I will reblog this until you’re all sick of me
I will never grow sick of this
A True Thing.
Okay, so my friend Chloe just pointed this out, and it’s amazingly accurate:
“Because of the scarcity of Dwarf-women, their secrecy and similarity in
appearance to males, and their lack of mention, many Men failed to
recognize their existence.”
Well, Tolkien was a philologist, and a Norsist, and that means he knew Völuspá well enough to pull the names of every dwarf from Dvergatal and he had a pretty firm grasp Old Norse grammar.
In fact, he grasped it well enough that he knew if you dropped an n from a name ending in –inn, it changes from the masculine
to the feminine.
Well, what the hell does any of this mean?
Well, I give you the names of the Dwarves from the Hobbit, as they appear in Dvergatal (stanzas 14-16) and in the order they appear:
Bívurr, Bávurr, Bömburr, Nóri,
Þorinn, Þráinn, Fíli, Kíli,
Glóinn, Dóri, Óri
Now, in the Hobbit, they’re named as follows:
Dwalin, Dáin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Nori, Óin, Thorin, Thráin, Fíli, Kíli, Glóin, Dori, Ori.
Now, you notice something with the way those names got changed? That’s right, he changed the masculine -inn definite suffix to -in, which is feminine.**
That means that, at least grammatically, Dwalin, Dáin, Thorin, Thráin, and Glóin are female Dwarves.
Since we know Tolkien was meticulous about his grammar, this was done most likely as an in-joke (lol we’re so learnèd about Norse grammar that my comment on Dwarf women being indistinguishable from men is hilarious because of this grammatical funniness)
But there’s a not-inconceivable chance that the Dwarves were using the masculine pronouns in Westron because that’s what the Men who met them used, despite the fact that a third of the company was female, and
hey, it’s kinda neat to think he wrote a bunch of Dwarf-ladies going on an adventure.
**He also dropped the double-r suffix, but -r as the root is still, in general, a masculine grammatical feature
given Tolkien’s general approach to women he’s unlikely to have intended this but I don’t care I’m going to accept it as canon anyway
isn’t there stuff in the appendixes about the Hobbit language having ’-a’ as a masculine name ending and ’-o’ as feminine but then he changed all the Hobbit names anyway?
‘O’ and ‘e’ are feminine suffixes in hobbit-dialect Westron, which is not English.
Tolkien translated/Anglicized the names of all the hobbits into names that both sounded appropriate for their gender and reflected the aesthetic impression a native Westron speaker would get when meeting hobbits and hearing their language. It’s not about how The Hobbits Are Actually Girls (though that would be cool) it’s about how “Bilbo Baggins” gives a certain feeling when you as an English speaker encounter it – you get an idea of a character, perhaps, and it sounds just a little ridiculous – but you wouldn’t get that feeling from “Bilba Labingi”, the original hobbit-dialect Westron name.
(As to “Tolkien’s general approach to women”, yes, the man was sexist, I’m not going to deny that, but he was also meticulous and perfectionist when it came to language and there is no way this was accidental. No way at all. Not when he wrote an entire fake-academic-journal fanfic essay about why the Sindarin word ros had two translations, justifying it with in-universe linguistic drift.)
That being said, yeah, quite a lot of those dwarves were ladies. Headcanon accepted.
Headcanon so accepted.
My point, aside from remarking that both Tolkien and Le Guin are arguing that escape means hope, and hope is one of the great virtues of fantasy, is what Tolkien says at the end of the passage: they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter. Because I think that’s exactly it. The denigration of “escapism” comes from an implicit belief that it is brave and necessary and heroic to face “reality,” where “reality” is grim and dark and nihilistic (“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” as that tremendous pessimist Thomas Hobbes puts it), and that if you turn away from that “reality,” you are a deserter and therefore a coward.
oh, I like this – thank you for sharing.
“And that, I think, is where hope comes in. If we understand “escapism” as the Escape of the Prisoner rather than the Flight of the Deserter, then surely what motivates it, more than anything else, is hope. The hope that the prison is not eternal. The hope of communicating with other prisoners. The hope that if you keep chipping away at the bars long enough, one of them will fall out. And I refuse utterly to classify that hope as weak or foolish.”
I especially like the Ursula LeGuin quote: ‘it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can’
As someone who loves happy endings and hope (but ALSO let’s be clear misery and weeping in the hills) and who loved Sarah Monette’s work, I am super looking forward to reading Katherine Addison. 😉
Someday, when my family is gathered at my memorial service, they’ll wonder what my last words meant. But a few attendees will know. And they’ll understand why it’s my epitaph. Right there, on the plaque under my name:
“A drabble is exactly 100 words. That’s the point.”
#a small cluster of fangirls standing in the back #each wiping away a tear because yeah #I died on that hill. that’s the hill I die on #ficlets. what you’re writing is ficlets #and they’re awesome. what they are not though is drabbles #try writing what you want in exactly 100 words #and see the challenge and know that’s the exercise (via @werebearbearbar)
“Welcome,” she said. “Welcome, and thank you for agreeing to be a volunteer with Multnomah County Libraries. We are so grateful for you and your commitment to our community. For the next hour, we’re going to go over some important information that you need to know as a volunteer, no matter what role you play.”
I expected that we were going to learn about things like policies for canceling our shifts, or maybe where to find first aid kits. We probably did talk about those things. But the part that I remember most vividly is the first thing she talked about.
“We’re going to start with the Library Bill of Rights from the American Library Association,” she said, and she projected the text of the document onto the screen. “Everyone who works for libraries, including volunteers, helps to support and uphold the Library Bill of Rights.”
This was new to me. I’d been a regular patron at my local public library for years, graduating from Dr. Seuss to The Babysitters Club series to, most recently, my fixation on books about neo-paganism and queer sex. No one had mentioned this whole Bill of Rights thing. It was a short document with just a few bullet points.
“Libraries support free access to information,” Bess explained. “One of our core values is intellectual freedom. This impacts all of you because when you’re volunteering for the library, we expect you to support the rights of library users to find and read whatever they want, even if you don’t agree with what they’re looking for.”
She continued, “For example, let’s say that a small child came up to you and asked where to find the Stephen King books. You might think those books are too scary for someone that age, or that he shouldn’t be reading that kind of stuff. But that doesn’t matter. No matter what, we help people find the information they want, and we don’t censor their interests. Does that make sense?”
Heads around the room nodded, and I leaned back into the wall, letting her words sink in. It was absolutely, positively the most radical, punk rock thing I had ever heard in my life.
I can read whatever I want. No one can stop me.
I can help other people read what they want. And no one can stop them.
“This is core,” Bess added, “to a functioning democracy. We believe that fighting censorship and providing free, unrestricted access is key to helping citizens participate in the world. And, most importantly, we keep everyone’s information strictly confidential. So, even if you know what books your neighbor is checking out or what they’re looking at on the computer, you don’t share that with anyone.”
As someone who kept carefully guarded notebooks full of very personal thoughts, I was especially excited by the library’s emphasis on privacy. All of this sounded great. I wanted more. I wanted in. I wanted to be a crazy, wild, counterculture librarian-witch who would help anyone read anything from The Anarchist’s Cookbook to Mein Kampf. I would be a bold freedom fighter in the face of censorship. I would defend unfiltered Internet access and anatomically correct picture books. Maybe I was only in the eighth grade, but I was ready to stand up to anyone who tried to threaten the ideal of intellectual freedom. Fuck blink-182. Libraries were the real punk rock.
Socrates said, “The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.” He wasn’t talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.
A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.
Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.
I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending
the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;
I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel
and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;
I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.
With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,
my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck
and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,
because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.
You just delayed our coronation.
We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;
we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business
because it’s still nobody’s business;
there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic
for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,
and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:
we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,
the buildings here are not on your side just because
you make them spray-painted accomplices.
These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.
Even the earth found common ground with us in the way
you bootstrap across us both,
oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,
and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them
but I won’t, because they’re my family,
in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.
If you’ve never loved someone like that
you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.
I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;
I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,
I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down
and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.
But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.
We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder
the longer they spend burning us,
we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?
We know everything we do is so the kids after us
will be able to follow something towards safety;
what can I call us but lighthouse,
of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.
And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,
anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.
This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.
You cannot deport our minds; we won’t
hold funerals for our potential. We have always been
what makes America great.