In The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers), Faramir refers to Sauron as "him who we do not name." Apparently the Gondorians avoided speaking Sauron's name, just as most wizards avoid speaking Voldemort's name. I've read that J.K. Rowling admired J.R.R. Tolkien's writing, and I have begun to wonder whether she might have gotten her initial idea of a ban on Voldemort's name from Tolkien. Is there any canon evidence (interviews or Pottermore fine, but not the Harry Potter Wiki) that addresses this question?
I think it's doubtful. You'll find a lot of speculation on the Internet about the similarities of JKR's works to JRRT's, but Rowling consistently denies the influence.
Question: Hello, I was wondering how much Tolkien inspired and influenced your writing?
J.K. Rowling responds: Hard to say. I didn't read The Hobbit until after the first Harry book was written, though I read Lord of the Rings when I was nineteen. I think, setting aside the obvious fact that we both use myth and legend, that the similarities are fairly superficial. Tolkien created a whole new mythology, which I would never claim to have done. On the other hand, I think I have better jokes.
Question: Did you write Harry Potter because you like fantasy books, or just because the idea came to you?
J.K. Rowling responds: The latter. In fact, I am not a great fan of fantasy books in general, and never read them!
And here's an excerpt from a Time Magazine article:
Fans send Rowling wands and quills by the bushel, but she admits, a bit shamefacedly, that she never actually uses them and that the wands go straight to her oldest daughter, Jessica. The most popular living fantasy writer in the world doesn't even especially like fantasy novels. It wasn't until after Sorcerer's Stone was published that it even occurred to her that she had written one. "That's the honest truth," she says. "You know, the unicorns were in there. There was the castle, God knows. But I really had not thought that that's what I was doing. And I think maybe the reason that it didn't occur to me is that I'm not a huge fan of fantasy." Rowling has never finished The Lord of the Rings. She hasn't even read all of C.S. Lewis' Narnia novels, which her books get compared to a lot. There's something about Lewis' sentimentality about children that gets on her nerves. "There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She's become irreligious basically because she found sex," Rowling says. "I have a big problem with that."
Grossman, Lev. "J.K. Rowling Hogwarts And All," Time Magazine, 17 July, 2005
While she doesn't outright deny any influence, the way she responds seem to imply that she thinks the similarities are not intentional. They are superficial, and she wasn't a heavy reader of Tolkien.
ES: What prompted people to start referring to Voldemort as You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?
JKR: It happens many times in history — well, you’ll know this because you’re that kind of people, but for those who don’t, having a taboo on a name is quite common in certain civilizations. In Africa there are tribes where the name is never used. Your name is a sacred part of yourself and you are referred to as the son of so-and-so, the brother of so-and-so, and you're given these pseudonyms, because your name is something that can be used magically against you if it’s known. It’s like a part of your soul. That’s a powerful taboo in many cultures and across many folklores. On a more prosaic note, in the 1950s in London there were a pair of gangsters called the Kray Twins. The story goes that people didn’t speak the name Kray. You just didn’t mention it. You didn’t talk about them, because retribution was so brutal and bloody. I think this is an impressive demonstration of strength, that you can convince someone not to use your name. Impressive in the sense that demonstrates how deep the level of fear is that you can inspire. It’s not something to be admired.
Whether Rowling actually cribbed from Tolkien is hard to prove or disprove. However, the idea that speaking the name of an entity will draw its attention is extremely widespread and far predates Tolkien. In English the phrase is "Speak of the Devil and he will appear," which goes back to the Middle Ages. And it's not clear that many languages exist which don't contain an equivalent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_of_the_devil
So, the prohibition is so close to universal that it seems unnecessary to suggest Tolkien as the source for JKR, unattributed or not.
Rowling seems to take a lot from Tolkien. The Horcruxes are her versions of the one Ring. The Deluminator is her version of The Phial of Galadriel. Kreacher is her version of Gollum. Dumbledore is her Gandalf. And "he-who-must-not-be-named" is "him who we do not name." There are many more examples. Unfortunately there is no proof to this. But, if Rowling does really like LotR, then one can guess that that's where she got the idea for the ban on Voldemort's name (especially when you look at all the other similarities in their books).
I feel like something special about the fantasy and sci-fi genres that are so interesting is that both allow for a lot of similarities and repeated ideas, while still remaining individual. So even while Tolkien may have claimed it first (and defense of Tolkien's originality is a whole other argument in itself), does it really make that much of a difference where Rowling got her ideas if the end product is what really counts? I love this quote by Abe Lincoln: “Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all.” I'm not discrediting you at all, and as a direct answer to your question, I have no proof. Sorry