Tolkien in General

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by malickfan on Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:26 pm

Very interesting blog I came across, evidently Tumblr isn't all!

http://askmiddlearth.tumblr.com/

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I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:12 pm

The cheek to post (blog) about Galadriel without consulting me... although, the one thing I read about her at this blog did not burn my toast! Still, that was one thing. But regarding the answer regarding the difference regarding the orcs and goblins? No. No.

Also... no.

Consult the sources. They are listed as if you did. Toast burned.

off topic goblin rant warning Ask Middle-earth answered:

If you’re asking whether goblins were originally elves, like the orcs, then the answer is yes. But this is sort of a trick question, since goblins and orcs are two names for the same creatures.

Well yes... ignoring the decisions that make it possible to post so certainly about the origin of orcs... yes to this much.

Toast still brown, some light burning at the edges however.

There is a lot of confusion over this, mostly because Tolkien refers to goblins in The Hobbit, but in LOTR he refers only to orcs.

Only? No. Tolkien employs the word goblin in The Lord of the Rings (over ten times) and the word orc in The Hobbit (if only twice outside of his note explaining the word orc [third edition] and the name Orcrist).

Dark blotches spread to the center of my toast.

Some people argue that goblins are a sort of sub-race of orcs, like the Uruk-hai. This is possible, I guess, but it seems much more likely based on Tolkien’s earlier writing that goblins and orcs are one in the same.

Where are these people? Take me to them. I will smite then with wordy ridicule... well perhaps not, but I might wag my head silently in their direction.

I won't go into earlier versus later as it can get complicated, but in any case: toast now wholly black, edges very crispy.

In his earliest writings many of the names Tolkien uses are different. Orcs are goblins, High Elves are gnomes, and elves in general are referred to as faeries.

To clarify, the word orc is used, along with goblin (and gong) in Tolkien's earliest writings. See The Book of Lost Tales. And no I don't know what JRRT intended gongs to be, besides "evil beings, obscurely related to orcs" Index, The Book of Lost Tales II

My toast is aflame. Its edges lie smoking like the embers of Vulcan's forge.

As Tolkien developed his work more and more, though, he made a special effort to move his names away from traditional European folklore. He stopped using “faerie”, and renamed the High Elves the Noldor. And, eventually, goblins became orcs. It’s likely that goblins exist in The Hobbit because (1) they were more easily understood by modern readers, especially the children the book was written for, and (2) Tolkien wrote the book before LOTR, and so was still developing many of his ideas.

I think that during the writing of The Hobbit and during the writing of The Lord of the Rings (in part), Tolkien actually did consider, at times, orc to denote something more formidable than a goblin. That said, the idea was not employed consistently (in my opinion) and in any case it looks like Tolkien, in the later 1950s early 1960s, at least continued to wrangle with these words a bit, before settling upon his final idea in the mid 1960s or later...

... for these later texts see The Hobbit third edition, where JRRT explains the word orc in publication, in a ... well... explanatory note I guess. It's before the story anyway. Or in posthumously published texts, see a late "orc note" published in Morgoth's Ring (Myths Transformed section), and especially Tolkien's direction to translators of The Lord of the Rings...

... where it all comes together to make some fine and buttery toast! In my opinion  Suspect

Sorry... I was bored at the moment... and had to find something to post.

:munches toast:
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Mar 03, 2016 3:52 pm

{{{{Unless you are particularly fond of charcoal toast Elthir I would maybe skip the racism one! }}}

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:51 pm

{{{ warning noted Petty. I taste embers just thinking about what might be }}}

:sprum:

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by jon on Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:56 pm

I think the main point was missed by all the above, tho:

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Ch. 5, p. 82 wrote:"A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground.

Well... no expert!

I hope the post on Racism gives prominence to letter No.s 29 & 30 and ends with the implication of the History of the Kinslaying in Gondor, mid-third age.  Those two really should be the bookends for such a discussion.  I have a feeling, tho, that what I find there will not be engaging and will only enrage me, especially after poor Elthir's flaming toast!


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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by jon on Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:22 pm

halfwise wrote:It's a good question how much our mental classification affects perception.

Especially in politics.  Any reasonable read of Chomsky illustrates the point.  But perhaps that's the subject of another thread...

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by jon on Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:38 pm

On the subject of the Istari I think it's pretty obvious that Gandalf was still a member of the Order once he had returned, and equally as obvious that as the "White" he had replaced Saruman as its titular head.  Clearly, tho, Gandalf was altered and much more powerful than before.  The Order itself was altered at that point as well, however, Gandalf being, in essence, its last fully functional member - or at least that seems to be what is implied in the various writings, canonical (if you want to call it that) or otherwise.

There was another thread concerning the nature of Wizards,

http://www.hobbitmovieforum.com/t869p30-concerning-wizards-necromancers-and-ainur-ii

(where Elthir and I had a somewhat epic debate).  There I argued that each of the Istari likely embodies an element (this according to selected writings - the main point of contention in debate).  I tend to think that once Gandalf had returned that he had taken on a new element: Light (rather than Fire or Smoke) - Saruman's old element - but the Light of Gandalf was more the Light of Wisdom, Faith and Courage rather then the Light of Knowledge (which was more Saruman's purview).

That's just how I see it.  I do think, tho, that was (somewhat) how it was intended.

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by jon on Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:37 pm

Also, from p. 264, BoLT I, the Appendix on Names gives

orc = 'goblin'

for the Gnomish Lexicon.  That's the basic gist of the use of the word throught BoLT I think.

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:55 pm

jon wrote:I think the main point was missed by all the above, tho:

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Ch. 5, p. 82 wrote:"A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground.

I'm not sure what main point you think was missed, jon, as represented by this description. I refer to The Hobbit descriptions generally, but what main point do you mean, exactly?


Also, from p. 264, BoLT I, the Appendix on Names gives

orc = 'goblin'

for the Gnomish Lexicon.  That's the basic gist of the use of the word throught BoLT I think.

Ah but see the index to BOLT II: "Goblins: frequently used as alternative to Orcs (...) but sometimes apparently distinguished."

So my clarification above is: orc is also found in BOLT, and in BOLT more often than not goblin equals orc, but not (at least arguably), always. The basic gist could thus be as you say, if we stress "majority". Or one could phrase it another way I think: the confusion between goblin and orc starts early, as Tolkien doesn't appear to be wholly consistent, even in BOLT.

So while it may be pedantic to point out but two instances of arguable confusion (even from Christopher Tolkien's perspective), it is there...

... just to clarify my clarification Wink


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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:18 pm

I've seen the Glorfindel video before, and responded to its author before... with this...

"Besides speculating (here and there) a bit too much for my blood, and certain pronunciation questions with respect to some of Tolkien's nomenclature, you seem to have accepted both Glorfindel I and II as "internal" regarding his return to Middle-earth. Tolkien wrote both texts of course (I and II), but Glorfindel II is very arguably a revision of Glorfindel I on this point... Tolkien even comments in Glorfindel II about the problem of having the Elf return in the Third Age after the Undying Lands had been removed from the world [in Glorfindel I the Elf did arrive in the Third Age, with Gandalf]

This would eliminate the need to suggest that Glorfindel returned to Aman "for some reason" before returning yet again to Middle-earth. Unless I've read or heard you wrong about this, but it seemed to me that you drew upon both I and II for one internal history concerning when Glorfindel returned to Middle-earth.

Also please change the mention of orcs and goblins as they are the same thing. I realize I asked this before and that you are probably just using the same introduction segment for every character... but I light my fingernails on fire each time I hear this and they are starting to smell and turn black."


So that's what I told 'im. Again it may be pedantic, but I'm obligated to post in Glorfindel related threads too. Also I don't think I yet commented on this aspect in my own Glorfindel blatherings, probably because I've never seen anyone melt GI and GII on this point before.

He hasn't made a video on Galadriel yet... that I know of Suspect
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by jon on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:37 pm

Elthir wrote:
jon wrote:I think the main point was missed by all the above, tho:

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Ch. 5, p. 82 wrote:"A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground.

I'm not sure what main point you think was missed, jon, as represented by this description. I refer to The Hobbit descriptions generally, but what main point do you mean, exactly?

I was just pointing out that the difference between orc and goblin was pretty explicitly stated in the body of The Hobbit early on and that that, in addition to the sources you allude to in tLotR, makes it fairly clear in the published works how the two terms are used and how they related to one another.  Hence,

blogpost wrote:Some people argue that goblins are a sort of sub-race of orcs, like the Uruk-hai. This is possible, I guess, but...

is bluntly wrong, as you suggest.  Hence, burnt toast.

As for the BoLT - yes, I know, the concepts are very fluid and mutable at this stage and the concepts are very much as you say: orc and goblin are the same in the majority of cases but not always.  One could make the case, tho, that so much is fluid and changing in those early works that they really shouldn't be used in relation to topics like this where two terms, orc and goblin, are pretty clearly defined in the canonical works (in other words: works published during Tolkien's lifetime in what one could argue to be their intended state at the moment of Tolkien's death).

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:31 pm

Hmm, to my mind some read the passage you quoted as suggesting orcs are larger or more formidable than goblins. That's been my experience over the years anyway.

I think Tolkien wrote both the Hobbit descriptions with the idea in mind that orcs were more formidable than goblins... but he abandoned the concept, and it hadn't been implemented with consistency in any case.

Regarding consistency, JRRT's late idea makes what these passages suggest (or might arguably suggest) take a back seat to the matter of translation.


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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Eldorion on Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:30 pm

Elthir wrote:He hasn't made a video on Galadriel yet... that I know of Suspect

Haven't watched it myself but...

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:05 pm

Thanks Eldo, I must have missed the Galadriel chapter...

... as for the video... that toasted my toast on the surface of the Sun
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:07 pm

{{{ Laughing }}}}

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by jon on Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:38 pm

Elthir wrote:Hmm, to my mind some read the passage you quoted as suggesting orcs are larger or more formidable than goblins. That's been my experience over the years anyway.

And why shouldn't it?  If the quote is
Tolkien wrote:"A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground.
how could it be otherwise?  Are you suggesting, rather, that that quote (which you had failed to site in your initial discussion on the topic regarding what was noted in The Hobbit yet is clearly one of the most important to note) can somehow imply that orcs are simply larger than goblins yet not of the same race?  It fairly explicitly says that "the big ones," (goblins) are "the orcs of the mountains".  By what logic would anyone see that as not being the case?

Elthir wrote:I think Tolkien wrote both the Hobbit descriptions with the idea in mind that orcs were more formidable than goblins... but he abandoned the concept, and it hadn't been implemented with consistency in any case.

It is clearly the case that he wrote the quote above with the idea in mind that they were of the same species.  Obviously he intended that orcs were more "formidable" but that was not the point.  His point was that they were of the same "kind".  And when you say he abandoned the concept, are you talking about works published in Tolkien's lifetime or posthumous publications?  How much later?  Is this only in very late writings or letters or do you think it is strongly stated or implied in tLotR?  Are you differentiating between different levels of what one might call "canon"?  If not one could take any brief note jotted down by Tolkien and proceed to make whatever asinine argument one would like.  Could you be more explicit about the point you're trying to make here?  It is not very clear.

Elthir wrote:Regarding consistency, JRRT's late idea makes what these passages suggest (or might arguably suggest) take a back seat to the matter of translation.

How so?  And where?  Could you give examples?  Are these, again, from the works published in his lifetime?

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:55 pm

jon wrote:  Are you suggesting, rather, that that quote (which you had failed to site in your initial discussion on the topic regarding what was noted in The Hobbit yet is clearly one of the most important to note)...

I don't see it as one of the most important quotes to note... it might be important for those who use it to argue that orcs are more formidable or larger than goblins, but that's not my argument. Is it yours? Also the article I was responding to didn't cite this description, and my post was a response to specific statements made there. And even then, I wrote (see above): "I think that during the writing of The Hobbit and during the writing of The Lord of the Rings (in part), Tolkien actually did consider, at times, orc to denote something more formidable than a goblin."

So I raised the matter, and there is more than one citation that could be raised to back up the statement too. Anyway, again, I responded to specific things this person posted.

... can somehow imply that orcs are simply larger than goblins yet not of the same race?

No I'm not suggesting that.

It fairly explicitly says that "the big ones," (goblins) are "the orcs of the mountains". By what logic would anyone see that as not being the case?

Reading this quote in this way is not the issue for me -- given that my argument is that Tolkien abandoned the concept (again, a concept not implemented consistently), and given that his later idea allows the reader to look past the suggestion here, and "of the mountains" arguably becomes the distinction, not the two different terms.


It is clearly the case that he wrote the quote above with the idea in mind that they were of the same species.  Obviously he intended that orcs were more "formidable" but that was not the point. His point was that they were of the same "kind".  

And I agreed with his point (this point) in my first response to his article.

And when you say he abandoned the concept, are you talking about works published in Tolkien's lifetime or posthumous publications?


Both.

How much later?

The timing starts at mid 1960s (Third Edition Hobbit) and spans to "1969 or later" (late note on Orcs published in Morgoth's Ring)

Is this only in very late writings or letters or do you think it is strongly stated or implied in tLotR?
 

What I'll say here is that I think all three "later" descriptions at least agree with the characterization of the word orc in the Appendix on Languages, The Return of the King.

Could you be more explicit about the point you're trying to make here?  It is not very clear.

I claim that Tolkien abandoned the idea that orcs were more formidable than goblins, and that it wasn't employed consistently in the author published texts anyway. Tolkien also appears to hold the idea in certain draft texts for The Lord of the Rings, but for whatever reason, none of this survived into the published book. JRRT might have abandoned the idea before submitting The Lord of the Rings for publication, but if so he continued to wrangle about the word orc in the late 1950s early 1960s in any case.

Elthir wrote: Regarding consistency, JRRT's late idea makes what these passages suggest (or might arguably suggest) take a back seat to the matter of translation.

Jon responded. How so? And where? Could you give examples? Are these, again, from the works published in his lifetime?

A) Because the word in the imagined original (Red Book and so on) is orc, and the thing to do, according to Tolkien's own system, is to translate this word into English goblin. Obviously this "need" not occur in every instance, but that's the general overarching idea -- which allows for consistency in this matter with respect to every work the author published.

B) examples are anywhere orc appears in the Modern English text (again generally speaking). Thus the example you cited, in theory, really contains orc in all instances, in the original.

C) One is the new note to the Third Edition Hobbit (author published), another is Tolkien's advice to translators of The Lord of the Rings (the author's intent with this text was that every translator, then, now and in the future one would expect, read these notes before translating The Lord of the Rings). A third is Tolkien's late note published in Myths Transformed, Morgoth's Ring (a posthumously published note of course).

Anyway I haven't yet cited what I feel to be important descriptions concerning "orc" versus "goblin"... not yet Wink
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:24 pm

Elthir wrote:Thanks Eldo, I must have missed the Galadriel chapter...

... as for the video... that toasted my toast on the surface of the Sun

Laughing

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by malickfan on Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:57 pm

It's always heartening to see Elthir stop in and actually drag threads back to Tolkien in such detailed style Smile

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:53 pm

Thanks Malickfan!

Also, for more gobliny pie (if anyone's hungry enough)...

A bit low for dogs, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the hounds of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their snouts almost on the ground.

Does that necessarily mean that a hound is larger than a dog?
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by David H on Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:36 am

"A bit low for grey horses, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the white horses of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their muzzles almost on the ground.

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:23 pm

Good example David, as (looking at your nouns), "horses" are not larger than "horses", but the horses of the mountains (no matter what colour they are), can be larger.

Tolkien's late idea shifts the reading that some folks might have here, making it a matter of translation.

Fully English (translate orc): A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the goblins of the mountains, go along at a great speed... (hobgoblin could also be used for the second "goblin")

Mostly English
(do not translate orc): A bit low for orcs, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed...

Mostly English, Balrog style: A bit low for power-demons, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the Balrogath of the mountains, go along at a great speed...

More mostly English but with less English, Balrog style: A bit low for Balrogs, at least for the big ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the Balrogath of the mountains, go along at a great speed...

And since I can't stop myself: A bit low for Elves, at least for the taller ones," thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the taller ones, the Quendi of Gondolin...

"Elves" are not taller than "Quendi", even though some Elves are taller than others. In this case I chose Gondolin 'cause... well let's not get into Elven heights due to this... it's only an example.
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:28 pm

{{{where would you place the Uruks in all this Elthir? It would seem to me the Uruk title is already used to denote a larger, stronger breed of the race, and that orc and goblin are used purely as suits the speaker- some refer to all of the race as goblins, some as orcs, and some folk use orc to mean only bigger ones, some use goblin to denote smaller- but there doesn't seem to be a set definition as used by the people of ME in the Third Age- it depends who and where you are it seems which terms you use or how you think of orcs/goblins. Except for Uruks- as they seem separate from the rest in that they have a set term that denotes just their breed (not just Saruman's later Uruk-Hai either but also the 'original' Black Uruks of Mordor.}}}

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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Elthir on Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:04 pm

{{{I would say uruk denotes a larger, better trained orc, different from a snaga. That said, I can't quite agree that some are using orc or goblin as it suits them, as this, although seemingly random, suggests a specific usage by specific people in the book. Did the Hobbits use "goblin" for example? Some seem to think so, but I don't find the examples necessarily illustrating this. We must keep in mind the underlying word in any case, and here we know the Hobbits used orc... and we must separate words spoken in Middle-earth from translation words.

"... orc is the form of the name that other races [races other than the orcs themselves] had for this foul people, as it was in the language of Rohan. In Sindarin it was orch. Related, no doubt, was the word uruk in the Black Speech, though this was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time issued from Mordor and Isengard. The lesser kinds were called, especially by the Uruk-hai, snaga "slave". Appendix F

Note this is from Appendix F, The Languages And Peoples of the Third Age, not part II On Translation. Why stress this? As part one (at least here) is not really about words like "goblin" or "Hobbit", which are translations, but more about actual words spoken in the Third Age. All the words in this section were spoken by the characters: uruk, snaga, orch... but not orc? Rather orc is included, as confirmed in The Hobbit third edition and other late sources.

Tolkien does set up the kind of "Hobbit specific" scenario with his hobbit words. Westron speakers of the Shire used kuduk for example, other Westron speakers used banakil. But note the difference: kuduk (Hobbit) and banakil (Halfling) are both words spoken in Frodo's day... and so is orc... but not "goblin". If "Merry Brandybuck" said goblin it's because we are in translation here... the real Merry is named Kali Brandagamba and he said orc.


All that seems complicated, I know, but it's not really: instead of imagining a Westron text awaiting translation, imagine a German text: a hund (real word in an imagined German text) is not larger or different than a "dog" (English translation), nor does the act of translating hund with "dog" suggest that some Germans said hund while others said some different word translated by "dog".

With hund equaling orc and dog equaling "goblin"...

... okay so why does Tolkien continue to use hund in the English version, sometimes alongside dog, when he should, according to his own system, translate each instance with dog? Because, as he explains to other translators, he thinks the word hund is fitting and... well basically he likes it. There's no fancy reason except that JRRT is finely attuned to words, sound and sense, like a wine taster is finely attuned to... tasting wines.}}}


Last edited by Elthir on Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Tolkien in General

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:19 pm

{{{I would bravely contest you last point Elthir. For me Tolkien, in the role of translator does what good translators do, he chooses a particular English word in order to denote a subtle difference in meaning for the person using it, in comparison to those where the word is simply directly translated. When Tolkien uses goblin for example or orc, he chooses as translator to do so- your reasoning for his choice seems to me that he does so on a whimsy. I think Tolkien as translator was not acting on a whimsy, but seeking to convey a difference in outlook, or tone when he uses goblin. For example I have no idea what in Westron the hobbits actually said which Tolkien translates as 'wraith' but I am betting it has less to do with the surface English wraith meaning than it does to having the correct root meaning of a 'twisted thing', a meaning present in the original word used by the hobbits which Tolkien was keen to convey in the translation. I don't think he treated his choice of when to use 'goblin' or not any less rigorously.}}

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