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Post You name it (names and naming)
on: December 28, 2010 05:02
This can be a general thread for discussion of names, favorite names, or naming customs. I decided to start it off (due to the recently revived thread concerning Glorfindel) to blather on about...

The idea that Elves could not, or did not, repeat names seems to be a fairly widespread idea, but in my opinion it does not hold up when looking at the detail in JRRT's work. I think the notion possibly hails from a simplification of certain texts, and (or) citations given without context. Here are the statements I think might be at the root of the idea:

A) simplification of the late statement that the repetition of Glorfindel's name would not be credible.

This can get posted without the statement that Galdor is a name of more simple form than Glorfindel, and might be repeated -- arguably indicating that the form of the name is a considerable detail here, and that other simpler forms (besides Galdor) might also be repeated. Tolkien noted here that Glorfindel is a 'striking' name.

Glorfindel was also considered somewhat archaic in the context of Sindarin in which it landed, a point which Tolkien noted in Words, Phrases, and Passages. JRRT also later stated that this name, invented very early within the context of Gnomish (a language that had been abandoned) was thus 'difficult' to fit into Sindarin.


B) simplification of statements concerning the Chosen Name from Laws And Customs

B1) Note 14 from Laws And Customs -- note 14 was later struck through by Tolkien, an important detail that should not be omitted (if quoted).

B2) ' (...) In later Ages, when there was a great abundance of names already in existence, it was more often selected from names that were known. But even so some modification of the old name might be made.'

In my opinion even this doesn't really inform the reader that Elves never reused names, but in any case, it is part of a section concerning a
specific name: the Chosen Name.

B3) a statement concerning the private nature of the Chosen Name: 'The use of the chosen name, except by members of the same house (parents, sisters, and brothers), was a token of closest intimacy and love, when permitted. It was, therefore, presumptious or insulting to use it without permission.'

This appears to imply to some that Elves did not repeat names among themselves -- but in any event this again refers to the Noldorin Chosen Name specifically, concerning which we can't be wholly sure was not later abandoned in any case!

'[The wholly different account of 'Chosen Names' in Laws And Customs among the Eldar (X. 214-15) appears to have been abandoned.]'[/i]

Christopher Tolkien, note 16, The Shibboleth of Feanor

Whether abandoned or not might be arguable, since the custom of Chosen Names had been implied to be specifically Noldorin in any event: 'But every child among the Noldor (in which point, maybe, they differed from the other Eldar) had also the right to name himself or herself.' Thus it seems at least possible that this custom was not noted in a later, shorter account, concerning names among the Eldar in general.

For consideration

Argon -- name often given by Sindar and Noldor in memory of Aracano's valour (The Shibboleth of Feanor)

Celebrimbor, Sindarized form of Telerin Telperimpar -- said to be a frequent name among the Teleri (late writing, noted in Of Dwarves And Men, note 7).

Rumil -- there are seemingly two Rumils in The Lord of the Rings.

Gelmir -- there are seemingly two Gelmirs in Silmarillion writings.

Ambarussa (somewhat related here, though not exactly reflective of the point in general): Nerdanel gave her 6th and 7th child the same name: Ambarussa, though Feanor called one Ambarto desiring that they should be differently named.

Galdor -- said to be a name of more simple form than the striking name Glorfindel, and thus might be repeated (Last Writings, author's note 1).

Corrections or comments welcome. And again, this thread need not be limited to this issue.

[Edited on 28/12/2010 by Elthir]
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Post RE: You name it (names and naming)
on: December 28, 2010 11:15
My apologies Elthir, I realise you've put a lot of thought into this, but I'm locking it until I can give it full attention. (I have family visiting.) I don't think it will work. Generalised threads make it hard for people to find specifics, and many of the questions you raise are discussed elsewhere.

I'll be looking over all threads in the New Year anyway, and I'll see what we've got.
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