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Old 08-10-2003, 03:16 AM   #1
Måns
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Sting The name Orc

Something just came across my mind when I reread a litttle hsitory of the Macedonian realms, there was this General called Poliorketes as a by-name, given later in his life because of his plundering fo many cities in the Persian war. Now, his mane, Poliorketes means basicly "City-sacker" or something to that effect. As we all know, Pólis means city, and thus we are left with orketes for the sacker/plunderer.. It seems quite likely in my mind that Tolkien knew of the Greek word and used it to indicate something vioolent. What d'you think?

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Old 08-10-2003, 09:44 AM   #2
Tarien Ithil
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Silmaril

I do think Tolkien used real languages in his works. Like a certain type of Finnish he used for Elvish. It is possibel that orketes indicates something violent, like an Orc. Tolkien was very interllectual so he probably knew that orketes means sacker, and therefore used it in The Lord of the Rings.

Lokk around a bit more in teh books and you'll probably find connections between languages of some sort.

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Old 08-10-2003, 10:45 AM   #3
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Sting

Tolkien was a scholar in many European languages, both Ancient and Modern. If he drew much of his mythology from Celtic legends, then I'm sure that he took names and other things from other languages.
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Old 08-10-2003, 03:06 PM   #4
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"Orc" is an old Anglo Saxon word and has nothing to do with Greek!
May I quote a passage from " Tolkien, Author of the century", by Tom Shippey (who is also a Philologist, like Tolkien was)
Quote:
Tolkien had used the word "orc" in The Hobbit, but his regular word at that point was "goblin". As he built up the linguistic correspondences of Middle-earth, this came to seem out of place, it is a relatively late word in English.(....) Tolkien preferred an Old English word, and found it in two compounds, the plural form "orc-neas" found in BEOWULF, where it seems to mean " demon-corpses", and the singular "orc-thyrs", where the second half is found also in Old Norse and means something like "giant". Demons, giants, zombies - it seems that literate Anglo-Saxons really had very little idea what orcs were at all (...) The word was floating freely, with ominous suggestions but no clear reference. Tolkien took the word, brought the concept into clear focus in detailed scenes, and, as with hobbits, has in a way made both word and thing now canonical.
It's the same with Ents and Wood-woses , these are also AngloSaxon words whose meaning isn't very clear at all. Tolkien seems to have asked himself what might be behind them, and made of them the Ents and wild woodmen in LotR.
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Old 08-10-2003, 03:13 PM   #5
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Let us not forge tthat Tolkien after all ahd a classical education and knew ancient Greek to some extent. I do not doubt what you are saying is correct, but somehow ravager, sacker, plunderer seems more like to orcs than "demon-corpse" and I have heard that before. Still Tolkien was wise as too few today and must have thought it only fitting with the words double meaning. A luittle like Orthanc, meaning both "Cunning mind" and "Mount Fang".

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Old 08-12-2003, 01:32 PM   #6
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I remember hearing a rumour that orc was actually based on name of the Oxford Rugby Club. the premise being that Tolkein didn't like rugby players. i don't believe that rumour but it is kinda funny.
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Old 08-15-2003, 12:01 AM   #7
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There is a latin word, Orkus which is another name for Hades. It was later used in parts of Europe to refer to something abhorrent or cursed.

It's not hard to believe that Tolkien derived "orc" from orcneas(from Guenevere's post, above)- as he was very familiar with Beowulf . Probably not really to refer to demons, but to some foul creature that would remind one of demons.
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Old 08-15-2003, 01:48 AM   #8
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Sting

Actually, Mans, Guinevere is correct. If Tom Shippey is not a valid enough source, JRRT himself should be.
Quote:
The Grey-elven form is orch, plural yrch.
I originally took the word from Old English orc [Beowulf 112 orc-nass
and the gloss orc = pyrs (?ogre?), heldeofol (?hell-devil?)].
This is supposed not to be connected with modern English orc, ork, a name applied to various sea-beasts of the dolphin order.
Obviously he does not mean demons in the modern, Devil-hell sense (red skin, horns, forked tail, manic grin etc), as Kaiserin says, but demon in the sense of an evil and Morgoth-sourced creature. No mention of your Ancient Greek derivitive is to be found.

It was an appreciable suggestion, but it looks like Old English -- a source of quite a lot of Middle-Earth linguistics -- was in fact the inspiration for this word, thereby proving that it could not have been Greek.
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Old 08-15-2003, 04:17 AM   #9
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Sting

I agree with you in that Tolkien derived orc from the old english orcneas, but this word is probably derived from latin orcus as it is said in the Oxford English Dictionary:

Quote:
And J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional world in "The Lord of the Rings" is also recognized. Orcs are defined as "members of an imaginary race of ugly, aggressive human-like creatures." The dictionary says the word probably comes from the Latin orcus meaning hell, or the Italian orco, meaning monster.
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Entertain...030607_46.html
[ August 15, 2003: Message edited by: Amarie of the Vanyar ]
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Old 08-15-2003, 04:40 AM   #10
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I repeat, Tolkien ahd a classical education, as too few ahve today, my guess is that he knew of ALL these examples and discovered the evilness of the word orc generally came to him before he decided to give orcs their name. Just my hunch, though.

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