11

In the book Unfinished Tales, in the chapter The Hunt for the Ring, we find the following passage (which confirms what is said in the answers to this question):

Gollum would not know the term "Hobbit", which was local and not a universal Westron word. He would probably not use "Halfling" since he was one himself, and Hobbits disliked the name. That is why the Black Riders seem to have had two main pieces of information only to go on: Shire and Baggins.

This would also seem to rule out "holbytlan", the true Westron word for "Hobbits".

So what would Sméagol (prior to finding the Ring) have called his own race, if not "Hobbits" or "Halflings"?

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    I think Tolkien uses the word "Stoor" to describe that particular group of people but I dunno if that was their own word for themselves. – KutuluMike Jul 14 '15 at 19:08
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    I like to think that he called himself a shark – Jason Baker Jul 14 '15 at 19:45
7

Unfortunately it's unlikely that that there's an answer to this; according to the prologue, the hobbits themselves didn't keep records until settling the Shire (T.A. 1601 according to Appendix B), and weren't much for learning and history in any case:

A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Their own records began only after the settlement of the Shire, and their most ancient legends hardly looked further back than their Wandering Days.

Fellowship of the Ring Prologue Chapter 1: "Concerning Hobbits"

This is quite a long time before Sméagol's birth (he takes possession of the Ring in T.A. 2463), but his people were isolated from the Shire-folk; Gandalf notes in Fellowship of the Ring that Sméagol's people had settled on the Anduin, near the Gladden Fields:

'Long after, but still very long ago, there lived by the banks of the Great River on the edge of Wilderland a clever-handed and quiet-footed little people. I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors, for they loved the River, and often swam in it, or made little boats of reeds.

Fellowship of the Ring Book I Chapter 2: "The Shadow of the Past"

Based on Appendix B, this group probably split off from the other Stoors in about T.A. 1356:

1356 About this time the Stoors leave the Angle, and some return to Wilderland.

Return of the King Appendix B: "The Tale of Years" The Third Age

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that there isn't an abundance of information regarding contemporary names for hobbit-folk. Considering their long isolation, it seems likely that they developed a unique name for themselves, which was lost when they died out.

The most likely origin of this name is probably the Sindarin Periannath; the first reference to that word being used is in T.A. 1050:

1050 The Periannath are first mentioned in records, with the coming of the Harfoots to Eriador.

Return of the King Appendix B: "The Tale of Years" The Third Age

But then again early hobbits likely had a name for themselves that pre-dated their first encounters with the Big Folk. The prologue kind of suggests that the tribe-names (Harfoot, Fallohide, and Stoor) were in use at the time, but it's by no means clear on the point:

Before the crossing of the mountains the Hobbits had already become divided into three somewhat different breeds: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides. The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble; and they preferred highlands and hillsides. The Stoors were broader, heavier in build; their feet and hands were larger, and they preferred flat lands and riversides. The Fallohides were fairer of skin and also of hair, and they were taller and slimmer than the others; they were lovers of trees and of woodlands.

Fellowship of the Ring Prologue Chapter 1: "Concerning Hobbits"

Unfortunately, we just don't know.

  • Would Gollum have known of the other hobbit clans? That is to say, would he have known Harfoots and Fallohides? If so, he might have called himself a Stoor. Great answer, and many thanks, as always. You're amazing. – Wad Cheber Jul 14 '15 at 20:42
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    @WadCheber It's unclear, and not helped by how little we know about their origins. We know the tribes had contact after this, but we know nothing about them before T.A. 1050 – Jason Baker Jul 14 '15 at 23:27
  • Do we know the answer to Gollum's questions upon first seeing Bilbo - "Is it scrumptiously crunchable? Is it juicy?"? – Wad Cheber Jul 14 '15 at 23:48
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    @WadCheber Not in-universe, I'm delighted to say. I'm less delighted to say that, out-of-universe, I do in fact have an answer. We know that hobbits are related to men, and many reports indicate that humans taste like pork, so take from that what you will. In other news, my recent search history has probably landed me on some watchlists... – Jason Baker Jul 15 '15 at 2:49
  • I had heard about that - apparently some cannibal tribes in Papua New Guinea call human meat "long pork". So if we taste like pork, does that mean hobbits taste like a suckling pig? Now I need to eat a hobbit. – Wad Cheber Jul 15 '15 at 3:03

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