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  1. Troll Names - Tom

    William, Tom, and Bert. I'm sure people have pointed this out before, but it just occurred to me how out of place those names are in Middle-earth, especially Tom.

    Specifically, in his more considered view of names (used in writing The Lord of the Rings, for instance), Tolkien's names all fall into two categories: forms in a genuine language of the late Third Age (including Sindarin, Quenya, Orcish, the Black Speech, and Khuzdul), or a form in a Germanic (or occasionally Celtic) language represented as a 'translation' of Westron (the Common Speech) and other vernaculars related to it (like Rohirric). William and Bert actually could be interpreted in this second category, since they're both ultimately Germanic names - this would mean they took Westron names, 'translated' into English equivalents (though William is maybe a bit more Frenchified than Tolkien usually goes for). But Tom, short for Thomas, is ultimately a Hebraic name, which Tolkien otherwise made no use of (since it didn't fit into his translation theory). 'Huggins', Bill's last name, is (I think) also an Anglicized Irish name, which is unusual but not quite as unparalleled for Tolkien.

    Obviously Tolkien didn't have any real 'translation theory' in mind when he wrote TH, but did he ever try to rationalize or explain away the name Tom, which otherwise really breaks with his more considered practice later on?
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  2. Elainiwen's Avatar
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    #2
    Maybe Men just named the trolls that, and the trolls took the names to themselves and that's it? I really cannot find another in-world explanation.
    Last edited by Elainiwen; 23/Dec/2012 at 04:33 PM.

  3. Troelsfo's Avatar
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    #3
    I can think of no place where Tolkien does anything to explain the trolls' names. If he had ever done anything, I would expect that he would have done the same as he did with Sam, i.e. find some other name that could be shortened into Tom (Samwise instead of Samuel — surely something could be invented for Tom as well).

    Story-externally, I think this is another example showing how Tolkien was working with The Hobbit. It is clear from the early drafts that The Hobbit wasn't so much eventually drawn into his Silmarillion world (as he seems to imply in later letters) as it was allowed to borrow from that world from the outset, but, and this is the important bit, without ever being intended to be a part of that world. Tolkien liberally borrowed from his mythology to provide a background for his children's story, but he never meant the story to actually be a part of his mythology. Because of this, Tolkien felt free to introduce elements into The Hobbit that he would never have accepted into his mythology: the ludicrous talking purse is another example. Of course, once the sequel became firmly rooted in, and a part of, the mythology, he suddenly had a story with several components that were incongruous with the overall atmosphere of the mythology, but which he was forced to accept. His work on the 1960 Hobbit — even though it never reaches further than the start of the third chapter — shows that he did accept these elements as he didn't make any attempt at deleting them (the names of the trolls are unchanged, and even the purse is retained).
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  4. Galin's Avatar
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    #4
    I don't think Tolkien ever tried to explain these names in detail, and he retained them for the 1960 Hobbit, interestingly.


    Tolkien explained the Hobbit name Tom as really Tomba if I recall correctly, so he made use of Tom and avoided Thomas, but that's in a Hobbit context of course.

  5. Tavari Mordagnir's Avatar
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Rings View Post
    'Huggins', Bill's last name, is (I think) also an Anglicized Irish name, which is unusual but not quite as unparalleled for Tolkien.

    A quick look indicates a possible French origin for this surname from the diminutive of 'Hugh'- I don't know anything about French diminutives, but -ín is most definitely an Irish diminutive. It would be pure unresearched speculation on my part to suggest that 'Hugh' came to Ireland, was transformed to (Hughín) Huggin, which then became the surname Huggins and transplanted to Britain- but not entirely improbable!

    Another possible Irish derivative- Huggins as an alternative form of Higgins, which is an Anglicization of Ó hUiginn, which is of Norse origin and generally translated as viking, or 'sea-warrior,' though it is not a literal compound meaning the latter.
    Last edited by Moriel; 23/Dec/2012 at 05:54 PM.

  6. Galin's Avatar
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    #6
    Just checked: to explain some names in the Shire: Tolman, Tolma, Tomba are attested examples chosen for publication in The Lord of the Rings. In Appendix F 'Tom, Tim, Mat' were said to be short for examples like Tomba, Tolma, Matta -- which might be like Bilba, Bunga maybe.


    'Tomacca' or 'Tomburan' are from drafts -- unless these forms appear somewhere in the final text, but I don't think so.

  7. Moriel, I was was going off of Huggins being a variant of Higgins, but I don't have any reliable resources to hand to make any particularly informed comment. Incidentally, for Higgins, Ó hUiginn would be a phonetic adaptation of Norse víking-.

    Galin, that'd do it
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  8. geordie's Avatar
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Rings View Post
    ...Galin, that'd do it
    Please - let's not have any movie quotes here..

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  9. Tavari Mordagnir's Avatar
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    #9
    ...hah, now that I look at it again, that absolutely makes sense; v > u is fairly typical, k > g less so but does occur. Thanks!

  10. That was, at best, a subconscious quote - oops.

    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  11. Stronghold's Avatar
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    #11

    Hmm

    Maybe the Troll was named after old man Bombadil! Tomwise though... I doubt it. Hebraic though? Funny he doesn't look Drowish :)
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  12. fantasywind's Avatar
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    #12
    What about Bill Ferny or Harry Goatleaf? Those are mannish names of Breelanders so Trolls might take from other cultures as well :), they could talk and learn after all. Trolls may be dumb but can be thaught basic things, what do we know about daily life of trolls, it's vastly unknown for us haha :).

  13. Good catch on Bill Ferny. Bill and Harry are both basically Germanic names (though 'William' passed through French), and work pretty well for his 'translation theory' of Bree. And it does fit for the trolls in that area to use the same style of names.

    Of course, there is at least one Hobbit name 'Bill' could be short for . . . 'Bilbo'!
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  14. Rómeran's Avatar
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    #14
    Although not concerning the Trolls in particular, Tolkien spends some time discussing translation of personal names in his draft of the Appendix on Languages here:

    "§50 It will be observed that I have not [> rarely] used Scriptural names or names of Hebraic origin to represent Hobbit-names. There is nothing in Hobbit lore or history that corresponds [added: closely] to this element in our names. Bildad, a name occurring among Bolgers, is an accidental resemblance; it is a genuine Hobbit name which I have left unaltered. Other abbreviations like Tom and Mat I have also often left unchanged. Many such monosyllables were current in the Shire, but were shortenings of genuiine Hobbit names. For instance Tom of Tomacca, Tomburan; Mat of Mattalic; Bill (Bil) of Bildad (Bildat), Bilcuzal, or any of the numerous names ending in -bil, -mil, as Arambil." (The Peoples of Middle-Earth, The Appendix on Languages)

    That being said, in Letter 153 he states:

    "I might not (if The Hobbit had been more carefull written, and my world so much thought about 20 years ago) have used the expression 'poor little blighter', just as I should not have called the troll William." (Letter 153)
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  15. Kirinki54's Avatar
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    #15
    John Rateliff has commented – in The History of the Hobbit – that it is odd that William, Tom and Bert “speak cockney rather than some rustic, rural dialect”. But he concluded that cockney would be easy recognizable to Tolkien´s first intended audience, e g his children, and choosen to create a comic effect. Also perhaps that an urban dialect perhaps was more fitting for ruffians in Tolkien´s ear, as he did not want the trolls to be associated with honest rustic country people.
    The choice of their names would then follow quite naturally in that context?
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  16. Castamir2's Avatar
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    #16
    Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a kids book, it seems fitting to name not quite scary trolls as such. I agree though, they are rather out of place.
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