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Discussing: Name meanings that are unattested in Tolkien

Name meanings that are unattested in Tolkien

There is an old thread on the Meanings of Names, but the last post was over a year ago. Now this issue has cropped up again, especially with regard to name meanings that are not attested anywhere in the corpus of Tolkien's writing (and I would include his letters in that corpus). In going through the character bios I have come across a few entries with unattested name meanings (and the rendering of one was highly questionable). While there is generally no problem with referencing other sources for meanings and translations that Tolkien himself did not supply, Lyllyn and I have discussed the matter and think it would be best to specify that such entries are not attested in Tolkien For an example of what I mean, see the bio for Hasufel. I wouldn't expect such copious notes, unless you are so inclined - research is good - but at least a notation of the secondary source should be made. Generally the best idea is to note the unattested meaning with the appropriate citation in the main text box. I would also say that unless a secondary source cites its own sources of information (whether in Tolkien's writngs or other scholarly works - OE dictionaries come readily to mind ), any information it has to offer should be screened carefully before adding it to the Resources database, and then only with the notation that such information is from a secondary source (with appropriate citation). When in doubt, leave it out entirely. It can always be added later if it can be verified through reliable data. I confess, I have at times been as guilty of this as the next person. For that reason I have been going through my past entries to doublecheck sources. If you are able to do the same with your own past entries it would be appreciated, or if you see an entry that is questionable, please let one of us know so it can be checked. I came across a quote this morning that rather sums up my feelings on this matter:
Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. -Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel laureate (1879-1955)
While rendering the meanings of names may not be that important in the grand scheme of things, our stated goal here is to provide HASA's membership with the best, most accurate information possible. Therefore, before we accept the "authority" of sources outside of Tolkien's own corpus, I believe we should do whatever is possible to ascertain the veracity of their information. ~Nessime



Re: Name meanings that are unattested in Tolkien

I'm here to let you know that I changed Roheryn's translation into attested by Tolkien, because of this quote in the Silmarillion Appendix: "roch 'horse'... also in Roheryn 'horse of the lady' (cf.heru), Aragorn's horse, which was so called because given to him by Arwen..." ~Loqi



Re: Name meanings that are unattested in Tolkien

Thanks for finding that reference, Loqi. I thought I'd seen it, but couldn't recall precisely where, so opted for the unattested citation until the reference was located (when in doubt, and all that). That sketchy beginning of Roheryn's bio was a last minute addition before I left for a weekend away, so I didn't have time to do a search for it - besides I figured one of HASA's intrepid researchers would know where to look. ~Nessime



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