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The first time I heard someone talk about Barad-dûr, I thought they were talking about a "barred door." The meaning would be more than appropriate. Is there any chance Tolkien happened to realize he could do this, using his own Middle Earth languages, as a bit of an inside joke?

Or is it just completely coincidence Barad-dûr seems like it could be so easily pronounced as "barred door?"

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  • 11
    It was originally meant to be "Hodor"
    – cryptarch
    Jan 15, 2019 at 23:08
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    Seems a bit of a stretch to me. It's not a door and it's not barred
    – Valorum
    Jan 15, 2019 at 23:09
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    don't prescribe to Tolkien that which was quite likely simply someone butchering the invented language ;)
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 15, 2019 at 23:12
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    Uh, except Barad-dur does NOT sound like "barred door", or any other English words.
    – Martha
    Jan 15, 2019 at 23:32
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    With real languages, search the language hard enough and you'll find words that coincidentally sound like a word in another language. Example: boya means boy in Japanese, but the Japanese word does not originate from English.
    – Kai
    Jan 16, 2019 at 0:03

3 Answers 3

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There is no evidence to indicate a deliberate connection.

Similar coincidences certainly do exist in Tolkien's work, with the most well-known being the name Atalantë, used for post-Downfall Númenor and suggestive enough of "Atlantis" that Tolkien himself remarked on it in a footnote to Letter #257:

It is a curious chance that the stem √talat used in Q[uenya] for 'slipping, sliding, falling down', of which atalantie is a normal (in Q) noun-formation, should so much resemble Atlantis.

In this particular case it seems that the Quenya stem was pre-existing, and once Tolkien noticed that it could be formed to resemble "Atlantis", he deliberately chose to do so.

In the case of Barad Dûr, a resemblance to "barred door" doesn't even make sense; there is nothing in the books to make a connection between the Dark Tower and a barred door, and if such a connection were to be made, one would imagine it to be more appropriate to the Paths of the Dead ("the way is shut", etc).

You're going to have to attribute this one to pareidolia.

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  • Another example is Baranduin which sounds like Brandywine. But "duin" means river so it was at least half coincidence
    – hppp
    Jan 17, 2019 at 19:40
  • Was the stem TALAT preexisting? The Lost Road was written well before LotR (and the need for a bridge between the early versions of the Silmarillion and LotR), and it seems quite possible that Tolkien is being facetious here, adding a stem to the Quenya lexicon that could serve as a root for Atalantë after the fact.
    – chepner
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:13
  • Brandywine isn't a coincidence. It's a corruption of the Elvish name into the Common Speech. Jan 29, 2019 at 15:12
  • I'd say there is a resemblance to a barred door. What is a fortress? Walls to keep people out. That includes gates or doors that would have to be barred, so a fortress is, in many ways, a barred door to keep people out.
    – Tango
    Jun 11, 2019 at 6:46
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"Barad" is used in other names:

As is "Dûr":

While it's possible that Tolkien designed all these words around "Barad Dûr" being a strained pun, it seems more likely to me that it's a coincidence.

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    That would be my thought, but sometimes when you find something odd like this, it turns out there might be a story behind it.
    – Tango
    Jan 16, 2019 at 3:43
  • Barrad, Barad, and Beraid are three different words, pronounced in three different ways. (If it's not English, you can't just ignore the vowels and call it close enough.)
    – Martha
    Jan 16, 2019 at 15:37
  • @Martha In this case, they do indeed all derive from the Sindarin word meaning "tower", per the links in the answer.
    – Tashus
    Jan 16, 2019 at 19:20
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"Barad-dûr" is Sindarin, and generally Sindarin has compatible sounds to Welsh and English lanuages, so it's possible that a Sindarin word might resemble an English word, but mostly as a coincidence.

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