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Does Tolkien ever supply the name for the language that the Rohirrim speak, and if so what is that name?

(In the books this language is "translated" into Old English, but it should still have its own name, similar to how the language the Hobbits speak is called "Westron" even though it's "translated" into Modern English.)

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  • 1
    In "The Nature of Middle Earth" he uses the term "Rohanese", but in other places he simply called it "the language of Rohan".
    – user135790
    Sep 24, 2021 at 21:09
  • It is Rohirric.
    – Mithoron
    Sep 24, 2021 at 21:14
  • 3
    Do you have a citation for that @Mithoron ?
    – user135790
    Sep 24, 2021 at 21:19
  • 3
    @Mithoron - I do not believe Tolkien has ever used that term. But if you have a source for that you should post an answer.
    – ibid
    Sep 24, 2021 at 21:33

1 Answer 1

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Tolkien calls it "Rohan", "Rohanese", and "Rohirian". An often-used fanname is "Rohirric", but that has never been used by Tolkien.

Rohan

This seems to be the term used most often by Tolkien, especially in "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings", where it's used at least twenty times.

The Sindarin form Araw is not quite regular: Orǭmē > Oraúmh > Araúv > Áraw. The Rohan Béma is of course derived from Anglo-Saxon béme 'a trumpet', √ʀᴏᴍ = noise of horn.
1955 Letter to Mr. David Masson, quoted in Parma Eldalamberon #17, page 153

Dunlendings. Leave unchanged except in the plural ending. It represents Rohan dun(n)lending, an inhabitant of Dun(n)land.

Shadowfax. This is an anglicized form of Rohan (= OE) Scædu-fcex ‘having shadow-grey mane (and coat)’.

Wormtongue. ‘Modernized’ form of the nickname of Grima, the evil counsellor of Rohan = Rohan wyrm-tunge ‘snake-tongue’. Translate by sense.
"Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings", published in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion

Rohanese

This one is less common, but Tolkien has used it at least three times.

Greyhame. Modernized ‘Rohanese’. Rohan grēg-hama ‘greycoat’. By-name in Rohan of Gandalf.
"Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings", published in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion

"Adorn" ... is, as would be expected in any name in the region not of Rohanese origin, of a form suitable to Sindarin; but it is not interpretable in Sindarin. It must be supposed to be of Pre-Númenórean origin adapted to Sindarin.
"The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor", published in Vinyar Tengwar #42 and The Nature of Middle-earth

Limlight, modernized from Rohanese Limliht (as in Story of Eärnil), which had no connexion with R. lim ‘limb’, but was a “translation name”.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Dark and Light"

Rohirian

In Tyalie Tyelellieva #17 Lisa Star reports seeing the term "Rohirian" on a manuscript in Marquette with an earlier form of the LotR appendix on languages. (A different version of the passage she was referencing has been cited in The Peoples of Middle-earth.)

The name Rohirian for the language of the Rohirrim appears in some small notes which clarify the relationship of the original languages of Middle Earth with the way that they are presented in translation in The Lord of the Rings. These notes appear on the bottom of p.10 in Folder 15 at Marquette [Mss-4/2/15/10] and have been published in PM:55 more or less.
Tyalie Tyelellieva #17 - "On the Languages of Rohan and Dale"

Rohirric

This name is never used by Tolkien, but seems to be the fan-convention, likely because it had been picked prior to any of the examples of Tolkien's own words being published. The earliest usage of this seems to be in A Guide to Middle-earth, written by Robert Foster in 1971. (It might predate Foster, but the fanzines that I've checked in Marquette's digitized fanzine collection do not seem to use this or any other standardized word.)

ROHIRRIC The language of the Rohirrim, related to the languages of the Men of the Vales of Anduin. Rohirric was probably descended from Adunaic or a related language, and was thus distantly related to Westron, than which it was more archaic. Rohirric was closely related to the former language the northern Hobbits, and even by the time of the WR many words in Rohirric and Hobbitish were clearly related.
The Rohirrim continued to speak their ancestral tongue into the Fourth Age, even though their neighbors spoke Westron.
(III 508, 510, 517)
A Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster

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  • Wouldn't it be nice if someone just asked the Marquette librarians for a photo/scan of the relevant page with Rohirian/Rohirin on it, and it sent to some people who can read the handwriting... Sep 26, 2021 at 2:44
  • @DavidRoberts - Marquette is not allowed to distribute scans of manuscripts without specific permission from the Tolkien Estate. They only own the physical manuscripts, not the copyright. Also "Mq15:10" doesn't even fit the convention Marquette uses to catalog their manuscripts, so I have no idea how you'd even find which page this was referring to.
    – ibid
    Sep 26, 2021 at 3:13
  • @DavidRoberts - Upon further reflection, it seems that this is referring to Mss-4/2/15, page 10.
    – ibid
    Sep 26, 2021 at 4:56
  • To clarify: you mean Box 2, Folder 15 in marquette.edu/library/archives/Mss/JRRT/JRRT-seriesa4.php, with contents listed as Appendix F - Additional Papers Holograph 27/48 ? Dec 10, 2022 at 4:04
  • @DavidRoberts - Indeed. Lisa was quoting that box a lot, and thus she created her own shorthand to just refer to the folder and folio.
    – ibid
    Dec 10, 2022 at 23:42

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