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Old 08-07-2009, 12:46 PM   #1
davem
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"How does one pronounce Tolkien?"

This article got me thinking http://www.examiner.com/x-11527-JRR-...nounce-Tolkien - not so much about how to pronounce Tolkien's name (coincidentally, when I first encountered the books ( & for some time later) I did pronounce it as the author of the piece suggests - 'Tolk-ee-en').

That pronunciation is still very evocative for me of my first entry into Middle-earth- as are my other original (mis)pronunciations: Soron, Seleborn, Thee-o-dn, Ee-omer, Ee-owyn, Mynas Tirith/Morgul - even my original mis-reading of Half-ing for Halfling, etc, etc.

Now, as all other well-informed readers do, I know the proper pronunciations & make the effort to get them right, but I'm wondering if I've lost something in leaving behind my original readings? Tolkien himself didn't appear to mind much - in the First Edition Foreword he states:

Quote:
Much information, necessary and unnecessary, will be found in the Prologue. To complete it some maps are given, including one of the Shire that has been approved as reasonably correct by those Hobbits that still concern themselves with ancient history. At the end of the third volume will be found some abridged family-trees, which show how the Hobbits mentioned were related to one another, and what their ages were at the time when the story opens. There is an index of names and strange words with some explanations. And for those who like such lore in an appendix some brief account is given of the languages, alphabets and calendars that were used in the West-lands in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Those who do not need such information, or who do not wish for it, may neglect these pages; and the strange names that they meet they may, of course, pronounce as they like.
Thinking about it today after reading the article I can't help feeling that, for all I may have got the pronunciations wrong on my first reading, those pronunciations are essential to my experience of Middle-earth, & hold part of the magic of that experience which has been absent from subsequent readings. Its the same with the actual edition of the book which you first read - you may have gone on to buy other (possibly nicer, or at least more expensive) editions, but the experience of re-entering Middle-earth through the same physical book is different to reading it from other editions - & doesn't that also apply to the names & places as you first encountered them?
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:40 PM   #2
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I agree that something so *small* as the pronounciation of names may hold a lot of stock with how you view middle earth. I suppose one way of saying someone's names can hold a sort of ring in one's mind.

That's interesting, though, I've never thought of it like that until I read what you said about that.
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:56 PM   #3
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. I suppose one way of saying someone's names can hold a sort of ring in one's mind.
.
It holds all the mystery of new things in a new world - we discovered the names (& more importantly the sound of the names) as we discovered the world. For example, the Dark Lord of Middle-earth I first knew, & feared, & fled from, & finally confronted, along with the people of the story was Soron, not "Sowron". In the same way as we form an image of the characters & places when we first read the story, so we also learn their names, & the sound of their names, & the power of that first impression remains on some level - I'd even go so far as to suggest that changing the sound of the name alters & even lessens the magic we first experienced.
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:42 PM   #4
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I have to agree that the pronunciation of names greatly affects the way we view the book we read. I had most of the names correct cause I had seen the movies before reading the books and I first read The Hobbit as a class read aloud in elementary school. I used to think that Beleriand was spelled Bereland. That is how I saw it when I first glanced at the name. Now reading it as Beleriand I kind of feel like it lessens the magic.
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Old 08-07-2009, 03:57 PM   #5
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I agree with what you've said, davem. Changing Cirith Ungol to Kirith Ungol, Seleborn to Keleborn and Sirdan to Kirdan was hard for me, and it's not the same. But then, when you read it again, it seems to fit better (at least to me).

As well as this let me take this as an opportunity to ask how you pronounce Smaug. Is it Sm-or-g or Sm-ow-g or neither?
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:36 PM   #6
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As well as this let me take this as an opportunity to ask how you pronounce Smaug. Is it Sm-or-g or Sm-ow-g or neither?


I use the latter, but I'm not sure which would be "correct"
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:15 PM   #7
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To be honest this is the first time I have heard it as Keleborn. I just found that out. I have to say though I prefer Seleborn.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:04 PM   #8
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Just to mention it, the first edition Foreword also had a brief guide to pronunciation in any case. So some earlier readers had a few pointers... before meeting Keleborn, for example.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:33 PM   #9
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Just to mention it, the first edition Foreword also had a brief guide to pronunciation in any case. So some earlier readers had a few pointers... before meeting Keleborn, for example.
It did - but in very small print at the end stating that "Some may welcome a preliminary note on the pronunciation actually intended by the spellings in this history" & then goes on to mention c & g always being 'hard' (ie pronouned as 'k' & 'g' as in 'get', etc, but I don't see this as over-riding the earlier statement that the reader is free to pronounce the names as they like - & even if Tolkien hadn't permitted such freedom to the reader the case I'm making would still stand, because we're talking about the way we experience the story.

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Originally Posted by Eonwe
Changing Cirith Ungol to Kirith Ungol, Seleborn to Keleborn and Sirdan to Kirdan was hard for me, and it's not the same. But then, when you read it again, it seems to fit better (at least to me).
Its not the same - & I think anyone who has altered their pronunciations to the 'correct' ones & goes back to the books & uses their original ones will find the experience much more powerful. Its a bit like the Peking/Beijing & Bombay/Mumbai thing for my generation - the former names may be 'incorrect' but they have much more romance about them than the latter.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:41 AM   #10
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I agree with what you've said, davem. Changing Cirith Ungol to Kirith Ungol, Seleborn to Keleborn and Sirdan to Kirdan was hard for me, and it's not the same. But then, when you read it again, it seems to fit better (at least to me).

As well as this let me take this as an opportunity to ask how you pronounce Smaug. Is it Sm-or-g or Sm-ow-g or neither?
I didn't think of this problem until when I joined the 'Downs, or just a bit after that, because it's always been just mak for me (the Czech "translation").

As for the others, I always took great care of pronouncing all names correctly, with the exception of Tolkien (only after learning its origins somewhere, everybody says Tol-kee-en in my home country anyway, there was even a radio broadcast where they said "Well, it should be really pronounced like this and this, but people usually pronounce it that way here, so I think it doesn't matter" and spent the rest of the broadcast calling him Tol-kee-en anyway), and then names like "Cirith Ungol", "Celeborn" and "Crdan", which I pronounced (and sometimes still pronounce, if I am not careful enough) as "Tsirith Ungol", "Tseleborn" and "Tsrdan". I believe that "Krdan" sounds really awful, by the way. It doesn't sound right to me (the others do).
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:43 AM   #11
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then names like "Cirith Ungol", "Celeborn" and "Crdan", which I pronounced (and sometimes still pronounce, if I am not careful enough) as "Tsirith Ungol", "Tseleborn" and "Tsrdan". I believe that "Krdan" sounds really awful, by the way. It doesn't sound right to me (the others do).
Yes, definately. But maybe that's only because you pronounced it differently. I know that "Sirith Ungol" sounds much more sinister to me, and a lot of the time I still pronounce "Kirdan" as "Sirdan" by mistake, and maybe it's just because "Kirdan" just isn't the same.
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:45 AM   #12
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I believe that "Krdan" sounds really awful, by the way. It doesn't sound right to me (the others do).
I think that's an interesting point - its not simply a question of how you first read/'heard' the name in your head, but of what sounds 'right' to your ear. I think that will be different for each of us (& is another argument against any kind of dramatisation of the work - unless as a silent movie). Simply put, for some readers the 'correct' pronunciation, while fully authorised by Tolkien, will sound 'wrong' - & so much of Tolkien's effort in creating languages was to evoke emotional responses - Elvish should seem 'beautiful', Orcish should seem 'ugly & brutal, etc, but if the 'official' pronunciation of an Elvish word seems less beautiful to your ear than your own personal pronunciation, surely you should go with your own?
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:58 AM   #13
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For many who read the book in the original English though they are not native speakers, the pronunciation is coloured by the influence of their primary language. That means some names may be pronouced correctly, if Tolkien's idea is similar to the use of those sounds in that language. I have no difficulty with the correct pronunciation of "Sauron", for example, as it would be pronounced just like that in German. Cirdan, on the other hand, would be called "Tsirdan" in German.

I find it interesting that the Hobbit first names are least subject to mispronunciation - there's little conflict when saying "Bilbo", "Frodo", "Sam", "Merry" and "Pippin". Could this be part of the concept of having them feel close to us readers? I know the last names have been changed in translation in other languages - as Tolkien intended them to be - but the first names are quite straightforward.

The farther we get from the Shire, the more exotic the pronunciations get, perhaps? Is that a part of moving into a mythological world in the course of the adventure?

And of course the lingist Tolkien used various languages as models for his various peoples. The pronunciation is certainly coloured by those models.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:24 PM   #14
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The only word for which I ever had a quibble over the pronunciation was "Isengard," and the pronunciation of the initial I. Frankly, every possibility sounds wrong...

When it came to Elvish, it was grateful to Tolkien for having given Donald Swann his Gregorian Chant-like rendering of "Namarie." As a singer, I've found that music can give one broad strokes as to the correct sound of a language (if not its subtleties), because the rhythm of a tune (a well-written one, at least) places syllabic emphasis where it most naturally falls, and can make the use of incorrect vowel sounds difficult (sometimes downright impossible) to sing. The fact that Tolkien also approved of Swann's renderings of "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" and "In the Willow-Meads of Tasarinan" gives further indications of the rhythm and pronunciations of Elvish, as well as Entish.

Frankly, I don't think I would have ever had any issue over the pronunciation of the hard C if I hadn't heard of the Boston C(S)eltics long before I read LotR, or learned that the word was properly pronounced Keltic. I know an awful lot of people here in the US have that same issue.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:39 PM   #15
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The varied pronunciations given here are fascinating - I wonder if they are determined by people's accents, & the pronunciation of similar looking words they use on an everyday basis?

I also wonder whether people feel a kind of 'emotional' attatchment to their original pronunciations, in the sense that (as I've mentioned) when they revert to their old pronunciations they are 'taken back' to their first reading - rather than simply liking their own pronunciation over the official one?

On the Isengard thing - I remember pronouncing it "Iz'-engard' as opposed to 'Eye-zengard', & I'm wondering whether that was because, encountering an unfamiliar word you sort of attempt to match it up with a similar looking word - & the closest I could come up with was the first name of the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel?

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Old 08-08-2009, 12:50 PM   #16
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For many who read the book in the original English though they are not native speakers, the pronunciation is coloured by the influence of their primary language. That means some names may be pronouced correctly, if Tolkien's idea is similar to the use of those sounds in that language. I have no difficulty with the correct pronunciation of "Sauron", for example, as it would be pronounced just like that in German. Cirdan, on the other hand, would be called "Tsirdan" in German.
Good point. In my mother-tongue Swedish the correct pronunciations usually come easy and naturally. "Soron" sounds wrong to me while the authorized "Sow-ron" is what I've always used. In Swedish the three syllables in Tol-ki-en also come naturally.

As for the hard C's, I'm perfectly fine with Keleborn and Kirith Ungol. For some reason I like Keleborn better than Seleborn, but much prefer Sirdan to Kirdan. Although I too make the effort to get it right (when I know what is right, that is) I would never do it at the cost of reading enjoyment. So Sirdan it is.
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Old 08-08-2009, 01:51 PM   #17
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I seem to recall that after my very first reading of TLotR, I studied the appendices rather voraciously, thinking the story too short. I, of course, used the pronunciations "Seleborn" Sirdan" and "Sirith Ungol" etc. I also recall "sah-ROO-man" rather than SEH-roo-man. There were many other examples that I found that I was doing wrong, but the funny thing is, my head retained my original pronunciations through several more readings, despite knowing better. Then it began to evolve. Seleborn became Keleborn sort of on it's own. It's not complete though. I still don't stop-trill the "R" in Mordor. I use the nasal, sustained "R" that I grew up with. (See the movie "Fargo" if you want to hear a slightly over-the-top interpretation of my own spoken accent.)

The only time I recall being taken aback by someone else's pronunciation was in the name Tom Bombadil. I had always pronounced this with emphasis on the first syllable: BOM-ba-dill. Then I heard a friend put the emphasis on the second syllable: bomb-BADDLE. I actually corrected him before I realized that I had no idea what was correct. I still don't. For the most part, I let the names sing to me from the page in my own accent, and leave it at that. For the most part! Many of the movie pronunciations have taken up permanent residence in my ear, and will never depart. Luckily, this is one of the things that P.J. made a sincere effort to get right, as much as possible.

As for the pronunciation of the name Tolkien, I have always said TOLL-kin rather than TOLL-keen, and usually still do, even though I know better. (or is it TOLL-key-in?)
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:00 PM   #18
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As the part on pronunciation was left out in the German translation of LotR, I had to work everything out on my own in my first (and second, and third) reading. As Estelyn has said, the i's and au's never were a problem, as they have the same values in the elvish languages as in German, so Isengard was always 'Eezengard' to me, and Sauron 'Sowron'. I don't remember precisely whether I said 'Tseleborn' and 'Tsirdan', but I probably did (according to the latin pronunciation I was taught in school); what I do remember is that I pronounced the th's not as in English, but as aspirated t's (=normal t with a puff of air) - until the short appendix in the Silmarillion (which I read about 2 years later) cleared these matters up.
Stress is interesting, too. I first stressed Minas Tirith on the first and last syllables, Mithrandir on the first, but Aragorn on the last. Even today, I say PEL-lenor and PAL-lantr, when I don't think about it.
Oh yes, and Smagol was more or less SMAY-a-goll to me, so I found it very nassty to hear him called 'Smeegle' in the Bakshi movie. If I understand Tolkien right, the correct thing is somewhere inbetween. Funny - I should have got it right from the start, as the Anglo-Saxon 'a' and 'o' both occur in my native dialect (North-east Bavarian)!
Last not least, I too first pronounced the Prof himself TOLL-kee-en, until I read in the Carpenter biography that his name was derived from German 'tollkhn' - so TOLL-keen, 2 syllables not 3, was the only logical thing.

Today, Celeborn has been Keleborn and Minas Tirith Mee-nas Tee-ri for so long that I tend to find mispronunciations (my own and by others) a bit annoying, seeing that the Prof did his best to explain how it should be; and I certainly get more 'phonsthetic pleasure' from the correct versions.
Now, would a re-read, consciously reverting to my initial mispronunciations, bring me a flashback of first-reading magic? I doubt it, but it may be worth a try. Ask me again in a couple of months!
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:15 PM   #19
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I think I prefer it as Seleborn and Sirdan rather than Keleborn and Kirdan. For all of them I prefer the soft C. It just flows better in my opinion. I keep thinking back to when I first read the Chronicles of Narnia and I pronounced the character Reepicheep's name as Re-ship. I still kind of dislike the proper pronunciation because it just is not how I originally viewed it. It is the same for all of Tolkien's work..
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:13 PM   #20
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This thread has reminded me of Lalaith's Cellar Door thread. There are a couple of remarks there that I think are particularly apt here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalaith
I think Tolkien used "cellar door" there to describe a kind of generic moment of aural appreciation, and he meant that Welsh was full of those kind of 'moments'.
I rarely hear Welsh spoken, but I do love the accent.
I've always enjoyed Lalaith's comments, however rare.

And here's a quote from Tolkien himself, provided by Piosennial, who always has her finger on a good quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien, "English and Welsh"
The basic pleasure in the phonetic elements of a language and in the style of their patterns, and then in a higher dimension, pleasure in the association of these word-forms with meanings, is of fundamental importance. This pleasure is quite distinct from the practical knowledge of a language, and not the same as an analytic understanding of its structure. It is simpler, deeper-rooted, and yet more immediate than the enjoyment of literature. Thought it may be allied to some of the elements in the appreciation of verse, it does not need any poets, other than the nameless artists who composed the language. It can be strongly felt in the simple contemplation of vocabulary, or even in a string of names. ...Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that *cellar door* is 'beautiful,' especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful that, say, *sky*, and far more beautiful than *beautiful*, Well then, in Welsh, for me *cellar doors* are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant.
full ref provided by pio: J.R.R. Tolkien "English and Welsh" (lecture, 10/21/55) published in - Angles and Britons: O'Donnell Lectures (1963) and reprinted in: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays(1983) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien.

And, thinking of Pitchwife's comment here, there's also another related thread about Pelennor Fields, too, but alas I haven't the time now to find it.

Pleasure in the sound and musicality of language is so rarely discussed these days, or considered. As to the right and wrong of pronunciation, why, it's possible--or was once before universal media--to walk the mews and alleyways of London and hear different pronunciations every two or three blocks. I know a linguist who placed an English exile living here in Canada to within three blocks of his birthplace just listening to his own speech patterns. As I recall, he was not amused!

It's highly unlikely, I would think, that Tolkien as a philologist, would hold to the sole standard of "The Queen's English."
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:52 PM   #21
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Fascinating topic, Davem, I must say...

Perhaps I was lucky as a youth (oh... does that sound pretentious! ) that, having swarmed through LotR and the Appendices, I was on immediately to the Silm, and ended up romping happily through that (though with the usual troubles of distinguishing all those "Fins" from each other), and though I don't recall the story or the prose sinking in much on the first read, the "Guide to Pronunciation" did.

I'll be honest, though... it was still a few read-throughs ere Seleborn had become Celeborn or Srdan Crdan. It was even longer before sore old Soron had become Sauron, and Minus Tirith (as opposed to Plus Tirith) had become Minas Tirith. And then there were the Dnedane--Vikings from old Arthedenmark!



Still, by the ripe old age of 14 when the movies came out, I was sufficiently inculcated in the "proper" pronunciation of those words that I was already correcting the pronunciations of other friends who, anticipating the movies, were talking about Seleborn and Soron.

One of the reasons, I think, that I liked Tolkien at that age, and what still holds one of the attractions for me is, precisely, the linguistic aspect. As someone who sings quite a lot of Ecclesiastical Latin on a regular basis, but who spent last year learning Latin with a Classical pronouncer, I'm particularly susceptible, at this point, to the difference that a hard "C" makes versus a soft "C." Although Tolkien may not have condemned those who pronounce the names wrong--a knowing bit of tolerance from the expert there--I like to think that, even if it doesn't matter, I'm getting a better, more authentic, experience by reading the words the way they "actually" sounded in Middle-earth.
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Old 08-09-2009, 02:40 AM   #22
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I wonder how many of us who choose to alter our original (mis)pronunciations do so because we desire to 'get it right', & how many of us do it because we want to conform (ie, because we don't want to embarrass ourselves in front of those 'in the know')? In the light of the Cellar Door thing, I think one could argue that, just as Sellador is more aesthetically pleasing than 'kellador', so Seleborn sounds better than Keleborn (though on purely aesthetic terms 'Teleporno' is possibly more pleasing than either?) If one finds the sound of Keleborn ugly (for whatever idiosyncratic reasons), & Seleborn attractive, shouldn't one go with Seleborn, as Elves, surely, should have names which reflect in the reader's mind their essential beauty?

Of course, one may feel that Soron is a more pleasing sound than Sowron, & surely the Dark Lord's name should evoke distaste - so we have a further complication to add:

1) Is there something specially evocative for you about your original pronunciations, & should you retain them for that reason?

2) Should you strive for authenticity, in order to experience the story as the Author intended?

or

3) Should you tailor your chosen pronunciation of the name to what is evocative of the thing named - ie if you feel Seleborn is more beautiful a sound than Keleborn, shouldn't you go with that, whether or not you read it that way initially? And if you find Sowron an uglier sound that Soron (particularly if you find 'Soron' pleasing), shouldn't you go with Sowron - 'cos bad guys should have nasty sounding names which evoke in your mind an essential aspect of their nature?
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Old 08-09-2009, 06:29 AM   #23
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In real life, when I am in doubt, I ask a person just how their name is pronounced or spelled. That is a matter of respect for me, perhaps a form of politeness. I would say that carries over to my reading; I do make an effort to correct my pronunciation if I know the right one, even if it doesn't come easy at first. I have to make a conscious effort to say "Keleborn", and I actually like "Seleborn" better, but when it comes to names of others, I feel that my preference is not the decisive factor, so I practice the correct one till it comes naturally (hopefully someday!).
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:17 AM   #24
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From 1968 onwards Allen & Unwin published a single volume paperback of LotR (with Pauline Baynes wonderful cover painting). What's interesting about this edition in the context of this thread is that this it uses the Second Edition text, in the Foreword of which the footnote guide (from the First ed. Foreword as given above) to pronunciation is absent - so as with all the Second Edition LotR's there is nothing to help the reader in pronouncing the names until after they've finished the story & get to the Appendices - so unless you're someone who reads the Appendices first, you will have read the story & come up with your own pronunciations before you get to the correct ones - but this p/b edition is even more interesting (& less useful) in this context, as it omits all the Appendices except the Tale of Aragorn & Arwen from Appendix A - so you could read the whole book & never realise there was a 'correct' way to pronounce the names.

Two things to notice further - one, this edition appeared during Tolkien's lifetime, & two, there is a note appended to the Foreword which states:

Quote:
"The index & all but one of the numerous appendices have been omitted. Though they contain much information that has proved very interesting to many readers, only a small part is necessary to the reading of the tale"
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:41 AM   #25
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In real life, when I am in doubt, I ask a person just how their name is pronounced or spelled. That is a matter of respect for me, perhaps a form of politeness. I would say that carries over to my reading; I do make an effort to correct my pronunciation if I know the right one, even if it doesn't come easy at first. I have to make a conscious effort to say "Keleborn", and I actually like "Seleborn" better, but when it comes to names of others, I feel that my preference is not the decisive factor, so I practice the correct one till it comes naturally (hopefully someday!).
That's a good point. Heaven knows, I know plenty of people with what one might call "very ethnic" last names who do not pronounce them as they would be pronounced in "the old country," and that has been the case for many generations. (Or as someone once put it, the name may be spelled "Przybylski," but you can pronounce it "Smith" if you want to.) I have also known people who are quite aware of the "correct" pronunciation of their given name, but choose for personal reasons to pronounce it otherwise. Some change the spelling, and I think it may be for the same reason, to "make it their own," rather than something that was foisted on them when they were unable to choose for themselves. I suppose Tolkien created the notion of the self-chosen "nickname" among the Elves for similar reasons. And I also suppose that some Elves might deliberately "mispronounce" their names to make it more unique, something of their own choosing (or possibly to annoy their parents ). Tolkien, of course, would not tell us if they do or don't, but as he did tell us that the Elven languages evolved over time, I would tend to think that they would be subject to change through such personal idiosyncrasies as well.

Oh, and for myself, as an 11 year old, I first read Seleborn, but when I became aware of the Keleborn pronunciation, I had no problem accepting it. Seleborn always made me think of cellophane, or celery, and both seemed totally ridiculous. To my ear, Keleborn as a sound was more pleasing to the ear (and the brain), but the Celeborn spelling more pleasing to the eye.
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Old 08-15-2009, 06:07 PM   #26
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2) Should you strive for authenticity, in order to experience the story as the Author intended?

or

3) Should you tailor your chosen pronunciation of the name to what is evocative of the thing named
Well, in my case, I always try to fix the pronounciation and often find that it the the given one fits much better then the one I had formed. So, to me, Keleborn sounds just as good as Seleborn (and Celeborn looks nicer when written down), and Kirith Ungol sounds much harsher than Sirith Ungol (thouh maybe less piercing). However, I find it harder to change the pronounciation of some characters, especially those that I like more (maybe there is some sort of subconscious attachment), such as Cirdan (which I still automatically pronounce Sirdan) and Enw (Which I find hard not to pronounce "ee-ON-way").

But I suppose what people find more aesthetically pleasing to the ear varies. As for whether we should go for the author's offical pronounciation or the one that we like more, do you really want to start a whole canonicity thread again?
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Old 08-15-2009, 06:17 PM   #27
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Enw (Which I find hard not to pronounce "ee-ON-way").
You have the perfect right to pronounce your own name anyway you like, of course! As long as you don't pronounce it as 'Hay-on-Wye'...
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Old 08-16-2009, 08:30 AM   #28
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As long as you don't pronounce it as 'Hay-on-Wye'...
Funnily enough, I just passed through there when I went on holiday. I also past a place called Crickhowell. Don't tell me you read that right the first time .
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Old 08-20-2009, 12:18 PM   #29
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Difference between the letters "C" and "K"

I just had a thought about the whole "C" vs. "K" in terms of letters used for names. "C", though pronounced exactly the same as "K", has the connotation of being softer, at least to me, maybe because it can be changed into an "s" sound in English. "C" seems softer, smoother, and more elegant. "K" on the other hand seems more raw and powerful, and slightly harsher than "C". So it seems to me that Elvish, for example, should use "C" and Dwarvish, for example, should use "K".

I think that Tolkien thought, the same, because looking through wordlists on Ardalambion, you can see that except in primitive Elvish, which seems a much more to me a much more "raw" language, Elvish languages favour the letter "C" over "K". On the other hand, Khuzdul, Adnaic, and the Orkish all use "K" instead of "C". As well as this, so does Valarin, which sounds like a very raw and powerful language.

The same goes with the "ch/kh" usage. Again, "ch" looks much more soft than "kh", which definately looks harsher, and we see a similar pattern. Tolkien gives "kh" and "ch" the same value, but I always imagine the "ch" to be a bit softer (going towards "gh", but still much more like "kh"), whereas the "kh" is pronounced harder. The sound "gh" is also related, as the other extreme (to "kh"), which is used in Orkish. "Kh" is used in Adnaic and Khuzdul, and "ch" is used in Elvish. Valarin uses all three.

Just an idea.
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Old 08-20-2009, 12:45 PM   #30
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I second Enw. And there is also the thing to it - at least with me I think it was that way - that "c" is used in Latin even in words which could be easily transcribed with "k" (like in "curriculum"), and thus, for an European, I guess (and maybe for others too), it preserves the image of "ancient forgotten culture with its beautiful statues and stuff like that". It has the feeling of the "high and noble" language.
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Old 08-21-2009, 09:53 AM   #31
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Tolkien specifically wrote of Quenya (Letter 144, 1954):
Quote:
'The archaic language of lore is meant to be a kind of 'Elven-latin', and by transcribing it into a spelling closely resembling that of Latin (except that y is only used as a consonant, as y in E. Yes) the similarity to Latin is increased ocularly.'
However Cirith Ungol, for instance, is not Quenya or the 'Elven-latin', and in draft letter 187 (1956) JRRT explained:
Quote:
'It was only in the last stages that (in spite of my son's protests: he still holds that no one will ever pronounce Cirith right, it appears as Kirith in his map, as formerly also in the text) I decided to be 'consistent' and spell Elvish names and words throughout without k. There are no doubt other variations...'
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:33 AM   #32
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Apart from internal consistency of spelling between the Elven languages, Tolkien's decision to use c for k in Sindarin names as well may also have been influenced by the (modern) orthography of Welsh, the language on which Sindarin was modelled.
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Old 08-21-2009, 09:02 PM   #33
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in the minority

I, too, originally pronounced Cirdain, Celeborn with the soft "c" and since learning the correct pronunciation I prefer the hard "k". As someone had ealier mentioned it gives a toughness to the character.

I have a hard time pronouncing Gandalf properly with the stress on the second syllable along with Sauron-(sow part) much as I find hard saying the girls' name Kayley. I apologize to those with the name and mean no disrespect it just feels like I'm saying Kelly in an exagerrated and uncomfortable way.

I do insist on saying it properly both as a "I'm part of the club" and as respect to someone's hard work especially when given tips.

Oh and the "Smak".......I Love it!! I'm still laughing about it.
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Old 08-22-2009, 02:52 AM   #34
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*Holby!!! Squeals with delight!*

I am unsuprisingly perhaps inconsistent. I read the books before absorbing the correct punctuation - which is rather a joyless way to start a novel (though I do look at instructions before attempting to assemble flat-packs!). However thanks to repeated listening of the BBC Radio series with its Christopher Tolkien assisted pronunciation. and his own recordings of the Silmarillion, I have relearnt and have no problems now with Celeborn, Feanor, Sauron. However it takes real mental effort to remember to say Kir (like the drink)-dan rather than Sir Dan.
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Old 08-22-2009, 05:29 AM   #35
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I have a hard time pronouncing Gandalf properly with the stress on the second syllable
You mean, GandALF? That sounds odd to me...
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:24 PM   #36
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Seeing Eru on a licence plate the other day made me think of this thread.

Ever since I first read about Eru, I've always pronounced it "Oo-Roo". I do not know whether that's how it's really pronounced, but it seemed to work for me and Laurinque. On second thought, when I looked at the spelling again, I read it as "Eh-roo". Does anyone know how it's supposed to be pronounced?
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:59 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior
Ever since I first read about Eru, I've always pronounced it "Oo-Roo". I do not know whether that's how it's really pronounced, but it seemed to work for me and Laurinque. On second thought, when I looked at the spelling again, I read it as "Eh-roo". Does anyone know how it's supposed to be pronounced
TheGreatElvenWarrior taught me everything I know about Tolkien; therefore I pronounce it Oo-Roo as well. What ever she said, I said.

However, my mother has completely different ideas on the pronunciation matter. She read LotR back in the '60s (and cannot recall it all that well) and pronounces Saruman as Sir-ah-nam, like the country, and Sauron as Sar-Ron among other things. I don't know where she came up with these but personally I find this rather charming; it's just creative pronunciation and part of the fun of reading Tolkien. On the other hand, it would be most interesting to see if anyone has heard these pronounced this way before, my mother may not be as creative as I think!

But before I get too far I should mention that my open ideas about pronunciation most likely stem from my utter inability to understand the sound of a word without hearing it said. I have always had a hard time with that but it wasn't too apparent until I tried to start wrapping my tongue around The Fellowship of the Ring. I seem to remember that I was a great source of amusement to TGEW.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:38 AM   #38
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There I was quoting Letters when Appendix E also notes: 'The High-elven Quenya has been spelt as much like Latin as its sounds allowed. For this reason c has been preferred to k in both Eldarin languages.'

Tolkien hid that right in front of me
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:39 PM   #39
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TheGreatElvenWarrior taught me everything I know about Tolkien; therefore I pronounce it Oo-Roo as well. What ever she said, I said.
I did not teach you everything you know about Tolkien. I believe that the Downer Newspaper did.



Quote:
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But before I get too far I should mention that my open ideas about pronunciation most likely stem from my utter inability to understand the sound of a word without hearing it said. I have always had a hard time with that but it wasn't too apparent until I tried to start wrapping my tongue around The Fellowship of the Ring. I seem to remember that I was a great source of amusement to TGEW.
You heard me saying names while you were reading the Fellowship, I believe I would ask you something like Have you read about the Balrog yet? and you hadn't, I probably spoiled it for you. And, what can I say, you're amusing!

Back on topic, I originally pronounced Feanor as FEE-nor, and not as Feah-nor. Still can't figure out how to pronounce Meaglin correctly...
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Old 08-26-2009, 05:58 AM   #40
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(...) Still can't figure out how to pronounce Meaglin correctly...
But it's Maeglin rather (-ae- not -ea-). So if you mean the diphthong, it is a combination of the individual vowels a-e (one syllable). Or even easier: 'but ae may be pronounced in the same way as ai' -- and ai has the sound of English eye.

Assuming that wasn't just a typo, that is
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