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From the chapter called Lothlorien in the Fellowship of the Ring, we get the following from Haldir (emphasis mine):

‘But we have heard rumours of your coming, for the messengers of Elrond passed by Lórien on their way home up the Dimrill Stair. We had not heard of - hobbits, or halflings, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth. You do not look evil! And since you come with an Elf of our kindred, we are willing to befriend you, as Elrond asked; though it is not our custom to lead strangers through our land.'

What does he mean when he says that the Elves did not know that any hobbits yet dwelt in Middle-earth? From what I understand of the history of Hobbits, they first appear in the vales of Anduin, which is not all that far from Lothlorien. Furthermore, I think it highly unlikely that they would have ever found hobbits outside Middle-earth. This line has always perplexed me somewhat, so what did Haldir mean?

10

"Yet" means "still" in this instance:

2 (b): continuously up to the present or a specified time : still

-(Merriam-Webster)

Elves of Lórien may have heard of halflings precisely for the reason you state: that the halflings originated not tremendously far from there. However, hobbits have been in the Bree-Shire area for well over a thousand years—hundreds of miles from the nearest major permanent Elvish settlement to the east. And the Elves themselves, though they may have passed through the Shire on their way West, were by that point focused on going over Sea, and would certainly bring back no word of the halflings to the East.
So it might be reasonable for the Elves to believe that the halflings migrated west from Anduin as Sauron expanded his power, and then probably died out in the constant warring that was going on in the northwest during the early-mid Third Age.

  • Nitpick: The havens are a permanent settlement. But as lothlorien cut itself off from even other elves, you're right that any elves heading that way from lorien were leaving. – Shamshiel Feb 25 '16 at 15:40
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    After reading your answer, I remembered something from the background works regarding the Nazgul seeking the Ring, and happening upon deserted villages of the Stoors as the rode though the Vales of Anduin. Since the Elves of Lothlorien had become so insular, and as you said, there were no Elves coming back eastwards to tell them about the Shire, they'd naturally assume all the halflings had been wiped out. – maguirenumber6 Feb 25 '16 at 16:25
  • @Mithrandir how dare you change my style of citation!!!!!!! ;-P – Matt Gutting Feb 25 '16 at 18:25
  • @MattGutting It's a LotR question. I have absolute power. :P – Mithrandir Feb 25 '16 at 18:27
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    @Mithrandir Aren't you supposed to be only influencing mortal SE contributors, and not commanding them? – DJClayworth Feb 25 '16 at 18:40
2

When Haldir says

We had not heard of – hobbits, of halflings, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth.

I think the "We" in that sentence refers to the majority of the Elves of Lórien rather than all Elves. Haldir's statement makes clear that his people had heard of hobbits, but only in the past (perhaps when they lived closer to Lórien). As they hadn't heard of them recently, they may have assumed that hobbits had died out. Of course, it is likely that Galadriel and Celeborn knew more about the world than did most of their people.

Lothlórien is somewhat cut off from the rest of the world; even the Elvish world. Before entering Lórien, Legolas tells Gimli

‘It is long since any of my own folk journeyed hither back to the land whence we wandered in ages long ago,’ said Legolas, ‘but we hear that Lórien is not yet deserted, for there is a secret power here that holds evil from the land. Nevertheless its folk are seldom seen, and maybe they dwell now deep in the woods and far from the northern border.’

The Lord of the Rings Book II, Chapter 6: Lothlórien

Later, when Merry tells Haldir that there are Elf-havens on the sea near the Shire, Haldir says

‘Happy folk are Hobbits to dwell near the shores of the sea!’ said Haldir. ‘It is long indeed since any of my folk have looked on it, yet still we remember it in song. Tell me of these havens as we walk.’

The Lord of the Rings Book II, Chapter 6: Lothlórien

During the few contacts that the Elves of Lórien had with the outside world, it is quite possible that the subject of hobbits never came up.

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