Middle Earth - Wales???

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Olwen 26/Sep/2006 at 11:20 AM
Brewer of the Shire Points: 1033 Posts: 440 Joined: 21/Aug/2008

This thread is for those who speek or can understand Welsh.  I know for a fact that Tolkien understood / spoke Welsh.  This is obvious to the Welsh speeker in his works, especially LOTR.  A good example is Iarwain Ben-adar ( Tom Bombadil in Elvish (not sure which form) ). 

These are the Welsh translations

I = to

arwain = lead

ben = head / leader

adar = birds

This name suits him, as he is a man of the forest.  Further examples of similarities are  =

Araw =  sim. to Arawn the celtic god of vengance

Barahir = translates to long bred

Lune = sim. to llun which is monday

There are several other examples of the ME - Welsh similarities.  I would just like to know your opinion on this matter, and if you have any more words or have any idea why Welsh features so stlongly in his works.  Thank you for reading!!!

geordie 26/Sep/2006 at 11:56 AM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
We are told in Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien that when he was a boy, Tolkien’s mum Mabel took Ronald and his brother Hilary to live in a house in Birmingham which backed onto a railway-line. Tolkien was fascinated with the names on the Welsh coal-trucks which used to pass his window. This, we are told, was the beginning of Tolkien’s love of Welsh.
Captain Bingo 26/Sep/2006 at 12:14 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 1573 Posts: 957 Joined: 31/Jan/2006
Certainly he loved the ’sound’ of Welsh, but not, as I remember, Irish. Welsh is more melifluous than Irish - I’m just speaking about the sound here, not making judgements on the language as a language.

He did say in an interview that to him discovering a new language was like discovering a new sweetmeat or a new wine.
Aelindis 26/Sep/2006 at 01:37 PM
Elder of Imladris Points: 1987 Posts: 916 Joined: 18/Dec/2004
Regardless of simlarities in sound, the meaning of the words in Sindarin is wholly different.
Olwen 27/Sep/2006 at 08:45 AM
Brewer of the Shire Points: 1033 Posts: 440 Joined: 21/Aug/2008
I have just had a sudden thought (while reading).  The stone of Erch was feared by many.  It could be that erch was short for ERCHYLL which is "terrifying" or "horendous" in Welsh
Magradhaid 27/Sep/2006 at 08:54 AM
Imp of Umbar Points: 7957 Posts: 8204 Joined: 13/Sep/2008

You mean Erech? That was not even Elvish but a pre-Nmenrean name like Eilenaer or Eilenach. And as has been mentioned, Iarwain ben-adar is not Welsh but Sindarin, and is not broken up as i arwain ben adar but iaur-gwain pen-adar "Old-new, fatherless", and Barahir means "fiery/eager master". Sindarin does have things in common with Welsh, like lenition, but similar sounding words do not have the same meaning.

geordie 27/Sep/2006 at 10:01 AM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
I think I remember reading somewhere that Erech is the name of a city - somewhere in the Middle East? Same goes for Uruk.
Olwen 27/Sep/2006 at 11:36 AM
Brewer of the Shire Points: 1033 Posts: 440 Joined: 21/Aug/2008
i never said that elvish was Welsh, only that the languages of ME were similar to the Welsh language.
Galin 27/Sep/2006 at 01:14 PM
New Soul Points: 3638 Posts: 1945 Joined: 28/Jan/2005

Tolkien did comment on Erech for example, as one can find in Letters; he talks about borrowing and ’echoes’, ending that, in any case, it being a famous name was of no importance to The Lord of the Rings and ’... no connexions in my mind or intentions between Mesopotamia and the Numenoreans or their predecessors can be deduced.’  (in the letter Tolkien notes he was probably more influenced by the element ER in Elvish).

Anyway, here’s an example including a Welsh form, Mr. Carl Hostetter looking at a possible relationship, though perhaps not between the words one might think...

’A relationship has long been suggested between the name Annwn of the Welsh underworld and the Sindarin word Annn ’Sunset, West’, isolated from the name Henneth Annn ’Window of the Sunset’ (LR:659) and cognate with Q. Andne ’West’ (as in Galadriel’s Lament) ... see for instance An Introduction to Elvish p. 72 s.v. Annn. Certainly the phonetic shapes of the two names are strikingly similar; and an association of W. Annwn with a land to the west is firm in the mythology.

But might there be a deeper association to be discovered in these words? (Well, obviously yes, or I wouldn’t be asking the question!)

Let’s first consider the etymology of W. Annwn. It turns out that there is a long history of a lack of consensus on this. But it also turns out not to matter which of the various conflicting theories and analyses is correct: we happen to know what Tolkien himself thought, at least at one point in his life. Among his papers in the Bodleian is an extensive set of notes that Tolkien made on the so-called "Mabinogion", and among these notes are found etymological notes on the name _Annwn_ (against the first occurrence of the name in the first of the Mabinogi, commonly called "Pwyll Pendeuic Dyuet"). These particular notes, in turn, are very clearly and closely based on those offered by Sir John Morris-Jones’ A Welsh Grammar: Historical and Comparative (Oxford, 1913)... Tolkien’s heavily annotated copy of which is located now in the English Faculty Library of Oxford University (...) Jones’s treatment (p. 160) reads:

"Ar[yan] *_bhudh/d-_ ’bottom’ and *_dhub-_ ’deep’, if not originally the same, are confused in the derived languages: W. _annwfn_ ’hell’ < *_n-dub-n-_ for *_n-bud-n-_ [the first _n_ in each of these words is marked as syllabic with an underposed circle] ’bottomless’: Gk. _a-byssos_; cf. O. Bulg. _duno_ ’bottom’ and Armen. _andundk_ ’abyssos’ with _d ... d_ for _b ... b_ by assimil."

The first thing to note here is the spelling _annwfn_ (the form that acutally occurs in "Pwyll"): In Welsh, as in Sindarin, final _-fn_ became _-n_ in the later language. The second thing to note is that W. _Annwfn_ ’hell’ is derived by Jones (and at least at this time by Tolkien) from a primitive form meaning ’bottomless’, cognate with Greek _abyssos_, (our _abyss_). The derivation is from a pair of confused primitive forms meaning ’bottom’ and ’deep’, prefixed with a negative element (syllabic *_n-_ > Greek _a-_): ’bottomless’.

It turns out that there is a Sindarin word whose derivation and meaning are both strikingly similar to this. In The Etymologies we find a base TUB-, untranslated, but with a primitive derivation *_tumbu_ ’deep valley’. Cognate with this is the adjectival formation *_tubn_ ’deep’, whence N. _tofn_ (note the development *_-bn_ to _-fn_ as in Welsh). And also cognate with this is a name formed with a prefixed _u-_ (which does occur as a negative element in the Eldarin tongues, though it is uncertain here whether it has that meaning of is simply a prefixion of the _sundoma_), *_Utubnu_, of Melkor’s "vaults in the North", whence Q. _Utumno_, and by regular development (as in Welsh) of medial _t_ to _d_ and of final *_-bn_ > *_-fn_ > _-n_, the Sindarin name _Udn_. This will be familiar to readers of  The Lord of the Rings as the region just behind the Morannon in the extreme north-west of Mordor. A name that Tolkien translates as ’hell’ (LR:1132).

The deep parallels in form, meaning, and mythological significance between W. Annw(f)n ’hell’ and S. Udn ’hell’ are far more striking than the surface similarity between W. _Annwn_ and S. _Annn_ ’Sunset, West’, but are discoverable only by philological exploration. Just the sort of exploration
that Tolkien himself would have loved, I think! Carl Hostetter 2002

Archie* 02/Oct/2006 at 11:09 AM
Scout of Lothlorien Points: 63 Posts: 10 Joined: 04/Sep/2006
Quote: Originally posted by Tinuviel on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I = to

arwain = lead

ben = head / leader

adar = birds

Araw =  sim. to Arawn the celtic god of vengance

Barahir = translates to long bred

Lune = sim. to llun which is monday

Prynhawn Da!

I don’t think that those phrases have been directly translated from welsh into Elvish. But there are instances where the connection is there to be seen. For example the frequent use of the "th" in the elvish and so on.

Hwyl a Fflag!


Aranhael 02/Oct/2006 at 12:47 PM
Defender of Imladris Points: 993 Posts: 421 Joined: 27/May/2004
Similarities between ’real’ languages and Tolkien’s Eldarin

Among all, there is also a list of similarities between Sindarin and Irish as well as Sindarin and Welsh (at the end of part 3). I’m sure that there are more, but I haven’t met any native Welsh speaker to contribute. :-)
Olwen 04/Oct/2006 at 02:39 PM
Brewer of the Shire Points: 1033 Posts: 440 Joined: 21/Aug/2008
Wow! somone who actually speaks "Cymraeg"!!! CYMRU AM BYTH FY NGHARIAD BACH!!!
Kaos the Gold 27/Oct/2006 at 09:17 AM
Blacksmith of Erebor Points: 1279 Posts: 833 Joined: 21/Jun/2006
    CLYWCH, CLYWCH, Tinuviel!!   I also speak welsh fluently, and my welsh spelling is much better than my english spelling(actually its just easier!) and I think it’s the best language around.  I know a lot of languages claim that, but...                     Welsh is also one of the oldest languages in Europe.  Oh, adn my username is welsh too.
Kaos the Gold 27/Oct/2006 at 09:20 AM
Blacksmith of Erebor Points: 1279 Posts: 833 Joined: 21/Jun/2006
  Oh, and don’t you think that ’Arwen’ really sounds welsh?  I do.  Oh, and TIRION upon Tuna?  In welsh, Tirion is literally ’fair’ as in ’she was fair’ to put it in a sentence.
Son of Huor 31/Oct/2006 at 02:58 AM
Scribe of Minas Tirith Points: 2491 Posts: 1689 Joined: 26/Sep/2003
I do not pretend to know much about Welsh ( or Sindarin, I just know some words ) but I like to brake a lance for Tinuviel here. Tolkien did compose his languages himself, but not out of nothing. His early Elvish strongly resembles Finnish (just as his early stories about Trin show affinity with the Finnish tale of Kullervo) this is in fine report with Tolkien’s statement that, inspite of his studies, he discovered Finnish, started to learn and most of all, love it in those early college days.
Just as Finnish, Welsh was a language he loved because of it’s sound and structure.
It is no more than natural that sounds and structures he loved strongly influenced the languages he was composing at that time. So if Sindarin or Quenya sounds or ’feels’ like welsh or Finnish this is logically arguable. This has nothing to do however with the meaning that Tolkien gave to his words or structures. (borrowed or not)
This goes for names too. Many many names in Tolkien’s works can be found also in Anglo-saxon texts or finnish texts or biblical verses or maps. He (conciously or unconciously) heard it, and remembered it when he was writing, adding new meanings to sometimes old sounds.
Romenna 31/Oct/2006 at 03:24 AM
Defender of Imladris Points: 838 Posts: 360 Joined: 13/May/2004

Rydw i hefyd yn siarad Cymraeg! (I also speak welsh!!) I love the fact that so many of the sounds in Elvish are simila to Welsh, and the pronunciation seems almost identical (appendices)

Neidr Wen- love the user name! how did you come up with it?

Cymru am byth.

Brandywine74 04/Nov/2006 at 09:45 PM
Foolhardy Ent of Fangorn Points: 1291 Posts: 562 Joined: 20/Apr/2006

I don’t know Welsh or any Elvish but can only judge on sound alone, and I’d have to say that they sound very similar to my ears. Apart from similar sounds they also seem to have the same quality of expression- I suppose a philologist would call it meter or something.

For anyone who hasn’t heard both languages spoken there’s a part in The Fellowship of the Ring extended DVD edition where Tolkien’s influences are discussed. There is a part where you hear the opening lines of the movie (The world is chnaged...) read out in Welsh and one of the Elvish languages- they sound quite similar.

Linaelin 06/Nov/2006 at 11:03 AM
Horse-groom of the Mark Points: 600 Posts: 26 Joined: 16/Jun/2004
I only know a little bit of Welsh but as to the fact of Iarwain Ben-Adar it is supposed to be Sindarin, but that doesn’t mean that Tolkien didn’t use a pun (like he did with Orthanc, and the last name of Gamgee). Tolkien was a master of language, just because he didn’t intend for Iarwain Ben-Adar to be Welsh, he possibly could have thought about it since he knew Welsh
Aranhael 07/Nov/2006 at 01:03 PM
Defender of Imladris Points: 993 Posts: 421 Joined: 27/May/2004
>but that doesn’t mean that Tolkien didn’t use a pun (like he did with
>Orthanc, and the last name of Gamgee)

Apart from modern English Tolkien used Old English to render Rohirric and an archaic or semi-archaic form of English to translate some place names. It was planned as a projection of the relations between Westron and the other tongues onto English.
But Welsh does not appear anywhere in this system and I have no idea why Tom Bombadil would receive a Welsh name, especially one meaning ’leader of birds’.