Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

I read somewhere that Theoden would have made sure that the young Eomer and Eowyn were taught how to read and write Sindarin when they came to Meduseld to live, due to Theoden's own youth in Minas Tirith and his Gondorian mother. Does anyone know where Tolkien mentions this - in one of the HoME volumes, or his LETTERS? RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

The only quotes I've seen are referring to Westron, not Sindarin: 2905-80 16. Thengel. ... When Fengel died the Rohirrim recalled him, and he returned unwillingly. But he proved a good and wise king; though the speech of Gondor was used in his house, and not all men thought that good. ... The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl I've also seen another quote that said that all but the poorest/most uneducated (sorry, don't remember exactly) people in Rohan could speak Westron after a fashion... but I don't have time to look that one up until later this evening... (I think it was in UT...) - Barbara P.S. Théoden was only about 5 years old when his father was recalled to Rohan -- he probably doesn't remember all that much himself...

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

I've also seen another quote that said that all but the poorest/most uneducated (sorry, don't remember exactly) people in Rohan could speak Westron after a fashion...
I knew I had this saved in my notes:
The Eorlingas, or the Rohirrim as they were called in Gondor, still used their own northern tongue; for the Riders of Rohan had come out of Eotheod near the sources of Anduin only some five hundred years before the days here spoken of. Yet all but their humbler folk spoke also the Common Speech after the manner of Gondor. (HoM-e 12: Part One - The Prologue and Appendicies to LotR: II - The Appendix on Languages)
Like Barbara, I have found nothing in Tolkien's corpus that indicates that either Éowyn or Éomer were tutored in Sindarin. I'll still keep my eyes open - I'm interested too. But in all the research I've done thus far for my Rohirric stories, I've found nothing in canon that even hints that they might have been taught Sindarin. HTH ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

"The only quotes I've seen are referring to Westron, not Sindarin: 2905-80 16. Thengel. ... When Fengel died the Rohirrim recalled him, and he returned unwillingly. But he proved a good and wise king; though the speech of Gondor was used in his house, and not all men thought that good. ... The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl I've also seen another quote that said that all but the poorest/most uneducated (sorry, don't remember exactly) people in Rohan could speak Westron after a fashion... but I don't have time to look that one up until later this evening... (I think it was in UT...) - Barbara P.S. Théoden was only about 5 years old when his father was recalled to Rohan -- he probably doesn't remember all that much himself..." Thanx, Elena! It could be that I misremembered and substituted Sindarin for Westron in my head. I do think that if Theoden spent the first five years of his life in Gondor, that's long enough for him to have Westron ingrained as his first language, unless the household spoke Rohirric but also learned Westron. RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

"I knew I had this saved in my notes: The Eorlingas, or the Rohirrim as they were called in Gondor, still used their own northern tongue; for the Riders of Rohan had come out of Eotheod near the sources of Anduin only some five hundred years before the days here spoken of. Yet all but their humbler folk spoke also the Common Speech after the manner of Gondor. (HoM-e 12: Part One - The Prologue and Appendicies to LotR: II - The Appendix on Languages) Like Barbara, I have found nothing in Tolkien's corpus that indicates that either Éowyn or Éomer were tutored in Sindarin. I'll still keep my eyes open - I'm interested too. But in all the research I've done thus far for my Rohirric stories, I've found nothing in canon that even hints that they might have been taught Sindarin." Thanx, Nessime! Do the Eorlingas write and read? Or is it an oral culture? And what is the correct term for 'native of Rohan' - man/woman of Rohan? Does ROHIRRIM mean people of Rohan or Riders of Rohan? And is Rohirric, as I've thought, an adjective for 'someone or something of Rohan'? I've always thought, but this is my interpretation only, that the young Theodred, Eomer and Eowyn would have been given a more cosmopolitan (I know, not a M-e word!) education than other children of various marshals or lords of Rohan. So I assume Eowyn and Eowyn would know how to read and write Westron, in Rohirric if things are indeed written down in that tongue.. By the way, do you use Old English for Rohirric? And if so, is there a dictionary anywhere? RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Do the Eorlingas write and read? Or is it an oral culture? In the Two Towers, Chapter 2. The Riders of Rohan:
'I have been among them,' answered Aragorn. 'They are proud and wilful, but they are true-hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs, after the manner of the children of Men before the Dark Years....'
This is presumably based on Aragorn's experiences in whatever period between 2957-2980 that he served in Rohan. So generally an oral culture, although that's not to say they don't have some occasions when they read and write. However, just thinking that Denethor sends a token (the Red Arrow) and an oral message rather than a written one to Theoden.... HTH Liz

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Hi Raksha, In Two Towers (Chapter 2 - The Riders of Rohan), Aragorn states that the people of Rohan are "wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs, after the manner of the Children of Men before the Dark Years." I interpreted this to mean that the peoples of Rohan could neither read nor write. Thingol and Theoden may have been exceptions because of the Gondorian influence, but I wouldn’t expect Eomer or Eowyn to have been taught thus. It simply wasn’t a needed skill in Rohan. They had scribes and advisors (like Grima) to do that sort of thing. (The importance of literacy is a fairly modern concept.) Karri

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

I interpreted this to mean that the peoples of Rohan could neither read nor write. Thingol and Theoden may have been exceptions because of the Gondorian influence, but I wouldn’t expect Eomer or Eowyn to have been taught thus. I personally believe that the royal family, certainly following Thengel, *would* be able to read and write Westron; I think they would be better-educated than the common person. And since Théoden "took [Éomer and Éowyn] into his house, calling them son and daughter", I would expect that they would get the same high-quality education as Théodred did. Just my opinion, of course! - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Thanks, Nessime, that's exactly the quote I had in mind. - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

I do think that if Theoden spent the first five years of his life in Gondor, that's long enough for him to have Westron ingrained as his first language, unless the household spoke Rohirric but also learned Westron. Oh, absolutely, language would definitely be ingrained by the age of 5... I meant other kinds of memories, but didn't express it very well. I got the impression that the situation in Thengel's household was that Westron was the everyday language, but Rohirric must have been taught as well, probably as a second language. [Edit: ] I'm sure that Thengel knew that he'd be recalled to Rohan some day, and it would have been extremely cruel to not ensure that his children were taught the Rohirric language in preparation for that event. - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

And what is the correct term for 'native of Rohan' - man/woman of Rohan?
Rohirrim is the correct term, one the people of Rohan would use themselves even though it is based on the Sindarin word for horse:
The Sindarin names Rohan for the Mark and Rohirrim for the people were devised first by Hallas, son and successor of Cirion, but were often used not only in Gondor but by the Éothéod themselves. (UT: Cirion and Eorl)
The Éothéod was how they were known from the days when Marhwini led a remnant of the Northmen of Rhovanion to the Vales of Anduin, where they sought to be free of the invading Wainriders (ref. UT: Cirion and Eorl - good book to have if you want to write about Rohan as if contains a lot of information on the military organization of the éored and the full muster of their cavalry, which was known as the éoherë). The other name by which the Rohirrim would sometimes refer to them selves is Eorlings (also Eorlingas, as in Théodred's call in UT: The Battles of the Fords of Isen: "...he heard Théodred's great voice crying 'To me, Eorlingas!'"). See also the passage in Appendix F on languages:
From the lands between the Gladden and the Carrock came the folk that were known in Gondor as the Rohirrim, Masters of Horses...and they called themselves the Eorlings, or the Men of the Riddermark.*[see addendum below]
Raksha also asked:
By the way, do you use Old English for Rohirric?
Yes, but sparingly. I try only to use it in a story to emphasize the difference in language to another non-Rohirric character. I think the old addage, less is more applies.
And if so, is there a dictionary anywhere?
Is there ever! Check out the links in HASA's Resources under URLs - Languages. There are links to OE dictionaries, glossaries, grammar lessons, OE texts, name lists... Pretty much anything you might need. And there's lots more in Resources. HTH ~Nessime Addendum added later: Barbara asked about the singular of Eorlings; yes, Eorling would be the singular, for both Eorlings and Eorlingas.

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Do the Eorlingas write and read? Or is it an oral culture? It is definitely an oral culture, but whether there was a written form of the Rohirric language is not stated, to my knowledge. I do believe (but there's no substantiation, that I know of) that the royal family starting with Thengel would be able to read and write Westron. And what is the correct term for 'native of Rohan' - man/woman of Rohan? Um, I'm not sure; Rohirrim is a collective plural; the formal singular might be (something like) Rochír 'horse-lord' (where the original ch was pronounced as h, so maybe became Rohír later.) BUT, I, personally, being totally illiterate in Sindarin, would take the easy route and use Eorling... which, I *think* is the singular of Eorlingas. [I really hope there is somebody here who really knows the answer to this question... obviously I'm just guessing!] Or, you could punt and use "son/daughter of Rohan" or "of Eorl." Does ROHIRRIM mean people of Rohan or Riders of Rohan? It means people of Rohan, of which the Riders were the skilled warriors. And is Rohirric, as I've thought, an adjective for 'someone or something of Rohan'? Yes. - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Like Barbara, I have found nothing in Tolkien's corpus that indicates that either Éowyn or Éomer were tutored in Sindarin. Come to think of it, who in the world would there be in Rohan who *could* tutor them in Sindarin? Given the Rohirric ignorance (and suspicion) of all things Elven, I'm not sure they would want to know Sindarin. (Re: Éomer's remarks about Galadriel in TTT, "The Riders of Rohan" *) - Barbara * Which is really sad, because Galadriel helped shield Eorl's riders when they saved Gondor's backside in the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, but Eorl refused to acknowledge it... Stubborn male.

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

However, just thinking that Denethor sends a token (the Red Arrow) and an oral message rather than a written one to Theoden....
There have been several discussions in the time I've been involved at HA and HASA revolving around the oral culture of the Rohirrim. This particular point has often been raised, but I think there is more than one way to view this. A written message could fall into enemy hands if the messenger were captured or killed. And they would have been chosen for their bravery, as in UT: Cirion and Eorl - the six messengers were all volunteers, all noted for their "courage and endurance." And only one, Borondir, got through: "Each bore a message learned by heart, and also a small stone incised with the seal for the Stewards, that he should deliver to the Lord of the Éothéod in person..." Much the same as Hirgon with the Red Arrow. I've kicked this question around a lot myself because the focus of my stories is mostly the people and culture of Rohan. The conclusion I've reached is that if Éomer and Éowyn learned how to write (meaning also that Théoden and Théodred could write - I shudder to think of the Worm having that much leverage over them ), it would have been in the Common Tongue (aka Westron). I also interpret Aragorn's words more as signifying that there were no written records in the Rohirric tongue. I rather like to think that it was Éomer who would have begun to have the stories and songs of the Rohirrim written down. Just my interpretation from inside my own story's arc. ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Which is really sad, because Galadriel helped shield Eorl's riders when they saved Gondor's backside in the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, but Eorl refused to acknowledge it... Stubborn male.
Ah, but Éomer did say that he was willing to learn.
...we could find a use for Gimli's axe and the bow of Legolas, if they will pardon my rash words concerning the Lady of the Wood. I spoke only as do all men in my land, and I would gladly learn better. (LotR: TTT: The Riders of Rohan
Why do you think I fell for him like a ton of bricks when I was fifteen? A man who isn't afraid to admit that he might be wrong... ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Silly me... I never read LoTR until the first movie influenced me. I missed thirty years' worth of enjoyment! Speaking of influence, I think the movies are to blame for my flurry of interest in a) Heroic battles involving the Rohirrim and b) Heroic battles involving Gandalf and the Balrog. Just bought the new DVD and watched it a couple days ago. After having seen RoTK well over a dozen times, and after doing so much research on Rohirric history, the two scenes (the lighting of the signal fires, and the charge of the Rohirrim on the Pelennor) no longer cause me to get teary-eyed. No, indeed... Now, I bawl like a baby... - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

The History of Middle Earth Volume XII The People of Middle Earth Chapter X f Dwarves and Men p.296 (hard cover) "....For instance, among the Rohirrim there can have been very few who did not understand the Common Speech, and most must have been able to speak it fairly well. The royal family, and no doubt many other families, spoke (and wrote) it correctly and familiarly. It was in fact King Theoden's native language: he was born in Gondor, and his father Thegel had used the Common Speech in his own home even after hie return to Rohan." on p. 316 Note 2 for the above quote "The Kings and their decendents after Thengel also knew the Sindarin tongue--the language of nobles in Gondor. [Cf. Appendix A (II), in the list of the Kings of the Mark, on Thengel's sojourn in Gondor. It is said that after his return to Rohan 'the speech of Gondor was used in his house, and not all men thought that good.'] From Unfinished Tales Part Three Chapter 1 "Disaster at the Gladden Fields"-- Appendix: Numenorean Linear Measures. Page286 --- "The Rohirrim were generally shorter, for in their far-off ancestry they had been mingled with men of broader and heavier build. Eomer was said to have been tall, of like height with Aragorn; but he with other decendants of King Thengel were taller than the norm of Rohan, deriving this characteristic (together in some cases with darker hair) from Morwen, Thegel's wife, a lady of Gondor of high Numenorean decent." A note to the foregoing text adds some information concerning Morwen to what is given in The Lord of the Rings (Appendix A (II), 'The Kings of the Mark') "She was known as Morwen of Lossarnach, for she dwelt there'; but she did not belong to the people of that land. Her father had removed thither, for love of its flowering vales, from Belfalas; he was a descendent of a former Prince of that fief, and thus a kinsman of Prince Imrahil. His kinship with Eomer of Rohan, though distant, was recognised by Imrahil, and great friendship grew between them. Eomer wedded Imrahil's daughter [Lothiriel], and their son, Elfwine the Fair, had a striking likeness to his mother's father." So not only did Eowyn and Eomer read and write the Common Tongue and Sindarin, they both married 'distant' cousins, and Eowyn, Faramir, Eomer and Lothiriel all had, according to Legolas, a dash of elven blood.

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

So not only did Eowyn and Eomer read and write the Common Tongue and Sindarin,
Good quotes ChipM! I had missed that passage and its note from HoM-e 12. It's nice to find out that what I had concluded is indeed what Tolkien intended. I have to be a little nitpicky here though. In the cited quotation Tolkien wrote that "[the] royal family... spoke (and wrote) it [the Common Speech, aka Westron] correctly and familiarly. It was in fact King Theoden's native language: he was born in Gondor, and his father Thengel had used the Common Speech in his own home even after his return to Rohan.". However, Tolkien did not specify that they both spoke and wrote Sindarin: ""The Kings and their decendents after Thengel also knew the Sindarin tongue... The note seems to imply that Sindarin was the language used in Thengel's home (...the language of nobles in Gondor) because it immediately references the note from Appendix A in LotR that states "...'the speech of Gondor was used in his house..." But that clearly contradicts the previous statement that "...Thengel had used the Common Speech in his own home even after his return to Rohan." Ergo, it is still conjecture - fairly sound conjecture, but conjecture nonetheless - that in addition to the Common Speech they also wrote Sindarin. I do tend to agree that it is probable, based on all the textual evidence we have, but for the purposes of any Resources entries, we have to stick with what Tolkien actually wrote. Anything that we surmise by reading between the lines has to be qualified as our own conclusions. But the quote does clearly indicate that Éowyn (and Éomer, Théodred and Théoden) would have some familiarity with the Sindarin language. Rather ironic, given the suspicion with which the Rohirrim viewed the Elves - but then, so did many of the Gondorians (in the book, Boromir was not too thrilled about entering Lothlorien). Faramir was exceptional in that regard. ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

"Just bought the new DVD and watched it a couple days ago. After having seen RoTK well over a dozen times, and after doing so much research on Rohirric history, the two scenes (the lighting of the signal fires, and the charge of the Rohirrim on the Pelennor) no longer cause me to get teary-eyed. No, indeed... Now, I bawl like a baby..." Though I've always been more of a Gondor-fan than a Rohan-admirer, the Rohirrim come off far better in the LOTR movies than the Men of Gondor, with the exception of Boromir. The lighting of the beacons sends chills downs my spine; it's so gorgeous to watch and the music is the best in the entire movie. And all those Rohirrim mustering and riding out from Dunharrow, and Theoden's rallying them before the charge of the Pelennor - absolutely stunning. And I'm not just referring to the major hunkitude of Eomer. Theoden looked pretty hunky too; not as handsome a man as some of the other actors, but the character's audacity and posture just overwhelmed me. RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

""The History of Middle Earth Volume XII The People of Middle Earth Chapter X f Dwarves and Men p.296 (hard cover) "....For instance, among the Rohirrim there can have been very few who did not understand the Common Speech, and most must have been able to speak it fairly well. The royal family, and no doubt many other families, spoke (and wrote) it correctly and familiarly. It was in fact King Theoden's native language: he was born in Gondor, and his father Thegel had used the Common Speech in his own home even after hie return to Rohan." on p. 316 Note 2 for the above quote "The Kings and their decendents after Thengel also knew the Sindarin tongue--the language of nobles in Gondor. [Cf. Appendix A (II), in the list of the Kings of the Mark, on Thengel's sojourn in Gondor. It is said that after his return to Rohan 'the speech of Gondor was used in his house, and not all men thought that good.'] So not only did Eowyn and Eomer read and write the Common Tongue and Sindarin, they both married 'distant' cousins, and Eowyn, Faramir, Eomer and Lothiriel all had, according to Legolas, a dash of elven blood."" Wow! Thanx much, Chip! That's the info I needed. I don't need Eowyn to necessarily write Sindarin; though I assume she learned after she became Princess of Ithilien; just, for the purposes of my offsite story (co-written actually) to speak SIndarin and be comfortable with its use. But it's interesting to see proof that Eomer and Eowyn, and Theoden before them, are such good linguists. I would imagine that Rohirric would have been Eomer and Eowyn's milk-language, though; and then they would have learned Westron and Sindarin. RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

the Rohirrim come off far better in the LOTR movies than the Men of Gondor, with the exception of Boromir. Certainly, at the last, Boromir is absolutely magnificent... I thought Sean Bean did a great job with his role. The lighting of the beacons sends chills downs my spine Oh, yeah, me too -- between wiping tears... and after compiling all those Resource Library entries about the Ride of Eorl and related events, the goosebumps just got even bigger. And all those Rohirrim mustering and riding out from Dunharrow, Tears in my eyes... That music, that haunting music! And I'm not just referring to the major hunkitude of Eomer. But that helps... oh, my, yes it does! Theoden looked pretty hunky too; not as handsome a man as some of the other actors, but the character's audacity and posture just overwhelmed me. He is incredible... from the fury of "Your leechcraft would have me walking on all fours like a beast" to his holding Éowyn's hands so tenderly at Dunharrow... but for his acting, I think the descripton of him killing the chieftain of the Haradrim and being killed by the Witch-king in the book would be powerful, but wouldn't necessarily give me the overwhelming goose-bumps it does... (I'm planning on putting those events into the Resource Library, too.) Too bad they couldn't get a performance of his caliber out of Denethor's actor -- whether that was the actor's fault or the director's view of the character, I don't know. *Ahem.* I will now stop subverting the topic of this thread (but it was a very pleasant diversion, nonetheless...) - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Good quotes, ChipM! Good analysis, Nessime! And I am very relieved that Gríma would not have had the power of reading/writing when the royals did not... But the quote does clearly indicate that Éowyn (and Éomer, Théodred and Théoden) would have some familiarity with the Sindarin language. Rather ironic, given the suspicion with which the Rohirrim viewed the Elves - but then, so did many of the Gondorians (in the book, Boromir was not too thrilled about entering Lothlorien). Good point, I had forgotten about Boromir... - Barbara

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

"Theoden is incredible... from the fury of "Your leechcraft would have me walking on all fours like a beast" to his holding Éowyn's hands so tenderly at Dunharrow... but for his acting, I think the descripton of him killing the chieftain of the Haradrim and being killed by the Witch-king in the book would be powerful, but wouldn't necessarily give me the overwhelming goose-bumps it does... (I'm planning on putting those events into the Resource Library, too.) Too bad they couldn't get a performance of his caliber out of Denethor's actor -- whether that was the actor's fault or the director's view of the character, I don't know." I think it is definitely the fault of the director and scriptwriters that John Noble's Denethor came off like a cariacature. The guy is handsome, looked the part, he broke my heart when he's sat in the Steward's Chair holding Boromir's horn in his lap; and then they saddle him with that 'Flee, flee for your lives' crapdiddle to say. Waste of a good actor and magnificent voice. He conveyed supreme malice and menace with just a corner-of-the-eye glance in the Ordering-Faramir-to-Osgiliath scene. He was wonderful when, surrounded by the fire and about to burn, he saw Faramir open his eyes and called his name; but then they felt compelled to turn him into a running human torch - ick ack. RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Eowyn's knowledge of Sindarin

Agree with the scenes you mentioned (except when he called Faramir's name -- but that wasn't his fault: I think his wig was knocked askew, and it made me want to laugh... I'm just such a mean audience member!), but I would add that his "last of a ragged house bereft yadda yadda" lines and his "Gondor is mine!" just didn't convince me... his angry trembling looked phony. And I agree that it wasn't just the acting... Oh, and the "Flee for your lives" crapdiddle scene was made even worse by really lousy music -- maybe the composer was as repelled by the ludicrousness of that scene as we were? (The music throughout all the movies either doesn't call attention to itself, which is good, or it's extraordinary, which is also good -- the crapdiddle scene is the only one where I *notice* the music, *and* dislike it intensely.) - Barbara (My cynical comments here may not show it, but I *absolutely love* the movies... if not every single scene within them! I mean, what the h*** was PJ thinking [in the TTT EE], having Denethor discuss going to Rivendell with Boromir in the middle of Osgiliath? Huh? Was he nuts??? And I truly liked that scene, until Denethor showed up and spoiled it... Aaargh!)

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

This forum is open to all HASA members. It is read-only for the general public.

Membership on HASA is free and it takes only a few minutes to join. If you would like to participate, please click here.

If you are already a member, please log in to participate.

« Back to Research Questions

Stories linked to the forum