The Hobbit, or there and back again

This is a story of long ago. At that time the languages and letters
were quite different from ours of today. English is used to rep-
resent the languages. But two points may be noted. (1) In English
the only correct plural of dwarf is dwarfs, and the adjective is
dwarfish. In this story dwarves and dwarvish are used*, but only
when speaking of the ancient people to whom Thorin Oakenshield
and his companions belonged. (2) Orc is not an English word. It
occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or
hobgoblin for the larger kinds). Orc is the hobbits' form of the
name given at that time to these creatures, and it is not connected

at all with our orc, ork, applied to sea-animals of dolphin-kind.

    Runes were old letters originally used for cutting or scratching
on wood, stone, or metal, and so were thin and angular. At the
time of this tale only the Dwarves made regular use of them,
especially for private or secret records. Their runes are in this book
represented by English runes, which are known now to few people.
If the runes on Thror's Map are compared with the transcrip-
tions into modern letters (on pp. 29 and 63), the alphabet,
adapted to modern English, can be discovered and the above
runic title also read. On the Map all the normal runes are found,
except x rune for X. I and U are used for J and V. There was no
rune for Q(use CW); nor for Z (the dwarf-rune z rune may be used if
required). It will be found, however, that some single runes stand
for two modern letters: th, ng, ee; other runes of the same kind
(ea rune ea and st rune st) were also sometimes used. The secret door was
markded D d rune. From the side a hand pointed to this, and under it
was written: Five feet high the door and three may walk abreast: Th.Th.
. The last two runes are the initials of Thror and
Thrain. The moon-runes read by Elrond were:
Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's day will shine upon the keyhole
On the Map the compass points are marked in runes, with East
at the top, as usual in dwarf-maps, and so read clockwise: E(ast),
S(outh), W(est), N(orth).
* The reason for this use is given in The Lord of the Rings III, p.415.


Click on map for enlarged view.


*The above text and map was taken from the 50th Anniversary edition of the The Hobbit. The messages 'five feet high the door and three may walk abreast.' and "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's day will shine upon the keyhole" are revealed near the end of Chapter 3. The map is attributed to Christopher Tolkien (based on his father's sketch, a facsimile of which is also shown in the anniversary edition).
Suggested Links: The Tolkien Archives has a hoard of other maps.

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