doesnt make Tolkien or me a racist, he simply
drew upon that same stereotype. And of course today I appreciate
jewish food and friends, and especially the fact that jewish women
look nothing like the men:)


Steve Morrison

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May 31, 2012, 1:32:38 AM5/31/12
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> But what people ask is a matter of applicability -- and though we might
> wish that Tolkien had been more conscious about what people might
> think, I should say that we have plenty of evidence that he often
> overlooked what others found obvious (Teleporno, indeed . . .). Lewis'
> character Ransome is ostentatiously based on Tolkien, and there's a
> nice description of him sudden realizing that his name actually means
> something in ordinary English, which at least prof. Corey Olsen
> believes is closely modeled on Tolkien (again, think Teleporno, Tuna
> and many other cases).
>
> Just because we might think something is obvious, that doesn't mean
> that Tolkien saw it at all -- when dealing particularly with linguistic
> matters he seems to have been able to blind himself to other
> interpretations, and I think that is what happened in the case of the
> Dwarves: he never realized that they had some other characteristics
> that fit a popular stereotype of the Jews when he made a strictly
> linguistic comparison.

Thanks for that point; I had actually been wondering recently why
Tolkien failed to realize that giving his Dwarves some Jewish
characteristics would create the very unfortunate impression
that he meant their less admirable characteristics as
anti-semitic stereotyping. This would be especially easy to think since
Wagner's Nibelung dwarves are widely believed to be just such a slur.

As for his unfortunate word choices, "Wetwang" is probably even worse
than "Teleporno"! (The second syllable can be interpreted as an
obscene term for "penis".)

Julian Bradfield

unread,
May 31, 2012, 4:32:42 AM5/31/12
to
On 2012-05-31, Steve Morrison <rim...@toast.net> wrote:
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>
>> think, I should say that we have plenty of evidence that he often
>> overlooked what others found obvious (Teleporno, indeed . . .). Lewis'

In fairness, the abbreviation "porno" only came into use in the 1950s,
along with the increasing legalization and availability of
pornography.


> As for his unfortunate word choices, "Wetwang" is probably even worse
> than "Teleporno"! (The second syllable can be interpreted as an
> obscene term for "penis".)

Isn't this also a recent term? It hasn't made it into the OED, and the
only etymology I can find (from a site of unknown value) dates it from
the 30s.

Steve Morrison

unread,
May 31, 2012, 5:51:33 AM5/31/12
to
I suspect it is; this may simply be the result of linguistic change since
Tolkien's day.

Troels Forchhammer

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May 31, 2012, 8:30:43 AM5/31/12
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In message <news:slrnjseb5...@coffee.inf.ed.ac.uk>
Julian Bradfield <j...@inf.ed.ac.uk> spoke these staves:
>
> On 2012-05-31, Steve Morrison <rim...@toast.net> wrote:
>>
>> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>>
>>> think, I should say that we have plenty of evidence that he
>>> often overlooked what others found obvious (Teleporno, indeed .
>>> . .). Lewis'
>
> In fairness, the abbreviation "porno" only came into use in the
> 1950s, along with the increasing legalization and availability of
> pornography.

The essay in which he mentions 'Teleporno' is, according to
Christopher Tolkien in /UT/ (part 2 chapter IV 'The History of
Galadriel and Celeborn'), written /after/ the publication of /The
Road Goes Ever On/ in 1967 (the year written pornography was
legalized in Denmark and a mere two years before the legalisation of
picture pornography).

But even if we assume that Tolkien managed not to be exposed to the
phrase 'porno' or 'porn' prior to 1967 this is not the only example.
In Corey Olsen's recorded lectures you can hear students who can
barely contain their laughter when they have to say 'Tirion upon
Túna' and the fish was surely well known before 1950? I think also
that Lewis' characterization of Ransome points in the same direction:
that Tolkien really was able to overlook the obvious once he got
settled in some linguistic thought-mode -- 'Teleporno' was the
/correct/ Telerin version and he didn't see any other possible
meanings, the hill /was/ 'Túna' and he never realized the hill was a
fish, the Jews /do/ speak the language of the area in which the live
while also having an inner language and he never realized that there
were other stereotyping (or bigoted) beliefs about Jews that might
parallel aspects of his Dwarves (derived mostly from Old Norse).

I'll have to admit that I find it rather easy to empathize with this
-- I might do pretty much the same thing myself, though my 'blind
spot' is likely to be physics rather than philology (we should, of
course, remember that for Tolkien philology was the strictly
scientific comparative philology).

>> As for his unfortunate word choices, "Wetwang" is probably even
>> worse than "Teleporno"! (The second syllable can be interpreted
>> as an obscene term for "penis".)
>
> Isn't this also a recent term? It hasn't made it into the OED, and
> the only etymology I can find (from a site of unknown value) dates
> it from the 30s.

I never thought of that . . . I do think I've seen the phrase, but
the Danish 'vang' (now also fast becoming archaic in Danish) still
retains the meaning Tolkien used it in (my dictionary gives 'field'
as the English translation, but I think the Danish term is narrower
in meaning than the English 'field').

Does anyone know from whence come the obscene meaning? It's just
that I can't imagine how it could derive from the old meaning, and I
wondered if it might come from a foreign language? (Oops! I hope no-
one's offended by my interest in the etymology of an obscene phrase .
. .)

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

A common mistake people make when trying to design
something completely foolproof is to underestimate the
ingenuity of complete fools.
- Douglas Adams, /Mostly Harmless/

Julian Bradfield

unread,
May 31, 2012, 9:05:29 AM5/31/12
to
On 2012-05-31, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> In Corey Olsen's recorded lectures you can hear students who can
> barely contain their laughter when they have to say 'Tirion upon
> Túna' and the fish was surely well known before 1950? I think also

Yes; but in English, "tuna" sounds rather different from "Túna",
because the English is pronounced /tjuː-/. Americans have the problem
that they both sound and look the same.
And "tuna" is another word that is much more common in Britain now
than it would have been in Tolkien's youth; it's American from
Spanish. Tolkien would probably have known the fish as "tunny", if
anything; canned tuna started being sold in America at the start of
the 20th century, and here sometime later, though I don't know exactly
when.

> that Tolkien really was able to overlook the obvious once he got
> settled in some linguistic thought-mode -- 'Teleporno' was the
> /correct/ Telerin version and he didn't see any other possible
> meanings, the hill /was/ 'Túna' and he never realized the hill was a
> fish,

How about, he realized but didn't care?
There are plenty of random coincidences of this kind between unrelated
languages. Why would he distort his languages just because of a chance
resemblance with a random English (and not very English at that) word?
(Of course, he distorted them in order to create a non-random
resemblance...)

> the Jews /do/ speak the language of the area in which the live
> while also having an inner language and he never realized that there
> were other stereotyping (or bigoted) beliefs about Jews that might
> parallel aspects of his Dwarves (derived mostly from Old Norse).

I don't buy this, either. The Dwarves fit so many Jewish
stereotypes, it's implausible he didn't mean social setting: the alien
race living among others, with secret rituals; and in the Third Age,
the diaspora from Moria. Hmm...that makes the Balrog either
Nebuchadnezzar or Hadrian, doesn't it?
And not all of these stereotypes are negative. Many people have admired
the ability of the Jews to maintain a coherent (nominally racial but
actually) cultural identity over two and a half thousand years,
including many periods of oppression. I'd bet that this was one of the
main reasons Tolkien would have been proud to be Jewish, given the
importance of maintaining such identities in his world.

> Does anyone know from whence come the obscene meaning? It's just
> that I can't imagine how it could derive from the old meaning, and I
> wondered if it might come from a foreign language? (Oops! I hope no-
> one's offended by my interest in the etymology of an obscene phrase .
> . .)

The site I mentioned suggests as an abbreviation of "whangdoodle", a
nonce word for gadget, thingumajig. So just an avoidance term, like
most of them.

Stan Brown

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May 31, 2012, 6:35:58 PM5/31/12
to
On Wed, 30 May 2012 10:09:01 +0200, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> Why is it that we are so bent on portraying the peoples of earlier
> times as raving bigots? Is it because it makes us feel better about our
> own bigotry? Let's at least allow our ancestors the same level of
> intelligence and intellectual freedom as we allow ourselves -- every
> age has its more popular stereotypes, but that does not mean that any
> stereotype is universally believed, nor even believed by a majority of
> the population, and it doesn't even mean that everybody know /about/
> such stereotypes.

Here's an example. In the 1960s and 1970s in the US, even a liberal
could say "I believe in equality of he races, with equal
opportunities regardless of color. But marriage between white and
black? I don't know. ..." Today, of course, such an attitude is
terribly old fashioned, and we all recognize it as lingering racism.
It doesn't mean the person who thought that then was a bad person,
just that now we are more sensitive to racism than we were then, and
the general run of people have indeed made progress.

I'm fond of citing Tolkien's "the Jew historian" remark. No one today
would think of using such an expression: it would be regarded as
offensive. Does that mean Tolkien was anti-semitic? No, we know from
his reaction to the German publishers that he was not. It means he
was -- sorry -- a product of his time. In his time, it was normal
and usual for even people of good will to see Jews and other minority
groups as "other"; now it is not.

"Allow our ancestors the same level of intellectual freedom" sounds
all very well. But to a huge extent, each of us is the product of
his or her times. Why is it that older people are so much less in
favor of same-sex marriage than younger people? Are older people
wickeder or stupider than younger people? Of course not. But they
grew up with certain attitudes, and the younger generation grew up
with other attitudes.

John W Kennedy

unread,
May 31, 2012, 10:43:49 PM5/31/12
to
On 2012-05-31 22:35:58 +0000, Stan Brown said:
> I'm fond of citing Tolkien's "the Jew historian" remark. No one today
> would think of using such an expression: it would be regarded as
> offensive. Does that mean Tolkien was anti-semitic? No, we know from
> his reaction to the German publishers that he was not. It means he
> was -- sorry -- a product of his time.

It doesn't even mean that. Is "the Christian historian" offensive? Is
"the Buddhist historian" offensive? Pfui! This is merely an example of
the same sort of hyperdelicacy that made even Jews avoid the word
"Jewish" a hundred years ago and substitute the now faintly comical
"Hebrew".

--
John W Kennedy
"Sweet, was Christ crucified to create this chat?"
-- Charles Williams. "Judgement at Chelmsford"

Steve Morrison

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Jun 1, 2012, 1:26:17 AM6/1/12
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> I never thought of that . . . I do think I've seen the phrase, but
> the Danish 'vang' (now also fast becoming archaic in Danish) still
> retains the meaning Tolkien used it in (my dictionary gives 'field'
> as the English translation, but I think the Danish term is narrower
> in meaning than the English 'field').

You might have seen the term in this Harry Potter parody:

http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/text/wang

where just one letter is changed in the word "wand"!

Paul S. Person

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Jun 1, 2012, 1:04:42 PM6/1/12
to
On Thu, 31 May 2012 22:43:49 -0400, John W Kennedy
<jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:

>On 2012-05-31 22:35:58 +0000, Stan Brown said:
>> I'm fond of citing Tolkien's "the Jew historian" remark. No one today
>> would think of using such an expression: it would be regarded as
>> offensive. Does that mean Tolkien was anti-semitic? No, we know from
>> his reaction to the German publishers that he was not. It means he
>> was -- sorry -- a product of his time.
>
>It doesn't even mean that. Is "the Christian historian" offensive? Is
>"the Buddhist historian" offensive? Pfui! This is merely an example of
>the same sort of hyperdelicacy that made even Jews avoid the word
>"Jewish" a hundred years ago and substitute the now faintly comical
>"Hebrew".

You are confusing race and religion.

"Jew" is both. "Christian" and "Buddhist" are not. Even when applied
to individuals, they are not terms denoting race.

Paul S. Person

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Jun 1, 2012, 1:10:21 PM6/1/12
to
More to the point, in 50 years even /our/ highly-advanced and
super-sensitive, and therefore 100% acceptable, mode of writing may be
regarded as horribly racist, otherwise prejudiced, unacceptable in
polite company, or otherwise disgraceful.

We should be giving past writers /some/ slack for having the
misfortune of living in the unenlightened times they lived in because
/we/ may need the same consideration in the future.

It might help to consider the possiblity that an individual can /know/
the stereotypes and even /use/ the stereotypes (in some contexts)
without /believing/ the stereotypes.

Steve Hayes

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Jun 1, 2012, 3:38:16 PM6/1/12
to
On Thu, 31 May 2012 22:43:49 -0400, John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net>
wrote:

>On 2012-05-31 22:35:58 +0000, Stan Brown said:
>> I'm fond of citing Tolkien's "the Jew historian" remark. No one today
>> would think of using such an expression: it would be regarded as
>> offensive. Does that mean Tolkien was anti-semitic? No, we know from
>> his reaction to the German publishers that he was not. It means he
>> was -- sorry -- a product of his time.
>
>It doesn't even mean that. Is "the Christian historian" offensive? Is
>"the Buddhist historian" offensive? Pfui! This is merely an example of
>the same sort of hyperdelicacy that made even Jews avoid the word
>"Jewish" a hundred years ago and substitute the now faintly comical
>"Hebrew".

I asked a Jewish friend to rate various terms and phrases on a scale of 1 to
10, with 1 being completely inoffensive and 10 being very offensive.

She's a Jewess 8

unless you're a 19th century romantic novel, "Jewess" is not a normal usage. I
dock a couple of points off of the offensive scale only because you're
probably ignorant or have been reading Francis Scott Key.


She's Jewish 1
completely inoffensive.


A Jew historian 10
for bad grammar and implied slur when used that way. (The intentional bad
grammar is meant to make one sound uneducated; and thus about to make a sort
of redneck comment.)

A Jewish historian 1, completely inoffensive.

Judaism 1, completely inoffensive.

the Jewish Faith 5, depending upon if you're describing Judaism, or
avoiding the term "Judaism".


the Jew religion 10, bad grammar. ;-)


So if Tolkien really said "the Jew historian" he was being highly offensive,
and grammatically ignorant as well.

It is not equivalent to "the Christian historian", it's equivalent to "the
Christ historian".

Julian Bradfield

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Jun 1, 2012, 5:02:46 PM6/1/12
to
On 2012-06-01, Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> On Thu, 31 May 2012 22:43:49 -0400, John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net>
> wrote:
>
>>On 2012-05-31 22:35:58 +0000, Stan Brown said:
>>> I'm fond of citing Tolkien's "the Jew historian" remark. No one today
...
> So if Tolkien really said "the Jew historian" he was being highly offensive,
> and grammatically ignorant as well.

He didn't say the "the Jew historian".
He said "the learned Jew historian", which is a bit different:
"learned Jew" is a set phrase in Jewish culture and parables, and
if (as Tolkien said) he had many Jewish friends, he probably had heard
tales involving "the learned Jew".
Even without that, your remark about grammatical ignorance serves only
to display your own. Jew was used as an attributive noun with no
negative connotations per se for centuries; the perception that it is
offensive in itself to use "Jew" attributively, rather than the
adjective "Jewish", arose quite recently. To quote the OED 2nd
edition, "Such expressions now chiefly offensive, but not originally
opprobrious."
You are applying today's notions of offensiveness and grammaticality
to something written a lifetime ago. This is silly.

A friend of mine did an extensive survey on the offensiveness of
various constructions like this, using Jew(ish), black, woman and many
other terms in different grammatical (and ungrammatical!) contexts, to
see if any pattern could be worked out. If you're interested, I could
ask for her conclusions.

John W Kennedy

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Jun 1, 2012, 6:36:48 PM6/1/12
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Thank you for concluding with such complete and utter nonsense; it
makes my job so much easier.

--
John W Kennedy
"The blind rulers of Logres
Nourished the land on a fallacy of rational virtue."
-- Charles Williams. "Taliessin through Logres: Prelude"

Steve Hayes

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Jun 2, 2012, 1:01:14 AM6/2/12
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On Fri, 1 Jun 2012 18:36:48 -0400, John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net>
wrote:
Always pleased to be able to help.

It would be interesting to know what your job actually is.

Jeff Urs

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Jun 2, 2012, 12:59:07 AM6/2/12
to haye...@yahoo.com
On Friday, June 1, 2012 3:38:16 PM UTC-4, Steve Hayes wrote:
> It is not equivalent to "the Christian historian", it's equivalent to "the
> Christ historian".

Surely the problem with that is that "Christian" is a noun that has come
to be used as a adjective, is it not?

--
Jeff

Steve Hayes

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Jun 2, 2012, 3:32:16 AM6/2/12
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It varies.

One can say that a German historian is a German, but one cannot likewise say
that a French historian is a French, or that an English historian is an
English.

In my lifetime and experience, people who say "a Jewish historian" are being
descriptive, and people who say "a Jew historian" are being abusive.

It may have been different before the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, but I
wasn't around then to experience it.

John W Kennedy

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Jun 2, 2012, 8:48:24 AM6/2/12
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Other way around, actually, at least in English.

--
John W Kennedy
"Those in the seat of power oft forget their failings and seek only the
obeisance of others! Thus is bad government born! Hold in your heart
that you and the people are one, human beings all, and good government
shall arise of its own accord! Such is the path of virtue!"
-- Kazuo Koike. "Lone Wolf and Cub: Thirteen Strings" (tr. Dana Lewis)

Jeff Urs

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Jun 2, 2012, 5:58:11 PM6/2/12
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On Saturday, June 2, 2012 8:48:24 AM UTC-4, John W Kennedy wrote:
> On 2012-06-02 04:59:07 +0000, Jeff Urs said:
>
> > On Friday, June 1, 2012 3:38:16 PM UTC-4, Steve Hayes wrote:
> >> It is not equivalent to "the Christian historian", it's equivalent to "the
> >> Christ historian".
> >
> > Surely the problem with that is that "Christian" is a noun that has come
> > to be used as a adjective, is it not?
>
> Other way around, actually, at least in English.

Can you cite any authorities that support that assertion?

I suspect that "Christian" existed in both its noun and adjectival
senses in the languages that became English long before English came to
be. However, no one can credibly deny that it first appeared in the
original Greek solely as a noun.

--
Jeff

Julian Bradfield

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Jun 2, 2012, 6:57:25 PM6/2/12
to
OED.
"c(h)risten" was the original word (from Old English times), and was
adjectival, being used as a noun from about 1500, shortly before
"c(h)risten" was displaced by "christian".
The equivalent of the Greek noun χρῑστιᾱνός was "cristen man".

John W Kennedy

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Jun 2, 2012, 7:10:08 PM6/2/12
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On 2012-06-02 21:58:11 +0000, Jeff Urs said:

> On Saturday, June 2, 2012 8:48:24 AM UTC-4, John W Kennedy wrote:
>> On 2012-06-02 04:59:07 +0000, Jeff Urs said:
>>
>>> On Friday, June 1, 2012 3:38:16 PM UTC-4, Steve Hayes wrote:
>>>> It is not equivalent to "the Christian historian", it's equivalent to "the
>>>> Christ historian".
>>>
>>> Surely the problem with that is that "Christian" is a noun that has come
>>> to be used as a adjective, is it not?
>>
>> Other way around, actually, at least in English.
>
> Can you cite any authorities that support that assertion?

The OED, of course.

> I suspect that "Christian" existed in both its noun and adjectival
> senses in the languages that became English long before English came to
> be.

Despite your suspicions, the word first appears as an adjective in OE,
but does not appear unambiguously as a noun until ca. 1500. (Any
adjective can appear as a substantive, of course.)

> However, no one can credibly deny that it first appeared in the
> original Greek solely as a noun.

Apparently.

--
John W Kennedy
"Never try to take over the international economy based on a radical
feminist agenda if you're not sure your leader isn't a transvestite."
-- David Misch: "She-Spies", "While You Were Out"

Jeff Urs

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Jun 3, 2012, 2:06:12 AM6/3/12
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On Saturday, June 2, 2012 7:10:08 PM UTC-4, John W Kennedy wrote:
> Despite your suspicions, the word first appears as an adjective in OE,
> but does not appear unambiguously as a noun until ca. 1500.

Well, I shall endeavor to be more trusting in the future, then.

(And less disingenuous, since it was all a plot to undermine the
aspersions Steve is casting on the Professor.)

--
Jeff

JJ

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Jun 5, 2012, 8:01:33 AM6/5/12
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Wetwang is a village in Yorkshire.
You've all got nasty minds ... ;o)
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