7

The Lord of the Rings involves a literary conceit that Tolkien has received the story (and perhaps more) as an actual history, translated from The Red Book of Westmarch. Given that Tolkien's world-building of breath-taking depth is centered strongly on philology and constructed languages and the histories they imply, I wonder:

Did Tolkien write any significant part or passages (e.g., songs or poems) of the history in either The Lord of the Rings or The Red Book of Westmarch in Westron? (Note: I am not asking if he wrote and then translated from Westron, but simply if he ever wrote any passages or even large parts of the narrative in Westron, presumably after the fact of having written LotR.)

My sense from his published fiction, essays and the very few of his letters I have read (I have not read The History of Middle Earth) is that Westron is maybe less developed than his Elvish languages, so I expect the answer to my question to be in the negative.

2
  • 5
    I'm pretty sure none of his languages were as developed as the Elvish ones. Not aware of any Westron other than a few names mentioned in the appendix, but maybe there is more out there. Jul 18, 2020 at 21:54
  • … And even Elvish has too few words for conversation or narrative. Jun 10, 2021 at 1:59

1 Answer 1

12

No

Pretty much all of the known Westron that Tolkien created can be found in Appendix F to The Lord of the Rings (or the earlier drafts of that Appendix published in HoMe volume 12), where Tolkien gives them as "examples" of the decisions he had to make while "translating" the book.

Scarcely little else has ever been brought to life that Tolkien wrote in Westron, and none of it is in the forms of long passages or even full phrases.

You can see a list of all known Westron words here. It's pretty short.

Additionally, there are a few more pages of Tolkien drafting materials for Appendix F that concern Westron which have not been published, and are currently held in Marquette University in Mss-4/2/15. Lisa Star has written a report on these papers in Tyalie Tyelellieva #17.

4
  • SWEET LINK! Thank you.
    – Lexible
    Jul 20, 2020 at 15:27
  • 2
    @Lexible - Eldamo is a great site if what you love is hard data on tolkien's languages, although it can sometimes be a bit unintuitive to navigate, and it's aimed at a more academic level than some people may be looking for. But it has everything currently known from Tolkien and it's all properly sourced and categorized.
    – ibid
    Jul 21, 2020 at 10:06
  • @ibid There's actually a big problem with the Westron list: It includes genuine Rohirric (e.g. tûrac-) and some Northern Mannish (e.g. Trahald), labelling them as "archaic Westron". Meanwhile, Old English words are in the Rohirric category. The author gave his reasons (github.com/pfstrack/eldamo/issues/25) but still it needs improvement.
    – Eugene
    Sep 30, 2021 at 2:51
  • 1
    @Eugene - The purpose of the link in this answer is to show how to small the corpus fr Westron is. If some of those words aren't genuine Westron, then my point is stronger. Nonetheless if you have a link to an alternate wordlist I'll add it to the answer.
    – ibid
    Sep 30, 2021 at 3:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.