Thursday, 15 March 2012

JRR Tolkein Mordors Irish

What’s the Gaelic for “Bilbo Baggins”?

“Biolbó Baigín”, apparently.

A version of The Hobbit as Gaeilge ('An Hobad'),  is to hit the books-elves at the end of March, according to Monday’s Irish Times.

The author of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein, created the children’s work before going on to develop his theme into “Lord of the Rings”, in which Bilbo’s fluffy-footed offpring Frodo (Friodó Baigín, I imagine) went on to save Middle Earth from the tyranny of Sauron.

Tolkien was a polyglot whose lingo-list  included, according to Wiki:

"Latin, French, German, Middle English, Old English, Finnish, Gothic, Greek, Italian, Old Norse, Spanish, Welsh, and Medieval Welsh. He was also familiar with Danish, Dutch, Lombardic, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Swedish and older forms of modern Germanic and Slavonic languages."

Not satisfied with that lot, he invented several of his own, and had a reasonable knowledge of many other tongues into the bargain. . Gaeilge, however, he never developed a gra for.  

The following extract is from the aforementioned article.

“Despite his apparent love of languages, the English author and academic revealed a dislike of Irish in a selection of letters published posthumously in 1981 (he also admitted having a dislike for French and preferring Spanish to Italian).

In a letter to Deborah Webster, dated October 1958, he wrote: “I go frequently to Ireland (Éire: southern Ireland) being fond of it and of (most of) its people; but the Irish language I find wholly unattractive.

Some years later, in “Drafts for a letter to Mrs Rang”, Tolkien considered the etymology of the word “nazg”, the Black Speech word for “ring”, which featured so prominently in The Lord of the Rings

In his letter, Tolkien admitted a similarity to the Irish word “nasc”, but put this down to coincidence.

“I have no liking at all for Gaelic from Old Irish downwards, as a language, but it is of course of great historical and philological interest, and I have at various times studied it. (With alas! very little success.)

“It is thus probable that nazg is actually derived from it, and this short, hard and clear vocable, sticking out from what seems to me (an unloving alien) a mushy language, became lodged in some comer of my linguistic memory.”

In 1979, Prof George Sayer recounted a conversation he had with Tolkien, a devout Catholic, who described Ireland as “naturally evil”.

He could “feel”, Sayer said, “evil coming up from the earth, from the peat bogs, from the clumps of trees, even from the cliffs, and this evil was only held in check by the great devotion of the southern Irish to their religion.”

Not sure if all the above rings true, and it is quite possible he could have been acting the troll to some ext-ent.

But at least one influence which  in the darkness bound us is greatly diminished. 

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Anonymous said...

"But at least one influence which in the darkness bound us is greatly diminished."

Couldn't agree more. It is great that the Brits are out ;)

The Gombeen Man said...

Well I referring to religion, as you know. But where do you live yourself?

John said...

I see that Foinse, some tax taking money sucking organisation.Drew up draw up this list of the all-time ten best books in Irish.

1. Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Cré na Cille.
2. Tomás Ó Criomhthain, An tOileánach.
3. Myles na gCopaleen, An Béal Bocht.
4. Seosamh Mac Grianna, Mo Bhealach Féin.
5. Seán Ó Ríordáin, Eireaball Spideoige.
6. Alan Titley, An Fear Dána.
7. Pádraig Ua Duinnín, Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla.
8. Liam Ó Flaithearta, Dúil.
9. Tomás Ó Raithile (editor), Dánta Grádha.
10. shared by Micheál Ó Conghaile, An Fear a Phléasc and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Cead Aighnis.

I was so dissapointed that Peig did not make this list!!! with this list of "Greats", it is no wonder that they are translating English classics.

Anonymous said...

what's the big deal?
according to wikipedia, the hobbit has been translated into languages as diverse as Arabic,Chinese, Bulgarian,Dutch, German, Latvian, Polish, Turkish etc etc etc,

The Gombeen Man said...

@ John. Yes, we had Shakespeare and Dickens for the English curriculum... Thanks to the Folklore Commission there was the turgid drivel that is Peig for unwilling Gaeilge students.

@ Anon. That's wonderful news. At least there is some chance it might be read in those languages, then.

Anonymous said...

So John, I presume you've all those "Greats" then and can vouch for their literary quality?


The Gombeen Man said...

Just on a separate issue, I've had an email from a reader who suggested a future topic for a blog post. I didn't ignore the email - indeed I replied to it right away - and I will, as I said in the email - cover the topic. I am not a techie, but I reply to all emails (other than spam - and there's a thought... always check your spam filters). Anyway...

@ El. I read The Poor Mouth. Several times, in fact - it's a real hoot. Does that count?

And the gaelgoeiri of the day hated it, I believe.

Anonymous said...

@Gombeen Man, No it doesn't count. You don't come across "a real hoot" much in the lexicon of literary criticism.

But, perhaps John could answer for himself.


The Gombeen Man said...

@ El. True, El. But The Poor Mouth is the translated An Béal Bocht, which in turn is a piss-take of An tOileánach, I believe. I read the English version of that too and it was so bad I had to put it in the bin. It's like won't be there again.

Maybe John - like many - had quite enough with Peig!

John said...

Anon, the so called list of "Greats" have not proved to be great literature in the sense, that English has been the medium used by great Irish writers of international and Nobel winning standard. By the way the Nobel prize is not just for English language writers, it is open to all languages. The idea that we had great Gaelic literature is as fake, as the tan and curly wig of an Irish dancing girl. We never produced in the Irish Language a Shakespere or Goethe. And, instead we have falsified the history of the Irish language. How did we do this?, During the 1950s and 1960s a standardised form of Irish, known the An Caighdeán Oifigiúil (The Official Standard) was developed by Dept. of education. It combines elements from the three major dialects and its pronunciation is based on the Connacht dialect. This is the form of the language taught in most schools. They also got rid of the Irish alphabet. The Irish uncial alphabet originated in medieval manuscripts as a variant of the Latin alphabet. It was used for printing Irish until quite recently and is still seen on old road signs and public notices throughout Ireland. They also had a spelling reform in 1957 , which eliminated some of the silent letters which are still used in Scottish Gaelic

So the result is that they are using a made up version of a language and using a English alphabet. So, if we met some old gael for the 17th Century, a modern day Irish speaker would have trouble in being understood, due to the modern day language changes as outlined above.
This is just one example, of how by creating a false history, that it hen becomes a "believed" absolute of truth, and leads to a false debate and the nonsense of fake history.

Anonymous said...

Happy San Pats >.....