Dwarven,Dwarvish

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Ronaya 16/Dec/2006 at 08:40 PM
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I’m pretty sure it’s dwarven but I’m not sure. I remember reading somewhere that a word Tolkien wrote was spelled a different way in the books. Something to do with the publishing. Was it Dwarven or Elvish, Dwarvish or Elven? Which way am I supposed to these words? How did Tolkien origanally put them?
Battlehamster 16/Dec/2006 at 10:09 PM
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There is a "note on the text" at the front of my copy of LotR that says that the publishers had a nasty tendency to make dwarves dwarfs, elvish elfish and elven elfin.  There are a couple of the others that it mentions, but those are the ones that have something to do with the ones you mentioned.  The last is totally nuts because they mean two totally different things: elven is, well, elven and in most contexts I’ve seen elfin is small or slight or delicate or something like that.

Magradhaid 16/Dec/2006 at 10:18 PM
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Before Tolkien, dwarfs, elfin, and elfish were considered the only proper spellings. Tolkien altered these in his works, since ’elfin’ has a diminutive, fairy-talish kind of small flower-inhabiting connotation, like you might see in a Disney film. He also wrote dwarves, though dwarrows would be the ’correct’ word if it had evolved phonologically as would be expected: it comes from dweorh, and the similar beorh morphed into barrow, sometimes with an alternate form barf (or bargh). That’s why he wrote Dwarrowdelf for Westron Phurunargian, ’Dwarf-delving’.
geordie 17/Dec/2006 at 03:05 AM
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Tolkien had this problem with the printers during the first printing of LotR. But Puffin Books were the worst culprits - they blithely went ahead and changed elvish to elfin, dwarves to dwarfs etc [and further to farther] - without any idea of asking the author! Very snooty they were, too. When Tolkien had to look up something in TH one day, he happened to pick up the Puffin ed, and went ballistic. Puffin were asked to explain. They got on their high horse. ’We used the Oxford English Dictionary’ they said, very high and mighty. Tolkien replied, fairly accurately:

’I wrote the Oxford English Dictionary!’

Battlehamster 17/Dec/2006 at 04:10 PM
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Oh, I wish I could seen their faces when he said that.  I really never thought about it, but I guess, linguist at Oxford, he would’ve.  Aw.  Now I feel sort of guilty about using the online version of the OED that my Shakespeare professor told us about instead of actually springing for a copy of it.

 

geordie 18/Dec/2006 at 09:48 AM
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Well, actually Tolkien was exaggerating a little bit. The Oxford English Dictionary [in its original name of A New English Dictionary based on Historical Principles - or N.E.D. for short] was 75 years in the making. There are still supplements being made, to this day.

Tolkien worked on the Dictionary for only two years; working on the letter W.
Battlehamster 18/Dec/2006 at 11:56 AM
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two years, just on words starting with the letter "W"? I think I would have gone insane. So I guess he didn’t actually do any of the elfin or dwarfs entries. But changing further to farther seems really random. Elven and elvish and dwarves aren’t exactly frequently used, but further?
Kalevala 26/Dec/2006 at 05:26 AM
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I have got a question was their multiple forms of Dwarvish or not. On the tomb of Balin found in Moria the language was written in symbols, but was that the only way to write Dwarvish? Or could you also write it with the alphabet known by all?
Magradhaid 26/Dec/2006 at 06:52 AM
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Well, the Dwarves of Moria used a different adaptation of the runes than the Dwarves of Erebor.
Maiarian Man 26/Dec/2006 at 11:36 AM
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Tyrhael - "Elvish" (and Elven, elves) was considered a proper spelling at the time of the Hobbit. It had even been the popular spelling for quite a while (though at the time of the Hobbit, it likely was not--I know at least "elfs" was more popular than "elves" for some time between Shakespeare and Tolkien). Tolkien’s popularity however has brought the original spelling, "Elvish" back to more popularity. The OED now cites under the definition of "Elfish": "The older form Elvish is still the more usual, but in some connexions elfish might be preferred on account of its more obvious relation to the primitive noun." And we can note that the OED now uses "Elves" rather than "Elfs" in the text of other definitions (such as the definition of Dwarf and Elfish).

"Dwarven" (and Dwarvish, dwarves), were not proper spellings, nor are they now.
Battlehamster 26/Dec/2006 at 02:43 PM
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I wonder why they used "elfs" at all.  I mean, "wolf" doesn’t become "wolfs."
Magradhaid 26/Dec/2006 at 03:40 PM
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MM:  I just re-read a letter; Tolkien said that ’dwarfs’ was the correct plural, and that using ’dwarves’ in The Hobbit was "just a piece of private bad grammar, rather shocking in a philologist", and the historical plural would have been ’dwarrows’. He also says in letter 236 that ’dwarfs’ is the only recognized modern plural, but ’elvish’ is the older, historical form, as you have stated. He even states in App. F that he used ’dwarves’ to separate them from the ’dwarfs’ found in "the sillier tales of these latter days." Seems I’m on a roll for (mis-)quoting things from memory!  I mean, ’dwarves’ was recorded to have been seen used in 1818, but it’s not the correct recognized plural.

Battlehamster: Perhaps it’s supposed to be analogical, with -s directly fixed on the singular noun rather than changing the form? I can understand why it would be changed from -lfs to -lves, but not why it’d be left alone, except for analogy with other ’regular’ forms.

Maiarian Man 26/Dec/2006 at 06:00 PM
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Battlehamster - some nouns ending in "f" do not take an "ves" ending. For example, roof, proof, oaf, staff, beef, dwarf (technically).So it seems that "elfs" probably derived from enough people thinking it sounded better and thus writing it that way.
geordie 27/Dec/2006 at 05:38 AM
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In the Guerolt interview [part of which at least is linked to in the Tolkien: The Man forum] Tolkien commented "that’s the way I have of doing things - I thought ’wharf, wharves; dwarf, dwarves! Why not?’"