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I can see no good reason for Gimli having a scottish accent and I just wonder if there is any information on why this was deemed necessary?

Is it supposed to be indicative of a Dwarvish accent in general or unique to the character of Gimli?

I have yet to see a trailer of the Hobbit - do the dwarves in the Hobbit movie also have accents?

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@NominSim Yes it is fair enough. I did not know he was Welsh which now makes me wonder even more why they chose a Scottish accent. I just wondered if it was documented anywhere that there was a particular reason for it. –  bazz Jul 25 '12 at 18:30
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@NominSim That doesn't seem to be the case (referring to the actor being Welsh and that being the accent of the character). Wikipedia states that he affected a Scottish accent, which means someone in the film-making pipeline made the decision that this character would have that accent. –  Keen Jul 25 '12 at 18:40
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Haven't dwarves had scottish accents in a lot of media prior to the LotR movies? Also, a TVTropes link for good measure. –  Xantec Jul 25 '12 at 18:41
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I am not trying to make it out as a bad thing - I just wondered. Given that the actor who plays Pippin is scottish and Pippin has a scottish accent the actor didnt mask his native accent as did the Gimli actor who is apparently Welsh. Now it seems more strange that a Dwarf and a Hobbit have the same accent even though their native tongues are different. –  bazz Jul 25 '12 at 18:48
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Gimli's accent is definitely Welsh, not Scottish. The Wikipedia article is wrong. (Unless it was just a really bad Scottish accent.) –  Graham Borland Jul 26 '12 at 10:31
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3 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

One the oldest tropes in fantasy literature, movies and television regarding dwarves is that they have Scottish accents and wield axes. Dwarves in fantasy literature are usually viewed as being great engineers, miners, architects builders and warriors. These characteristics are also commonly viewed as part of the stereotypical Scotsman. Dwarves with Scottish accents are not new to the LOTR movies. Video games, such as Baldur's Gate, going back into the 80s and 90s which included dwarves also often stereotyped them as having this accent.

Others have theorized that since many of the earliest legends including creatures that eventually came to be characterized as dwarves come from Celtic legend, that giving them Scottish accents 'just feels right'.

If you just do a Google search of "Why do dwarves have Scottish accents?", you will find hundreds, if not thousands of sites debating this issue. But the short version is that it goes back beyond the LOTR movies and Jackson was probably just following along with that trope so that people will find the character of Gimli more recognizable as a dwarf.

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Don't forget the beards! The beard is the key! –  Secko Jul 26 '12 at 1:40
    
Damn! I knew I was forgetting something in the stereotype. –  BBlake Jul 26 '12 at 13:23
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The Scottish dwarves trope is older than Peter Jackson's movies, he merely went along with an established trend. Tolkien's dwarves were not Scottish; on the contrary, Tolkien based their language (Khuzdul) on Hebrew phonology, so that it would be completely different from the elvish languages like Sindarin (inspired by Welsh and other Indo-European languages) and Quenya (inspired primarily by Finnish).

One plausible hypothesis for the origin of Scottish dwarves is a character in Poul Anderson's 1961 novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, Hugi the dwarf, who does speak in a thick Scottish dialect. Three Hearts and Three Lions was an important source of inspiration for the role-playing game series Dungeons and Dragons, as was Tolkien's Middle-Earth, so that is probably where Scottish dwarves and Tolkien dwarves were blended.

In a way, Scottish dwarves can be seen as following Tolkien's vision with a huge dose of artistic license. Tolkien's dwarves speak a language that is completely unlike the common tongue. Scottish dwarves speak a language that is evidently different from the common tongue while remaining comprehensible for practical out-of-story reasons.

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Probably an explanation why dwarves appear Scottish is that dwarves are beings from Norse mythology and folklore that come up as creatures called trows in Scottish folklore.

Quote from wiki:

In the folkloric traditions of the Orkney and Shetland islands (Scotland), a trow (alternatively trowe or drow) is a small, troll-like fairy creature. Trows, in general, are inclined to be short of stature, ugly and both shy and mischievous in nature. Like the troll of Scandinavian legend, with which the trow shares many similarities, trows are nocturnal creatures; venturing out of their 'trowie knowes' (earthen mound dwellings) solely in the evening, they often enter households as the inhabitants sleep. Trows traditionally have a fondness for music, and folktales tell of their habit of kidnapping musicians or luring them to their dens.

Trolls are mentioned here, so I just wanted to add:

Quote from wiki:

In later Scandinavian folklore, other kinds of nature spirits (Vættir), like the Troll and the Nisse, take over many of the functions of the Dvergar (dverg - Norse/Norwegian for dwarf).

Many of the important dwarves in Middle-earth got their names from significant dwarfs in Norse mythology.

Quote from wiki:

In Tolkien's Middle-earth, Durin the Deathless, a character based on the Norse figure, is one of the founding fathers of the Dwarves.

Quote from wiki:

In Norse mythology, Dvalin is a dwarf who appears in several Old Norse tales and kennings. J. R. R. Tolkien took the name as Dwalin for one of the dwarves in The Hobbit.


Apart from this and all these great answers, I just want to add some other similarities:

  • Beard (they have impressive beards)
  • Fighting on foot, as opposed to fighting on horseback
  • Kilt (some dwarfs have been seen wearing one, and dwarf women prefer wearing one)
  • Similar weapons & siege engines
  • Skin and hair/beard color (which is similar to all northern people)
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