Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix F: II. On Translation

This is it folks.  The end of The Lord of the Rings.  A few pages of linguistics and then this book is closed, a brief visit to Bilbo's Last Song and then on to the Silmarillion.

Tolkien presents his work as a translation of what essentially is a found tale.  The journeys of Bilbo, Frodo, and assorted companions through events that ultimately began a new epoch in Middle Earth.  He wants us to treat this story as a translated work, with all the attendant changes that implies to the actual words spoken.

However, neither in our world nor in the world of Middle Earth is there truly one universal language.  There is a "Common Speech" but as a language it still has its derivations and differences across the different cultures and races.  So instead we get cultures that have expressed accents or different grammar rules.  The use of exceptional precise (or imprecise) English is a deliberate reflection of archaic forms of speech in cultures that view language as a core area of knowledge.  Similarly, he has "updated" uses of language to reflect the "modernity" of the story's present day.

I have to respect the linguistic knowledge and effort but in, even if to me the pretense is a bit forced.  But on the other hand, I think the pretense allows for a discussion that would be hard to fit in otherwise.  It adds a richness that is lacking in most fantasy novels, and that we'd be lacking here without this.


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