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Old 09-26-2022, 07:55 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Silmaril How does Earendil speak Beorian?

A certain quote from HoME XII's The Problem of Ros came up in another thread, and I have A Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Problem of Ros
It is said that before Manwe [Earendil] spoke the errand of Elves and Men first in Sindarin, since that might represent all those of the suppliants who had survived the war with Morgoth; but he repeated it in Quenya, since that was the language of the Noldor, who alone were under the ban of the Valar; and he added a prayer in the Mannish tongues of Hador and Beor*, pleading that they were not under the ban, and had aided the Eldar only in their war against Morgoth, the enemy of the Valar.

*The language of the Folk of Haleth was not used, for they had perished and would not rise again. Nor would their tongue be heard again, unless the prophecy of Andreth the Wise-woman should prove true, that Turin in the Last Battle should return from the Dead, and before he left the Circles of the World for ever should challenge the Great Dragon of Morgoth, Ancalagon the Black, and deal him the death-stroke.
How exactly did Earendil speak Beorian? Tolkien's notes after finishing The Problem of Ros indicate that 1) most of it doesn't work, but 2) the key details around the use of Beorian hold up. It seems that Beren taught it to Luthien, but gave up speaking it himself; Dior learnt and spoke it, and used it in the name of his daughter Elwing and (possibly) one of his sons, Elured. Earendil then used the -wing element of his wife's name in the name of his ship. All well and good, but that's one word of Beorian.

Elwing was born in the same year Beren and Luthien died, so she definitely didn't pick it up from them. Dior was killed when she was three, so while she was probably talking and had basic childhood Beorian (assuming Dior used it around the house), she wasn't exactly fluent. There's no indication of mortal residents in Doriath at the time, so presumably anyone who escaped with her spoke Sindarin only. It seems a stretch to say that Earendil learnt it from her.

So did he get it from his own family? Again, it seems unlikely. Tuor's mother was Beorian, but he never knew her; he was fostered by elves of Mithrim, who presumably spoke Sindarin and maybe Hadorian. Idril definitely didn't know it - she was locked up in the mountains since before the language existed. There weren't any mortals in Gondolin to teach him, either.

That only leaves other refugees at the Havens. They would have to be descendants of the refugees of Dorthonion, who left under Emeldir and included Morwen and Rian. Were they so numerous and/or stubborn that they stuck to their own language through integration with the Hadorians, enslavement by the Easterlings, and then evacuation to the Havens? Were they even at the Havens? Tolkien only wrote about Doriath and Gondolin as the sources for Earendil's settlement, with the others seeming to be over in Balar.

None of these routes ring particularly true. I'm left with the image of Earendil delivering his speech in Sindarin, Quenya, and Hadorian, and then stumbling through a version in broken Beorian that Elwing helped him write from her vague memories of her father. He tries to say "Great Powers of the West" and ends up saying "Big Bossypants over there".

~

There's also a colossal snub in that quote: Unfinished Tales says that Druedain moved to the Mouths of Sirion after the fall of the Haladin, and we know that they eventually moved to Numenor. They would have spoken both their own language and Haladin (to chat to their neighbours), so it would definitely have been possible for Earendil to learn the supposedly-extinct language of Haleth. But did he bother to include the Druedain in his multi-lingual statement? Nope! He used Beorian instead, to give representation to one-quarter of his wife's ancestry.

hS
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Old 09-26-2022, 01:46 PM   #2
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I think we have to assume the possibility that there were Edain at the Havens, absent any definitive statement they were NOT: the Edain were proven allies of the Eldar, people who are in terror of their lives flee, and where else were they going to flee to? And we needn't be talking about enough individuals that it would a remarked-upon contingent within the community: it could just be a few escaping refugees fleeing south and taken in.

But there's always the possibility that Eärendil learnt it from the Eldar: even if the Havens were more Doriathrin/Gondolindrim in make-up than aught else, Círdan's community on Balar surely included refugees from the Finarfinian realms: i.e. the realms where "Mannish" probably meant the tongue of Bëor, Barahir, and Beren. Given his sea-faring, it's not unreasonable to think that Eärendil would have had the opportunity to know various members of the Balar community.

Either way, it is likely enough that Eärendil did have to pick up Bëorian as an "extra" language, but that doesn't seem like something to be wondered at in someone with Elvish blood: picking up languages was one of their great skills and delights, and there is definitely evidence somewhere that Eärendil felt a closer kinship with his Mannish side (if I recall correctly, Tolkien states that he chose an Elvish fate despite feeling closer to his father's side): and I don't cite this as proof that he wouldn't be good at learning languages; I'm say that as a half-Elf learning languages, he'd be motivated to learn the tongues of his Mannish side (and either Bëorian refugees or Elves who saw him as more Half-Man in a benign way would be prone, I think, to pass this heritage along).

Certainly, given its kinship to Hadorian proto-Adûnaic, I think Bëorian would have been fairly easy if he had a knowledgeable teacher--a reason, perhaps, why Bëorian would have been learned, rather than the tongue of Haleth--like an Englishman learning Dutch.

It's perhaps even possible to concoct a love story, wherein Eärendil seeking to learn more of his Mannish forebears from the Finrodian element of the mariners on Balar, discovers that he shares not just a kinship but a rare language with Elwing, who learned Bëorian from human refugees that helped her and her nurse to the Havens from the wrack of Doriath.
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Old 09-26-2022, 04:03 PM   #3
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The published Sil sidesteps the issue as Earendil "called aloud in many tongues, both of Elves and Men" without specifying the tongues, and for grammar to work just one tongue of Men would suffice - though I wouldn't say 3 languages is "many" (Quenya, Sindarin, Mannsih?) - but then is 4 many (if you have 2 Mannish tongues)? or 5? How many do you need?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
He tries to say "Great Powers of the West" and ends up saying "Big Bossypants over there".
Hey, he was doing his best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Certainly, given its kinship to Hadorian proto-Adûnaic, I think Bëorian would have been fairly easy if he had a knowledgeable teacher--a reason, perhaps, why Bëorian would have been learned, rather than the tongue of Haleth--like an Englishman learning Dutch.
If Tolkien's ever said anything on the matter of these languages, I've forgotten, but my headcanon was that the Mannish tongues were related to each other - if not different dialects of the same speech, then languages of the same family. Similar to the different languages/dialects of Elvish. And at least between the people of Beor and Hador there seemed to be enough connections and intermingling throughout history to make it plausible that the two languages did not drift that far apart.

And I also agree about other mortal refugees at the Havens. Lots of people fled Dorthonion with Emeldir, and lots more probably fled in a less organized fashion, and surely they didn't all settle in the same spot. Of course everything went awry after the Nirnaeth, so if there was any Beorian-established settlement in South Beleriand it probably did not survive, and the more solitary refugees might not have held on to their language - but if there were any survivors, the environs of the Havens was the only place they could end up in significant enough concentrations. And they very well might have held on to their language, because people do in real life, moving doesn't always mean forgetting - immigration and assimilation come on a spectrum. Elwing might even have found a bunch of "compatriots" at the Havens who would have hailed her as a figure of honour in their community just by virtue of being Beren's granddaughter and the last heir of the line of Beor. I think it's not impossible that Earendil could have picked it up at the Havens (new fanfic idea: Earendil learning Beorian while courting Elwing ).
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Old 09-26-2022, 04:56 PM   #4
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Like everyone else. He used a web-based language learning software. Duh.
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Old 09-26-2022, 05:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
( . . .) If Tolkien's ever said anything on the matter of these languages, I've forgotten, but my headcanon was that the Mannish tongues were related to each other - if not different dialects of the same speech, then languages of the same family. Similar to the different languages/dialects of Elvish. And at least between the people of Beor and Hador there seemed to be enough connections and intermingling throughout history to make it plausible that the two languages did not drift that far apart.
In The Problem of ROS itself, the speech of the Hadorians is said to be related to the tongue of Beor's folk: "(probably about as nearly as Noldorin Quenya to Telerin of Valinor): communication between the two peoples was possible but imperfect, mainly because of phonetic changes in the Beorian dialect."

Here it's added that the language of the folk of Haleth, "so far as it was later known, appears to have been unrelated (unless in remote origin) and unintelligble to the other peoples."

The essay goes on to say that the folk of Beor continued to speak their own tongue among themselves with fair purity, though many Sindarin words were borrowed and adapted by them. "This was of course the native tongue of Beren . . ."

Emphasis on the scenario as described in this late essay at least!

A note adds that the Halethian language was already failing before Turin's time, and finally perished after Hurin in his wrath destroyed the small land and people.

Last edited by Galin; 09-26-2022 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 09-26-2022, 06:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
A note adds that the Halethian language was already failing before Turin's time, and finally perished after Hurin in his wrath destroyed the small land and people.
How was the language failing? Just that the number of speakers was dwindling? Or the language was becoming too dilute and polluted with the additions of all the refugees fleeing to Brethil after the Nirnaeth?
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