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Old 16th October 2011, 04:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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"Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

Hello folks,

This was something that I found odd while reading Tolkien's "The Two Towers" the other day.

In the chapter, "The Choices of Master Samwise", Sam must make a choice as to whether to take the Ring of Sauron when he thinks that Frodo has been killed by Shelbob. After coming to his decision, Sam hears a group of Orcs approach, and is forced to use the ring. This is the dialogue that comes from them:

"'Hola Gorbag! What are you doing up here? Had enough of war already?'
'Orders you lubber. And what are you doing Shagrat? Tired of lurking up there? Thinking of coming down to a fight?'
Orders to you. I'm in command of this pass. So speak civil. What's your report?'
'Nothing.'
'Hai! Hai! yoi!' A yell broke into the exchanges of the leaders..."

Pardon me for asking, but what in Mordor was Tolkien thinking by having Orcs speak a mixture of Spanish and Japanese? I know that Orc speech is supposed to be coarse and unimaginative. But this just doesn't make any sense.
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Old 16th October 2011, 11:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

I would not read to much into this. That way madness lies.
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Old 17th October 2011, 02:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

Wait, did the orcs ever say "Oh, hai!" - is this the beginning of Lol Orcs, a new internet meme?
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Old 17th October 2011, 01:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

That would surprise nobody.
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Old 16th November 2011, 09:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

I seem to remember the Orc leaders were named Uruk-Hai if that's of any help?
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Old 22nd March 2012, 02:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

The question is a philological one. For an answer you need to know what Tolkien was thinking in how the Orc language was developed. If you look at modern languages, you will find words which are spelled identically in two different languages but have two totally unrelated meanings. It usually means nothing, simply a manifestation of parallel evolution.

Those words are described as "interlinguistic homographs." They are rare, but they do exist . . . in English, the word "chair" means a piece of furniture upon which you sit, in French, "la chair" means sensual skin or flesh.

I doubt Tolkien had Spanish or Japanese in mind when he wrote those words . . . but it is possible, especially some subliminal cues.
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Old 4th April 2012, 01:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

Quote:
Pardon me for asking, but what in Mordor was Tolkien thinking by having Orcs speak a mixture of Spanish and Japanese? I know that Orc speech is supposed to be coarse and unimaginative. But this just doesn't make any sense.
It's a pound to a penny that he wasn't thinking of Spanish or Japanese. I think he was using existing English exhortations and tinkering with them a bit. "Hola" sounds like "Whoa", "hai" sounds like "hey" (in our sense of "what are you playing at?" rather than your sense of "hello") and "yoi" sounds like "oi".

Regards,

Peter
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Old 10th April 2012, 06:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

The Two Towers is supposed to be written by Frodo. Now Frodo did not fancifully embellish the conversation (as I think Bilbo did in The Hobbit when rendering the speech of Trolls, Goblins, and Spiders into language that his hobbit readers would understand), yet Frodo needed to show that the Orcs' speech was foreign to hobbit ears.

Sci-fi and fantasy writers do this all the time. Many, if not most, resort to X's, Z's, and apostrophes when rendering alien and foreign names into forms that English readers can understand. I made it a rule decades ago to avoid any books where the author must use X's, Z's, and apostrophes in names... especially as the first letter. I take it as a sign that the author lacks imagination and command of the english language.

For example, as far as I can remember Tolkien never uses X's, Z's, or apostrophes in names for the Ainur, Eldalie, or Dwarves. Now the locations of these people may include X's, Z's, and apostrophes... Zirak-zigil is the best example, but that's okay in my book.
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Old 10th April 2012, 06:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

I don't get how names with X's or Z's are unimaginative or show a lack of command of the English language.
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Old 10th April 2012, 07:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

I think Boaz may have been thinking that names with these letters have become a bit of a cliché - I suppose the idea is that if one populates one's "alien" names with rare consonants, that reinforces the supposedly alien nature of these characters/locations - and that the "unimaginative" reference, at least, is to the following of the herd on this matter.
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Old 10th April 2012, 10:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catswold View Post
The question is a philological one. For an answer you need to know what Tolkien was thinking in how the Orc language was developed. If you look at modern languages, you will find words which are spelled identically in two different languages but have two totally unrelated meanings. It usually means nothing, simply a manifestation of parallel evolution.

Those words are described as "interlinguistic homographs." They are rare, but they do exist . . . in English, the word "chair" means a piece of furniture upon which you sit, in French, "la chair" means sensual skin or flesh.

I doubt Tolkien had Spanish or Japanese in mind when he wrote those words . . . but it is possible, especially some subliminal cues.
I find this one interesting...

In English, "gift" - The giving of something without the expectation of payment.

In German, "gift" - Poison.
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Old 11th April 2012, 02:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

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Originally Posted by zaltys13 View Post
I find this one interesting...

In English, "gift" - The giving of something without the expectation of payment.

In German, "gift" - Poison.
An amusing example, no doubt, but I suspect if you do a philological examination of the word "gift" you will find that it is more of a corruption of the original meaning, than an interlinguistic homograph. That is a much more common occurrence.

. . . and sure enough:
Origin:
Middle English < Old Norse gift; cognate with Old English gift ( Middle English yift) marriage gift; akin to give.

[Old English gift payment for a wife, dowry; related to Old Norse gipt, Old High German gift, Gothic fragifts endowment, engagement; see give]
My own username contains an example--"wold" means a barren rise or plain, but it is derived from the German "Wald" which translates to woods.

Origin: before 900; Middle English; Old English w ( e ) ald forest; cognate with German Wald; akin to wild, Old Norse vǫllr plain
In the case of an "interlinguistic homograph," these is no known relationship between the two words; they are just a happy coincidence.

As German is a parent language of English, so is French a source of many of our words, so I'm not even certain that my prior example of "chair" is apropos as an example. True interlinguistic homographs are exceptionally rare.
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Old 11th April 2012, 06:05 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

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Originally Posted by Catswold View Post
An amusing example, no doubt, but I suspect if you do a philological examination of the word "gift" you will find that it is more of a corruption of the original meaning, than an interlinguistic homograph. That is a much more common occurrence.

. . . and sure enough:
Origin:
Middle English < Old Norse gift; cognate with Old English gift ( Middle English yift) marriage gift; akin to give.

[Old English gift payment for a wife, dowry; related to Old Norse gipt, Old High German gift, Gothic fragifts endowment, engagement; see give]
My own username contains an example--"wold" means a barren rise or plain, but it is derived from the German "Wald" which translates to woods.
Origin: before 900; Middle English; Old English w ( e ) ald forest; cognate with German Wald; akin to wild, Old Norse vǫllr plain
In the case of an "interlinguistic homograph," these is no known relationship between the two words; they are just a happy coincidence.

As German is a parent language of English, so is French a source of many of our words, so I'm not even certain that my prior example of "chair" is apropos as an example. True interlinguistic homographs are exceptionally rare.
Fair enough
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Old 13th April 2012, 12:00 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: "Hola... Hai! hai! yoi!"???

My aopolgies to the OP for derailing this thread.

Oku, I find that there are few names in English that begin with X or Z. Since there are few personal names that begin with X or Z, let alone an apostrophe, these letters should denote a foreign flavor, correct? Not necessarily. I cannot recall the specific titles nor authors of the myriad fantasy and sci-fi that I read thirty years ago (that is not a great start to my defence, I know), but it seemed that half of the authors name their villains Zatan instead of Satan, Xong instead of Kong, or even 'X'zzz'zzz. I've seen heroes' names like Ximothy, 'Zonald, and X'atrick. I'd rather have an author give me an alternate spelling with a plausible consonant to change the spelling and sound of Patrick... something like Badrig, Matrek, Thadrick, or Shetrick... or even a non-English spelling of Patrick, like Padraig.

Tolkien's names follow certain plausible patterns. I admit I'm no linguist, obviously Catswold is. But Tolkien employed certain consonant sounds, certain vowel sounds, and certain syllable formations into the separate foundations of Quenya, Noldorin, Sindarin, Adunaic, Khuzdul, Entish, and Hobbit-speech. Tolkien had rules for his languages so that the names stemming from those languages sound plausible.

The best example I can give for the opposite of Tolkien is Edgar Rice Burroughs. I devoured the stories of John Carter when I was thirteen. I still love John Carter and Barsoom, but I cannot read them now, not only because of the implausibility of the names, but because of the absurdity of the stories themselves.

Ah, to be an adolescent again!

The Green Men of Mars have names like Tars Tarkas, Sarkoja, Lorquas Ptomel, Gozava, Sola, Dotar Sojat, Hortan Gur, Bar Comas, Dak Kova, Kab Kadja, Tal Hadjus, O-mad, Tan Gama, Thar Ban, and Zad. A couple of rules stand out... Green Women have only one name: Gozava, Sarkoja, and Sola. Unblooded young men don't have the full two names either: O-mad and Zad. The third rule seems that these space orcs have difficulty in putting more than two syllables together at a time.... elven elegence is definitely lost on them.

So what's the problem, Boaz? The problem is that the Green Men share no cultural or social ties with the Red Men, yet they share the exact same language. There's no difference in dialect, no difference in slang, no difference in colloquial usage.... The only difference is the Red Women can have two names and that Red Men get two names before they have to kill anyone. Oh, yeah, the other hidden races of White, Black, Yellow, and Red Men all over Mars reveals that language is exactly the same as the current language in Helium. That solves many potential plot difficulties.

ERB only ever translates one or two words from Barsoomian into English. The primary of these is 'sak'... which means 'to jump'. I always thought the Green Men should have named John Carter in honor of his great ability. Sak. Sak Sakker. The Great Sakker. Huge Sak. I'm just glad John Carter always practiced safe sak.

The bottom line is what does Dotar Sojat mean? The movie was incorrect... Dotar and Sojat were names/the names of the first two Green Men he killed. We know that Elwe means Star Man/Person, Elrond means Star Dome, Elros means Star Foam, Elrohir means Star Knight, and Eldar means People of the Stars. (Take a guess how that applies in 40K.)

ERB just used syllables he thought reflected either noble, villainous, barbaric, or refined sounds.

The pinnacle of ERB's names is probably John Carter. It's the most imaginative. The worst names are Xaxa and Xaxak, but the most egregious uses occur with Z... Zanda of Zondanga, Zat Arras of Zodanga, and Zu Tith of Zor.

Most of my posts are located in the GRRM forum. I do like the way Martin plays with English names. He does use a few X's. But his changes are usually more subtle and more plausible. For example, Eddard is an obvious variation of Edward, yet still plausible. Lyanna instead of Leanna. Benjen instead of Benjamin. Aemon instead of Eamon. Catelyn instead of Kathleen. Pate instead of Pete. Aeron instead of Aaron. And Patrek instead of Patrick.

All in all, I guess it's a matter of taste. We're discussing art after all.
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