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I was reading Children of Húrin and noticed the subtitle: Narn i Chîn Húrin.

The Sindar language dictionary defines "narn" as:

narn S., N. [nˈɑrn] pl. nern S. [nˈɛrn] n. a tale or a saga, that is told in verse to be spoken and not sung ◇ Ety/374, WJ/313, MR/373, S/412 ◇ OS *narna, CE *nʲarnâ "told"

source

Given Tolkien and Lewis's relationship and passion for their linguistics, is there any reason to infer that Narnia is a based off a Sindar word?

  • If there is a relationship I would expect it to be in Old English or a Nordic language rather that Sindarin; I doubt Lewis would have made use of the latter. – Matthew Read Mar 2 '12 at 19:45
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Supposedly the name "Narnia" was found in an atlas of the ancient world by C.S. Lewis. It was a town in Umbria (a region in Italy). Given that Tolkien put a lot more work into creating deep back-stories, I'd imagine that he did not simply borrow the name as C.S. Lewis did.

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While I rather doubt that Narnia is based off of a Sindarin word, in "That Hideous Strength" Lewis did reference "Numinor". Tolkien commented on it, actually - see letter #169 in "The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien". I would rather expect that if Narnia was based off of a Sindarin word, Tolkien might have mentioned it somewhere.

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I too have long wondered if they are also connected. I had heard about the link with the Italian town, now called Narni but in Roman times Narnia, but I still speculate if CS Lewis decided that the name he once so liked the sound of would suit perfectly as the name of his invented storybook land.

As Lewis would have been well acquainted with Tolkien's story "Narn i Chîn Húrin" as a fellow Inkling and a great friend, he would've known that "Narn" means tale or story. So I wonder if Lewis decided that Narnia would make for the perfect name for the imaginary land his tales took place in as it could be taken to mean "Story-land".

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