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Next in line of the series of books exploring the process by which Tolkien created TLotR. The most interesting point for me was that Frodo and Sam's path to Mordor, and even back to the Shire, emerged in Tolkien's thinking much earlier than the story of the others after the death of Boromir. He seems to almost make up the tale of Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn as he goes along, and I must admit it's not the most satisfying part of the book (and was the most messed around with by Peter Jackson for the film). In the middle of this, however, the Treebeard chapter stands out as a coming together of long-simmering ideas for Tolkien, who was fascinated by trees and forests and had been dropping foreshadowing references to Treebeard into his drafts without really thinking them through.

Tolkien took great care over names. It's a bit jarring to read "Trotter" instead of "Strider", "Ingolf" instead of "Aragorn" and "Ondor" instead of "Gondor", but I think it's not just familiarity with the final product - the eventually chosen names are genuinely better. There are a very few exceptions - Tolkien was not happy with "Osgiliath", and I think rightly so, but didn't find a good alternative. Irish readers find it amusing that one of Treebeard's fellow elder Ents is named Finglas; this name is there in the very first draft.

I noted with interest that all the early examples of runes - basically Gandalf's messages left at Bree and scrawled at Weathertop - use the good old-fashioned futhark, rather than what we came to know as the Cirth. The switch was made while composing the inscription on Balin's tomb in Moria, and implemented consistently after that. The development of the runes shows off Tolkien's deep knowledge of phonetics; you would expect him to have some familiarity with the subject as a philologist, but clearly it was a profound fascination. (Do you pronounce the 'o's differently in 'Lord' and 'Moria'? I don't, but Tolkien evidently did, going by his first drafts.)

Anyway, much enjoying this reconstruction of how the classic came to be.

Edited to add: amusingly, two people have responded to disagree with me on the vowels in 'Lord' and 'Moria', one saying that the 'Moria' vowel is longer, the other that it is shorter!


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 17th, 2011 09:20 am (UTC)
For me, the 'o' on 'Moria' is shorter than that in 'Lord', but otherwise the same sound.
Nov. 17th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
I've always thought the o in Moria was half a beat longer.
Nov. 17th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
I can see how that could be; I don't claim any authenticity for my pronunciation, simply that it is different from the 'o' in 'Lord'. ;-)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 17th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
I was always fairly sure the stress must be on the first syllable to let the verse scan properly:

The world is grey, the mountains old,
The forge's fire is ashen-cold;
No harp is wrung, no hammer falls:
The darkness dwells in Durin's halls;
The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-dûm.
Nov. 17th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
The rules for stress are in Appendix E:
In the Eldarin languages [the stress] is determined by the form of the word. In words of two syllables it falls in practically all cases on the first syllable In longer words it falls on the last syllable but one, where that contains a long vowel, a diphthong, or a vowel followed by two (or more) consonants. Where the last syllable but one contains (as often) a short vowel followed by only one (or no) consonant, the stress falls on the syllable before it, the third from the end. Words of the last form are favoured in the Eldarin languages, especially Quenya.
Moria falls into the last of these cases: the penultimate vowel i is short and followed by no consonant, so the stress falls on the antipenultimate vowel o.

The (otherwise excellent) musical settings by Stephen Oliver for the BBC Radio production often got the stress wrong, for example in Seek for the sword that is broken the singer stresses Isildur whereas Isildur is correct.
Nov. 17th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
I always assumed it was "Mo" as in "Modern" or "Moggy" and I pronounce "Lord" to rhyme with "Sword".
Nov. 17th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
This is a puzzle. Appendix E says:
The [vowel] sounds were approximately those represented by i, e, a, o, u in English machine, were, father, for, brute, irrespective of quantity.
This indicates that o is pronounced /ɔː/ (the vowel in lord for most English speakers).

But apparently Tolkien made some clarifications and corrections in The Road Goes Ever On (which I do not own, so cannot check) and all the pronunciation guides I can find on the web (e.g. this gentleman) take o to be /o/ as in (British) English pot. This is the pronunciation (mostly) used in the movies.

But if papersky is remembering correctly, Tolkien himself pronounced it as /əʊ/!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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