Tolkien and Welsh, A Collection of Articles on J.R.R. Tolkien's Use of Welsh by Mark T. Hooker has been released (10.07.12 by James Dunning) - Comments

Tolkien and Welsh (Tolkien a Chymraeg), a collection of articles on J.R.R. Tolkien's use of Welsh language and culture by Mark T. Hooker has been released!

Tolkien and Welsh provides an overview of J.R.R.Tolkien's use of Welsh in his Legendarium, ranging from the obvious (Gwynfa), to the apparent (Took), to the veiled (Gerontius), to the hidden (Goldberry).

Though it is a book by a linguist, it was written for the non-linguist with the goal of making the topic accessible. The unavoidable jargon is explained in a glossary, and the narrative presents an overview of how Welsh influenced Tolkien's story line, as well as his synthetic languages Quenya and Sindarin.

The study is based on specific examples of attested names, placed in the context of their linguistic and cultural background, while highlighting the peculiar features of Welsh, "the senior language of the men of Britain" (MC 189), that Tolkien found so intriguing.

It supplements, rather than competes with Carl Phelpstead's excellent Tolkien and Wales, which sidestepped the topic of the Celtic linguistics behind Tolkien's work. Learn the story behind Lithe, Buckland, Anduin, and Baranduin.
Tolkien and Welsh, Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien's Use of Welsh in his Legendarium by Mark T. Hooker


Words by the illustrator James Dunning


The year 2000 was a fine vintage year. Cymdeithas Madog, the Society that teaches Welsh language to North Americans, convened that summer in Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin), Wales. There I met many intriguing folks, but prominent among them was one Mark T. Hooker. Mark and I share linguistic interests and background similar in a great many respects. Here in Wales appeared yet another modus operandi. Since 1967 I had known that Tolkien had honored Welsh, "the language of the senior men of Britain" as model and inspiration for his Elven tongue Sindarin. It was Tolkien’s Welsh link that brought Hooker to Wales to investigate. I understood completely.

Mark T. Hooker published the culmination of years of his own linguistic investigations into the Welsh roots in Tolkien’s work: Tolkien and Welsh: Tolkien a Chymraeg. Some Welsh roots are apparent, others are hidden substrata, and Hooker has conducted a systematic study for years to ferret them out.

Since 2000 Hooker and I have corresponded and collaborated on various enterprises. I have been fortunate and privileged to provide illustrations for two of his volumes of Tolkien commentary: A Tolkienian Mathomium and The Hobbitonian Anthology. Hooker’s latest Tolkien and Welsh also features two of my illustrations (1), as well, customized for Hooker’s theme: 

The Linguistic Landscape of Bree 

The four Hobbits arrive at Bree when the stars have just come out. The Bree Hill is seen in the distance.

A fellow Hobbit bon vivant reposes against the Inn wall after a sumptuous meal smoking his pipe-weed. Bree is a quaint little town worth a cordial visit, but not to forget, Bree also resides at the uncertain crossroads where the East Road from the Shire crosses the Greenway.

While the Hobbits stand in the lamplight before the Inn making plans, a tall shadowy man lurks not far away, and a Nazgűl crouches in the shadows, as a grim reminder that Sauron at Bree is closing his net about Frodo.

There is an artist’s jest in keeping with the theme of Hooker’s ‘Linguistic Landscape of Bree:’ the signs of The Prancing Pony and the sign ‘Pub’ are couched in Welsh language: Y Ferlen Lamsachus and Tafarn.
Tolkien and Welsh, Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien's Use of Welsh in his Legendarium by Mark T. Hooker
Tolkien and Dafydd ap Gwilym (frontispiece)

Tolkien is in his study, a formidable wall of books behind, with Elvish artifacts about him, including his drawing of the Moria Gate. He is smoking pipe-weed, surrounded by creature comforts: a cup of tea, his favourite pipe-weed, a period beanbag ashtray with a spare pipe, while reading Dafydd ap Gwilym. Looming above is reproduced a fragment of the actual manuscript of Dafydd ap Gwilym’s poetry celebrating his patron Ifor. Some of the letters to us appear quite unusual and exotic. In particular the h seems a grandiose flight of fancy, rendering the script dark to later men. The text goes:

33 Hyd y gwyl golwg digusd
33 As far as clear eyesight can see

34 hydr yw a hyd y clyw clusd
34 It is powerful, and as far as ear can hear

35 Hyd y mae iaith Gymraeg
35 As far as the Welsh language is [spoken]

36 a hyd y tyf hadau tęg
36 And as far as the fair seeds grow

37 hardd Ifor hoew ryw ddefod  
37 Handsome Ifor, splendid custom

38 hîr dy gled heuir dy glod
38 Long is your sword, your praise is spread

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Dafydd ap Gwilym


Tolkien and Welsh, Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien's Use of Welsh in his Legendarium by Mark T. Hooker


Dafydd ap Gwilym lived during the catastrophic 14th century, and perhaps died of the Black Plague. But with his cywydd and its distinctive meter, Dafydd reconfigured Welsh poetry. And Welsh scholars honor him today, for Dafydd’s literary contributions laid down important background for the modern Welsh language.

Tolkien himself has revealed that his fascination with Welsh inspired the Elven tongue Sindarin. This drawing would portray the connection between Elvish and Welsh. And would a scholar with a medievalist bent like Tolkien know Dafydd? You bet!

About the author Mark T. Hooker

Mark T. Hooker is a specialist in Comparative Translation at Indiana University's Russian and East European Institute (REEI). Retired, he conducts research for publication. His articles on J.R.R. Tolkien have been published in English in Beyond Bree, Parma Nölé, Translating Tolkien and Tolkien Studies, in Dutch in Lembas (the journal of the Dutch Tolkien Society), in Polish in Ancalima, in Brazilian-Portuguese by the Brazilian Tolkien Society (Dúvendor), and in Russian in Palantir (the journal of the St. Petersburg Tolkien Society). He has presented papers at a number of MythCons and at the fourth Lustrum of the Dutch Tolkien Society. He is the author of Tolkien Through Russian Eyes (Walking Tree, 2003), The Hobbitonian Anthology (Llyfrawr, 2009), Implied, But Not Stated: Condensation in Colloquial Russian and The History of Holland (Greenwood, 1999).

One of his essays is included in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Lord of the Rings" volume of Dr. Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations series, billed as "the most comprehensive collection of literary reference in the world." Dr. Bloom is currently the Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University.

The review of A Tolkienian Mathomium in Tolkien Studies says, because Hooker’s "breadth of expertise is somewhat unusual for Tolkienian linguists, most of whom come from the Old English/Old Norse quadrant, Hooker has a wide variety of things to say that have not been heard before."

He contributed the article "Reading John Buchan in Search of Tolkien" in the excellent Tolkien and the Study of his Sources, Jason Fisher (ed.).

Read an interview with the author.

About the Artist James Dunning

James Dunning has authored Tolkien articles published in Beyond Bree, Lembas (NL), and Tolkien in Translation (Walking Tree Press Cormarë Series) and elsewhere. Most recently he published his own original paranormal romance novel The Bright Lady and the Astral Wind and designed and illustrated its cover.

He provided illustrations for A Tolkienian Mathomium and The Hobbitonian Anthology. The artist has read and digested Tolkien’s various works for over forty years. He was featured and interviewed in Tolkien Library and received Heren Istarion’s 2006-2007 Imperishable Flame Award for Tolkien Inspired Creativity. He contributed artwork to the Beyond Bree 2011 Tolkien Calendar. James Dunning operates a website www.dolmentree.com for Dolmen Tree Art and Dolmen Tree Press.

A note worthy review


Jason Fisher--the editor of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources (McFarland, 2011), and the host of the blog Lingwë: Musings of a Fish -- says:

'Tolkien and Welsh' "should be pretty accessible to most readers." Mark gets "into some of the particulars of Welsh (and Sindarin) phonology--especially on the matter of mutation, a prominent feature of both languages--but Mark writes primarily for the lay person." Where Carl Phelpstead's book 'Tolkien and Wales' "presents a broad survey of the forest as a whole, Mark's book is down at the level of the trees within it, even single leaves, grappling with individual words and names. If you are familiar with his previous books, it is much like those, but with the driving thread being the influence of Welsh on Tolkien's nomenclature and storytelling. I think Mark's book and Carl's complement each other and could be profitably read together."


Title: Tolkien and Welsh, A Collection of Articles on J.R.R. Tolkien's Use of Welsh in his Legendarium
Author:
Mark T. Hooker

Publisher:
CreateSpace

Publication Date:
26 Jun 2012

Type:
paperback, 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1477667733
ISBN-13: 978-1477667736


(1) Drawings are executed in black drawing ink on parchment and Bristol board. Mark T. Hooker and Tolkien Library use these drawings by express permission of the artist. © Copyright James Dunning, 2012.

Enjoyed this post? Click to get future articles delivered by email or get the RSS feed.


Spread the news about this J.R.R. Tolkien article: