Diminutive Name-Forms In Arda by Certh

[Reviews - 2]
Table of Contents
Printer Friendly: Printer
- Text Size +

Jump to

Diminutive Name-Forms In Arda
---

 

The shortening of a person's name effectively truncates a long appellation and indicates a varying measure of intimacy with that individual. As that manner of displaying familiarity has become habitual in our world, it has also become a common occurrence in fanfiction to come across shortened versions of the names of canon – or original – characters in many stories set in JRR Tolkien's universe. Éowyn may be affectionately called “Wyn” by Éomer; Lothíriel may be “Lothi” to her brothers; to their close friends Elladan and Elrohir may be “Dan” and “Ro” respectively.

Tolkien himself shortened the names of some of the characters he created, most notably those of Hobbits: Samwise Gamgee, for example, was “Sam” to those who knew him well; Meriadoc Brandybuck was “Merry”; Tobold Hornblower was “[Old] Toby”.

The process of giving his characters pet names may appear simple at first glance, yet when one considers the diminutive forms more carefully, it becomes evident that there was more to it than meets the eye.

 

 

Diminutives of the given names of Hobbits

Concerning the given names of Hobbits, Tolkien wrote:

“In some old families, especially those of Fallohide origin such as the Tooks and the Bolgers, it was, however, the custom to give high-sounding first-names. Since most of these seem to have been drawn from legends of the past, of Men as well as of Hobbits . . . I have turned them into those old names, largely of Frankish and Gothic origin, that are still used by us or are met in our histories . . . Names of classical origin have rarely been used; for the nearest equivalents to Latin and Greek in Shire-lore were the Elvish tongues, and these the Hobbits seldom used in nomenclature . . . The names of the Bucklanders were different from those of the rest of the Shire . . . They had a style that we should perhaps feel vaguely to be ‘Celtic’ . . . I have not used names of Hebraic or similar origin in my transpositions. Nothing in Hobbit-names corresponds to this element in our names. Short names such as Sam,Tom, Tim, Mat were common as abbreviations of actual Hobbit-names, such as Tomba, Tolma, Matta, and the like.”

        The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, II


The majority of pet names found in JRR Tolkien's legendarium belong to Hobbits. These familiar appellations are either short forms of the original given name, or are formed by adding suffixes.

- Frodo "Fro"
       The name Frodo is a modernisation of Old English Fróda, a form of the Old Norse name Fróði, and means wise; it comes from the word fróðr. The diminutive Fro, encountered only once in The Epilogue in The History of Middle-earth: Sauron Defeated to refer to Sam Gamgee's son, comes from the first sound of the name. 

- Halfast “Hal”
        The name Halfast is a modernisation of Old English hálfæst and means healthy and firm; it comes from the words hál=healthy, and fæst=firm, fixed. Its modernised diminutive is the short form hal.

- Hamfast “Ham”
        The name Hamfast is a modernisation of Old English hámfæst and means stay-at-home; it comes from the words hám=home, and fæst=firm, fixed. Its modernised diminutive is the short form ham.

- Holman “Hom”
        The name Holman is “supposed to [mean] 'hole-man'”; it comes from the Old English words hol=hole, and mann=person. The diminutive Hom comes from the first sound of the name.

- Samwise “Sam”
        The name Samwise is a modernisation of Old English samwís and means half-wise; it comes from the words sam=half, and wís=wise, skilled. Its diminutive is the short form sam.

- Tolman “Tom”
        The name Tolman is a modernisation of Old English tólmann and means tool person; it comes from the words tól=tool, and mann=person. The diminutive Tom comes from the first sound of the name.

- Wilcome “Will”
        The name Wilcome is a modernisation of Old English wilcuma and means welcome guest; it comes from the words willa=pleasure, and cuma=guest. The modernised diminutive Will comes from the first sound of the name.

 

- Andwise “Andy”
        The name Andwise is a modernisation of Old English andwís and means expert, skilful; it comes from the words and=completely, fully, and wís. The diminutive Andy is formed from the short form of the name, and-, and the suffix -y.

- Elanor “Ellie”
        
The flower-name Elanor, given to Sam Gamgee's first daughter, comes from the Sindarin words êl=star, and anor=sun. The diminutive Ellie, encountered only once in The Epilogue in The History of Middle-earth: Sauron Defeated, is formed from the short form el and the suffix -ie.

- Meriadoc “Merry”
        The name Meriadoc – chosen “because it gives naturally a shortening 'Merry'” – is of Welsh origin and means great lord; it comes from the Middle Welsh words mawr=great, and udd=lord. The modernised diminutive Merry comes from the modernised short form mer and the suffix -y.

- Rorimac “Rory”
        The name Rorimac, unlike many Hobbit-names found in JRR Tolkien's legendarium, is not an attested form of a real-world name. Although the word mac is Celtic in origin and means son, and Rory is the anglicisation of the Irish name Ruaidhrí, which means red-haired king, the name Rorimac is likely one of those names that were “given a Celtic cast”. The diminutive Rory comes from the first sound of the name and the suffix -y.

- Rose “Rosie”
        The diminutive of the flower-name Rose comes from adding the English suffix -ie to the original name.

- Tobold “Toby”
        The name Tobold is a modernisation of Old High German Theudobald and means people-bold; it comes from the words theuda=people, and bald=bold. The modernised diminutive Toby comes from the first sound of the name and the suffix -y.

 

In JRR Tolkien's works exist also diminutives of Hobbit-names, of which the original names are not given:

- Bob
        Given the evident fixed pattern in forming diminutives, it seems unlikely that the pet form Bob is an abbreviation of Robert. This diminutive may be an abbreviation of a Westron name beginning in Bob-.

- Nob
        One possible full name for this diminutive is Norbert, originating from the Germanic words nord=north, and berht=bright. Alternatively, the diminutive Nob may be an abbreviation of a Westron name beginning in Nob-.

- Ted
        Given Tolkien's own words concerning names “of classical origin” and the evident fixed pattern in forming diminutives, it is unlikely that the pet-form Ted is an abbreviation of names such as Theodore, Edward, Edmund. Possible full names for this diminutive include names that give naturally the shortening Ted, such as the modernised name Tedman (from the Germanic Theudeman; from the words theuda=people, and man). Alternatively, the diminutive Ted may be an abbreviation of a Westron name beginning in Ted-.

- Willie
        Possible full names for this diminutive include names that give naturally the shortening Will, such as Wilber (from the Old Germanic Willabert; from the words wil=will, desire, and berht=bright).

 

The diminutives of “actual Hobbit-names”, that is, Westron names, found in JRR Tolkien's works are also created from the short forms of those names:

- Arambil “Bill”
        The meaning of this given name, which is encountered only as a passing reference in The Appendix on Languages in The History of Middle-earth: The Peoples of Middle-earth, is unknown.

- Banazîr “Ban”
        Banazîr is Samwise Gamgee's true name. Ban means half, almost, and zîr means wise.

- Bildad, Bilcuzal “Bill”
        The meaning of these given names, which are encountered only as passing references in The Appendix on Languages in The Peoples of Middle-earth, is unknown.

- Kalimac “Kali”
        Kalimac is Meriadoc Brandybuck's true name; Kali means jolly, gay.

- Matta, Mattalic “Mat
              
 The meaning of these given names, which are encountered only as passing references in Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings and in The Appendix on Languages in The Peoples of Middle-earth, is unknown.

- Ranugad “Ran”
        Ranugad is Hamfast Gamgee's true name; Rân means village.

- Razanur “Razar”
        Razanur is Peregrin Took's true name, containing the elements raza=stranger, razan=foreign; Razar is "a kind of small red apple".

- Tôbias “Tôbi
 
       Tôbias was, in an early version of the legendarium, the true name of Tobold Hornblower, though its meaning is unknown.

- Tolma, Tomacca, Tomba, Tomburân “Tom”
        The meaning of these given names, which are encountered only as passing references in Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings and in The Appendix on Languages in The Peoples of Middle-earth, is unknown.


“Pippin” is not a short form of Peregrin, but a nickname related to the Westron abbreviation Razar.
 

Considering the pet-forms cited above, it becomes evident that Hobbit-name diminutives were often nonsensical in themselves.

 

Diminutives of the given names of Elves

The only diminutives of Elf-names found in JRR Tolkien's works are shortenings of Quenya given names recorded in The Peoples of Middle-earth, but they do not appear in the last versions of Tolkien's legendarium. These diminutives are formed by adding an agental suffix to the name's short form:

- Nelyafinwë “Nelyo”
        Nelyafinwë is the father-name of Maedhros and means third Finwë. It comes from the Quenya word nelya=three, and the name Finwë, the name of Maedhros's grandfather. The diminutive Nelyo is formed from the word nelya and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning third one.

- Canafinwë “Cáno” (earlier spelling was with a k)
        Canafinwë is the father-name of Maglor and means strong-voiced Finwë. It comes from the Common Eldarin stem kan=cry aloud, and the name Finwë. The diminutive Cáno is formed from the derivative verb can- and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning strong-voiced one.

- Turcafinwë “Turco” (earlier spelling was with a k)
        Turcafinwë is the father-name of Celegorm and means strong Finwë. It comes from the Quenya word turca=strong in body, and the name Finwë. The diminutive Turco is formed from the word turca and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning strong one.

- Curufinwë “Curvo” (earlier spelling was with a k)
        Curufinwë, apart from being Fëanor's own name, is also the father-name of Curufin. The name means skilful Finwë and comes from the Quenya word curu=skill, and the name Finwë. The diminutive Curvo is formed from the word curu and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning skilful one.

- Morifinwë “Moryo”
        Morifinwë is the father-name of Caranthir and means dark(-haired) Finwë. It comes from the Quenya word morë=dark, and the name Finwë. The diminutive Moryo is formed from the word morë and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning dark(-haired) one.

- Pityafinwë “Pityo”
        Pityafinwë is the father-name of Amrod and means little Finwë. It comes from the Quenya word pitya=little, and the name Finwë. The diminutive Pityo is formed from the word pitya and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning little one.

- Telufiwë “Telvo”
        Telufinwë is the father-name of Amras and means last Finwë. It comes from the Quenya word telu=last, and the name Finwë. The diminutive Telvo is formed from the word telu and the masculine suffix -o, thus meaning last one.

 

It is interesting to observe that these diminutives cited above are no random name-shortenings, but meaningful appellations in themselves. Given the important role that names had in Elven culture, it can be deduced that the diminutives of other Elven names, both Quenya and Sindarin, were formed in a similar manner, by adding agental suffixes to the name's short form and thus creating an abbreviated, meaningful pet-form.

 

 

Diminutives of the given names of Men

The only diminutives of Man-names found in JRR Tolkien's works belong to Men from Breeland. Only two of the original names from which these pet-forms originate are known: 

- Barliman “Barley”
        The name Barliman comes from the English words barley and man. Its diminutive is the short form barley.

- Harry
        The diminutive Harry comes “from Herry from Henry”, from the Old High German name Heimerich; from the words heim=home, and rihhi=ruler.

 

The original forms of the remaining recorded diminutive names of Breelanders are not given:

- Bill
        The diminutive Bill is an English variant of Will, which is in turn the short form of William, from the Old High German Willahelm; from the words willio=will, and helma=helmet. Alternatively, the diminutive Bill may be an abbreviation of a Westron name beginning in Bil-, the same way that the Hobbit-names Bildad, Bilcuzal give the shortening Bill.

- Mat
        As Tolkien did not use names “of Hebraic or similar origin” for Hobbits, since their Biblical connotations specific to our world could not apply to a fantastical universe, it can be deduced that such names were not used for Men either. Thus, Mat isn't an abbreviation of Matthew/Mattathiyah. Possible full names for this diminutive include names that give the shortening Mat, such as Matland (from the Old English Maitland; from the words mǽd=meadow, and land). Alternatively, the diminutive Mat may be an abbreviation of a Westron name beginning in Mat-, the same way that the Hobbit-name Matta gives the shortening Mat.

- Rowlie
        The diminutive comes from the name Rowland; from the Old English words hrod=fame, and landRowlie originates from the first sound of the name, and the suffix -ie.

- Tom
        As Tolkien did not use names “of Hebraic or similar origin” for Hobbits, since their Biblical connotations specific to our world could not apply to a fantastical universe, Tom cannot be an abbreviation of Thomas. Possible full names for this diminutive include names that give the shortening Tom, such as Tormey (from the Germanic Tormod; from the words þórr=thunder, and móðr=spirit). Alternatively, the diminutive Tom may be an abbreviation of a Westron name beginning in Tom-, the same way that the Hobbit-names Tomacca, Tomba, etc give the shortening Tom.

 

No diminutives are given for names from other Mannish cultures, such as that of Rohan, Gondor, Númenor, or Dale.

It is quite possible, however, that the diminutives of the names of Men named in the Elvish tongues were, under the influence of the Elven culture, formed by adding agental suffixes to the name's short form and thus creating an abbreviated, meaningful pet-form.

 

Diminutives of the given names of persons from other cultures

The only other name diminutives found in JRR Tolkien's works belong to the Trolls in The Hobbit, and to the wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. As The Hobbit began as a bedtime story for his children, the trolls were there given popular men's names, although Tolkien later regretted it (“[I] should not have called the troll William.” [The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Letter#153]): 

- Bert
        The diminutive Bert originates from given names ending in the Germanic word berht, such as Albert.

- Tom
        This diminutive is a shortening for Thomas.

- William “Bill”
        For the given name William, cf. Bill above.

 

In The Lord of the Rings, the Orcs and Men serving Saruman in Isengard made a pet-form of his Orkish name:

- Sharkû “Sharkey” 
        The name Sharkû is Orkish and means old man; the diminutive Sharkey is formed by adding the suffix -ey to the name.

 

No diminutives are given for Dwarf-names, Orc-names, or others.

 

Sources

JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
JRR Tolkien, The History of Middle-earth
JRR Tolkien, The Letters of JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien, Nomenclature in The Lord of the Rings
Jim Allan, An Introduction to Elvish
Yvonne Navarro, First Name Reverse Dictionary
Online Etymology Dictionary
Bosworth-Toller Old English Dictionary
Trinity Saint David's Welsh Dictionary
Online Irish Dictionary and Language Library
The Celtic Roots of Meriadoc Brandybuck
Behind the Name
Welsh Names at NameNerds
Nordic Names




[Report This]
You must login (register) to review.